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December 30, 2013
Tasmania batsman Alex Doolan could make his Test debut in Sydney after being added to Australia's squad. Injury concerns surrounding the No.3 Shane Watson and fast bowler Ryan Harris may lead to a significant shake-up of the side, with allrounder James Faulkner also in contention and fast bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile a chance to debut having been named in a 14-man squad for the Test.
Doug Bollinger, who was with the group in Perth and Melbourne as a standby player along with Coulter-Nile, has been released from the squad. Depending on the fitness of Watson, who hurt his groin on Boxing Day and appeared unable to run at full pace in the field at times, and Harris, who has ongoing issues with his knee and various other parts of his body, as many as three changes could be made to the side for Sydney.
The coach Darren Lehmann indicated after the Melbourne win that Watson's place in the side would need to be considered if he was unable to bowl, which could encourage the selectors to choose Faulkner ahead of him to provide a fifth bowling option. That scenario would likely require Doolan to come in to replace Watson at No.3, while George Bailey could also make way for Brad Haddin to move up to No.6 with Faulkner at No.7. Coulter-Nile for Harris could be a straight swap.
"With some players still being assessed by our medical team after four demanding Tests, we have decided to add Alex to ensure we have sufficient cover in our batting line-up should it be required," the national selector John Inverarity said.
"Alex is a talented player who came under strong consideration for selection ahead of the Ashes series after a string of solid performances in four day cricket for Tasmania at the start of this season, but also after an excellent finish to last season and we feel those performances warrant his inclusion in the squad of 14 for Sydney."
Doolan, 28, emerged as a Test contender last summer with 715 Sheffield Shield runs at 42.05, as well as an unbeaten 161 for Australia A against the touring South Africans at the SCG. This season, Doolan has made 391 Shield runs at 39.10, his only century having come against New South Wales at Blacktown Oval in November, when his 132 set up a successful chase.
An elegant No.3, Doolan honed his craft last summer by learning from Ricky Ponting in the Tasmania setup, especially during a pair of century partnerships. Bailey, the Tasmania captain who is under pressure to hold his Test place, said last season that during one of those century stands Doolan and Ponting "were just on another level" to the other batsmen in the match.
Australia squad Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, George Bailey, Alex Doolan, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Nathan Coulter-Nile.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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