Alex Doolan included in squad for Sydney Test

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“He just tried to instill the belief in me and made sure I believed I was a good player”

Australia have included uncapped Tasmania batsman Alex Doolan in the Test team for the fifth and final Test in Sydney as a replacement for all-rounder Shane Watson, should he not recover from his groin injury in time for the start of the match, which gets underway on January 3.

Uncapped pace bowler Nathan Coulter-Nile also has a chance of making his Test debut since Ryan Harris is currently struggling to recover from a chronic knee injury.

“With some players still being assessed by our medical team after four demanding Tests, we have decided to add Alex to ensure we have sufficient cover in our batting line-up should it be required,” national selector John Inverarity said. “Alex is a talented player who came under strong consideration for selection ahead of the Ashes series after a string of solid performances in four day cricket for Tasmania at the start of this season, but also after an excellent finish to last season and we feel those performances warrant his inclusion in the squad of 14 for Sydney.”

Doolan has scored 391 runs at a solid average of 39.10 in this year’s Sheffield Shield and is currently representing the Melbourne Renegades in the ongoing Big Bash League (BBL) tournament.

Speaking about his call-up to the Test side, Doolan recalled how former Australia and Tasmania captain Ricky Ponting told him that he had the potential to become a regular face in the national team.

“He led by example,” Doolan said. “He didn’t necessarily tell me how I had to go about it.

“He just tried to instill the belief in me and made sure I believed I was a good player and that I could do it and not be satisfied with anything I’d done. If you got a hundred, to make sure the next time you batted you were looking to get a hundred again.

“There’s a difference between belonging and wanting to dominate and contribute every game. I’ve probably felt I belonged at the level for a while but probably had been happy just belonging and not wanting to be one of the best players in the competition. That’s one of the differences for me, that I actually, after having chats with Ricky, wanted to play for Australia.

“It hadn’t really been a goal or an ambition of mine…an ambition it was, but I hadn’t set goals in place to play for Australia. And that’s the difference, once he spoke to me and told me he thought I was good enough to do it, that’s what I wanted to do.”

Australia batting coach Michael di Venuto also believes Doolan can cement his place in the Test squad if he gets the chance to play during the final Test.

“He’s a fine young batsman,” di Venuto said. “Alex Doolan, who over the last year and a half, has really started to believe that he is a good player.

“He benefitted greatly last year from having Ricky Ponting around at Tasmania quite a bit and learnt a lot from just being up the other end from him.

“He was involved in quite a few partnerships with Ricky throughout the year. He actually matched it with him a few times and that’s where he really got his belief that he is actually a very good player. He has had another good start to the season with Tasmania. He scored a very impressive hundred in a run chase against NSW. Michael Clarke was playing in that game and he said it was an outstanding innings. He deserves his spot.”

However, Doolan admitted that one of his main problems is adjusting between different formats.

“You’ve got to keep yourself prepared and ready, as much as you can,” Doolan said. “It’s a long [Ashes] series and you never know with form slumps or injuries. But my focus because we’ve had such a hectic start to the Big Bash with the Renegades, basically travel, play, train, travel, play, train, it’s been hard to focus on the Test cricket but it’s always in the back of your mind, I think.”

Australia Test squad Chris Rogers, David Warner, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (capt), Steven Smith, George Bailey, Alex Doolan, Brad Haddin (wk), James Faulkner, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Nathan Lyon, Nathan Coulter-Nile.

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