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Australia names 17-man squad for 1st Ashes Test

Xavier Doherty was the surprising selection in an extended squad of 17 players announced for Australia's first Ashes cricket Test against England.

cricket Updated: Nov 16, 2010 09:35 IST

Xavier Doherty was the surprising selection in an extended squad of 17 players announced on Monday for Australia's first Ashes cricket Test against England.

Young batsmen Callum Ferguson and Usman Khawaja and fast bowler Ryan Harris were also included in the squad, which was named on Monday at a public ceremony near Sydney harbor.

Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said the squad would be trimmed to 12 or 13 players after the next round of Australia's domestic Sheffield Shield competition.

The first test starts Nov. 25 in Brisbane.

Tasmanian left-arm spinner Doherty offers Australia a third slow bowling option after Nathan Hauritz and Steve Smith. Fast bowler Doug Bollinger, Harris, Simon Katich and vice-captain Michael Clarke were all included despite recent injuries. Clarke is expected to be fit after experiencing lower back pain, Katich will return to first-class cricket this week after a thumb injury, Bollinger has recently recovered from an abdominal strain and Harris overcame a knee injury to take a career-best 9-140 last week for Queensland against Tasmania.

"Michael Clarke ... is expected to recover in time to join the team in Brisbane on Nov. 21 to prepare for the first Ashes test match," Australian team physio Alex Kountouris said. Harris has a chronic knee injury that requires ongoing management and would be rested from the next round of Sheffield Shield games and for Australia A against England, Kountouris said. Katich and Bollinger both played club matches on the weekend "and managed to get through without any problem," he said. Hilditch said the announcement of an enlarged squad before the next Sheffield Shield round and England's final Ashes warmup against Australia A was important.

"The panel considers it prudent and appropriate to look at the next round of Sheffield Shield games and the Australia A clash before finalizing the team for the first test," he said. "From a logistical point of view and with these important games yet to be completed we have named an extended squad with 10 days before the first test begins.

"The (panel) has been pleased with the performance of the test side in India (last month). However, we were obviously disappointed in the result. We realize there are some important areas we need to improve on before this summer's matches."

Hauritz may be under pressure to retain his place as Australia's main specialist spinner and Doherty offers Australia a left-arm option.

"Nathan Hauritz has performed exceptionally well over the past 12 months for Australia and one of the biggest decisions we will need to make is whether we go into the first test in Brisbane with a right-arm off spinner or with the variation of a left-arm orthodox bowler," Hilditch said.

"Xavier Doherty has been very impressive in both limited overs and first-class cricket in particular last season and the start of this season."

Hilditch said Khawaja and Ferguson have played well in domestic cricket "and richly deserve the opportunity to be considered for selection in this first test side."

Both Ferguson and Khawaja will play for Australia A against England in a three-day match starting in Hobart on Wednesday.