NEWCASTLE City captain-coach Mitchell Claydon could influence the make-up of the Australian top order for the first Ashes Test.
Claydon’s English county side, Kent, are hosting the Australians in a four-day tour match at the St Lawrence Ground which started on Thursday.
The game has a decidedly Newcastle City flavour.
City’s English imports, Ben Harmison and Matthew Hunn, are also part of the XI, while 18-year-old Jordi Van Kemenade will carry the drinks.
Australia have named a formidable line-up for the first of two warm-up matches before the opening Test at Cardiff starting on July 8.
Only David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Nathan Lyon are being rested from the likely Ashes line-up.
The most intriguing subplot going into the match is the return of Chris Rogers after he missed the West Indies Test series with concussion, and whether he can fight off a challenge from Shaun Marsh to partner Warner at the top of the order.
Claydon took the new ball for Kent, but former Western Australia teammates Rogers (46 not out) and Marsh (29 not out) negotiated the first 25 overs without mishap.
While Claydon will be supporting Australia in the Ashes, he said no quarter would be given at Canterbury and he would ‘‘pretend to be English’’.
‘‘There’s a lot of pressure on these guys,’’ Claydon told the Newcastle Herald from Canterbury on Thursday.
‘‘There’s no pressure on us whatsoever. We’re not expected to beat these lads at all.
‘‘For them it’s a hitout and an important time before their first Test.’’
In Claydon’s 10-year professional county career he has played a Twenty20 against New Zealand and a four-day match against Australia A, but this will be the toughest opponent he has faced.
Claydon said 6000 tickets had been sold for the game, so the Jimmy Adams-coached Kent side had decided to field their strongest line-up.
‘‘If you can do well in this game, you can really stake your claim for the next level,’’ he said. ‘‘So it’s a great opportunity for young guys, and for guys like me, who’s 32 and at the end of my career, it’s just another game of cricket, but you get to test yourself against the best in the world.’’
Van Kemenade joined Claydon when he returned to Kent for the English summer.
The leg-spinning opening batsman is one of City’s brightest young talents and has had the opportunity to train twice weekly with the Kent squad.
Now he may have the chance to catch or run out the likes of Michael Clarke and Steve Smith.
‘‘Jimmy Adams rang me up the other day and asked did I think Jordi would like to do that, and, knowing Jordi, I knew he would jump out of his skin to be 12th man for the first two days,’’ Claydon said.
‘‘He came down to training yesterday and they gave him the full kit of gear. I’ve told him no photos, he can’t be annoying, he’s just got to sit back and be professional.
‘‘He’s loved it, even being around our set-up.
‘‘He scored his first 100 the other week for his club side he plays with.’’