Australia coach Darren Lehmann insists his side have seen chinks within England’s armour that they are confident of exploiting when the first Ashes Test in Brisbane gets underway on Thursday.
England have played three warm-up clashes against inexperienced opposition and only managed to take one wicket during the entirety of Saturday’s final day against a Cricket Australia XI.
The tourists were whitewashed on their last visit to Australia in 2013-14 but hold the Ashes following a 3-2 victory on home soil in 2015, and Lehmann believes there are flaws to be exposed in the current England squad.
“England have been solid and are preparing for whatever they expect us to do,” said Lehmann. “They have got what they needed and have had some good performances.
“But we’ve seen a couple of things that we like and hopefully we can play on that. We’ll certainly target some players in that regard.”
Australia have faced a backlash after announcing their squad for the opening Ashes salvo at The Gabba. The selection of wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine, in particular, has raised eyebrows.
Former leg-spinner Shane Warne branded Australia’s selection policy “confused”, while fellow slow bowler Stuart MacGill said the country’s selectors were “morons masquerading as mentors”. Lehmann, however, has called for unity.
“Everyone is entitled to their opinion,” added Lehmann. “I would just like all our ex-players to be really positive about the Australia cricket team. That would be the way to go.”
It is believed, meanwhile, that Avon and Somerset Police may decide this week on whether England vice-captain Ben Stokes will be charged following his arrest in September on suspicion of causing actual bodily harm.
Such a judgement could put the onus on the England and Wales Cricket Board as to whether Stokes features in Australia. Wicketkeeper-batsman Jonny Bairstow said: “It would be amazing if Stokesy comes out. But it’s out of our hands.”