Australia v New Zealand, 1st Test, Brisbane November 13, 2008

Symonds named in Test squad

Cricinfo staff

Andrew Symonds has not played Test cricket since the Caribbean tour © AFP

Andrew Symonds could make his return to Test cricket next week after being named in Australia's 13-man squad to take on New Zealand in the first Test in Brisbane. Symonds has been included alongside Jason Krejza, the offspinner who took 12 wickets on debut in Nagpur, and the Victoria fast bowler Peter Siddle.

But there was no place for Cameron White, the legspinning allrounder who played all four Tests in India. White was the preferred slow bowler for the first three Tests but he finished the series with only five wickets and Krejza's success has bumped him down the list.

White was the only man who played in the India Tests who has not retained his place for the Gabba match. However, the selectors still have a couple of tough calls to make with Shane Watson, the allrounder who replaced Symonds at No. 6, performing solidly in India.

Watson made 170 runs at 24.28 but his seam bowling was particularly useful and among the Australians only Krejza and Mitchell Johnson collected more than Watson's ten wickets at 32.10. Symonds has hardly been in convincing form at state level and in three Sheffield Shield outings for Queensland he has posted scores of 5, 5, 26, 0, 43 and 1.

But Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said Symonds had done enough in the past to justify his place in the squad. "Over the previous 12 months, Andrew has cemented his place in the Test team with outstanding performances at home and in the West Indies," Hilditch said, "and he now deserves to come back into the Australian squad."

If Symonds does make the cut it will be his first Test appearance since the tour of the Caribbean this year. He was axed from the national squad in Darwin following his now infamous fishing trip but after completing a welfare process he made the first steps back to the international scene earlier this week when he was picked for Friday's Twenty20 match against an All-Stars line-up.

His chances of playing the Test might depend on the health of Michael Clarke, who has been selected subject to fitness. Clarke was struck down with a stomach virus in the fourth Test in Nagpur but there is still a week before the Test starts next Thursday and he is expected to be available.

The selectors will also have to make a call on the makeup of the attack with the fast men struggling for impact in India. Stuart Clark is likely to force his way back into the starting line-up and Siddle will probably miss out, while the exact balance of the bowling group could depend on whether either Watson or Symonds are squeezed out.

Despite the conventional wisdom that the Gabba does not favour spin bowlers, it would be difficult to leave out Krejza after his sensational debut. He could also be helped by the past performances of Shane Warne, who defied the theory that Brisbane was better for the seamers. The Gabba was Warne's favourite venue and he collected 68 wickets there at 20.31.

"Jason Krejza richly deserves to retain his place in the side after such an outstanding debut in Nagpur," Hilditch said. "It will now be a significant challenge for him to adapt back to Australian conditions and continue his development."

The squad will be trimmed to 12 next Tuesday and the player who is not needed will be free to return to his home state. Shaun Marsh and Doug Bollinger, who were part of the touring party in India but did not play a Test, were not required for the Brisbane game.

Squad Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Brad Haddin (wk), Jason Krejza, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Peter Siddle.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Wade on November 15, 2008, 6:02 GMT

    There is a very simple solution to all of Australia's dramas, axe the selectors! The Symo issue is a perfect example. He's back in the test team cos he "proved himself in the past". But he's not in form now, & still gets a place over Hodge, who is in top nick & has performed well at the top level every time he's had a chance. Haydos has to go. He's a trooper & he's done us proud, but he's gonna ruin it by staying too long, & the selectors clearly aren't gonna give him a nudge. Hussey should open. He has the patience, technique, & years of county experience opening. Then chuck Hodge in at 4. Then we pick a keeper on ability to keep, not to bat. In comes Ronchi (he can bat=bonus). Bolly is by far the best non-capped bowler we've got, but the selectors refuse to pick someone on ability... 2 lefties? Not while Merv picks em. Binga's marriage just ended. Give the man time out. He'll sort himself out. The team: Huss, Jacques, Punter, Hodge, Pup, Watto, Ronchi, Krezja, Mitch, Bolly, Clark

  • Adrian on November 14, 2008, 5:57 GMT

    I don't understand why people dislike Watson so much. First class batting average of over 50 and bowling average of under 30 equals a true all-rounder - similar numbers to Jacques Kallis. Watson has struggled to make it to the test team because each time he has been there he has gotten himself injured. In India this time he averaged 32 bowling and 23 batting, with the 2nd best bowling figures after Johnson and was certainly good enough with batting to be considered a true all-rounder. Symonds has versatility too, of course, with his fielding, his ambidextrous bowling (I'd love to see him bowl both left and right) and his ability to bowl both spin and pace. Watson's bowling is miles better than Symonds's though, and indeed Watson's batting is better too. Give Watson an extended run to give him a try, and bring Symonds in to show him how to do it. If Watson can fire at the test level, we will have our first true all-rounder since Benaud.

  • Matt on November 14, 2008, 3:08 GMT

    Watson defintately should not be in the test team, symonds over watson anyday. Symonds is a match winner, watson is only a one day player. Cameron white should never had played more than one test after his efforts. If a "spinner" cant perform on an indian pitch then what use are they? He did nothing with the bat either, he may have a good record in domestic cricket but doesnt look like his cut out for the australian team, not at the moment anyway. Some of the balls he bowled were just pathetic. I think Shaun Marsh should also be considered..get rid of watson and white and look at marsh, bollinger and symonds

  • Dom on November 13, 2008, 22:58 GMT

    The Australian selection seems confused lately. Leaving out Clarke in the last test against India seemed odd - he was the only guy to keep things tight. Lee has a big heart, but is an unlucky bowler, and always seems to go for lots of runs, plus he's not back to his best. Clarke, Watson, Krejza (in Lieu of a better spinner), Johnson and Bollinger might be the best attack. Lee, Liddle and Symonds waiting in the wings. Its the weakest Australian attack for a while now. They will still beat the Kiwis though, and perhaps when the inexperienced pacers get some tests under their belts they will improve. I can't see "Crazy" being a quality spinner for Australia. He got his wickets when the Indians were really giving him the treatment, and he went for about 5 an over. South Africa are about equall with Australia now imho, as without Dale Steyn they looked average in England.

  • Ragunathan on November 13, 2008, 21:42 GMT

    The Australian Selectors are running scared. The reason Symonds was dropped was not because of his form but his attitude - the fishing episode was well documented now there is no assessment of whether his attitude has changed. His selection is just a reaction to what happened in India. It will serve the selectors right if he fails (I sincerely hope that he does not) and force the selectors to re-appraise their priorities.

  • E on November 13, 2008, 21:17 GMT

    Its hard to remember an Australian test team that has seen as many chops and changes as as happened in the last six months. Retirements aside, there has been a serious amount of player turnover, which is bound to affect collective confidence. Jason Krejza took his chance well in Nagpur, and has to be trusted to establish himself as the top spinner in the team. Symonds' return is welcome, he should be a direct swap for Watson, who has been quite disappointing. Haddin has been doing fine and no change is needed there. As for the bowlers, Brett Lee needs a good series to reestablish himself, but i have serious doubts about the attack's cutting edge. Maybe Shaun Tait is worth his place, just to provide that spark.

  • Eric on November 13, 2008, 20:57 GMT

    Symonds is a world class all rounder...watson lacks the ability to score big 100s under pressure whch is something roy has...roy is a great fielder and relieves the rest of the batting order with his free flowing batting which allows guys like Lee to come in and bat for a longer period maybe bcoz they want to see roy murder bowlaz from a closer range...pliz do not confuss the class of clark with anything... i wud rather have watson and siddle watch from the sidelines...haddin is an increasing liability to the test squad's batting balance

  • David on November 13, 2008, 20:46 GMT

    Why are we going backwards, yet again, and looking at Symonds as the saviour? Surely Australian domestic cricket is strong enough to bring in some new talent to replace this bloke. He averages 14 in the Shield this year for goodness-sake. If we want him for his 'bowling' then why not Bollinger, or Braken, or Hilfenhouse, or.... the list is long. For his 'batting' why not keep White. But then neither Braken, nor Bollinger and especially White are not 'Punter-mates' so they are stuffed. It is time Australian cricekt stopped relying on the old-guard of Ponting's buddies and moved on. With the Ashes less than nine months away, the selectors better start using players who are going to be around for a while, and not spending time fishing for barramundi.

  • Adrian on November 13, 2008, 20:33 GMT

    My team has Siddle and Stuart Clark missing out, with both Symonds and Watson playing. Watson is in the same kind of mould as Jacques Kallis and is the only true all-rounder in Australian cricket - he just keeps injuring himself. Right now, he is good enough to play as a bowling all-rounder. He was the 2nd best bowler in India after Johnson, which is good enough to retain his place. Symonds actually isn't doing well enough to warrant a place, but there is no harm in giving him a try, at least for the 1st test, and see how it goes. If we had had that side in India, we would have done a lot better. Of course, I would rather see Bracken playing, but since he isn't in the squad then we can't do much about that. It'd be good to see both Symonds and Watson in the same test team. I think that they would feed off each other and both do better.

  • Sarma on November 13, 2008, 17:14 GMT

    Australia's team will have: Katich, Hussey, Haddin, Ponting, Hayden, Clarke, Symonds, Johnson, Lee, Krejza and Stuart Clark. New Zealand will perhaps play: Ryder, Vettori, Taylor, How, McCullum, Flynn, Southee, Mills, O'Brien, Gillespie and Martin. Australia will enjoy an edge of 100 to 87. Shane Watson will play if Clarke doesn't. Siddle will play if Lee doesn't.

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