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The Ashes 2010-11

Doherty and Ferguson in 17-man Ashes squad

Brydon Coverdale

November 15, 2010

Comments: 116 | Text size: A | A

Xavier Doherty enjoys the view after being picked in Australia's Ashes squad, Sydney, November 15, 2010
Xavier Doherty is in the mix for the first Test and will put pressure on Nathan Hauritz © AFP
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Australia have named their squad for next week's first Ashes Test, but their starting line-up is no clearer. Xavier Doherty and Callum Ferguson were the major surprises in a bloated 17-man group that also included Usman Khawaja, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, but there was no place for the backup opener Phillip Hughes, who was the only unexpected omission.

The squad, which is bigger than England's touring party for the entire series, will be trimmed to 12 or 13 after this week's round of Sheffield Shield matches before the first Test begins at the Gabba next Thursday. The selectors are also keen to see how some of the contenders perform for Australia A in their match against England starting on Wednesday in Hobart.

The four-day game between New South Wales and Tasmania shapes as a particularly fascinating contest, with the spinners Hauritz and Doherty to go head to head on an SCG pitch that should offer assistance. The inclusion of the left-armer Doherty, who made a promising ODI debut this month but was viewed as a limited-overs specialist, has placed extra pressure on the incumbent Hauritz, who has struggled over the past month.

"Nathan Hauritz has performed exceptionally well over the past 12 months for Australia," the chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, said. "One of the biggest decisions we will need to make is whether we go into the first Test in Brisbane with a right-arm offspinner or with the variation of a left-arm orthodox bowler.

"Xavier Doherty has been very impressive in both limited-overs and first-class cricket, in particular last season and the start of this season, and it will be a great opportunity for us to observe both of the spinning options in the Sheffield Shield clash between New South Wales and Tasmania at the SCG this week."

Hilditch's comments suggest the selectors are not considering an all-pace attack at the Gabba, where the seam-friendly conditions sometimes encourage sides to risk leaving out their frontline spinner. That means the most likely pace attack is Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus and Doug Bollinger, who made a promising return in club cricket on the weekend.

Bollinger has been out with an abdominal strain since the first Test in India last month, and he collected 1 for 30 in ten overs for Fairfield on Saturday. He will continue his return in the Sheffield Shield game and providing he comes through unscathed, will be a certain starter on a Brisbane surface that should offer him some assistance.

His recovery also reduces the chance of Siddle being included for his first Test since January, while the in-form Harris would need to also shake off a knee problem if he was to make the side. Harris bowled himself into contention with a match haul of 9 for 140 for Queensland at Bellerive last week but after the match had a swollen knee - he had surgery on the joint during the off-season - and his availability won't be known for several days.

"Ryan Harris has a chronic knee injury that requires ongoing management," the team physio Alex Kountouris said. "As such he will not play in the next round of Sheffield Shield games or for Australia A starting 17 November to allow his knee to fully recover. His availability for the first Ashes Test will determined later this week."

There are unlikely to be any surprises in Australia's batting line-up, although they are waiting to confirm the fitness of Michael Clarke, who suffered a recurrence of the disc problem in his back while playing for New South Wales on the weekend. Clarke will sit out of this week's Sheffield Shield match but he is hopeful he will take his place at the Gabba.

"I'm not going to play against Tasmania on Wednesday," Clarke said. "I'm going to give myself another few days off to get my back right. But I'm confident that if I do all the right things over the next week I'll be 100% ready to go come Brisbane."

Unless Clarke succumbs to the problem, there shouldn't be any changes to Australia's established top six, meaning Khawaja and Ferguson will have to wait to receive their baggy greens. Their selection is a strong indication that they will be vying for a position in the middle order should the selectors lose faith with Michael Hussey or Marcus North during the summer.

The exclusion of the opener Hughes is a sign that Simon Katich will be fit for the Test, having been out of action due to a broken thumb. Katich made his comeback in grade cricket on the weekend, making 94 for Randwick-Petersham, and will line up for New South Wales in their four-day match this week.

Australia squad Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Usman Khawaja, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin (wk), Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Xavier Doherty, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, Doug Bollinger.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by   on (November 19, 2010, 20:26 GMT)

@landl47: Australia's equivalent of England's "Performance Programme" is the Australia A team, which played a series against Sri Lanka A back in July. They often play matches during Australia's winter. So I'm not sure how you can say that " ... Now it's England planning for the future while Australia hangs on, losing matches with players who are over the hill ...". The Australia A programme, plus the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, are all planning for the future. As for selecting the Test team, I agree that it would be good to see more youngsters in the team, but you can only select them if they are playing well enough, and not many are doing that.

Posted by landl47 on (November 18, 2010, 15:00 GMT)

Nice try, Raj, but all you're really saying is that no matter how bad it looks, the Aussies shouldn't give up hope. England have been in that position on every tour since the mid-1980s and guess what? They've lost every time. If the choice is between a team in form and a team who are hoping that they are better than their recent results indicate, then I'll take the guys playing well. The race is not always to the swift nor the battle to the strong, but that's the way to bet.

Posted by slcricket on (November 18, 2010, 8:18 GMT)

judging on the ercent shelid and A games australias best batsman is Mitchell Johnson

Posted by Meety on (November 18, 2010, 6:29 GMT)

@Raj R Ganeson - nicely put. Interesting that it was O'Keefe taht bagged the wicket of KP. In Bangladesh - left arm orthodox got KP in alnost every Test & ODI innings he played (Shakib I think was the main tormentor). So if KP is Oz main threat in batting - maybe Doherty & O'Keefe are worth a look. If we go with left arm orthodox spin option, I would tend to think that we can't play Bollinger & Johnson in the same side, as they would rough up the wrong area of the pitch. Johnson & Bollinger would help Hauritz against the right hand batsmen. I think O'Keefe has got the jump on Smith & Khawaja, I don't think it is quite Fergusons time. If Hussey makes runs in his 2nd innings - I would play him in the 1st Test. North needs the chop.

Posted by   on (November 18, 2010, 5:19 GMT)

@landl47 mate let me worry about taking a course in logic .First get your reasoning straight before pointing your fingers towards others .I was emphasising upon the unpredictable nature of the game . I never said australians are in red hot form . all i was trying to say that if australians take leaf out of New Zealand 's book after the unexpected white wash against Bangladesh and show the kind of character that black caps shown against us then Australia should be able to beat England which in my opinion will be a closely fought series . I think you should take a serious course in analytical reasoning before taking a swipe on others . cheers mate

Posted by   on (November 18, 2010, 3:36 GMT)

@ landl47 mate nothing is predictable in sports . England are a much improved side these days and if Australia manage to beat them in the first test then we have a serious series in our hands .if it is the other way around then Australia should forget about laying their hands on ashes. We had predicted that India would thrash New Zealand especially after the Bangla wash and look what had happened in the first 2 tests .Test cricket is matter of holding your nerve in the end .the team which does it better at the end of the day is gonna win the series be it Australia or England .Cheers mate

Posted by nzcricket174 on (November 17, 2010, 10:10 GMT)

Want to know why Australia are doing so badly? The selectors. They are selecting the way they used to select. This won't work because they don't have 8-9 100% performers like they used to.

Posted by Meety on (November 17, 2010, 6:17 GMT)

Well the SCG game is a disaster 15 wickets for 150 runs - not much chance of a guide or finding form in that mess. On Form (only) the Oz side should be 1. W Robinson, 2. Cowan, 3. Clarke, 4. O'Keefe, 5. Smith, 6 AB McDonald, 7. Paine, 8. Butterworth, 9. Harris, 10. Swan, 11. Bollinger. Man this 2010 campaign is going from bad to worse, no frontline test contender (Clarke aside), has done anything today!

Posted by nmdasaya on (November 17, 2010, 5:23 GMT)

I THINK DAVID HUSSEY SHOULD BE DA REPLACEMENT ,HE AVG OVER 50 IN FIRST CLASS CRICKET! AND HE IS ON FORM THESE DAYS!

Posted by landl47 on (November 17, 2010, 4:25 GMT)

@Raj R Ganesan: that's the strangest piece of reasoning I've ever seen. England thrash Bangladesh. Bangladesh thrash New Zealand. New Zealand hold their own against India, who just thrashed Australia... therefore Australia beat England? Doesn't that sequence put England on top of the chain and Australia at the bottom? Likewise, West Indies get a ton of runs against Sri Lanka, who just thrashed Australia in Australia, and that means the Aussies have their tails up? Mate, you seriously need to take a course in logic. And how's this for logic: the 5 of Australia's top 7 batsmen who played today made 34 runs between them: Watson 6, Katich 1, Hussey 0, North 17, Haddin 10. I guess, by your reckoning, that makes them in red-hot form?

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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