Australia have trimmed their 17-man provisional Ashes squad to a 13-man squad for the opening Test in Brisbane, keeping faith with their experienced batsmen but dropping off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.
Michael Hussey and Marcus North retain their places in the squad with Callum Ferguson and Usman Khawaja missing out while Hauritz, who has struggled for form recently, along with Ryan Harris, who the selection panel feel needs more time to recover from a knee injury, are the other players omitted.
Australia's spin-bowling options are now leg-spinner Steve Smith or uncapped left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty.
National Selection Panel (NSP) chairman Andrew Hilditch explained:
“The NSP has picked what it believes to be a strong and well balanced squad, selected specifically with the conditions in Brisbane in mind.
“The squad contains a number of experienced Test players and some exciting young talent and we firmly believe it has the ability to win the first Test of the Vodafone Ashes Series in Brisbane.
“From our initial squad of 17, we have omitted four players after the most recent round of Weet-Bix Sheffield Shield matches and the ongoing Australia A game in Hobart. Nathan Hauritz is one of these players omitted and he can consider himself unlucky as his Australian record has been very good over the past 12 months.
“However the NSP believes the left-arm orthodox variety Xavier Doherty provides against a predominantly right-handed English middle order is the better option in this game.
“Callum Ferguson, Usman Khawaja and Ryan Harris are the other three to miss out of the final squad. Callum and Usman are both wonderful young players who we believe will play a big role for Australian cricket moving forward but on this occasion the experienced middle order has been preferred.
“We felt Ryan Harris needed further time to recover from his knee injury and also believe the four fast bowlers we have selected are in good form and will be key weapons for us winning the Ashes Series this summer.”
Australia Ashes squad for Brisbane Test: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Ben Hilfenhaus, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Marcus North, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson
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