Waugh retained as captain, Ponting appointed deputy

Published: Monday, March 17, 2003, 21:16 [IST]
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Sydney: Steve Waugh was on Monday named captain of a 15-man Australian squad for next month's four-Test cricket tour of the Caribbean with selectors opting for World Cup skipper Ricky Ponting as his deputy. Ponting, who has so far led an unbeaten Australian team at the World Cup in southern Africa, replaced wicket-keeper Adam Gilchrist as Test vice-captain. In other key selections, Martin Love and Darren Lehmann claimed the final batting berths ahead of dashing New South Wales youngster Michael Clarke. Queensland paceman Ashley Noffke was selected for his second Test tour, beating West Australian flyer Brad Williams for the fifth pace bowling place in the squad to face the West Indies. Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg were named as the spinners, with selectors to decide on tour who replaces banned leg spinner Shane Warne in the Test team. Warne, Australia's record wicket-taking bowler, is serving a 12-month ban for taking a banned diuretic. Selectors predictably kept with the core of the team which thrashed England 4-1 in the Ashes series at home from November-January. Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said elevating Ponting to the vice-captaincy was not a reflection on the performance of Gilchrist, who has led Australia in Waugh's absence in the past. "As a selection panel, we have recommended that Ricky Ponting take on the vice- captaincy," Hohns said on Monday. "The move certainly isn't a reflection on Adam Gilchrist's performance in that role, because he has been and will continue to be a terrific leader, but we feel that it is a logical step, given Ricky's role with the One-day International side and Adam is fully supportive of the move. "As for the captaincy, Steve Waugh has signalled his intention to continue playing, and has displayed some outstanding form for New South Wales since the end of the Ashes series. "It is a decision that he has obviously thought long and hard about and now that it has been made, we know that he will focus fully on the challenging series that lies ahead." When Waugh, 37, leads Australia out for the first Test in Guyana, he will become the most capped player in world cricket with 157 Tests, surpassing compatriot Allan Border. The notable player to miss out was 21-year-old Clarke following his impressive season for Sheffield Shield champions New South Wales (NSW). But Love and Lehmann, who are proven first-class performers, were retained after playing Tests against England. "Martin has demonstrated that he is ready for Test cricket," Hohns said. "His domestic form has been outstanding for some time. He has a cool head and offers us a genuine option in the middle-order as well as a safe pair of hands in the slip cordon. "We took into account his domestic experience and leadership, and felt that he can make a genuine contribution to the touring party. It was also felt that this tour will help his overall development as a Test batsman." Noffke, 25, snatched the final fast-bowling position from Williams after an excellent summer for Queensland, taking 37 Sheffield Shield wickets at an average of 21.48. "Ashley has played a big part in Queensland's recent run of success and we have been very impressed with his form for both Queensland and Australia 'A'," Hohns said. "We expect this tour to fast-track his development, just as Glenn McGrath took a big step forward in his career on the 1995 tour of the Caribbean." The Australian Cricket Board (ACB) said fast bowler Jason Gillespie's inclusion in the squad was conditional on his recovery from an Achilles tendon injury, which finished his World Cup participation. The Australians will play a warm-up match before the first Test in Guyana on April 10. Squad: Steve Waugh (captain), Ricky Ponting (vice-captain), Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Martin Love, Stuart MacGill, Brad Hogg, Glenn McGrath, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Andrew Bichel and Ashley Noffke. Copyright AFP 2001

Waugh looking forward to getting away from scrutiny

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