In what could mean the end of the road of his Test career, the Australian selectors on Wednesday left out Andrew Symonds from the 16-man squad to defend the Ashes in England.
Shane Watson and Andrew McDonald were preferred ahead of the burly allrounder who was dropped twice from the squad last year on disciplinary grounds. McDonald has been preferred on the basis of his performances in Australia's series win in South Africa in March, but Watson will have to undergo a fitness test before the series that gets underway in July.
Australia were shocked 1-2 the last time they toured England, in 2005, but reclaimed the urn with a 5-0 drubbing in 2006-07 at home. That series saw the comeback of Symonds while Watson, his then Queensland teammate, was not considered due to an injury. It's the other way around this time, with Watson getting picked at the expense of Symonds. Otherwise, the squad reflects a growing confidence that the team has overcome a spate of high-profile retirements, which spells big trouble for England.
The makeup of the squad was unsurprising and deeply conservative, a typical blend of youth and experience. Every player in the squad warranted selection and there were no glaring omissions.
It is a measure of Australia's confidence that they were able to so easily choose their side and testament to their ability to recover from the retirement of so many top players in such a short period.
Most worrying for England, however, is the fact that Australia's risk-free approach to their selections proved they had not forgotten the lessons of four years ago. The Australians exacted a measure of revenge for their 2005 defeat when they humiliated England 5-0 at home in 2006-07 but they clearly have more retribution in mind. " A lot of us have been there and learnt from our mistakes of last time and we're keen to obviously rectify that," Australia captain Ricky Ponting said.