Watson picked for one-day comeback
Shane Watson has been rushed into Australia's one-day side for the tour of South Africa as the selectors continue to experiment ahead of the 2007 World Cup. Watson, who required surgery after partially dislocating his shoulder in the first Test against West Indies, returned for Queensland only last month, but he has been included instead of his state team-mate James Hopes for the five-match series starting on February 26.
The withdrawal of Glenn McGrath, who will stay with his sick wife Jane, was not a surprise and neither was the omission of Brett Dorey, who struggled for impact during his VB Series opportunities. However, Trevor Hohns's panel has gambled with Mitchell Johnson in the 14-man outfit ahead of internationally proven bowlers such as Michael Kasprowicz and Jason Gillespie.
"We have picked what we consider a well-balanced squad," Hohns said. "There is a good blend of youth and experience in the team for what promises to be a challenging series."
Johnson was a last-game selection for the Chappell-Hadlee Series in December and was also in the squad for the Twenty20 International against South Africa. A left-arm fast bowler, Johnson has 18 wickets at 30.05 in the Pura Cup and eight at 48.75 in the ING competition for Queensland this summer. "Mitchell gets another opportunity in Australian colours," Hohns said. "He bowls with good pace and we're keen to see what he has to offer at international level."
McGrath has delayed making a decision on whether he will play in the three-Test series next month and Hohns said they would discuss the situation over the next two weeks. The tour opens with a Twenty20 match at Johannesburg on February 24.
Australia squad Adam Gilchrist (wk), Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Stuart Clark, Mick Lewis, Mitchell Johnson.