Clarke retains Twenty20 captaincy
Australia's selectors have forgiven Michael Clarke for his poor form in Twenty20, naming him to captain Australia against Pakistan in England in July. Clarke will lead the side for the two Twenty20s in Birmingham on July 5 and 6 despite his struggles with the bat in the shortest format, where his strike-rate of 101 is well below par.
Clarke was praised for his attacking captaincy at the World Twenty20 in the Caribbean, where he guided Australia to the final, but he needs to lift his scoring rate to justify his position as a batsman. He has been given virtually the same squad, with the only change being the omission of Tim Paine due to the reduced need for a backup wicketkeeper.
"We don't have any doubt that he [Clarke] has a definite role to play in Twenty20 cricket, which predominantly is a little bit different to some," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said. "We'll be looking for him to bat through an innings when we need it. He didn't quite do that over there but we weren't concerned about it.
"The positive side was I think his captaincy was extraordinary and our tactics in Twenty20 cricket were far in advance of where they've been. Our field was I thought the best in the tournament so there were lots of positives. Obviously we lost the final so that was devastating but the other side of it is that we won six on the trot and if we'd won seven on the trot it would have been a record that maybe wouldn't have been broken in Twenty20 cricket."
In the 50-over arena, Shaun Marsh has been chosen to make his comeback to international cricket after missing the tour of New Zealand in February with a back injury. Marsh has replaced Adam Voges in the ODI squad for the one-off game against Ireland in Dublin that kicks off the tour of June 17 and the five one-day internationals against England that follow.
However, the squad to take on Pakistan in two Tests from mid-July won't be named until several contenders have fronted up for Australia A late next month. The absence of Phillip Hughes due to a shoulder injury means Usman Khawaja, Michael Klinger and the Australia A captain George Bailey will be jostling for the role of backup Test batsman when they face Sri Lanka A in Brisbane.
That series will also give Ben Hilfenhaus a chance to continue his steady return from knee tendonitis. Hilfenhaus has been chosen in the four-day Australia A squad and is hopeful of proving himself fit for the Tests against Pakistan, having not played for his country since the first Test of the home summer back in November.
"Ben Hilfenhaus is making good progress with his knee tendon injury," the physio Alex Kountouris said. "As part of his rehabilitation he has commenced bowling and has spent some time at the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence during the past week. So far he has coped well and if his progress continues with an increasing bowling workload over the coming weeks, he'll take his place for Australia A against Sri Lanka A in preparation for possible selection in the Test squad.
"Peter Siddle is recovering well from a lower back stress fracture sustained during the Australian summer. However it was felt that there was too big a risk for his to return for the tour of England and Ireland, particularly with the important 12 months coming up. Peter remains on target to return to the playing field at the start of the Australian domestic summer. Brett Lee is recovering from the elbow muscle injury that he picked before the ICC World Twenty20 and is yet to commence bowling."
The Australia A squad also features Mitchell Marsh, the brother of Shaun and captain of Australia's Under-19 World Cup-winning squad this year. He will be joined by another player with cricketing blood, James Pattinson, the Victoria fast bowler whose brother Darren played a Test for England in 2008.
ODI squad Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Cameron White, Brad Haddin, Steven Smith, James Hopes, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Clint McKay, Doug Bollinger.
Twenty20 squad Shane Watson, David Warner, Michael Clarke (capt), Cameron White, David Hussey, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Daniel Christian, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Dirk Nannes, Shaun Tait.
Australia A four-day squad Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Michael Klinger, George Bailey (capt), Peter Forrest, Andrew McDonald, Tim Paine, Mitchell Marsh, Steve O'Keefe, Ben Hilfenhaus, Josh Hazlewood, Peter George, Mitchell Starc.
Australia A one-day squad Tim Paine, Usman Khawaja, Adam Voges, George Bailey (capt), Travis Birt, Aaron Finch, Andrew McDonald, Mitchell Marsh, Xavier Doherty, Brendan Drew, James Pattinson, Jake Haberfield, Josh Hazlewood.