Australia news March 31, 2015

Fawad and Voges in Ashes squad

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Coverdale: Fawad, Voges picked on current form

Legspinner Fawad Ahmed and veteran batsman Adam Voges have both been included in Australia's squads for the upcoming Ashes tour and the two-Test series in the West Indies that precedes it. Peter Nevill has been confirmed as the backup wicketkeeper to Brad Haddin, while there was no room for Glenn Maxwell, James Faulkner or Joe Burns.

Shaun Marsh was preferred to fellow Test incumbent Burns and joins his brother Mitchell Marsh in the 17-man Ashes squad. Peter Siddle was named in the group after being dropped from the Test side during the summer and he is expected to feature in the Tests in the Caribbean, with Ryan Harris staying home for the birth of his first child and joining the touring party for the Ashes.

Fast bowler James Pattinson was deemed unavailable for the West Indies tour after suffering an injury to his left hamstring during the Sheffield Shield final, and he will be assessed by medical staff over the coming weeks. Pattinson's breaking down in the Shield final did not prevent Victoria's win, which came thanks in large part to Fawad's eight-wicket haul in the first innings.

As an asylum seeker from Pakistan, Fawad's Australian citizenship was rushed through in 2013 to have him available for the Ashes but he was not chosen for that tour, and had to settle for debuts in ODI and Twenty20 international cricket. However, his legspin has bewitched batsmen all over Australia this summer and he topped the Shield tally with 48 victims at 24.85.

The selectors have also included the leading run scorer this season. Voges plundered 1358 runs at 104.46 in the Shield this summer to make himself almost impossible to ignore, and his experience will make him a valuable member of the squad. Voges was first part of a Test squad when he was called up during the 2006-07 Ashes in Australia, but nearly a decade later still does not have a baggy green.

Nevill's selection as the backup wicketkeeper ahead of Matthew Wade, who was chosen for the 2013 Ashes, comes after a summer in which he piled up 764 Shield runs at 76.40, including a career-best 235 not out against Tasmania in Hobart last month. Nevill toured the West Indies in 2012 when Brad Haddin flew home for personal reasons, but is yet to debut for Australia in any format.

"Basically the white ball's been put down and we're into red ball cricket," National Selector Rod Marsh said. "We're not playing it at home, and obviously we've been a powerhouse at home in recent series, but we haven't done that well overseas and it's time we got that right. We've hopefully picked sides that will be very, very good overseas and we hope to win both the series in the West Indies and we'd be delighted if we won the Ashes - that would be a fair 12 months I reckon."

Fawad Ahmed has been named in Australia's Test squad © Getty Images

Marsh explained that Voges' sheer weight of runs had pushed him ahead of Joe Burns, who played the last two Tests of the home summer but will now travel with Australia A to India, where he has never played before, to gain experience with an eye towards 2016 and series away to Sri Lanka and India.

"He had a magnificent Shield season, absolutely no doubt about that," Marsh said of Voges. "I looked at him on four or five occasions, maybe more, this year. and I thought 'I don't know how anyone is going to get this bloke out'. He was that dominant, but it wasn't only the fact he made 1300-odd runs, it was the way he made them. It was as good as any Sheffield Shield batting I've ever seen, and I've seen some good stuff.

"Pure weight of runs, and the way in which he got those runs [put Voges ahead of Burns]. You could just see Test player written all over him. Mark Waugh saw him bat, Trevor Hohns saw him bat, I saw him bat, all the state coaches, all the state talent managers. Everyone said the same thing - surely we can't all be wrong.

"It' worked out quite nicely for Joe in a lot of ways in as much as he will be going to India, where he's never played cricket, he'll have two four-day matches and five one-day matches in India, and I reckon that will be very good for his overall development as a batsman."

Although none of the inclusions were especially surprising, it was notable that neither Faulkner nor Maxwell made the squad after both playing key roles in Australia's recent World Cup triumph. Ashton Agar was also considered a possible candidate for the second spinning position, but Fawad's credentials this summer were too strong.

"Forty-eight wickets is a pretty good season, and it wasn't only the fact he got 48 wickets, it was the way he bowled," Marsh said. "He bowled beautifully all summer and him being a legspinner as opposed to a finger spinner probably also gave him a slight advantage because, believe it or not, Australia's always looking for legspinners. We have a proud history of legspinning in this country, and we want that to continue.

"He doesn't bowl too much rubbish, and he creates a lot of pressure. He's able to have men around the bat in most instances and he keeps asking the batsmen questions. That's what most good spinners do, you need to be able to remain on as a legspinners. It is all very well ripping the ball, but if you bowl two full tosses, two long hops, it's very hard for the captain to keep you on. He maintains good economy and he asks many questions of both left and right-handed batsmen."

Cricket Australia has also named its list of 19 contracted players for the 2015-16 season, with Siddle the notable exclusion from last year despite being named in the Test squads. Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Marsh and Pat Cummins have all joined the list from outside the contract list named this time last year for the 2014-15 season.

George Bailey retained his contract despite effectively being viewed as an ODI-only player, and being dropped from the side during the recent World Cup. Clarke's retirement from one-day cricket could pave the way for Bailey to return as a regular member of the team when they next convene for a series later this year.

Australia A squads have also been named for a series of four-day and one-day games in India throughout July, with Usman Khawaja named to captain the team in both formats alongside Matthew Wade as his deputy.

Test squad Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith (vice-capt), Fawad Ahmed, Brad Haddin, Josh Hazlewood, Ryan Harris (Ashes only), Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Contract list George Bailey, Michael Clarke, Pat Cummins, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Steven Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Australia A four-day squad Usman Khawaja (capt), Matthew Wade (vice-capt), Ashton Agar, Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns, Pat Cummins, Andrew Fekete, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Nic Maddinson, Glenn Maxwell, Steve O'Keefe, Gurinder Sandhu, Marcus Stoinis.

Australia A one-day squad Usman Khawaja (capt), Matthew Wade (vice-capt), Sean Abbott, Ashton Agar, Cameron Boyce, Joe Burns, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Callum Ferguson, Peter Handscomb, Travis Head, Chris Lynn, Gurinder Sandhu, Adam Zampa.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @brydoncoverdale

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