Melbourne:Australia may downsize its Ashes squad for the 2009 series against England by three players, reducing the touring party to just 13.
A 16-member side -- one less than the traditional 17 --travelled to England for the 2005 series which Australia lost, and Cricket Australia is planning to reduce it further for next year.
"Just one tour after cutting the Ashes squad from 17 to 16 members, CA is now thinking to slash 3 more players," 'The Australian' newspaper reported.
The back-up players, instead of travelling with the team, would be put on standby even as they play for their state and county sides.
"The make-up of that squad is incredibly up in the air. It could be anywhere from 13 to 16 in that group," the daily quoted a source as saying.
"Why would you have 15 or 16 there when they're just going to be carrying bags or sitting watching the blokes in the nets? The thinking is why would we carry 15 around as the whole group when the reality is three blokes are there without much of a prospect of playing any cricket?" he reasoned.
A decision on the size of the squad is likely to be made next month.