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Symonds, Brett Lee back in Aussie squad

Published: Wednesday, April 8, 2009, 13:53 [IST]
 
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Lee, Symonds into Aussie squad

Melbourne: Australia have decided to rest skipper Ricky Ponting and strike bowler Mitchell Johnson and have recalled paceman Brett Lee and troubled all-rounder Andrew Symonds for the upcoming limited-overs series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.

Michael Clarke will lead the 14-man squad in five limited-overs internationals and one Twenty20 international against Pakistan.

Ponting, Johnson and top-order batsman Mike Hussey are involved in Australia's ongoing ODI series in South Africa and have played constantly since September in series against India, New Zealand and home and away tours against the Proteas.

Andrew Hilditch, chairman of selectors, said he supported the recommendation of coaching and medical staff to rest the key trio "so that their workload can be managed appropriately in preparation for the forthcoming ICC World Twenty20 and Ashes."

"The workload of all three players has been immense," Hilditch said. "Having Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey in prime form mentally and physically for the Ashes is critical and the series against Pakistan is the only opportunity to give them an appropriate break prior to the start of a very important period."

Lee has been sidelined with injuries since the test series loss to South Africa in Australia and Johnson has stepped into the role as bowling spearhead. Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus joined Mitchell to help Australia beat South Africa in the away Test series to retain the world No. 1 ranking last month.

"Mitchell Johnson is now a key bowler in all three forms of the game for Australia and we've also taken this opportunity to provide him with a break before he commences preparation for the World Twenty20 and Ashes," Hilditch said.

"Siddle is also not part of the touring squad. An extensive program has been mapped out for Peter in preparation for potential selection in the World Twenty20 and the Ashes. He is seen as a potentially key member of our squad for our defense of the Ashes."

Lee was returning to full pace and bidding for a place in the Ashes tour to England starting in July.

One of the big selection debates revolved around Symonds, who was overlooked for Australia's tour to India last year following a series of disciplinary problems and has struggled with injuries and form in his limited appearances ever since.

Andrew McDonald and Marcus North have emerged as viable options as the allrounder in the test squad, but Symonds is still considered among the best proponents of limited-overs cricket in the world.

"Symonds has been cleared by Cricket Australia to resume playing for the Australian cricket team and he has been included in the squad," Hilditch said.

"At his best Andrew is a dynamic one-day player with an outstanding record for Australia. It will now be up to him to seize this opportunity."

Shane Watson, who challenges Symonds for the role as Australia's key all-rounder but has a history of injury problems, was including in the squad for the Pakistan series as a specialist batsman.

Australia: Michael Clarke (captain), Brad Haddin, Nathan Bracken, Callum Ferguson, Brett Geeves, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Hopes, David Hussey, Ben Laughlin, Brett Lee, Shaun Marsh, Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson.

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