Aussies gamble on uncapped Doherty for Ashes
Sydney: Off-spinner Nathan Hauritz was the major omission when the Australian squad was reduced to 13 players today for next week`s opening Ashes Test against England in Brisbane.
Hauritz made way for younger spinners, left-arm wrist-spinner Xavier Doherty and leg-spinner Steven Smith.
Hauritz has played 17 Tests and taken 63 wickets at an average of almost 35. If Doherty, 27, is chosen to play in next Thursday`s match it will be his Test debut, while Smith, 21, has played in two Tests.
Selectors last Monday named an initial 17-man squad and said that four players would be cut from the selection this weekend after assessing the form of the contenders in England`s tour match against Australia A and three Sheffield Shield games.
"Nathan Hauritz is one of these players omitted and he can consider himself unlucky as his Australian record has been very good over the past 12 months," chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said.
"However the panel believes the left-arm orthodox variety Xavier Doherty provides against a predominantly right-handed English batting middle-order is the better option in this game."
Batsmen Callum Ferguson and Usman Khawaja along with paceman Ryan Harris were the other players left out of the 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," Hilditch said.
"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 this summer."
Hilditch said he believes his panel has chosen a strong and well balanced squad, selected specifically with the conditions in Brisbane in mind.
"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," he said.
England regained the Ashes in last year`s series in England, but have not won a series in Australia since Mike Gatting`s team of 1986/87.
Squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Brad Haddin, Mike Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Marcus North, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson.