Hussey says Oz players motivated to perform due to Ashes lure

Leeds: Australian middle-order batsman Michael Hussey has said the lure of playing in the Ashes series, starting November 25 in Brisbane, has helped ensure that players in the current squad will have their minds on the job in the match against Pakistan starting here on Wednesday.

"There is still so much motivation because one it is a Test match for Australia and two, we are getting closer and closer to the Ashes series as well," The Age quoted Hussey, as saying.

"I know all the guys want to be part of that Ashes series so everyone wants to perform in every Test match leading up to that to make sure they are on that team sheet in late November," he added.

Following the Headingley clash, Australia have two more Tests in India in October before selectors choose the squad they hope will regain the Ashes.

Australia`s Test batting lineup looks pretty settled at the moment with No.6 Marcus North`s surprising return of 6-55 with his spinners at Lord`s on Friday aiding his bid to keep his place in the side.

However bowling spots remain up for grabs.

In the pace department, Mitchell Johnson is probably the only quick guaranteed a spot with Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Ryan Harris fighting it out for two positions with the returning Peter Siddle not out of the picture.

With Hilfenhaus struggling to shake off a shoulder injury, uncapped South Australian Peter George could be handed the chance to throw his hat in the ring on debut this week.

The spin situation is becoming interesting.

With off-spinner Nathan Hauritz sidelined with a foot injury, leg spinner Steve Smith is doing his best to present himself as Australia`s No.1 spinner.

Smith, 21, took 3-51 in the second innings at Lord`s after not being tossed the ball in the opening innings as Pakistan`s batsmen failed to complete 41 overs.

The youngster bowled with increasing confidence late in the match and selectors could be faced with a tough call in four months` time.



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