Lehmann in, Katich out ... again
Simon Katich has lost a close call for the final batting place to Darren Lehmann for the first Test against New Zealand at the Gabba, which starts on November 18. Katich, who filled in for the injured Ricky Ponting at No. 3 in India, was dropped as the selectors recalled Lehmann and retained Michael Clarke.
Shane Warne's broken thumb has healed well enough for him to replace the offspinner Nathan Hauritz in the 12-man squad. Warne missed the final Test at Mumbai when he was injured in the nets, but he has taken 75 wickets at 25 against New Zealand and expects to play with minimal pain. Brett Lee, who will bowl for New South Wales against the tourists tomorrow, was also selected.
Katich is the loser for the second time this year after being left out in favour of the allround skills of Andrew Symonds in the first two Tests in Sri Lanka. The calmest of the top order in India, Katich scored 276 runs at 39.42, including 99 in the second innings at Nagpur.
"We have every faith in Simon, and are very confident that he will play in the Australian Test team again in the not too distant future," said Trevor Hohns, the chairman of selectors. "He has done very well on those occasions when he has been called upon, and it was a very hard decision to make." Katich today withdrew from the tour match against the New Zealanders after suffering a relapse of a virus he picked up at Mumbai.
Hohns said the form of Lehmann, the stand-in vice-captain when Ponting was absent, had been consistent over the past 12 months while Clarke was rewarded for his 400 runs at 57.14 in his first four Tests. "Darren is a highly respected, experienced campaigner and is still our preferred choice at this stage, as long as his injured hamstring is fully recovered," sais Hohns. Lehmann limped off during the third match of the series at Nagpur and will have to pass a fitness test to play at Brisbane.
Nathan Hauritz, who took five wickets on his debut, including Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman in the second innings at Mumbai, performed well in India, but Hohns said "it was only natural" that Warne would return.
Australia squad for first Test
Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Ricky Ponting (capt), Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann (subject to fitness), Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee.