Watson, Lehmann in Australian squad to SA

Published: Wednesday, January 30, 2002, 23:53 [IST]
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Melbourne: Young all-rounder Shane Watson was the surprise selection in the Australian squad on Wednesday for the three-Test tour to South Africa in February- March. The 20-year-old Tasmanian gained his first call-up to the national team while South Australian batsman Darren Lehmann was recalled to the Test squad for the first time since the 1998-99 season. West Australian batsman Simon Katich was left out to make way for Lehmann in the 15- man squad, which leaves on February 14. Watson has excelled this summer taking 22 Sheffield Shield wickets at 23.36 including 11 in a match against Queensland in Hobart in January. His 292 Shield runs have come at 29.20 and he has a highest score of 58 not out. Watson was earmarked for national selection when he made his Australia 'A' debut this season, playing One-day matches against South Africa and New Zealand. "Shane is an exciting player who has demonstrated maturity beyond his years while playing for Tasmania," Australian chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said on Wednesday. "We feel that this tour will help his development as a quality all-rounder. "He offers us a little bit of variety in the pace-bowling department, and some depth in our batting line-up. "He is a touch raw-boned but given the chance to be part of this squad, he will return an improved player." Lehmann last played for Australia in the fifth Ashes Test against England in 1998- 99. Lehmann leads this season's Sheffield Shield run-scorers with 772 in seven matches at an average of 64.33. "After losing his place in the Test side four years ago, Darren has done everything required of him to be re-considered for selection," Hohns said. "Since that time he has dominated domestic cricket and fully deserves his chance to represent Australia at the Test level again. "We took into account his experience and leadership, and felt that he can make a genuine contribution to the touring party." Stuart MacGill will be the back-up leg spinner to Shane Warne while Andy Bichel joins the pace attack led by Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee. Hohns said the tour's One-day squad would be announced in due course. The South African series starts on February 17 with a three-day match against South Africa 'A' at Potchefstroom. Australia plays South Africa in the first Test in Johannesburg (February , followed by a four-day match against South Africa 'A' at Port Elizabeth (March 1-4). The second Test takes place in Cape Town (March 8-12) and the third in Durban (March 15-19). Australian team: Stephen Waugh (captain), Andrew Bichel, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Darren Lehmann, Stuart MacGill, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Ricky Ponting, Shane Warne, Mark Waugh, and Shane Watson.

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