SYDNEY, Nov 11 (Reuters) A three-day match against a New South Wales side boasting a world-class bowling attack will offer England the perfect chance to bounce back from a poor start to the tour of Australia, said opener Andrew Strauss.
The tourists kicked off their Ashes campaign with a 166-run loss to the Prime Minister's XI in Canberra yesterday, and the contest starting at the Sydney Cricket Ground tomorrow is one of only two three-day matches before the opening test.
Strauss believes facing NSW, whose attack boasts Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Stuart Clark and Nathan Bracken, is the ideal way for England to prepare for the first test against Australia in Brisbane on November. 23.
''They've all played a lot of test cricket and that (attack) is as strong as you get,'' Strauss told reporters on the eve of the SCG encounter.
''That's brilliant for us, it's great to have a look at them before the test and it's great also to tune yourself into test-match psyche.'' Strauss was one of the few England players to come out of the PM's XI match with any credit after a run-a-ball 67, and he hinted his top order colleagues would continue to take on any barrage of short-pitched deliveries despite he, Alastair Cook and Kevin Pietersen succumbing to pull shots yesterday.
He added: ''The hook shot is a little more risky and it's just a question of making sure you judge which one to hit and which one not to.'' Both sides are expected to field 14 players, with only 11 allowed to bat, in a match stripped of first-class status.
England are set to give new-ball pairing of premier quick Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard their first games after missing the Canberra match with Ian Bell, Chris Read and Liam Plunkett also primed for their tour bows.
New South Wales will be without wicketkeeper Brad Haddin and batsman Dominic Thornely through injury but Canberra centurion Phil Jaques and Michael Clarke will play.
England (from): Andrew Flintoff (capt), James Anderson, Ian Bell, Paul Collingwood, Alastair Cook, Ashley Giles, Steve Harmison, Matthew Hoggard, Geraint Jones, Sajid Mahmood, Monty Panesar, Kevin Pietersen, Liam Plunkett, Chris Read, Andrew Strauss, Marcus Trescothick.
NSW (from): Simon Katich (capt), Nathan Bracken, Beau Casson, Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Ed Cowan, Nathan Hauritz, Moises Henriques, Phil Jaques, Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Glenn McGrath, Aaron O'Brien, Daniel Smith.
REUTERS PM RK1915