Australia names Test squad for WI tour
SYDNEY, AUSTRALIA - Peter Forrest's rise as an Australian batsman of the future has been maintained and Michael Beer's sturdy domestic summer rewarded with their selection in the squad for three Test matches against the West Indies.
In a sign of the stability now developing around the team led by Michael Clarke, the squad was bereft of surprising or left-field choices, as the national selection panel elected to build carefully on the gains made during a 4-0 home summer drubbing of India.
As previously indicated by the national selector John Inverarity, Shaun Marsh was left out following his horrid returns against India, while Usman Khawaja and Phillip Hughes have lost their places as touring batsmen after struggling for runs and amid a poor season for New South Wales.
Instead, Forrest has been elevated to the Test squad, as always seemed likely after he responded to an ODI call-up with a series of clear-headed batting displays in the triangular series. Inverarity is presently en route to the West Indies, leaving the selector Rod Marsh to speak about Forrest and the team on his behalf.
"He [Forrest] looks to all of us more of a Test match player than he does a one-day player and yet he was very successful in the one-day game," Marsh said in Adelaide. "We're very very happy with what he has done this year and we just hope he progresses."
Shane Watson has returned to Test calculations for the first time since the South Africa tour in November 2011, and Inverarity indicated that he was likely to fill Marsh's vacated No. 3 batting spot.
"If Michael [Clarke] wants him to bat at number three, he'll be batting at number three," Marsh said. "We're happy for Michael to set the batting order. If I was a betting man - which I used to be - I'd probably say Shane would bat at number three.
"As a selection panel, we're of the opinion that the best batsmen can bat anywhere and Watson is a fine player, he can bat anywhere in the order."
Beer, meanwhile, kept his place as the understudy to Nathan Lyon, following a Sheffield Shield season in which he reaped 26 wickets at 26.42 from eight matches, including one haul of 7-46 against NSW. His was the best return by a domestic spinner for the summer.
"He hasn't done anything wrong, Michael," Marsh said. "He has bowled well all season. Playing as a finger spinner in Australia, there is not a hell of a lot of help for you."
Inverarity pointed to the naming of a 16-man squad, including Brad Haddin and Matthew Wade as two wicketkeepers, as a nod to the distance between Australia and the West Indies.
"The NSP believes the inclusion of five fast bowlers, two spinners and two wicket-keepers will provide important flexibility and cover for any injuries that may occur in a country that is not easily accessible by replacement or standby players," Inverarity said. "It is anticipated Michael Clarke will be fully recovered and take his place as Captain for the first Test match in Barbados beginning on Saturday 7 April.
"Shane Watson will come back into the Test XI and he could replace Shaun Marsh in the vitally important number three position while James Pattinson's availability will be welcomed after his excellent performances during the first four Test matches of his career during the Australian summer.
"Patrick Cummins was not considered for selection as his fitness is not well enough progressed."