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Lee & Symonds to miss final Test

Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds
Australia will miss the experience of Lee and Symonds

Australia's Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds will miss the third Test against South Africa in Sydney starting on 3 January because of injuries.

Lee (foot) and Symonds (knee) are joined on the sidelines by MCG 12th man Shane Watson, who faces a long-term lay-off with stress fractures.

"Brett and Shane may be out for a while and Symonds will undergo knee surgery," said chief selector Andrew Hilditch.

Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus and Andrew McDonald have been called up.

"Doug and Ben are both having exceptional Sheffield Shield seasons and their ability to move the ball will add depth to the bowling attack, albeit that they have big shoes to fill in those of Brett Lee," said Hilditch.

"Andrew has been a very consistent all-rounder for Victoria for several seasons. He is in very good form and as well as batting in the top six will give us the flexibility we need with our bowling attack."

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Former Australia captain Ian Chappell believes the selectors made a mistake in retaining veteran opener Matthew Hayden, who has made only 47 runs in four innings in the series.

"If you take your mind back to 2005 he was trying to bully the bowling early in the Ashes series and was having no success. In the last Test he pulled himself back a little bit and he got a hundred.

"He's still trying to bully the bowling, he's aged a bit, he's not in the best of form and he's got to rein it in a bit.

"I'm surprised in a dead rubber they haven't tried the young Phil Hughes, I thought it would have been a good time to have a look at him and let Hayden go back to Sheffield Shield cricket and rebuild his confidence that way.

"They say they want him for 2009 and I think Australia badly needs him for the Ashes 2009 but they need him in good form, not the current form."

Australia have already lost the series following defeats in the first two matches, and must avoid defeat at the Sydney Cricket Ground to prevent South Africa replacing them as the world's top-ranked Test team.

But their prospects for the early part of the New Year do not look bright because of injuries.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald will fill the vital all-rounder role for Australia

Seam bowler Stuart Clark has been forced to sit out the series against South Africa because of an elbow problem and there are now major concerns over the possible length of absence faced by Lee and Watson.

It is understood that Lee, 32, has a stress fracture and could be out for four to six weeks, but some Australian newspapers believes he could miss the tour to South Africa in February and March.

Watson, 27, was set to replace Symonds in Sydney, but stress fractures in his back mean he may not be able to bowl for six months.

"I suppose I was pushing myself to the edge, which is what I need to do to be able to achieve the things I want to achieve - unfortunately it just tipped over the edge a little bit," Watson told Channel Nine.

"I think it's about four to six weeks of just rest, let the fracture heal, and then just start playing as a batsman.

"The great thing about being an all-rounder is that I can play as a batsman until I'm back bowling, so I'll still be able to be a part of the game and continue to improve my batting.

"I'm not exactly sure of the timeline for bowling but to be back to full bowling it probably going to be four to six months, I think."

Hilfenhaus and Bollinger will compete for a place alongside pacemen Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle and spinner Nathan Hauritz, who have only played 22 Tests between them.

Australia squad: R Ponting (capt), M Clarke, M Hayden, S Katich, M Hussey, A McDonald, B Haddin (wkt), N Hauritz, M Johnson, P Siddle, B Hilfenhaus, D Bollinger.



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21 Dec 08 |  Cricket


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