March 17, 2003

ACB announces Test squad for 2003 Travelex Tour of the West Indies

Australian Cricket Board (ACB) Chief Executive Officer James Sutherland today announced that the National Selection Panel (NSP) has chosen the following 15 players to take part in the Test leg of the 2003 Travelex Tour of the West Indies.

The squad, to be captained by Stephen Waugh, is:

NameStateAgeCaps
Stephen Waugh (captain)NSW37156
Ricky Ponting (vice-captain)TAS 2864
Andrew BichelQLD3211
Adam GilchristWA3139
Jason Gillespie*SA2739
Matthew HaydenQLD3132
Brad HoggWA321
Justin LangerWA3259
Brett LeeNSW2627
Martin LoveQLD282
Darren LehmannSA338
Stuart MacGillNSW3219
Damien MartynWA3133
Glenn McGrathNSW3391
Ashley NoffkeQLD250

*Jason Gillespie's selection is subject to fitness.

Team Management - John Buchanan (Coach), Steve Bernard (Team Manager), Tim Nielsen (Assistant Coach / Performance Analyst), Errol Alcott (Physiotherapist), Jock Campbell (Physical Performance Manager).

Australia will play four Tests in the West Indies, beginning in Guyana on 10 April.

Commenting on the squad chosen, NSP Chairman Trevor Hohns said: "We know this series will be tough going as many of our players are coming off a long summer and hard World Cup campaign.

"However we are confident that the squad we have chosen will give us sufficient depth for the four-Test series and enough firepower to overcome an emerging West Indian team," he said.

The selected squad sees a change to the leadership structure with Ricky Ponting replacing Adam Gilchrist as vice-captain.

Hohns said: "As a selection panel, we have recommended that Ricky Ponting take on the vice-captaincy.

"The move certainly isn't a reflection on Adam Gilchrist's performance in that role, because he has been and will continue to be a terrific leader, but we feel that it is a logical step, given Ricky's role with the one-day international side and Adam is fully supportive of the move.

"As for the captaincy, Steve Waugh has signalled his intention to continue playing, and has displayed some outstanding form for New South Wales since the end of the Ashes series.

"It is a decision that he has obviously thought long and hard about and now that it has been made, we know that he will focus fully on the challenging series that lies ahead," he said.

Waugh's decision to tour the West Indies is likely to see him pass Allan Border as the most capped Australian Test player.

He drew level with Border when he played his 156th Test against England at the Sydney Cricket Ground in January 2003.

The squad also sees un-capped paceman Ashley Noffke called into the Australian squad for the first time since the 2001 Travelex Tour of the United Kingdom.

On that occasion, the Queenslander was called up to replace an injured Nathan Bracken before returning home himself after injuring an ankle during a tour match against Sussex.

During 2002-03, he claimed 41 first-class wickets at an average of 22.65 when representing Queensland and Australia A.

His best figures of 6-24 came against New South Wales in Sydney earlier this month, in the last qualifying game of the Pura Cup (6-9 March).

Hohns said that Noffke was a rising talent who had shown increasing maturity over the past few years.

"Ashley has played a big part in Queensland's recent run of success and we have been very impressed with his form for both Queensland and Australia A," Hohns said.

"We expect this tour to fast-track his development, just as Glenn McGrath took a big step forward in his career on the 1995 tour of the Caribbean," he said.

Noffke's Queensland teammate Martin Love has also been included in the squad, gaining overseas tour selection for the first time.

The 28-year-old, who played the final two matches of the 2002-03 Orange Test Series against England, scored 1120 first-class runs for the year at an average of 65.88 - the highest of any player.

His season highlights included two double hundreds against England during November - the first for Queensland in Brisbane, the second for Australia A at Bellerive Oval in Hobart.

Apart from selection for the fourth and fifth Orange Test matches, Love's fine season was rewarded in January with State Player of the Year honours at the Allan Border Medal presentation in Melbourne.

Commenting on Love's Test squad selection, Hohns said: "Martin has demonstrated that he is ready for Test cricket.

"His domestic form has been outstanding for some time. He has a cool head and offers us a genuine option in the middle-order as well as a safe pair of hands in the slip cordon.

"We took into account his domestic experience and leadership, and felt that he can make a genuine contribution to the touring party.

"It was also felt that this tour will help his overall development as a Test batsman," he said.

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Western Australian spinner and current member of the Australian one-day international squad, Brad Hogg, has also been included in the touring Test party for the first time since the 1996-97 tour of India.

Commenting on Hogg's inclusion, Hohns said: "Brad has impressed us with his solid performances at the World Cup and we believe that he can become a valuable member of the Test side.

"His enthusiasm is infectious and we feel that his energy in the field and ability with the bat will provide us with some flexibility moving forward," he said.

Speaking from South Africa, Hogg said he was delighted with his Test squad call-up.

"Obviously my mind is fixed on our World Cup campaign and tomorrow's semi-final against Sri Lanka, but this is something that I have strived for, so to have received the news that I had been selected was a great thrill," Hogg said.

"I just love representing Australia and being a part of this side, so personally, things couldn't be any better for me," he said.

The squad departs for the 2003 Travelex Tour of the West Indies on 31 March. The one-day international squad, meanwhile, will be announced in due course.