Australia set to name squad
Australia reveal their squad for the first Ashes Test on Monday with question marks hanging over several players.
Last Updated: 15/11/10 11:14am
Australia reveal their squad for the first Ashes Test on Monday with question marks concerning the fitness and form of several players.
With a lively pitch expected at the Gabba for the November 25-29 showdown, Australia's four-man selection panel, chaired by Andrew Hilditch, have some difficult decisions to make.
Nathan Hauritz has been the preferred spinner for most of the post-Shane Warne era but struggled during the tour of India in October, where Australia lost both Tests.
His New South Wales team-mate Steve Smith and Tasmania's uncapped orthodox left-armer Xavier Doherty are the others in contention for the slow-bowling berth - although an all-seam attack when the squad is whittled down to a final starting XI remains a distinct possibility.
"I've bowled pretty well over the last 12 months," said Hauritz, who probably did enough to secure his spot with a haul of 2-47 for New South Wales against Victoria on Friday.
"Obviously the last couple of weeks weren't the best I've bowled but that's part of life, you're not always going to have a good game.
"But I know I've done a lot of work in the nets and the ball's coming out a lot better."
Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus are certain to take two of the seam bowling places and, as long as the selectors are satisfied over his fitness, Doug Bollinger will also be included.
Bollinger suffered a side strain on the tour of India and has played only one club match since the start of the Australian season.
With a 15-man squad - or possibly even 16 - expected to be named there is plenty of room for the selectors to keep their options open.
Victoria's Peter Siddle is back in contention after returning to state action following a long injury lay-off, while Ryan Harris has thrown his name into the hat with nine wickets for Queensland against Tasmania last week.
The batting line-up is more settled with the only slight worry being vice-captain Michael Clarke, who has a back injury.
Clarke insists he will be fit despite the problem delaying him from batting in the second innings of New South Wales' match against Victoria last week. He aggravated the long-standing problem during his first-innings century and did not field the following day.
Opening batsman Simon Katich scored 94 in a grade match and came through unscathed to prove his recovery from a thumb problem.