Phil Jaques will be part of a new-look opening combination in Friday's VB Series match against South Africa after Simon Katich was ruled out with a groin injury. With Adam Gilchrist resting, Jaques will join Damien Martyn at the top of the order and Australia are also expected to hand a debut to Brett Dorey, the Western Australia fast bowler.
Katich sustained the injury during training at the Junction Oval in Melbourne this morning and Trevor Hohns quickly called in Jaques, who played his first Test at the MCG on Boxing Day and finished with scores of 2 and 28. "It gives us the opportunity to look at a specialist opener who has been performing well in both forms of the game," Hohns said. "His record speaks for itself and this is a good opportunity for him."
Jaques is fresh from a century for New South Wales in the drawn Pura Cup match against Victoria at Lismore, and he has scored three hundreds in the ING Cup this season for a haul of 520 runs at 104. The selectors are looking for a solid opening combination in the lead-up to the 2007 World Cup and both Katich and Gilchrist have struggled for fluency in the opening matches of VB Series. However, Ricky Ponting today said he hoped Gilchrist would open when he returned to the squad for next Thursday's match at Adelaide.
Errol Alcott, the Australia physio, said Katich would be reassessed before the game against Sri Lanka at the SCG on Sunday. "Simon sustained a low-grade groin injury at training today," Alcott said. "He'll have a diagnostic scan this afternoon to find out the extent of his injury."