Northampton:With regular captain Ricky Ponting and his deputy Michael Clarke taking a break, Michael Hussey will lead a depleted Australian side against Northamptonshire in their tour match starting here on Friday.
Injury-ravaged speedster Brett Lee was also left out of the side, thus diminishing the injury-raved player's hopes of returning to the side for the third Ashes Test in Edgbaston.
Lee was seen only stretching at the County Ground even though his teammate sweated it out in the nets.
The 12-member Australia squad for the tour match does not include wicketkeeper Brad Haddin either and he will be replaced by Graham Manou in the tie.
All-rounders Shane Watson and Andrew McDonald get an opportunity to stake their claim for the Edgbaston Test with some sterling performance here.
Opener Phillip Hughes, who struggled against Andrew Flintoff's short-pitched deliveries, and off-colour pacer Mitchell Johnson will also be eager to address the grey areas in the tour match to retain their place in the side.
Hussey, however, has not lost his trust in Johnson and said he would not over-burden the bowler trying to help him regain form.
"He seems comfortable and was focused at training. Hopefully he can come into the game in a good frame of mind and clear on what he wants to work on and can get his confidence right up for the next Test," Hussey said.
"I don't want to bowl him into the ground as there is just over a week until the (third) Test starts. I don't want him punching out 25-30 overs in an innings or anything like that," he said.
Australia: Phil Hughes, Simon Katich, Michael Hussey (c), Marcus North, Shane Watson, Andrew McDonald, Graham Manou, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Stuart Clark, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Hauritz.