Ponting included in Test squad for West Indies

Updated: March 14, 2012, 9:56 AM IST
Ponting included in Test squad for West Indies

Melbourne: Former Australia captain Ricky Ponting, dropped from the one-day team last month, was included in the 16-man Test squad for the three-Test tour of West Indies on Wednesday.

Ponting, who retired from limited-overs cricket after being dropped, has been retained after a prolific recent series against India.

The 37-year-old batsman's successor Michael Clarke is expected to have recovered from a left hamstring strain, which sidelined him for the deciding tri-series final against Sri Lanka this month and subsequently ruled him out of the limited-overs matches which precede the Tests, to lead the side.

Left-arm spinner Michael Beer, who played his one and only Test against England during the ill-fated 2010-2011 Ashes series, was a surprise inclusion alongside finger spinner Nathan Lyon.

Five fast bowlers, Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson, Ryan Harris and Mitchell Starc, will travel to the Caribbean but teenager Pat Cummins, who took 6-79 in his only Test to date, was not fit enough to be considered.

"The national selection panel believes the inclusion of five fast bowlers, two spinners and two wicket-keepers will provide important flexibility and cover for any injuries that may occur in a country that is not easily accessible by replacement or standby players," chief selector John Inverarity said.

Top-order batsman Shaun Marsh, who struggled during India's tour over the turn of the year, has been dropped while Brad Haddin is included as one of two wicket-keepers along with Matt Wade.

Wade and batsman Peter Forrest are the only players in the 16-man squad uncapped at Test level.

"It is anticipated Michael Clarke will be fully recovered and take his place as captain for the first Test match in Barbados beginning on Saturday, 7 April," Inverarity said in a news release.

"Shane Watson will come back into the Test XI and he could replace Shaun Marsh in the vitally important number three position."

All-rounder Watson, formerly an opener in Tests, played his last Test on the tour of South Africa last year before being sidelined with calf and hamstring injuries over the past three months.

Watson will be in charge when Australia play the first of five ODIs against the West Indies on Saturday. That series will be followed by two Twenty20 matches ahead of the Test series.

The 16-man contingent is the biggest Australian squad to go on a Test tour since the 2009 Ashes series.

Squad: Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Michael Beer, Ed Cowan, Peter Forrest, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Ricky Ponting, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner.

First Published: March 14, 2012, 9:56 AM IST

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