Shane Watson has been rushed back into Australia's one-day team for the CB Series finals, replacing the injured Andrew Symonds. Shaun Tait's ODI career is on hold despite an impressive start as he and Stuart Clark were left out of the 13-man squad.
Watson, who has been hampered by hamstring injuries all season, made a successful return for Queensland just over a week ago. The selectors' desire to balance their line-up with an allrounder ran into trouble on Friday when Symonds retired hurt against England. He required surgery that could keep him out of the World Cup and the selectors decided Watson was the logical replacement.
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said there were no concerns that Watson would break down again under the pressure of international cricket. "Shane has been given a full medical clearance and has successfully returned to domestic cricket," Hilditch said. "We feel the time is now right for him to return to international cricket."
Hilditch said Watson's comeback meant fewer bowlers were needed. "There is no need to continue with five specialist fast bowlers in the squad," Hilditch said. "Both Stuart and Shaun were unlucky to be omitted and remain very much in contention for selection in the ICC Cricket World Cup squad, which will be named at the conclusion of the finals series."
Clark and Tait will both have opportunities to press their cases for World Cup selection in domestic games this week. Clark's New South Wales will face Western Australia and Tait's South Australia are up against Queensland.
Although both bowlers made an impact in the CB Series, Brad Hogg, who has played only one match, was retained in the finals squad. "Hogg has played limited cricket so far in the Commonwealth Bank Series, however he has been in extremely good form in domestic cricket with both bat and ball," Hilditch said. "We will look at his possible inclusion for the remaining games depending on the conditions we face at the different venues."
Squad Adam Gilchrist (wk), Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Brad Hodge, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Cameron White, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Bracken, Glenn McGrath.