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January 15, 2007
Ricky Ponting will take his annual mid-season holiday and miss Australia's CB Series match against England in Brisbane on Friday. The resting and rotation policy means Brad Hodge will come into the 14-man squad that will be captained by Adam Gilchrist, who will have Michael Hussey as his deputy.
Last year Ponting was heavily criticised because his break took in Australia Day, the national holiday, but this time his leave has been brought forward after his side easily won its first two games of the tournament. Australia beat England by eight wickets on Friday and New Zealand by 105 runs on Sunday, with Ponting scoring 82 not out and 10.
"We feel that Ricky needs and deserves a break," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said. "He has played every match for Australia in all forms of the game since the DLF final in Malaysia in September, and we think this is the right time for him to allow his body to rest ahead of the World Cup. Hodge is a logical replacement."
Gilchrist and Glenn McGrath have benefited from mini-breaks during previous years and players who appear in both Tests and ODIs are the most likely to be given time off ahead of the tour of the Caribbean starting in March. Ben Hilfenhaus, who collected 1 for 26 on debut on Sunday, will act as cover for McGrath and Brett Lee, who has been suffering from a chest infection.
McGrath missed the New Zealand match with a minor groin injury and will be reassessed on Wednesday. Alex Kountouris, the Australia physiotherapist, said Lee felt better after a bout of bronchitis and expected to be available on Friday. If Hilfenhaus is not required he will turn out for Tasmania against Queensland in a Pura Cup game starting in Hobart on Friday.
Australia squad Adam Gilchrist (capt, wk), Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Brett Lee, Brad Hogg, Stuart Clark, Nathan Bracken, Mitchell Johnson, Glenn McGrath, Ben Hilfenhaus.
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