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Australia eye T20 world places against England Selectors bring in new blood for SA tour

SYDNEY, Jan 20, (AFP): Cricket Australia on Monday challenged its Twenty20 squad to use the England series to fight for a place in the side heading to the short format’s world championship. Australia unveiled a 14-man squad for the three matches against England with George Bailey named captain after being dropped from the Test side to tour world number one South Africa next month. All-rounder James Faulkner is the only member of the T20 squad to make the tour of the republic with selectors deciding to prioritise the Test side after the Ashes triumph. The Test squad depart on Jan 29, the same day as England face Australia in Hobart in the first match of the 20-over format. Faulkner will join them after the T20 series.

“The ICC World Twenty20 is just around the corner and these and other players will come into contention for our 15-man squad for that tournament,” said chairman of selectors John Inverarity. Australia will on February 16 name the 15-man squad for the World Twenty20 scheduled to be held in Bangladesh over March-April. Left-arm quick Mitchell Starc was included in the squad as he recovers from a stress fracture in his back. “Mitchell Starc has a fine record in international T20 cricket and is an important player in our ICC World Twenty20 campaign,” Inverarity said. “It is anticipated that he will be ready to perform by the end of this month.” Selectors also had their eye on 20-year-old spinner James Muirhead.

“The National Selection Panel is looking to develop spin bowling options for both the ICC World Twenty20 and the 2015 ICC World Cup,” to be held in Australia and New Zealand, Inverarity said. “James Muirhead has impressed when he’s played against England. He is an exciting prospect as an emerging leg-spinner and will be looking to make the most of his opportunity.”

Australia T20 squad: George Bailey (capt), Aaron Finch (vice-capt), Dan Christian, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Ben Cutting, James Faulkner, Josh Hazelwood, Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, James Muirhead, Chris Lynn, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, Cameron White.

T20 schedule v England:
Jan 29: Blundstone Arena, Hobart
Jan 31: Melbourne Cricket Ground
Feb 2: Sydney Olympic Park

After a stunning Ashes triumph, Australia added specialist batsmen to a 15-man squad unveiled on Monday for the upcoming tour against world number one South Africa. Uncapped Tasmanian Alex Doolan joins Shaun Marsh who returns to the Test scene after almost two years. Losing out is Ashes number six George Bailey whose game is “less suited to their (bowling) attack,” said chairman of selectors John Inverarity. “This was a difficult decision, but on this occasion we felt Alex and Shaun have games that are well suited to facing South Africa in South Africa.

“We consider that both are strong players of pace bowling which is important given the strength of South Africa’s attack. “Alex was on standby for the recent fifth Test in Sydney and scored a most impressive 165 not out against South Africa for Australia A last season. “Shaun is a talented batsman who is striking the ball very well at the moment. He has the technique and potential to do well.” Doolan came in for particular praise for his technique against pace bowling. Marsh meanwhile scored a century on his Test debut, but has struggled with injury and form. “He seems to be in a very good space mentally and fit,” Inverarity said. “He’s playing well and we all know that when Shaun plays his best he’s a very good player.” Marsh built a patient innings of 71 on Sunday night to help Australia wrap up the one-day series against England with two games still to play.

Other changes see the return from long-term injury of pace bowlers James Pattinson and Jackson Bird.
Australia’s first choice bowling line-up remains the same from the Ashes, with strength in depth to cover the back-to-back Test schedule. “James Pattinson is regaining fitness and form. At his best he is a fine Test match bowler,” Inverarity said. “Jackson Bird shaded out Nathan Coulter-Nile for the final bowling position and each of these bowlers is showing encouraging form.” The squad departs Jan 29, apart from all-rounder James Faulkner who stays back to play in the T20 series against England. He will join the team during the warm-up game in Potchefstroom (February 5-8).

Australia squad: Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (vice-capt), Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.

Feb 12-16: 1st Test at SuperSport Park, Centurion
Feb 20-24: 2nd Test at St George’s Park, Port Elizabeth
Mar 1-5: 3rd and final Test at Newlands, Cape Town

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