Cutting, Coulter-Nile part of PM's XI
Upcoming fast bowlers Ben Cutting and Nathan Coulter-Nile will have the chance to press for roles in Australia's limited-overs and West Indies tour plans after they were named in the Prime Minister's XI to face Sri Lanka in Canberra on February 3.
The Australian Test match vice-captain Brad Haddin will lead the invitational XI, and alongside his fellow Canberra product Nathan Lyon, will return to Manuka Oval, the ground on which he first made his name as a representative of the ACT. Presently in the midst of a poor series against India, Haddin appears to be receiving every chance to regain form.
"As a cricketer growing up in Canberra without the exposure to first-class cricket, the PM's XI match was the one game I always looked forward to and always wanted to tick off as a player," Haddin said. "To be named captain is an honour.
"The team selected has some good form behind it and I hope to be able to get a win on the board. Having players like Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh and Adam Voges who all have international experience will go a long way to helping our chances too. It's also important for players to put their name in front of the selectors and give themselves every opportunity to press for a place in the Australian side.
"I'm also excited about playing with Dean Solway, whose family was a strong supporter of mine while I played cricket in Canberra. Dean's father [Peter] has been a big influence on my career so it will be nice to walk on to the field with Dean and share this experience with the family."
Cutting was 12th man for the first Test of the home summer against New Zealand at the Gabba before succumbing to a side strain in the Sheffield Shield. Coulter-Nile has also battled injury this summer but is highly regarded and shared drinks duties with Mitchell Marsh during Australia's Perth Test win over India.
Australia's coach Mickey Arthur and the team performance manager Pat Howard are both intent on expanding the team's pool of available fast bowlers, a desire encouraged by the surfeit of injuries suffered by young pacemen in recent times.
"The PM's XI game is a special fixture in the Australian cricket calendar," the national selector John Inverarity said. "It provides a unique opportunity for many of the country's most talented and promising youngsters to showcase their skills on the international stage.
"Brad Haddin as captain and Nathan Lyon are two of our Test players who will be returning to Canberra. Local fans will be especially keen to watch and catch up with them. Peter Forrest has been in very good form this season and has been named as vice-captain. Ben Cutting is returning from injury and will be keen to make his mark."
The match takes place on the same day as Australia's second international Twenty20 fixture against India at the MCG.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo