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Four Test places up for grabs

By Michael Donaldson 01/03/2004 07:34:51 PM Comments (0)

Up to four places in the Australian cricket team are up for grabs when the world champions start a three-day practice match.

Captain Ricky Ponting's first Test team will be notable for the return of Shane Warne but for the likes of Stuart MacGill, Andrew Symonds, Simon Katich, Darren Lehmann, Michael Kasprowicz, Brad Williams and even Brett Lee, there's no real certainty ahead next week's opening Test in Galle.

Ponting hinted Warne would be back in the team simply because of who he is.

"He's one of the greats of the game and if you can slide guys like him back in to your side you're going to have a bit more of an aura when you take the field," Ponting said.

While Warne can feel safe, for the bulk of the squad, the contest to wear a baggy green cap is as open as it's been in years, with conditions in Sri Lanka throwing a whole raft of possibilities into the selection pot.

"You could look at the squad and pick six or seven different teams," Ponting acknowledged.

"We've got so many options. we've got two of the best legspinners in the world, three of the best fast bowlers in the world and an all-rounder (Andrew Symonds) who has performed exceptionally well in one-day cricket over the past 12 months.

"We've got so much flexibility there and so many options.

"You could stack the team with fast bowlers, you could stack it with spin or you could go for a mix. You can come up with a lot of different combinations and I guess we'll get a bit more of an idea out of this game."

The only Test certainties at the moment are the top four batsmen, wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist and pace bowler Jason Gillespie.

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