Australia unveil Ashes cricket squad for summer series in England
Pakistan-born spinner Fawad Ahmed named in 17-man party
Last Updated: 31/03/15 11:50am
Australia's Ashes squad has been revealed for this summer's tour of the UK which starts on July 8 in Cardiff.
The 17-man squad, who head to the West Indies before arriving in England, will be red-hot favourites to retain the famous urn on the back of their emphatic World Cup glory last week, coupled with England's lacklustre efforts Down Under.
Fast bowler James Pattinson and World Cup winning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell were the notable omissions for Darren Lehmann's men who will be looking to win on British soil for the first time since 2001.
Pakistan-born spinner Fawad Ahmed was chosen ahead of young spinner Ashton Agar, while Western Australian captain Adam Voges, voted the Sheffield Shield Player of the Year, also got the nod for his recent efforts at the crease.
The 33-year-old Ahmed, who steered Victoria to Sheffield Shield victory, was the competition’s leading wicket-taker with 48 wickets at 24.85, including a record-breaking 8-89 in the first innings of the Shield final against Western Australia.
National Selector Rod Marsh said: "The Test team has performed very well in recent times, but the big challenge is to do that away from home.
"We believe this squad has sufficient depth for these important Test matches against the West Indies and England and will give us the best chance of success.
"Adam Voges and Fawad Ahmed had sensational seasons at domestic level and their performances just couldn’t be ignored. They thoroughly deserve their call-up and the opportunity to be a part of this squad. We believe that both can play important roles in the side if required.
“Adam had one of the great seasons in Sheffield Shield history. He is an experienced player and quality character who will add talent and leadership to the touring party.
“Fawad has worked incredibly hard on his game and has demonstrated throughout the season that he can be a consistent wicket taker."
Michael Clarke and his players will be in buoyant mood having beaten New Zealand by seven wickets in the World Cup final at the MCG on Sunday and despite former paceman Glenn McGrath predicting another whitewash, the skipper warned against complacency.
"England are always tough, especially in their own backyard and by the time we get there they’ll be ready and we’ll have to be at our best,” said Clarke.
"There’s a fair bit of cricket to go before we have to worry about England. Hopefully the momentum that we can take from winning the World Cup can help us in the upcoming tours."
England though will have a huge fight on their hands. They go into their own summer schedule in terrible form, having gone out of the World Cup at the group stages being beaten by Bangladesh and Sri Lanka, as well as the two finalists.
They will also have the memory of folding in dismal fashion to lose the fifth Test within three days and with it the Ashes series 5-0 15 months ago.
England are also in the West Indies for a three-Test series in April and May and will prepare for facing the Aussies with a string of matches against New Zealand across all three international formats.
England bowling legend Bob Willis believes the Ashes series will be closer than many others think.
The Sky Sports cricket expert told Sky Sports News HQ: "In English conditions, it is going to be far more competitive than it was during the last series in Australia.
"Clearly James Anderson, who struggled desperately in the World Cup, will be looking forward to getting a red cricket ball in his hands again.
"And by the time it gets to the Ashes, he should have broken Ian Botham’s all-time English wicket-taking record, so he is still going to be a force to be reckoned with along with Stuart Broad, two seasoned Test match campaigners."
Australia Ashes squad: Michael Clarke (c), Steve Smith (vc), Fawad Ahmed, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson.
Watch the Ashes series live on Sky Sports throughout the summer