Countdown to the Ashes: 22 days to go

England's warm-up strategy puts MacGill in sour mood
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England have not even set off for Australia yet but somehow they have already got under the skin of the New South Wales players who they are due to meet in a three-day warm-up match in Sydney on 12 November.

Reports that England plan to give up to 17 touring players a game during the three days because of the limited time before the first Test have not gone down well.

"If we win the toss and decide our guys need a big bat, they'll bat for three days," the Australian spinner Stuart MacGill said.

"It's not a proper game of cricket. It's an exhibition match, a centre-wicket practice for the English, and I won't be approaching it in any other vein. I think three days in the field would change their preparations significantly."

MacGill will resume his efforts to secure a berth in Australia's Ashes side after being selected in New South Wales' Pura Cup team to play South Australia in Adelaide tomorrow.

The 35-year-old leg-spinner missed NSW's last four-day match, against Queensland, after he was given a two-week ban following a row with an umpire during a game in Sydney's grade competition.

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