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Ashes: Graeme Swann questions Australia selection

Australia v England, fifth Ashes Test
Venue: Sydney Cricket Ground Date: 3-7 January (starts 2330 GMT on 2 Jan) Coverage: Live on Test Match Special on BBC 5 live sports extra, Radio 4 LW & online; TMS highlights online (UK only) and day's review on the TMS podcast; live text on BBC Sport website; live on Sky Sports 1; highlights on ITV4

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Swann jokes about Pietersen's captaincy

Graeme Swann has questioned Australia's decision to leave out spinner Nathan Hauritz for the Ashes series, saying the move has benefited England.

Hauritz took 10 wickets at an average of 32.10 during the 2009 Ashes but was dropped before the 2010 series opener.

"I don't understand why he's not been given a shout but it's good for us," said Swann ahead of the final Test.

England retained the Ashes in Melbourne and a win in Sydney, where play starts on Sunday, would clinch the series.

Since being left out in favour of Xavier Doherty, Hauritz has impressed in domestic cricket with New South Wales, scoring two centuries and claiming career-best bowling figures to have 19 first-class wickets this summer at 26.78.

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Doherty was dropped after taking 1-158 in the second Test in Adelaide but despite the Sydney Cricket Ground being Hauritz's home ground, he has again been overlooked, with inexperienced left-armer Michael Beer set to make his debut - at a ground where he has never played.

"I honestly don't understand how Australian selection works," said Swann, who has taken 13 wickets at 37.31 this series.

"It's obviously different to how it works in England.

"I don't know why Hauritz was dropped in the first place and why he's not been brought back in.

"I genuinely feel sorry for him because I don't think he deserved to miss out on this whole series."

And with only seven first-class matches to his name, doubts remain over 26-year-old Beer's lack of experience.

"Experience, I'd say zero - it's the first time I've been inside the SCG today," said Beer, who was part of the Test squad in Perth and Melbourne but did not feature.

"So zero experience now but obviously I'll talk to a lot of the senior guys and hopefully I'll learn a lot about how to bowl.

"I'm loving being around the group and looking forward to it.

"I'm just looking forward to playing, if I get the nod.

"The series is 2-1. We can still tie the series so there's something to play [for] and obviously it would be a great honour to represent my country."

Australia will be without injured captain Ricky Ponting for the final Test, so Michael Clarke will lead the team in his absence.

Clarke's role as Ponting's deputy has not been universally popular in Australia but Michael Hussey insists there are no doubts about the new leader's credentials.

Hussey, Australia's most reliable batsman of the series, said: "We're right behind Michael - no worries at all.

"He's done a really good job in the one-day internationals he's captained for Australia in Ricky's absence, and he did a fantastic job in the Twenty20 World Cup - getting us to the final.

"He's got our 100% support - there's no question about that whatsoever.

"Michael has a very good cricket brain; he thinks about the game very well.

"He'll be an aggressive captain, always looking to take wickets out there, make changes to the field and with the bowlers.

"He will always want the game going forward.

"That's the way Australians have played our cricket as long as I can remember. I think he'll be a very positive captain."

Meanwhile, after starring for England in Australia, Swann allowed himself to look back on a remarkable year.

"It's been pretty much a dream year. I got married in January, won the Twenty20 World Cup in May, retained the Ashes in December," said Swann.

"If 2011 can be anything like that I will be over the moon.

"It's been a dream period for me. We've played some very good cricket and there are not many England players who can say they have played in two Ashes, won one, retained the other and won a World Cup."


Squads for the fifth Test in Sydney:

England (from): Andrew Strauss (captain), Alastair Cook, Jonathan Trott, Kevin Pietersen, Paul Collingwood, Ian Bell, Matt Prior (wkt), Graeme Swann, Tim Bresnan, Chris Tremlett, James Anderson, Ajmal Shahzad, Steven Finn.

Australia (from): Michael Clarke (captain), Philip Hughes, Shane Watson, Usman Khawaja, Mike Hussey, Steve Smith, Brad Haddin (wkt), Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Michael Beer, Doug Bollinger.

Umpires: B Bowden (NZ) and A Dar (Pkn)

Third umpire: T Hill (NZ)

Match referee: R Madugalle (SL)



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see also
Saturday's Ashes gossip column
01 Jan 11 |  Cricket
Moores exit was key - Pietersen
31 Dec 10 |  Cricket
Haddin defends Clarke as skipper
31 Dec 10 |  Australia
Ponting ruled out of Sydney Test
30 Dec 10 |  Australia
Flower seeks winning Ashes finale
30 Dec 10 |  England
England seal win to retain Ashes
29 Dec 10 |  England
Live cricket on the BBC
26 Oct 11 |  Cricket
England in Australia 2010-11
08 Oct 09 |  Cricket


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