Big names rested

Captain Alastair Cook, Stuart Broad and Kevin Pietersen will be rested for England's opening match of its Australian Ashes tour, a three-day game against the Western Australia Chairman's XI. Cook has a back ailment while Pietersen only arrived in Australia after being given compassionate leave following the death of a friend in South Africa. Wicketkeeper Matt Prior will captain the side in the absence of Cook at the WACA Ground starting Thursday.

The first test against Australia begins Nov. 21 in Brisbane. Prior said Pietersen was in good spirits despite his bereavement leave. "It was a tough time for Kev, but he's a tough character," Prior said. "He's able to ditch things pretty quickly and move on. He's one of those exceptional players — a guy that can single-handedly turn a game on its head in an hour or so." Former Australian test opener Geoff Marsh, who will coach the Western Australia side, said he was surprised England didn't name a full-strength batting lineup for the tour match.

"I look back on the last Ashes series and England played their top-six batters in all three (tour) games," Marsh said. "And they played their top bowlers in two of the games and then sent them to Brisbane in their last game to prepare. It surprised me they're not doing the same." England, which won the most recent series at home 3-0, is attempting to win its fourth consecutive Ashes series.