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Langer lashes out as shield gets left behind
Shaun Marsh is one of three players WA will lose to Australia A next week. Pic: Getty Images

WA coach Justin Langer has questioned the timing of the Australia A series against the England Lions that will see all six States deprived of players in next week's full round of Sheffield Shield matches.

Saying that the shield competition had been "watered down", Langer recognised that the expansion of Australian cricket to a full-year program would have ramifications for the development of players.

Adam Voges, Shaun Marsh and Nathan Coulter-Nile will play for Australia A next week, while emerging teenage spinner Ashton Agar will only return from net bowling duties in India this weekend.

"The itinerary over the next few weeks means that the best 30 players in Australia will be unavailable to play in our once-cherished Sheffield Shield competition," Langer said on his Cricket Australia blog.

"The shield competition will be watered down.

"The response will be that we will widen the net of opportunities and talent within our system, but are we really doing that?

"Or are we just watering down a strong nursery that has served Australian cricket so well for so long?

"There are no easy answers while cricket is played globally 12 months of the calendar year."

Seventeen players will be on tour in India, while a 12-man squad has been named for five one-day games against the England second XI.

WA will play Tasmania at the WACA Ground next week in the crucial match that will decide whether the Warriors have any chance of qualifying for the final.

WA are last on the shield ladder, but only eight points separate them from top team Queensland, who they beat at the Gabba last week.

Outright victory could lift fifth-placed Tasmania to top spot, while the Warriors could climb to third.

The Warriors play Tasmania (home), South Australia (away) and Queensland (home) in the final three rounds of the season.

Tasmania hope to regain Australian Twenty20 captain George Bailey after the final international of the summer today. Ricky Ponting will return to Perth for the first time since his Test career ended at the WACA Ground last December.

Ponting is in imposing form after 200 not out in Tasmania's draw with NSW last week.

Langer supported the concept of rotating Australia's crop of young pacemen to enable them to develop for the future, but suggested the same policy should not apply to the nation's best batsmen.

"There are always only six batting positions available in the Australian cricket team and competition for one of these places should be intense," he said.

"To have success as an international batsman you must have both eyes firmly locked on the cricket ball, whether it is white or red."

"Are we just watering down a strong nursery that has served Australian cricket so well for so long?""WA coach *Justin Langer *