Test selectors have dumped Nathan Hauritz, but named uncapped fellow spinners Xavier Doherty and Steve Smith in a trimmed 13-man squad for next week’s Ashes opener at the Gabba.
Hauritz paid the price for some modest recent form, with Tasmanian left-arm finger-spinner Doherty now looking a good chance to follow his recent one-day international debut with a Test debut against England at the Gabba, starting Thursday.
As well as naming two spinners in the 13, selectors also included four quicks – Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger.
Johnson hit form in Western Australia’s current Sheffield Shield match against Victoria at the MCG, with a century and a five-wicket first innings haul, while Tasmania’s Hilfenhaus and Victoria’s Siddle have both been rested from the current round of matches.
Bollinger returned from an abdominal injury to play for NSW in their one-wicket Shield loss to Tasmania completed at the SCG on Friday.
The batting line-up maintained the status quo, with vice-captain Michael Clarke named despite being rested from the Shield game with a back injury.
WA veterans Mike Hussey and Marcus North, considered the batsmen most under threat, also kept their spots.
Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said the squad contained a good blend of experience and youth.
“The squad contains a number of experienced Test players and some exciting young talent and we firmly believe it has the ability to win the first Test of the Ashes Series in Brisbane,” Hilditch said.
He said Hauritz could consider himself unlucky.
“The NSP (national selection panel) believes the left-arm orthodox variety Xavier Doherty provides against a predominantly right-handed English middle order is the better option in this game,” Hilditch said.
“Callum Ferguson, Usman Khawaja and Ryan Harris are the other three (of an initial 17-man squad) to miss out of the final squad.
“Callum and Usman are both wonderful young players who we believe will play a big role for Australian cricket moving forward but on this occasion the experienced middle order has been preferred.
“We felt Ryan Harris needed further time to recover from his knee injury and also believe the four fast bowlers we have selected are in good form and will be key weapons for us winning the Ashes series.”
The 13-man squad will gather in Brisbane on Sunday evening.
Squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke (vc), Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Xavier Doherty, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger.