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“His performance in international one-day cricket has been quite extraordinary and he’s very deserving of his opportunity”
Australia Twenty20 captain George Bailey is set to become the country’s 435th Test cricketer after being included in the Ashes squad for the first Test in Brisbane.
Bailey edged out Alex Doolan for the final batting spot due to his recent performance in the seven-match ODI series against India, where he scored 478 runs, including a career-best 156, at an outstanding average of 95.60.
“It was certainly discussed at great length last night,” national selector John Inverarity said when asked about the decision to pick Bailey over Doolan. “Alex Doolan is a very highly-regarded player in our eyes … George Bailey has been in fantastic form with the bat. His confidence is riding high. His performance in international one-day cricket has been quite extraordinary and he’s very deserving of his opportunity.”
All-rounder James Faulkner also been included in the squad after his brilliant performance in India, where he smashed 230 runs at an incredible average of 115, while also taking seven wickets.
“He has been a cricketer we’ve had our eye on for a long time,” Inverarity said. “He impresses us with his batting and with his bowling and with his attitude, and his uncanny ability to have an impact on almost every game he plays. If you give him the ball, he always seems to be able to conjure up a wicket, when he goes out to bat he has the knack of forming a partnership…we have high hopes for him.”
Mitchell Johnson also made his comeback into the Ashes squad as regular left-arm pace bowler Mitchell Starc is still recovering from a lower back stress fracture.
This will be Johnson’s third Ashes series and the selectors, along with captain Michael Clarke, are hoping that he does not succumb to the pressure from the batsmen and fans in attendance, like he did during the 2010-11 campaign.
“I think he’s bowling a lot more consistent at the moment,” Clarke said. “His pace is certainly high, which is a great start. But it doesn’t matter how fast you bowl, if you don’t know where they’re going it’s always easy to face as a batsman. I think Mitch has that control. He showed that in the one-day format. I said a couple of days ago if Mitch was selected in this squad, it wouldn’t surprise me if in a couple of months’ time you see Mitch being Man of the Series.”
Despite having suffered a low-grade hamstring strain, all-rounder Shane Watson has been included in the squad, but there are still doubts over whether he will be able to bowl.
“We’re hoping that he’ll be able to bowl,” Inverarity said. “We’re not sure the extent to which he’ll be able to bowl. He’s progressing very well and he’ll certainly be fit to play. We believe he’s likely to be able to bowl. But it’s nine days to go, so we can’t give a definitive answer on that.”
Ashes Squad: Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (captain), Steve Smith, George Bailey, Brad Haddin (wicketkeeper, vice-captain), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris, Nathan Lyon.