Fri, Nov 17, 2006 - Page 22 News List

Trio contest third Ashes fast bowling slot

AFP , SYDNEY

Australia have included fast bowlers Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson and Shaun Tait in a 13-man squad for next week's opening Ashes cricket Test against England in Brisbane.

The trio is contesting the third fast bowling spot behind the established new-ball pair Glenn McGrath and Brett Lee for the Gabba Test, starting on Thursday.

The Australians also named all-rounder Shane Watson in the 13, opening the possibility that the home team may unleash four fast bowlers on the England batsmen in the first of five Tests on what is regarded as the quickest pitch in Australia.

Ricky Ponting will captain the team with wicketkeeper Adam Gilchrist his vice-captain.

"The inclusion of extra pacemen in the squad reflects one of the strongest starts to the domestic season of young talent in recent memory," chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said in a Cricket Australia statement yesterday.

"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."

Hilditch said the squad reflected the strength of Australian cricket.

"We've picked a very strong squad which reflects the fact that Australia has been successful at international level for some time," he said.

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

Hilditch said the selection of Shane Watson gave the Australian team the option of playing a bowling all-rounder.

"We see his inclusion to the Test squad as an exciting development for Australian cricket," he said.

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