Australia names preliminary Ashes squad
Australia has named their 17-man squad to take on England in the first Ashes Test in Brisbane next week. The selectors have sprung a few surprises in their team selection, which is due to concerns over the form and fitness of a number of regular members of the team.
The squad includes debutant Xavier Doherty, who showed immense potential in the recently concluded one-day series against Sri Lanka. The other new faces include Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson.
The selectors have also included all-rounder Steve Smith and Ryan Harris, who is still struggling following his knee-surgery. The selectors will now monitor the injured player’s form during this week’s Sheffield Shield games, after which the 17-man squad will be streamlined to either 12 or 13 for the opening Ashes Test.
Players struggling with form also include vice captain Michael Clarke, who has been complaining about a back problem and fast bowler Doug Bollinger, who has been out since picking up an abdominal injury during the tour of India last month.
The biggest surprise however was the exclusion of opener Philip Hughes. The decision indicates that Simon Katich, who has been nursing his broken thumb, will be fit for the first Test.
The selectors have also issued an ultimatum to spinner Nathan Hauritz, who faces competition from 27-year-old debutant Xavier Doherty. Both of them will be under scrutiny during this week’s Sheffield Shield games.
The Kangaroos team physiotherapist, Alex Kountouris, said the squad is not worried about injuries because they have many excellent players to choose from. He added that Michael Clarke is expected to recover in time to practice with the final squad on 21 November.
The announcement of such a large squad for the series has not been received well by the media and supporters. Though the 17-man squad is just one more than the touring England squad. This is an indicator of the amount of pressure the selectors must be facing. However, it seems the selectors are taking a cautious approach and are surely worried about injuries to key players.