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Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Australia vs Pakistan Series 2009 in UAE: Australian Squad

(This entry was originally published on Wednesday, April 15th, 2009)

Australia is going to face Pakistan in UAE in a five-match ODI series and a Twenty20 international. The series commences on 22 April with the first ODI going underway at the Dubai Sports City Cricket Stadium, Dubai, UAE. After losing the ODI series on South African soil recently, the world champions have lost their no. 1 spot in ODI ranking to South Africa once again. However, the Aussies can retain the no. 1 ranking if they can win the upcoming ODI series against Pakistan. The series was supposed to take place in Pakistan, but upon reluctance of Australian team to tour Pakistan due to lack of security, the series was relocated to UAE.

Australia has taken their UAE mission as a preparation for the upcoming World Twenty20 2009 which is due to start from 5 June in England. Keeping this in mind, Australian selectors brought some young faces in the 14-member squad for the Pakistan series. Here, it is noteworthy that their regular captain, Ricky Ponting, has been rested for the series ahead of the Twenty20 world cup and Ashes 2009. Pacer Mitchell Johnson and batsman Michael Hussey have also been rested for the tournament. In Ponting’s absence, Michael Clarke will lead Australia against Pakistan in UAE.

Australian selectors recalled all rounder Andrew Symonds who was suspended from Australia’s tour of South Africa on behavioral ground. Andrew Hilditch, chief selector of Cricket Australia (CA), expressed that Symonds was given an opportunity to prove that he deserved a place in Australian squad and recovered from a series of off-field problems. The selectors are keen to see Symonds’ progress prior to the Twenty20 world championship 2009.

Brett Lee has also been recalled to the ODI squad of Australia for the Pakistan series after the pacer underwent a surgery on his ankle last January. It was earlier suggested that the pacer would come back in action with the Indian Premier League (IPL) 2009 tournament, starting from 18 April 2009 in South Africa. However, Australian selectors could not resist their temptation to recall Brett Lee, having seen excellent progress of Lee’s health over the last couple of the months. There is no doubt, his return to action is very much needed for the Australian team who are struggling to hold on to their dominance over the cricket world over the last one year.

However, according to recent reports available in the media suggests that Brett Lee is not yet fully fit to make his come back yet and Australian selectors have called up uncapped Doug Bollinger as Lee’s back up for the Pakistan series. Cricket Australia medical team has informed National Selection Panel (NSP) that Lee is not yet fit enough to represent his country in international cricket. However, Australian team physiotherapist, Alex Kountouris, has admitted that Lee has already recovered from his surgery in January, but he still needs sometime to finish his rehabilitation process. If he can not make a quick recovery, and improve his fitness, Brett Lee would not go to UAE with Australian team. In that case, it would be a big chance for Doug Bollinger who, after debuting against South Africa in the third test at Sydney last December, is now looking for his ODI debut.

Well, there are some other players who were recalled to the ODI squad after recovering from their respective injuries. Shaun Marsh has just returned after recovering from a hamstring injury, while all rounder Shane Watson has been called up following his recovery from a back injury, and he is initially available only as a batsman, but he could seen bowling in the later part of the series against Pakistan in UAE.

Besides Brett Lee and his cover Doug Bollinger, Australian pace attack features Nathan Bracken, Ben Hilfenhaus, Brett Geeves and Ben Laughlin. Off-spinner Nathan Hauritz is the only specialist spinner, while there is a quality part time spinner in Captain Michael Clarke. Australia’s bowling attack seems to be pretty much stronger than their batting line up. In the absence of Ricky Ponting, Australian batting line up lacks enough depth. All rounder Symonds has not been in good form in domestic cricket, and the Aussies have got a brilliant batsman in Callum Ferguson who proved his class and skill in South Africa, despite Australia’s defeat in the ODI series. Clarke, David Hussey and Ferguson have to play a big role with their bat in the upcoming series against Pakistan in UAE.

Here, I am giving the full list of 14-member Australia squad for the series:

Michael Clarke (capt), Brad Haddin (wk), Nathan Bracken, Callum Ferguson, Brett Geeves, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, David Hussey, Ben Laughlin, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson.

** Doug Bollinger has been called up as the cover for Brett Lee.

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