Australia leaves out Pattinson for first ODI today

AFP and Reuters, MELBOURNE, Australia

Sun, Jan 12, 2014 - Page 20

Australia have left out fit-again paceman James Pattinson for today’s opening one-day international (ODI) with England at the Melbourne Cricket Ground.

Skipper Michael Clarke admitted at his pre-match media conference yesterday that he had no answers on why Pattinson was not selected.

Pattinson’s absence comes as Australia rest their Ashes player of the series and leading wicket-taker Mitchell Johnson from the first game of the five-match ODI series.

Opening batsman Shaun Marsh has also been unable to win selection for today’s opener, with Aaron Finch likely to partner David Warner at the top of the order and Shane Watson at No. 3.

Pattinson was sent home from last year’s Ashes tour with a back injury, but he has claimed seven wickets in three Big Bash League games recently.

While Australia’s ODI series with England is a crucial warm-up for next year’s World Cup to be hosted by Australia and New Zealand, it is also a chance for players like Pattinson to audition for a spot in the Test squad to tour South Africa later this month.

“That’s probably a question for the selectors,” Clarke said. “I don’t know what they said to James and I don’t know why they decided to not pick him. But I think James certainly is realistic and understands that he’s only been back bowling for a couple of weeks in regards to game practice.”

“He’s looking fit and I’m sure he’ll play a big part throughout this series,” he added.

Clarke said Australia would take winning momentum into the ODI series, but that would come from Australia’s 2-1 ODI series win in England in September last year, rather than their recent five-zero Ashes whitewash.

Australia are rated second in ODI cricket behind India, with England at No. 3.

Australia’s pace attack consists of Clint McKay, Shane Watson and inexperienced James Faulkner and Nathan Coulter-Nile.

Meanwhile, England captain Alastair Cook declined yesterday to offer any assurances to mercurial batsman Kevin Pietersen about his Test future.

Smarting from the Ashes whitewash, England’s misery in Australia was not confined to the field and coach Andy Flower had to issue a statement on Wednesday denying media speculation of a rift in the dressing room.

British media had earlier claimed Flower has threatened to quit if Pietersen continued to be part of the team’s rebuilding process.

South Africa-born Pietersen, 33, ruled out retirement and said he wanted to help England regain the Ashes next year, but Cook was non-committal about the future of England’s fourth-highest Test scorer of all time.

Persistently asked about Pietersen’s attitude, Cook said: “It’s very hard for me to talk to you, the media, about stuff like this. It’s very hard and I can’t do that. Confidentiality and stuff like that means what happens in the dressing room, stays in the dressing room.”