Australia, September 19;has been axed as Australia’s one-day wicketkeeper in favour of Brad Haddin and Fawad Ahmed has also been dropped for Xavier Doherty for the upcoming tour of India. The 14-man squad will be led by Michael Clarke, if his back injury allows him to, and he will be one of three certainties for the first Test at the Gabba – along with Haddin and Shane Watson – on the near month-long trip in the lead-up to the Ashes.
The selection of Clarke, Watson and Haddin means they will all miss the first round of Sheffield Shield matches, leaving them only two matches each to readjust to the longer format and the Australian conditions before the Brisbane Test. England’s cricketers, by comparison, will have three games to acclimatise and it is not a dissimilar scenario to the disastrous 2010-11 Ashes, when England’s players were better prepared than the Australians.
However, it is still possible that Clarke will not take part in the Indian trip after he suffered a recurrence of his ongoing back problem at the end of the limited-overs series in England. In India in March, Clarke missed a Test due to his back injury for the first time in his career, and he was also troubled by his back in the lead-up to the Ashes in England.
“After a long tour Michael Clarke’s back condition has flared up again and he has been selected subject to fitness,” John Inverarity, the national selector, said. “He has returned to Australia for further assessment and the national selection panel hopes that it will improve in time for the Indian tour.”
‘A squad that could do the job’
The dumping of Wade caps off a difficult few months for him after Haddin reclaimed the Test wicketkeeping position for the Ashes in England. In the one-day series that followed, Wade made 0, 36 and 0 and collected three dismissals, and Haddin’s return could be a long-term option for the selectors after Haddin expressed his desire last month to play on in international cricket until the end of the 2015 World Cup.
“Matthew Wade has been omitted due to lack of form and has been replaced by Brad Haddin, who captured an Ashes series record of dismissals in July and August,” Inverarity said. “Matthew is 25 years of age and has a great deal of natural ability both as a batsman and as a keeper. The NSP is confident that Matthew will regain form and press hard for selection in the not too distant future.”
That Wade is no longer the incumbent in any format due to poor form – there is a T20 international in Rajkot before the seven-match ODI series – raises the question of whether he would remain next in line behind Haddin over the Australian summer. The Tasmania wicketkeeper Tim Paine could force himself ahead in the queue with a strong start to the domestic season, while Queensland’s Chris Hartley could also find himself in contention if a Test replacement is needed.
The return of Doherty for the Indian trip was not unexpected but the omission of Ahmed was perhaps surprising, given he had been blooded on the England tour. Instead, he will have the chance to press for Ashes consideration in three Sheffield Shield outings, although Nathan Lyon is likely to remain the first-choice spinner for at least the beginning of the Ashes.
“Fawad bowled well with his limited opportunities in the rain-affected series and better than his figures would suggest,” Inverarity said. “The NSP looks forward to Fawad getting plenty of bowling in the busy domestic schedule that begins at the end of this month.”
Also gone from the ODI squad that toured England are Josh Hazlewood and the injured Shaun Marsh, while the allrounder Moises Henriques has been recalled. There will also be a significant change in the off-field staff for the Australians, with the fielding mentor Steve Rixon to lead the tour as head coach while Darren Lehmann spends time at home.
“As with the successful tour of the UAE last year we will have Steve Rixon acting as head coach in India,” Pat Howard, Cricket Australia’s general manager of team performance, said. “Darren has been on the road and away from home for a considerable amount of time. This is a great opportunity for Darren to refresh, work with the states and provide others with opportunities.”
Australia squad Shane Watson, Aaron Finch, Phillip Hughes, Michael Clarke (capt), George Bailey (vice-capt), Adam Voges, Brad Haddin (wk), Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell, Mitchell Johnson, James Faulkner, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint McKay, Xavier Doherty.