Australia in Sri Lanka 2011 July 26, 2011

Lyon the bolter in Australia's Test squad

ESPNcricinfo staff

The offspinner Nathan Lyon is the bolter in Australia's 15-man squad for the Test series in Sri Lanka, which also includes the incumbent spinner Michael Beer. The pair will fight for the slow-bowling position for the first Test in Galle, after the selectors sprung another surprise by omitting the allrounder Steven Smith.

The uncapped fast bowlers, Trent Copeland and James Pattinson, also made the cut, while Ben Hilfenhaus missed out following a disappointing Ashes campaign. As expected, Ryan Harris was named after recovering from injury, and he looms as a key part of a pace attack whose most experienced members are Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle.

The selectors found room for both Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja, who are likely to battle for the No. 6 position. However, the major surprise came in the spin department, where Jason Krejza's poor Australia A tour to Zimbabwe cost him a certain call-up, and resulted in the selectors naming two men without Cricket Australia contracts.

Beer played the final Ashes Test in Sydney and although he only took one wicket, the selectors were encouraged by the way he bowled. The more remarkable selection was that of the South Australian Lyon, 23, who has played only four first-class matches and was not part of Australia A's four-day squad in Zimbabwe.

"Michael Beer retains his position in the squad following his debut in Sydney during the fifth Ashes Test where he bowled well, without much luck," the chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, said. "It will be an important tour for Michael on grounds where we expect spin to play a major role.

"The squad also sees the inclusion of Nathan Lyon, a talented young spinner who impressed all last season and bowled extremely well on Australia A's tour of Zimbabwe. Nathan may be a surprise selection, but he impressed all who have seen him in the last year and bowled beautifully during the one-day component of the A squad's recent tour where he was named player of the series.

"He is a young man with immense potential and we feel he will take this opportunity should he get the chance to play in Sri Lanka. Steven Smith is unlucky to have missed selection in this squad. We continue to see him as player of the future for Australia in all forms of the game but at this stage we do not feel he has cemented his position as a batsman in the top six or as a legspin bowler.

"We feel he needs to continue to develop as a genuine allrounder in the shorter forms of the game and play more long-form cricket for New South Wales to push again for Test selection.

Hilditch also said Krejza, who was preferred to Beer for a central contract this year, had fallen out of contention due to his poor results in Zimbabwe. He took six wickets at 41.33 in the two first-class games in Zimbabwe but struggled severely during a two-day tour match in which he took 0 for 96 from 19 overs, while Beer grabbed a six-wicket haul.

"The intention of the national selection panel was to take Jason Krejza to Sri Lanka provided he proved he was bowling at his best," Hilditch said. "He has had very limited opportunities in Sheffield Shield cricket so the Zimbabwe tour was very important for him. Unfortunately Jason did not bowl as well as we, or I am sure he, would have liked during this tour and therefore he has not been rewarded with selection."

There is also inexperience in the pace group, although Johnson, Siddle and Harris are the front-runners to play in the first Test. But they will feel the pressure from Copeland, 25, who has been an outstanding performer for New South Wales since his first-class debut early last year, and the 21-year old Pattinson from Victoria.

"Trent has earned his position with some fine performances for New South Wales and has bowled very well on the Australia A tour," Hilditch said. "James is a young fast bowler with the potential to play an important role for Australia in all three forms of the game and we look forward to watching his further development during this tour.

"Ben Hilfenhaus did not have as good an Ashes series as he would have liked and we feel he needs to get back to his best, swinging the ball late and hitting the bat hard. We are sure he will do this and he will be very much in contention for selection on the upcoming tour to South Africa. Doug Bollinger has been left out of the Test squad. The NSP feels he needs to improve his ability to bowl spells at full intensity and maintain it over the course of a match, particularly in these days of back-to-back Tests."

The batting was a little more clear cut, given the axing of Simon Katich from the contract list. Phillip Hughes will open with Shane Watson and the Western Australia batsman Shaun Marsh will push for his first baggy green.

"Shaun Marsh comes into the Australian Test squad and has been in our minds for some time as a player who could have a real impact at international level in all forms of the game," Hilditch said. "Injury impacted at critical times last year however he has worked hard and is in our view ready to seize this opportunity."

Test squad: Shane Watson, Phillip Hughes, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Shaun Marsh, Brad Haddin (wk), Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Trent Copeland, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Michael Beer

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on July 28, 2011, 23:35 GMT

    LMAO-Let me see if i have this right-Hilditch said Krezja was dropped because he took 6 first class wickets at 41....Thats too funny...that means that he was an improvement on his his regular game...and that got him dropped...Has Hilditch even looked at his playing record...Krezja takes his List A wickets at 45 and his first class wickets at 47...definitely one for the highlights tape.

  • Christopher on July 28, 2011, 23:21 GMT

    As i see it,the selectors dont select,the coaches dont coach,the administrators dont administrate and the Board is just bored-is it any wonder that the players dont play?

  • Dummy4 on July 28, 2011, 13:37 GMT

    with Johnson,Siddle,Harris along with watson and clarke (I rate him as a good competitive spin bowler) AUS have formidable attack, without any of the two spinners. Hope Aus vs SL series will be competitive one for all.

  • Jawad on July 28, 2011, 8:34 GMT

    Of recent, Australians have been handling the team selection process more like the Pakistanis. Too much experimentation going on. Is there panic in the ranks, Read article @

  • Qdzy on July 27, 2011, 16:32 GMT

    Australia is now an ordinary Test side

  • django on July 27, 2011, 15:08 GMT

    Looking forward to surprising Sri-Lanka. They may play well on their own patch but they have not even won a game against Australia outside of their place. We always beat these guys in big games, I think they are ripe for plunder.

  • peter on July 27, 2011, 9:57 GMT

    @Meety, you say faulkner and butterworth bowling stats are skewed by playing on sub standard pitches, yet they average 28 and 30 with the bat on those very same pitches! Also Ferguson has a batting average of <36 of which the majority of matches were played on probably one of the best batting pitches in the world. He is just as bad a selection as S Marsh if not worse. The point is the selectors have made a real hash of their selection for best part of 5 or 6 years now, and this is based on their 'judgement' which has flown in the face of all reason (ie the statistical evidence that the guys they have picked have not been good enough, or as good as others). This has then been proved to be the case when these sub standard players have represented their country. So surely it is time to stop using subjective 'judgement' of a low IQ degenerate and perhaps use selection backed up by the past record of players, not the 'promise' of some non existent untapped potential yet to be realised.

  • Lou on July 27, 2011, 9:13 GMT

    hyclass, we get it, you think the Marshes are overrated. Obviously CA and the NSP don't. I think Shaun Marsh has come into the reckoning as it is the sub-continent and he has a good international record there. Slag the IPL off all you want, but it's playing in a different environment and playing against a wide variety of spin bowlers it being an Indian comp. I suspect that is why he's on the tour. I wouldnt' take him to England but I'd certainly consider taking him to the sub-continent for the reasons stated above. You are right he has never had a huge season, but that's because he hasn't played a full season in the last four years. He has played at most 6 matches. The same stat can be used for and against a player. And considering Mitch Marsh was one of the best performers for Aus A in the tri-series and topped the bowling average and strike rate in the four day matches I don't see how you can say he failed on the tour. Just be thankful he's nowhere near being selected.

  • Paul on July 27, 2011, 6:36 GMT

    This is the best Australia has??? LOL How times have changed.

  • Matthew on July 27, 2011, 3:33 GMT

    Is Hauritz still injured? If not, he must be thinking he's the most unlucky cricketer at the hands of selectors in recent years. If anyone has a record of all Hilditch's public statements they would do him a service to send it to him so he can count how many times he's contradicted himself or given reasons for his selections that just don't makes sense to the rest of us.

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