4th January 2011

Six members of the England squad will aim to emulate our Test cricketers by successfully defending the Ashes during an assault on a series of Australian tournaments over the next six weeks.

The two-day Ashes clash will round off the annual mid-winter visit Down Under by England players which this year will take in six events starting with the Masters of the Amateurs at Royal Melbourne on 11th - 14th January.

The group who will swap the snow of Britain for the sunshine of the Southern Hemisphere is: Laurie Canter ( Saltford , Somerset), Stiggy Hodgson ( Sunningdale , Surrey), Tom Lewis ( Welwyn Garden City , Hertfordshire), Jack Senior ( Heysham , Lancashire), Andrew Sullivan ( Nuneaton , Warwickshire), and Darren Wright ( Rowlands Castle , Hampshire, IoW & CI).

After the Masters of the Amateurs, the squad will contest the Lake Macquarie International at Belmont on 20th - 23rd January, the New South Wales Medal at Liverpool and Cumberland Golf Clubs on 25th - 28th January, the New South Wales Amateur at the New South Wales Golf Club on 31st January - 2nd February, before the Ashes at Elanora Country Club near Sydney on 8th - 9th February.

Those who fail to qualify for the New South Wales Amateur will play in the Lakes Cup at The Lakes GC on 30th January.

In addition Senior, Sullivan and Wright will compete in the New South Wales Cup on the 12th February, again hosted at the New South Wales Golf Club before returning home.

Canter, 21, hit the headlines early last year when he won the South African Amateur Championship. He followed that with victories in the Hampshire Hog and West of England Stroke Play before making his full England debut in the European Men's Team Championships and keeping his place for the Home Internationals, both events which England won. He also represented England in the Eisenhower Trophy, GB&I in the St Andrews Trophy, and Somerset in the English County Finals.

Hodgson, 20, has played for England at every level and been successful at home and abroad. He won the Duke of York Young Champions Trophy and the Daily Telegraph Junior Championship in 2008 after lifting the Carris Trophy. That year, he also finished runner-up in the Junior Orange Bowl in America. A Walker Cup player in 2009, he also reached the Amateur Championship semi-finals, the quarter finals of the English Amateur and was second in the South of England Stroke Play. A major victory eluded his grasp in 2010 but he finished equal second in the St Andrews Links Trophy.

Lewis, 20, has already displayed his talents in Australia, losing a three-way playoff in last month's New South Wales Open to European Tour professional Peter O'Malley, then winning the silver medal as the leading amateur in the following week's Australian Open Championship. His biggest victory to date was the British Boys in 2009, while he reached the English Amateur semi-finals last year, was also a member of England's Eisenhower Trophy team, and finished third on the Titleist/Footjoy EGU Order of Merit.

Senior, 22, has been a force in Lancashire golf for several years, helping the county win the English Boys County Finals in 2006 and the men's title in 2008 and last year. After finishing runner-up in the West of England Stroke Play and third in the Lytham Trophy in 2009, he enjoyed a highly successful 2010, reflected in his sixth place on the EGU Order of Merit.

He won the South of England Stroke Play and had top-ten finishes in a string of events including the Tillman Trophy, St Andrews Links Trophy and West of England Stroke Play. After helping England win the Home Internationals, Senior wrapped up the year by beating England team-mate Eddie Pepperell to win the Egyptian Amateur in Cairo.

Sullivan, 23, capped a triumphant 2010 by finishing runner-up in the EGU Order of Merit. His list of victories included the Lagonda Trophy, the Hampshire Salver, and both the Midland Open and Closed Championships. He was also a quarter finalist in the English Amateur, runner-up in the West of England Stroke Play and the Lee Westwood Trophy before winning the individual title in the Tailhade Cup in Argentina in November. He also completed the Midland 'double' in 2009, having reached the Amateur Championship semi-finals the previous year.

After becoming English Under 18 Champion in 2006, Wright, 22, found major victories eluding him until he won the West of England Stroke Play in 2009. That proved a breakthrough and he secured his biggest victory when he won the Brabazon Trophy last summer. It brought him selection for England's winning Home Internationals team and for GB&I in the St Andrews Trophy.

Three other English players, David Coupland ( Boston , Lincolnshire), Ben Loughrey ( Wrag Barn , Wiltshire), and Neil Raymond ( Corhampton , Hampshire, IoW & CI) will be following a similar schedule in Australia although not part of the official England group.

However, they could be called up for the Ashes, which England won convincingly at Royal Birkdale in 2009, as Lewis is returning home prior to the match, hoping for other tournament opportunities in order to prepare for the English season in which his main aim is Walker Cup selection.

The Masters of the Amateurs tournament has an international field. The opening round is played with club professionals and guests with a shotgun start. The other three rounds comprise just the amateurs, while the long-established 72-hole Lake Macquarie International at Belmont has not been won by an English player since Adam Gee in 2006. Other English winners have included Roger Chapman (1981), Russell Claydon (1989), Ricky Willison (1990), and Nick Dougherty (2001), while Gary Wolstenholme lost a playoff in 1998.

The field in the New South Wales Medal will play one round over the Liverpool and Cumberland courses after which there will be a cut with the leading 60 players plus ties playing 36 holes at Liverpool on 28th January. The leading 32 players from that will enter the match play knockout competition for the NSW Amateur.