Two rookie pacers in Oz Test squad for India
Melbourne: Rookie pacers Peter George and Josh Hazlewood were the surprise picks, while fit-again opener Philip Hughes made a return to the 15-member Australian cricket squad announced on Thursday for the two-match Test series against India next month.
The squad, to be led by Ricky Ponting, will miss regular wicketkeeper Brad Haddin due to an elbow injury and Tim Paine will be doing the duty behind stumps in his absence.
"While the excitement builds for the forthcoming Vodafone Ashes, the immediate focus for this squad is the Test series against India," Australia`s National Selection Panel Chairman Andrew Hilditch said in a statement.
"India is ranked number one in Test cricket and there is no harder assignment in Test cricket at the moment than playing India on their home soil. The Australian squad is really looking forward to the challenge," he said.
Opener Hughes, who missed the series against England in June due to a dislocated shoulder,returns to the squad.
"The squad we have selected sees the return from injury of Phillip Hughes and includes a very good mix of experience and new young talent with Steven Smith, Hughes and two young fast bowlers in Peter George and Josh Hazlewood," Hilditch said.
George and Hazlewood will be part of the new-look Aussie pace attack which will be spearheaded by Mitchell Johnson and Doug Bollinger.
While the 23-year-old George is yet to make his international debut in any form of the game, the 19-year-old Hazlewood has a one-dayer against England to his credit in June. Nathan Hauritz and Steven Smith are the two spinners in the team.
"All these exciting young players have the potential to have a big impact in international cricket for many years and the NSP is confident they will all equip themselves well if the opportunity presents itself on this tour," Hilditch said.
Meanwhile, Australian physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said Haddin might be available for the three-match one-day series after the two Tests against India.
"Brad Haddin is making good progress with rehabilitation of his elbow tendon injury. He is due to commence restricted batting in the next few weeks but will not be available to play in the Test component of Australia`s VB Tour of India.”
"He is on track to be available for club cricket and for New South Wales with the possibility of being available for selection in the India or Sri Lanka One-day International series," Kountouris said.
As the first One-day international of the tour is not scheduled until October 17, the NSP will monitor the fitness of injured players before making a decision on the squad for the series.
The first Test will be played from October 1 in Mohali, while the second match is scheduled October 9 to 13 in Bangalore.
The Test squad: Ricky Ponting (c), Michael Clarke (vc), Doug Bollinger, Peter George, Nathan Hauritz, Josh Hazlewood, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Marcus North, Tim Paine, Steven Smith and Shane Watson.