Australia wait on Haddin's fitness
Brad Haddin has until the end of next week to prove his fitness for the two Tests against Pakistan after being named in the 14-man squad along with Ben Hilfenhaus and the uncapped batsman Usman Khawaja. Haddin was ruled out of the current limited-overs tour of the British Isles due to a nagging elbow tendon injury, with Tasmania's Tim Paine replacing him in the outfit which opens the ODI series with England on Tuesday.
Wicketkeepers don't like giving up their positions and Haddin, who played with a badly broken finger in England last year, will attempt to recover in Sydney before the Test specialists leave on July 2. "His availability for these matches will be determined over the next week," the team physio Alex Kountouris said.
Mitchell Johnson will head to England in the next couple of days to link up with the limited-overs squad after overcoming a recurrence of his infected right elbow. The problem first flared during the World Twenty20 but Johnson is now ready to go.
"Mitchell has trained strongly over the past four days with no adverse effect," Kountouris said. "He has been cleared by medical staff to step up his training in preparation for both the Twenty20 and Test series against Pakistan."
Khawaja, the New South Wales left-hander, is in as the reserve batsman after Phillip Hughes needed surgery following a dislocated left shoulder suffered during boxing training in May. After scoring three Sheffield Shield hundreds last season Khawaja, a 23-year-old born in Pakistan, will have a chance to confirm his international promise if there are any vacancies. If he plays he will become Australia's first Muslim representative.
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said the injury to Hughes was "unfortunate", but Khawaja would be an able replacement. "He is seen by the panel as being capable of batting anywhere in the order in Test cricket, but importantly for this particular series a top-order batsman who could bat in the top four should the opportunity arise," Hilditch said. Steven Smith, the batsman-legspinner, is expected to be preferred if any of the other batting spots open up.
Hilfenhaus played his first game of the year over the past week, taking 5 for 63 for Australia A against Sri Lanka A, to show his fitness after a long battle with knee tendonitis. He is well suited to English conditions, as he displayed last year, and will use the series to fine tune for the five home Tests against England.
"Ben was a critical member of our 2009 Ashes bowling group and it is very pleasing to see him back in the Test squad with the next Ashes series just around the corner," Hilditch said. The opening match against Pakistan starts at Lord's on July 13 and the second game is in Leeds from July 21.
Australia squad Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin (wk), Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo