Cricket: Salisbury adds the incentive: Derek Hodgson finds the England A team have plenty to play for as they prepare for their Australian tour

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ENGLAND'S less heralded cricketers, the A team, completed six weeks of training at Lilleshall yesterday and will fly out to Australia for six weeks on 26 January.

Keith Fletcher, the manager of the England seniors, last week complimented the A team system for its development of Ian Salisbury; the leg spinner's reward for his hard work and diligence is to stay a further two months in India while his replacement, the Surrey off-spinner James Boiling, makes do with Queensland's Gold Coast and Bondi Beach.

Norman Gifford, the A team manager, conceded that Salisbury's call-up was a loss to his party but pointed out: 'It does give all the lads on this tour the incentive. They do know they are under scrutiny for promotion.'

Gifford, like Fletcher and Graham Gooch, was full of praise for the preparation provided by Lilleshall. 'I'll be surprised if there are fitter cricketers anywhere in the world,' he said.

He stressed how the A team structure had improved the chances of every professional cricketer of playing representative matches. 'There are no unfashionable counties, or unfashionable places to play, any longer,' he said. 'Outstanding performances are noted as they happen . . . The selectors will never win total approval but they do now know about and see all the players.'

Mike Vockins, the A tour manager, agreed that he would have preferred to have met Australia in fully representative matches (this team will play no 'Tests'). 'It seems that the Australians do not feel they are as far advanced as we are in this area,' he said, 'but from our previous experience I know that the matches against the Australian academy and some of the State sides will be mini-Tests.'

Martyn Moxon, the captain, and Jack Russell, the vice-captain, see the tour as a chance to advance their own leadership ambitions. Russell, whose non-selection for India is partly responsible for an extraordinary general meeting of MCC on 27 January, said he was over that disappointment. 'I'm not down for long,' he said. 'I'm looking forward now to playing with these lads and to acting as the vice-captain.' Russell sees this tour as his way back to the England dressing-room.

Moxon, who remains a possible alternative for England if the Gooch-Stewart succession fails, would not be pushed into speaking of vaulting ambition. 'I know that first I have to get enough runs to force my way back into the England team,' he said. 'What happens after that is not up to me but it is every cricketer's dream to captain England.'

Moxon is pleased with the balance of his team: 'Apart from those who have played Tests, like Jack, David Capel and myself, and the up and coming youngsters, we also have cricketers like Paul Prichard who are experienced, who have played abroad but who have never before been given a chance in representative cricket.'

ENGLAND A PARTY: M D Moxon (capt, Yorkshire), J Russell (wicketkeeper, Gloucestershire), M Lathwell (Somerset), M Roseberry (Middlesex), G Thorpe (Surrey), A Middleton (Hampshire), G Lloyd (Lancashire), P Prichard, P Such (Essex), D Cork (Derbyshire), D Millns (Leicestershire), A Caddick (Somerset), D Capel (Northamptonshire), M Ilott (Essex), J Boiling (Surrey).

ITINERARY: 26 January: Depart London; 31 Jan: New South Wales XI (Bowral); 2-4 February: ACT (Canberra); 7 Feb: Tasmania (Launceston); 8-10 Feb: Tasmania (Launceston); 13-16 Feb: Australian Cricket Academy (Melbourne); 19-22 Feb: Queensland (Caloundra); 26 Feb to 1 March: South Australia (Adelaide); 4-7 Mar: New South Wales (Sydney); 10 Mar: Northern Territory XI (Alice Springs); 12 Mar: Western Australia XI (Perth); 14- 17 Mar: Western Australia XI (Perth).