Aussies Select Young Squad For Sri Lanka Tour
Cricket Australia have sprung a couple of surprises in the naming of the squad that will travel to Sri Lanka for a three test series in September.
The most surprising selections come in the bowling department, where Australia have named five players with a total of six tests experience between them.
South Australian off-spinner Nathan Lyon has been drafted into the side and will share the spinning duties with one test veteran Michael Beer. James Pattinson and Trent Copeland also stand to make their debuts. The other bowlers included in the squad are Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson.
The selection of Lyon is the major shock as he has played just four first class matches for South Australia. However the young spinner earns his call up after an impressive showing for Australia A in the recent one day tour of Zimbabwe.
“Nathan may be a surprise selection, but he impressed all who have seen him in the last year and he bowled beautifully in the one-day component of the Australia A tour,” said chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch.
“He has good shape, he bowls to good plans and he is very difficult to play when he lands them on a length. He is a very skilful player and while we understand that it is a big step, we feel he’s ready.
“We feel that having a right arm orthodox spinner will complement the left arm spin of Michael Beer…There is a real chance that we will play two spinners throughout this tour.”
Hilditch said that Nathan Hauritz was not considered because he is yet to recover from a recent injury. Steve Smith was also not considered because the selectors are of the opinion that he has not done enough to warrant selection as a number six batsmen or specialist spin bowler.
Australia also look to be ushering in a new age of fast bowlers with Trent Copeland and James Pattinson also picked for the tour.
Copeland has forced his way into the touring party after some great first class performances for New South Wales, which saw him finish last season as the leading wicket taker in the Sheffield Shield.
“Trent has earned his position with some fine performances for New South Wales and has bowled very well on the Australia tour,” Hilditch said.
Hilditch also said that Copeland had been drafted into the squad to serve the Glenn-McGrath like role of being the super accurate bowler. He said that that would give the likes of Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle the opportunity to focus on being strike bowlers instead of needing to get through long spells.
James Pattinson has also been bought into the squad after some strong performances for Victoria.
“James is a young fast bowler with the potential to play an important role for Australia in all three forms of the game and we look forward to watching his further development on the tour.” Hilditch said.
James’ brother Darren played one test match for England in 2008, which makes James the only player in the history of test cricket to debut for a different country to his brother.
Doug Bollinger was not picked for the tour due to fitness concerns, while Ben Hilfenhaus has been told that he needs to work on swinging the ball if he is to break back into the Australian side.
There weren’t many surprises as far as the batting line up was concerned with Phil Hughes selected to open and Usman Khawaja picked to bat in the middle order. Shaun Marsh was selected as the reserve batsmen.
This tour marks the first time that Hughes has been selected as a first choice opener since he was dropped from the squad in the 2009 Ashes. He has played tests since, but always as a replacement.
There has been speculation that Ricky Ponting will demoted in the batting order to number six, with Khawaja at three, however Hilditch said that he believed Clarke was favouring leaving Ponting at first drop.
Three players, Trent Copeland, Michael Beer and Nathan Lyon have been selected for this tour from outside the central list of 25 contracted players.
Hilditch said that this was likely to happen as the contracted list was determined by ranking players across all three forms of the game. He said that players who impressed in first class cricket without making a name for themselves in the shorter forms of the game still had a chance to break into the test side.
There are eight players in the touring squad of 15 who have played fewer than ten test matches, however Hilditch denied that Cricket Australia was focussing on a youth policy.
“It may certainly appear that way, but we have selected the best possible side for this tour. Obviously players will develop while they are over there, but we believe this is the best squad we could have picked for this tour.” Hilditch said.
This tour will be the first leadership challenge for new test captain Michael Clarke and his deputy Shane Watson.
Australian Test Squad to Tour Sri Lanka
Phillip Hughes, Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (Captain), Michael Hussey, Usman Khawaja, Brad Haddin, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer, Nathan Lyon, Trent Copeland, James Pattinson, Shaun Marsh.
Test Match Schedule
Aug 31 – Sep 4: First Test at Galle
Sep 8 – Sep 12: Second Test at Kandy
Sep 16 – Sep 20: Third Test at Colombo