The Ashes 2013 April 23, 2013

Haddin back as Clarke's lieutenant


Australia's selectors are expected to name Brad Haddin as Michael Clarke's vice-captain and No. 1 gloveman for the tour of England, reverting to the leadership duo that delivered a 4-0 hiding of India on home soil two summers ago.

An Ashes squad of 16 is set to be revealed on Wednesday in Sydney, with Haddin's return to a post he has held sporadically in the past forcing a change in the wicketkeeping hierarchy. The younger keeper Matthew Wade will again be held in reserve after a year in the Test side, though both will be in the tour party. Wade has the chance to force his way into the XI as a batsman.

The former Test No. 3 Shaun Marsh is also looming as a surprise inclusion, his unarguable talent believed to have won the selectors over despite a poorly recent record. Not since his Test debut in Sri Lanka in 2011 has Marsh made a first-class century, and during the 2012-13 Australian summer he cobbled 152 runs at 19 in four Sheffield Shield matches.

Nevertheless, Marsh showed improved results from the moment the former Australia batting coach Justin Langer took over as coach of Western Australia in mid-season, excelling in the Big Bash League and then making a century for Australia A against the England Lions in Hobart before suffering a serious hamstring tear that he has only just recovered from.

Marsh's selection would be a blow to the international claims of numerous other batsmen, including the longtime reserve Usman Khawaja, the Twenty20 captain and ODI regular George Bailey, and the prolific top-order batsman Chris Rogers.

Among the bowlers, the young left-arm spinner Ashton Agar and the allrounder James Faulkner are thought to be vying for the final spot. Still a teenager, Agar turned plenty of heads for his composure and skill with the ball and the bat during his limited appearances for Western Australia during the summer, and went to India as an intern in the early part of a sorry tour.

Faulkner's allround skill and fiery temperament are admired by the selectors, and will be afforded extra experience of English conditions by the Australia A tour that precedes the Ashes. By naming 16, the selectors may leave themselves room to make an addition to the Test squad after glimpsing the Australia A tourists.

They are also keeping one eye on the diplomatic progress of the Pakistan-raised legspinner Fawad Ahmed, who is now unlikely to be granted a passport in time for the start of the England tour but may become eligible soon after. It is not inconceivable that he may be added to the Ashes squad following the second Test of the series at Lord's.

Mitchell Johnson is not expected to be chosen after a poor tour of India, in which he was one of the four players suspended, and four years on from a nightmarish 2009 Ashes series he began as the world's top-rated bowler but ended as the enigma he has remained to this day.

Haddin's expected appointment as vice-captain, only days after Shane Watson relinquished the post, is an acknowledgement of the leadership vacuum that opened up in the Australian Test side in India after the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey.

An ankle sprain to Wade during the tour forced Haddin to be flown over as a replacement, and he then became the acting captain in the field during the third Test in Mohali when Clarke suffered from the back trouble that would rule him out of the fourth match. Haddin's presence on tour was welcomed, providing the sort of experience, wisdom and discipline lacking earlier in the trip, as demonstrated by the suspension of four players for failing to complete basic tasks.

Clarke and Haddin have been close friends and tactical confidantes for many years, ever since the wicketkeeper captained a young Clarke with New South Wales in the years before his Test debut in India in 2004. They formed a successful leadership axis during the home Tests against India in 2011-12, when Watson was absent due to injury.

Possible Ashes squad Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt, wk), David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, Steve Smith, Shaun Marsh, Matthew Wade (wk), Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon, Ashton Agar, Jackson Bird.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Leigh on April 24, 2013, 1:42 GMT

    Brad Haddin back. Shaun Marsh included? And as discussed here, a lot of "pretenders". The New Order of test selection appears to be the same as the last selection. Australia used to be a great team because the baggy green was an acheivement. Now it seems to be a stepping stone to IPL selection. There is no toughness to this team. Clarke is a good captain, but does lack some vision on the field. Who has he got for support? Now he has Haddin, who, according to the selectors, was not good enough to get a spot in the test team for the past year!

    The Ashes will remain in England because they are MUCH better at doing what Australia USED to do.

  • Bilal on April 24, 2013, 1:36 GMT

    I believe Usman Khawaja should be given 10 straight tests and 20 straight ODI's in all fairness and let him build some confidence and prove his playing skills. These guys at CA have literally butchered his career. I firmly believe Usman Khawaja is WAY AHEAD of Shaun Marsh.

  • richard on April 24, 2013, 0:39 GMT

    Paine instead of Wade. Former Australian U19 captain so let's build for the future. For the doubters look at the figures for Hughes in the UK and remember Hilfy's contribution last time in England. If Ponting had bowled him at the end of the England second innings at Swansea England wouldn't have managed a draw.

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2013, 22:16 GMT

    What about Edward Jones as a specialist vice captain. He's proven at state level that he can lead a team and command a dressing room. Or will Australia's phobia of giving a bowler any responsibility mean he is overlooked?

  • Peter on April 23, 2013, 22:04 GMT

    @SirViv1973. Agree with your point re: Khawaja. His slackness to training was the main reason he has been held back, hopefully that talent he has will blossom. Smith is a different case. Not as talented as the other 2, but simple sheer hard work has turned his game around, his average is climbing alongside his improved technique. As his confidence rises (& we saw glimpses of his it in India) so will his contributions. A sublime fielder & ultimate team man ticks the right boxes unlike S. Marsh who has a history of ill disciplined ventures plus a serious lack of form. On another note, the headlines are clearly misleading, the side has NOT been selected yet, so will people please stop complimenting or bagging the selectors until it selections are announced.

  • Andrew on April 23, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    @katandthat3 on (April 23, 2013, 21:02 GMT) "...Can Cosgrove see this window of opportunity and lose 20kg and put himself in contention?" - I know what you mean, but IMO - I would consider him anyway - as he consistantly been near (or at) - the top of the Shield run-scorers for several years.

  • Finn on April 23, 2013, 22:02 GMT

    I think playing Haddin is a bad move because he is 35 and has no future but Wade is only 25 and will be able to play for many more years. Also I think that Shaun Marsh and Mitchell Marsh should only play shorter formats for Australia. Shaun Marsh gets to nervous and you shouldn't pick a team just on raw skill. I think Rogers is the better option for a top-order batsmen. Also for my second spinner I would pick Fawad Ahmed. Obviously he is not available so I would not pick a second spinner in the squad but I would take Ashton Agar for experience. I think Jackson Bird will be more suited to English conditions that Pattinson. Therefore my starting XI for the fist Test is Warner, Rogers, Cowan, Hughes, Clarke, Bailey, Wade (wk), Starc, Siddle, Lyon, Bird.

  • Grant on April 23, 2013, 21:42 GMT

    Real shame about Johnson not being selected- most England fans were looking forward to seeing him again. Most will find consolation in Hughes being in the squad, however.

  • Dummy4 on April 23, 2013, 21:21 GMT

    I have to say that I prefer Haddin being VC than Watson. Including Haddin means we have a better keeper and Wade needs to work on his skills. His batting form in the year before he ruled himself out of the test team was abysmal but he is in good form so far this year and seems to save his best for England. I do expect Wade to be rotated into a few games as batsman though.

  • Garry on April 23, 2013, 21:02 GMT

    I'm a massive fan of Shaun Marsh but must admit I was surprised to see him a chance for the main Ashes squad. His second half of the year was really good particularly in short form cricket in both Ryobi, Aussie A and ODI, so I would have picked him for the Champs Trophy without a doubt and the Aussie A tour of the UK. He's an amazing talent but I hope they don't throw him under the bus and rush him back like they did for the Indian Series a few years back. Would have liked to seen a strong SS season to give him confidence in that form of the game.Rogers would have been a smart choice but if they dropped Katich.... I hope Sayers & Butterworth get picked for the A tour along with Doolan, Ferguson & Burns. Bailey might captain the A Tour if he misses the main squad. Paine or Hartley for A tour? Good to see either there. Can Cosgrove see this window of opportunity and lose 20kg and put himself in contention?