Xavier Doherty's chance to go all the way
Xavier Doherty's sudden elevation to the Test squad will only turn into a trip to Brisbane if he can out-bowl Nathan Hauritz at the SCG this week. Doherty, the left-arm spinner, will go head-to-head with the incumbent Hauritz when Tasmania play New South Wales from Wednesday.
Having gained a full-time spot in the Tigers' line-up this season, Doherty jumped into a one-day debut two weeks ago. He is on the verge of another big leap after being picked in the huge 17-man squad for the opening Test, but has to make the final cut when the outfit is trimmed to 12 or 13.
"I guess it's probably come down to that given the fact that they will cut it back by the end of the week," Doherty said in Sydney. "They are obviously looking at something this week, I guess this week's performances probably won't hurt too much."
Like most people, Doherty, 27, was surprised by the elevation. "I guess it wasn't that long ago that I was not even carrying the drinks for Tassie," he said. "It comes as a bit of a shock and it's a nice shock."
Usman Khawaja was on the tour to England for the Pakistan Tests during the winter but didn't get a game. It has made him even more desperate to play.
"Just getting a baggy green one day would be a dream," he said in Hobart. "I never try to put too much pressure on myself. If it is meant to happen it happens."
Khawaja will be jostling with Callum Ferguson and Steven Smith in Australia A's match against England, although the tourists will have their four best bowlers preparing in Brisbane. Ferguson, who is back after a knee reconstruction, is in his first ODI squad after impressing in 26 ODIs.
"After 11-and-a-half months of rehab, I really didn't expect to be here right now," Ferguson said. "There's a lot of uncertainty when you hurt your knee like I did. I'm just thrilled to be back playing cricket."
Ryan Harris is battling a persistent knee injury and doesn't expect to play at the Gabba, but he insists he'll be ready when needed. "In all honesty I don't think I'll be included in that first Test," he told AAP. "But if someone goes down and things change, I will be ready to go. That's going to be my role - to be ready if anything goes wrong."
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said Phillip Hughes was disappointed to miss out, but the team did not need cover for the openers Simon Katich and Shane Watson. "We would consider him in a middle-order position," Hilditch said, "but at the moment we think the two young players from Australia A we picked are in a bit better form and ready to go."