Tait and Haddin in World Cup squad
Shaun Tait's extra firepower won him the final fast-bowling spot in Australia's 15-man squad for their World Cup defence in the West Indies starting next month. Tait succeeded in his head-to-head battle with Stuart Clark while Cameron White also missed out after playing throughout the group phase of the CB Series.
Brad Haddin, the New South Wales wicketkeeper-batsman, was picked as back-up for Adam Gilchrist, who is expecting the birth of his third child shortly before the team leaves for the Caribbean, and Andrew Symonds was chosen despite a serious arm injury. The ICC has given Cricket Australia clearance to replace Symonds if the biceps problem does not heal in time for him to play a significant part in the tournament.
"Andrew's recovery from surgery has gone as well as could have been expected and, given his importance to the team and the balance of the team, it was felt that the risk of picking him so soon after surgery was warranted," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said. Hilditch said the squad mixed youth and experience and was capable of winning the trophy for the third consecutive time.
Tait appeared in his first two one-day internationals at the end of the CB Series preliminary rounds, taking 2 for 68 and 1 for 26, and Hilditch said it was a difficult decision to omit Clark, who captured ten wickets in six appearances. "Shaun's pace will give us extra firepower during the powerplays and at the end of the innings," Hilditch said, "and it adds variation to the pace attack." Australia also have Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson at their disposal.
Hilditch was also confident Haddin would provide extra flexibility after a season of 669 Pura Cup runs and 406 in the one-day competition. "We see him as being capable of batting everywhere in the order," he said. "In addition, he provides us with cover as a second wicketkeeper should Adam become injured."
The return of Shane Watson after a serious hamstring injury and the performances of Brad Hodge forced White out of the squad. "Cameron is extremely unlucky to miss selection," Hilditch said. "He is a young man with a bright future for Australia. We think he'll only get better with age." Australia's first game of the World Cup is against Scotland on March 14, but they will play two warm-up fixtures in St Vincent from March 6.
Australia World Cup squad Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (wk), Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin (wk), Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson.