Aussies to learn Ashes fate in brutal process
It's going to be an uneasy night for Australia's best cricketers ahead of an extraordinary alphabetical squad announcement first thing Friday morning UK time.
In an unprecedented move every one of the 25 players, with the exception of captain Tim Paine, will be called in to meet with head selector Trevor Hohns and coach Justin Langer to be told their fate.
The players, who will be summoned in alphabetical order, will be told whether they will be staying for the Ashes or going home.
Each has been allotted five minutes and will be summoned by text message to learn their fate,
It will be heartbreak for at least eight and enormous relief for those of the 16-17 who were not assured of a place.
Former opener Cameron Bancroft, back after his nine month ban for his role in the ball tampering affair, will be first to learn his fate but should be confident after a dominant 93no _ by far the highest score in a disappointing match for the batsmen in the all-Australian clash at Southampton.
David Warner will be the last to know but would have been confident even before he scored a half century in the practice game.
Langer admits the process is brutal, but said it was important that each player be told individually.
Paine said he would not take part in informing the players but he had made his thoughts clear in a phone hook up with Greg Chappell, Hohns and Langer.
"I've already spoken to them this morning," he said at the early conclusion to the tour match on Thursday afternoon in Southampton.
"I've given my thoughts. Obviously we've been in constant communication for some time and bouncing squads and teams off each other the whole time."
Paine believes it is up to the actual selectors to communicate with the rest.
"I sort of had my final say this morning and they'll make the rest of the decisions from there," he said.
"Obviously I'll speak to all the guys who are going home, and you obviously feel for them because they've got so close to every Australian cricketer's dream. To have it taken away a week before the first Test is going to sting but we've got a really close group of 25 cricketers here and I'd imagine every one of our squad will be speaking to those guys in the next 24 hours."
There will be a lot of nervous batsmen after what was almost wholesale failure to come to terms with the pitch and bowling on what was an extraordinarily difficult wicket in the practice game at Southampton.
Bancroft is close to making a return to the Australian Test camp and closer a reunion with his former top order partner Warner after he shone on the third and final day of a match that was scheduled to go four.
The opener who was caught in the middle of the sandpaper scandal with his senior partner carried his bat through the last innings and was left on 93no.
Paine was diplomatic about the pitch but it was clear that as one of the batsmen who struggled to score on it he was not that happy with the conditions.
"Yeah it was hard work for the batters, the wicket was a little bit indifferent," he said.
"I know the scores weren't flattering but batters stuck at it really well, gusted it out on something that was at times bordering on dangerous. So we were happy with how the batters applied themselves, it was just one of those wickets where you were always going to get one with your name on it."
The bowlers had a much better time of it.
"Bowling wise, I thought our bowlers were excellent throughout the whole game," Paine said. "They were relentless, obviously the wicket gave them a bit - which kept them pretty interested most of the time, but I thought all of our bowlers showed really good signs in all parts of the game."