MacGill on the outer again
Stuart MacGill has been left out of Australia's 13-man squad to play Sri Lanka next month and Shaun Tait brought in, with the selectors putting their faith in pace to unsettle Sri Lanka's classy top order.
MacGill had received assurances from Cricket Australia that his decision to stand out of last month's Zimbabwe tour because of moral concerns would not count against his future selection prospects. But Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors, said the nature of the pitches in Darwin and Cairns meant that there was no room for either him or the Victorian legspinner Cameron White, who went to Zimbabwe in MacGill's stead.
"Considering the type of wickets we're likely to get in Darwin and Cairns it was highly unlikely that we'd play two spinners, which ruled both White and MacGill out of consideration," Hohns said in an official statement.
As expected Glenn McGrath, despite being publicly advised to pull his socks up, is one of an extravagant line-up of five fast bowlers. He is likely to lead Australia's attack alongside Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz and Shane Warne, who - depending on whether or not Muttiah Muralitharan makes the trek to Australia's tropics - might be chasing the all-time Test bowling record.
Warne is currently sitting on 517 wickets, behind Muralitharan (527) and the retired West Indian pace great Courtney Walsh (519). Should Muralitharan tour, their encounter shapes as a classic to rival their most recent battle in Sri Lanka three months ago.
Tait was selected as cover for Brad Williams, who was included in the squad despite coming home early from Zimbabwe with a sore back. "With Williams under an injury cloud and with McGrath still to play under Test match conditions, Tait's selection will add significant depth," said Hohns. "Should he play, he will give our attack that extra edge."
Zippy, raw and only 21, Tait previously filled in for Brett Lee - who is still recovering from ankle surgery - on the tour of Sri Lanka. In 14 first-class matches he has taken 53 wickets at 26.56.
The first of the two Tests will begin in Darwin on July 1. The Sri Lankans will play one warm-up match against a Northern Territory Chief Minister's XI, expected to be named later today.
Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (capt), Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Simon Katich, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath, Brad Williams, Shaun Tait.