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Australia name Matthew Wade captain for Chappell-Hadlee series

Matthew Wade has led Victoria to back-to-back Sheffield Shield titles in the last two years
Matthew Wade has led Victoria to back-to-back Sheffield Shield titles in the last two years

Australia selectors have named wicket-keeper batsman Matthew Wade as the skipper for the upcoming Chappell-Hadlee series against New Zealand that kicks-off on Monday.

The decision comes after regular skipper Steven Smith pulled out of the three-match One-Day International series due to an ankle injury which he sustained during the fifth game against Pakistan in Adelaide.

With vice-captain David Warner also rested for the series, the selectors have backed Wade to take up the role considering his tremendous success with Victoria in the Sheffield Shield where he led them to back-to-back titles in the past two years.

Meanwhile, Queensland batsman Sam Heazlett has been named as Smith replacement in the squad. The 21-year-old has played just five List A games previously and has amassed 289 runs at an average of 72.

Heazlett also played a vital 39-run knock off 27 deliveries for Brisbane Heat in the group encounter against Melbourne Stars to lay the platform for their chase of 139.

Cricket Australia Interim Selector Trevor Hohns said the selectors were tempted to recall Warner from his rest but decided against it with a gruelling tour of India ahead.

“We had a few options as captain in the absence of Steve Smith and vice-captain David Warner but Matthew Wade was the logical option given his leadership experience with Victoria and the fact he is very much a leader within the group already.

“We did discuss the situation with David Warner, but after doing so the NSP made the decision that it was in his best interests and in the best interests of the team that we continued with our original plan to give him a break for this series.

"That was our call and, that way, we will ensure David is fresh and ready to go in the build-up to the Test series in India that follows."

Hohns also had high praises for Heazlett and said he was rewarded for his domestic performances.

“Sam showed last summer what a talented player he is by averaging over 40 in his debut season at first-class level and he impressed again when playing for the National Performance Squad against A teams from Australia, South Africa and India in Townsville and Mackay during this past winter.”

Meanwhile, Wade, who scored a match-winning unbeaten century in the recent ODI series against Pakistan said he is looking forward to the new role.

“Being asked to captain Australia is obviously not something I was expecting and it is still sinking in, but I am hugely honoured by the decision of the selectors and the Board of Directors and very excited about it.

“With Steve Smith and David Warner absent it’s an opportunity for me to captain the side for three matches but I’m not about to change too much and it’s a case of trying to continue the disciplines that have earned us success in the recent past.”

The three-match series will be played between 30th January and 5th February in Auckland, Napier and Hamilton.

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