Australia’s 11th hour plan to end Ashes drought
Ashes auditions are set to roll on as late as July as Australia's selectors buy themselves as much time as possible to assess form in English conditions.
Cricket Australia has taken the extraordinary step of organising up to seven or eight tour matches for an Australia A side against English county sides this winter to run concurrently to when the limited overs side is trying to defend its World Cup crown from May-July.
Originally CA had signalled that the Ashes squad and Australia A squad would be named at the same time, but coach Justin Langer has revealed he wants the A tour to be a genuine selection shoot-out with nothing locked in until the panel have a proper body of evidence to gauge form on the ground.
The idea is that as many Ashes hopefuls as possible who aren't featuring in the World Cup squad will be picked for Australia A in a bid to fully prepare.
Selectors were criticised in some quarters for picking Australia's squad to face Sri Lanka too early.
However, final numbers for an Ashes squad of 16 or 17 won't be finalised until potentially three quarters of the way through the Australia A campaign, setting the scene for a competitive environment where spots will be at a premium.
"We probably won't pick the final Ashes squad until quite late," said Langer.
"I hope I'm not talking out of school with the other selectors but I can't see us picking the Ashes before the Australian A tour for example.
"Maybe halfway through or three quarters of the way through.
"It will be really good opportunities for the guys who are picked for Australia A while the World Cup is on, to put their hand up."
It's possible Australia will also have other players outside the Australia A squad playing county cricket in UK conditions.
Selectors will also put plenty of stock in the final few rounds of the Sheffield Shield, given fast bowling hopefuls will be able to show what they can do for their States with an English Duke's ball.
"(Players have got) a really good opportunity through Australia A and the last four Shield games with the Duke's ball as well as a Shield final," said Langer.
"We'll get a pretty good indication of who is up and running. We'll get the opportunity to see the Australia A tour that's why it's there. And then they've all got to stay fit and healthy as well.
"That's another big part of our fast bowling stocks, keeping them fit and healthy.
"Jhye (Richardson) is putting his best foot forward and that's all we can ask from our players.
"Obviously Pat (Cummins) is putting his best foot forward. I tend to think that if we keep looking after these Test matches and we keep an eye on what we do in Shield cricket in Australia, the Ashes will look after itself."
Every Test, ODI & T20I live, ad-break free during play and in 4K. Only on Foxtel. SIGN UP NOW!