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Australia name five pace bowlers for first Test

Australia's selectors have stuck with the bulk of the players that lost the Ashes last year.

india Updated: Nov 16, 2006 11:38 IST

Australia have included five pace bowlers and a specialist all-rounder in a 13-man squad for the first Ashes Test against England starting in Brisbane on November 23.

Australia's selectors stuck with the bulk of the players that lost the Ashes in England last year but bolstered their bowling attack.

Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait joined Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee in a five-pronged pace attack while in-form Shane Watson was also chosen to add further depth to the bowling.

"We've picked a very strong squad which reflects the fact that Australia has been successful at international level for some time," Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said in a statement.

"We are showing faith in those players who have contributed to that success, while at the same time injecting some youth into the squad with the inclusions of Shane Watson, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait."

Hilditch said one of the five specialist pacemen would be omitted when the squad is trimmed to 12 players next week while a decision on the starting 11 would not be made until closer to the match. Shane Warne was the only spin bowler picked.

"The selection of the final 11 will be a tough decision and will be made in Brisbane after assessing the conditions and the pitch," Hilditch said.

"We intend to pick the best balanced side to represent Australia against England.

"The inclusion of extra pacemen in the squad reflects one of the strongest starts to the domestic season of young talent in recent memory.

"It reflects the development of Mitchell Johnson in the past 12 months, some eye-catching fast bowling from Shaun Tait and the performance of Stuart Clark in South Africa and since his return from injury domestically."

All-round performance

The only changes to the batting lineup that played in the last Ashes series were the inclusion of Michael Hussey for Michael Clarke and Watson, who sealed his selection with a powerful performance in the Champions Trophy, in place of Simon Katich.

"We believe this is a squad capable of winning back the Ashes," Hilditch said.

"Shane has an outstanding first-class record with the bat, averaging over 45 and his bowling ability gives us the flexibility in our attack that we have been looking for. It will be interesting to see how he develops as a Test cricketer in this series."

Australia captain Ricky Ponting said he was delighted with the depth of his squad and could not wait for the Ashes to start.

"This series is going to be huge, we've all been waiting for it for 14-15 months and the crowds around Australia have been exactly the same," he said.

"There's been huge anticipation for this series and the players are really excited about getting to Brisbane and getting our preparation under way."

Australia squad - Ricky Ponting (captain), Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Michael Hussey, Shane Watson, Adam Gilchrist, Brett Lee, Shane Warne, Stuart Clark, Glenn McGrath, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait (one to be omitted).

First Published: Nov 16, 2006 11:36 IST