Australia named paceman Brett Lee and batsman David Hussey in a 14-man squad for the first of seven one-day internationals against England, brightening their chances of making the cut for next month’s World Cup.
Sunday’s ODI at the Melbourne Cricket Ground will be Australia’s last before the January 19 deadline by which the teams have to name their final 15 for the tournament in India, Sri Lanka and Bangladesh.
“The squad is selected for one game only in order for the national selection panel to look at certain players before we select the ICC Cricket World Cup squad of fifteen on January 19,” chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said in a statement.
“Ricky Ponting is recovering from a finger injury sustained during the Ashes, which gives Michael Clarke another chance to lead the one-day side.”
Ponting, who had a surgery on the little finger of his left hand after injuring it during Australia’s comprehensive Ashes defeat by England, is expected to be fit for the February 19-April 2 World Cup.
Lee, 34, last played for Australia in a ODI against India in October, 2009 and has battled with injuries that forced him to retire from Tests in February last year.
“We have some explosive fast bowling with Shaun Tait, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger and Peter Siddle all selected in this squad,” Hilditch claimed.
“Shaun and Brett will therefore have an opportunity to impress in this form of the game before World Cup squad selection.”
The inclusion of Steve Smith, Xavier Doherty and Nathan Hauritz will see tremendous competition in the spin bowling department ahead of the World Cup in the subcontinent, where pitches are known to suit the spinners.
“We’ve included Nathan Hauritz, who has been a key part of our one-day side for some time now and Xavier Doherty in this squad, who played well against Sri Lanka at the start of the summer,” Hilditch said.
“This gives us a chance to look at both of them prior to the World Cup.”
The experienced Hussey, 33, has not played a ODI since August 2009, but was included in the squad which had no place for batsmen Callum Ferguson and Shaun Marsh.
“We’ve given David Hussey the opportunity to push for inclusion in the World Cup squad as we think he will be well suited for the sub-continent conditions which will be faced in the World Cup,” Hilditch said.
Squad: Michael Clarke (captain), Cameron White, Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson.