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Page last updated at 07:23 GMT, Friday, 12 September 2008 08:23 UK

Australia gamble on spin rookies

Jason Krejza and Bryce McGain
Krejza and McGain will be matched against two prolific wicket-takers

Australia have named four uncapped bowlers in their squad for next month's Test series in India.

The most intriguing selections are 36-year-old leg-spinner Bryce McGain and off-spinner Jason Krejza.

They will be pitted against India's Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh, who have a combined total of more than 700 wickets in Test cricket.

Australia have also included seamers Peter Siddle and Doug Bollinger but there is no place for Andrew Symonds.

All-rounder Symonds was sent home from the recent one-day series against Bangladesh in Darwin for disciplinary reasons.

"He is now going through a process, managed by Cricket Australia, to give him time to assess whether he is fully committed to all of the things needed for a cricketer to be a member of the world's number one team," said chief selector Andrew Hilditch.

606: DEBATE

"We all know a fit and fully-committed Andrew Symonds can be a world-beater. In the meantime, our advice was that he was not available to be considered for selection this time."

Symonds's place will be taken by Shane Watson who, although a regular in the limited overs side, has not played a Test match since November 2005.

But although Watson will have a crucial role in providing balance for the side, it is McGain and Krejza who will be under the most intense pressure in India.

Australia's spin options have been severely depleted in the past two years by the retirements of Shane Warne, Australia's all-time Test wickets record-holder, Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg.

Youngsters Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey have not developed as expected and left-armer Beau Casson has been overlooked after playing one Test in the West Indies earlier this year.

McGain and Krejza are currently in the sub-continent with the Australia A squad in order to gain experience and Hilditch backed both to rise to the challenge of Test cricket.

"Bryce McGain was the stand-out leg-spinner at interstate level last year and we think he is really well suited to the Indian conditions and bowling plans. His story is a great example of how those who perform at interstate level will be rewarded.

Peter Siddle
Paceman Peter Siddle is another new face in the squad

"Bryce suffered a minor strain to his right shoulder in India and has been selected for this tour subject to fitness but we are very hopeful of him being fully fit in the near future," he stated.

"Jason Krejza had a good season for Tasmania last year but is a selection very much for Indian conditions. The selectors felt right-arm finger spinners would perform well in India and Jason now has a chance to prove himself at the international level.

Siddle and Bollinger, meanwhile, will provide pace bowling back-up for Brett Lee, Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson.

Bollinger toured the Caribbean with Australia earlier this year, but it is 23-year-old Siddle's first chance at senior level.

"Peter Siddle is an exciting young fast bowler who has overcome some injury concerns and has continued to impress at interstate level. This selection provides Peter with the perfect opportunity to stand up at this level," Hilditch commented.

The team will be again be led by Ricky Ponting, who missed the recent series against Bangladesh after undergoing a wrist operation and opener Matthew Hayden has been included despite a persistent Achilles tendon problem.

"Matthew Hayden has again been selected subject to fitness. However, his and Ricky Ponting's rehabilitation has gone very well to date and we expect both will play a large role in the tour," Hilditch added.

"It's an iconic series, I don't know what the players would say about which is more important, we always traditionally say the Ashes and that will always be up there, but this is really up there for the players.

"We've only won there once in 30 years so this'll be a real test for this team and we've picked it to specifically try to win this series."


Australia squad: R Ponting (capt), M Clarke (vice-capt), D Bollinger, S Clark, B Haddin (wkt), M Hayden, M Hussey, P Jaques, M Johnson, S Katich, J Krejza, B Lee, B McGain, P Siddle, S Watson.



see also
Australia secure series whitewash
06 Sep 08 |  Australia
Australia romp to series victory
03 Sep 08 |  Australia
Chappell to coach Australia youth
03 Sep 08 |  Australia
Symonds left to rue fishing trip
30 Aug 08 |  Australia
Australia in India 2008
09 Apr 08 |  Cricket


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