Cricket Australia yesterday named the squad for the one-day leg of their tour of England and Scotland, with spinner Fawad Ahmed getting a chance in the 18.
While the Baggy Green are enduring a miserable Ashes series this summer — they trail England 3-0 with a Test to go — they will have a chance of redemption in five 50-over games against their old enemy, as well as two Twenty20 clashes.
There are a number of fresh names in the squad selected with Ahmed, a 31-year-old Pakistan-born asylum seeker, the most intriguing. Australia have tinkered heavily in the spin department since the retirement of Shane Warne, with Ahmed the latest to be looked at by the selectors.
He has been on the ‘A’ tour of South Africa and Zimbabwe and national selector John Inverarity is eager to see what he can do. “Fawad Ahmed gets his opportunity as the squad’s lead spinner. He replaces Xavier Doherty who had that role in the ICC Champions Trophy played in June,” he said.
“While Xavier will be disappointed, he remains in strong contention for selection for the tour of India in October. “Fawad has been a consistent wicket-taker on the Australia ‘A’ tour of Zimbabwe and South Africa. He is a mature and very good leg-spin bowler and the NSP is keen to see how he fares in international competition.”
Test skipper Michael Clarke captains the 50-over squad — George Bailey leads the T20 group — with Phil Hughes, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, David Warner and Shane Watson the others to make the crossover from the five-day series. Doherty is joined in being dropped by Mitchell Marsh, while Josh Hazlewood is included and could make a first appearance in three years.
“Josh Hazlewood has been performing impressively with Australia ‘A’ recently and thoroughly deserves the opportunity,” Inverarity added. “Josh made his ODI debut for Australia against England in 2010 as a 19-year-old and now, three years on, he is a stronger and better bowler.
“We believe the squad is also a very good fielding unit with David Warner, Glenn Maxwell, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Steve Smith being a brilliant and eye-catching quartet within the wider squad.”
There was no place for the highly-rated Nic Maddinson, though, with the batsman overlooked as talk continues to suggest he may be considered for the return Ashes series this winter. The first T20 takes place at Hampshire on August 29.
Australia squad: Michael Clarke (ODI captain), George Bailey (ODI vice-captain/T20 captain), Fawad Ahmed, Nathan Coulter-Nile, James Faulkner, Aaron Finch, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Clint McKay, Adam Voges, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.