Australia pin hopes on rickety quicks
Defending champions Australia Tuesday unveiled their squad for next
month's World Cup, banking on the fitness of a pair of injury-prone
pacemen and elder statesmen Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey.
Veteran Brett Lee and enigmatic short-form specialist Shaun Tait were
both included in the 15-man squad for the tournament in India, Sri Lanka
and Bangladesh, which they are trying to win for the fourth successive
Ponting was named as skipper, but is still recovering from a broken
finger, while Hussey made the squad but is a major doubt after a severe
hamstring tear in the six-wicket win over England at the MCG on Sunday.
Hussey is expected to be sidelined for at last six weeks, with
Australia's first game on February 21, and chairman of selectors Andrew
Hilditch conceded he was a doubt for the showpiece event.
"It is a severe injury and we will make a decision closer to
departure date," Hilditch said on Tuesday.
Players can be replaced before the tournament.
By selecting Lee and Tait, as well as erratic duo Mitchell Johnson
and Doug Bollinger, Australia will rely heavily on their pace bowlers to
be at their best.
Lee performed well in Australia's win over England on Sunday, but the
34-year-old and Tait are both on the comeback trail after serious elbow
Sunday's game was Lee's first one-day international for Australia
since October 2009 and he missed the 2007 World Cup triumph due to
Tait, who played in the 2007 final but mainly plays Twenty20 cricket
these days, was ruled out of Sunday's game with a back problem.
The 27-year-old has only played three ODIs since February 2009, but
taken eight wickets in those three matches. Hilditch said the squad was
perfectly balanced. "One of the major decisions to be made in this squad
was ensuring the balance was right in the squad to provide the best
cover for all positions in the event of injury, illness or form issues
that may arise," Hilditch said.
"It includes the experience of Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and
Brett Lee, and also some young talent like Steve Smith.
"Shaun Tait, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson and Brad
Haddin were all also part of the victorious 2007 ICC cricket World Cup
squad that went unbeaten in the Caribbean, so there is plenty of
character in this group of Australian cricketers."
The shock selection was Victorian all-rounder John Hastings, who has
played just two one-day internationals, while David Hussey, Mike's
younger brother, also made the squad.
Tasmanian wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine, touted by many as a future
Australian captain, is part of the 15.
Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, who played on Sunday, was overlooked
in favour of the returning Nathan Hauritz, who was ignored for the
entire Ashes series but has been in top form in domestic first-class
cricket this season.
Victorian paceman Peter Siddle was not included, despite being one of
the better Ashes performers for Australia with ball and bat.
Squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Brad
Haddin, John Hastings, Nathan Hauritz, David Hussey, Mike Hussey,
Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Tim Paine, Steve Smith, Shaun Tait, Shane
Watson, Cameron White. SYDNEY, Tuesday (AFP)