Tour of the West Indies
Test squads named for winter tours
Fawad Ahmed gets the nod as second spinner for Test tours of the West Indies and the Ashes
31 March 2015, 11:29 AM AEST
Victorian legspinner Fawad Ahmed has got the nod as Australia's second spinner in their Test squad for the tours of the West Indies and the UK for the Ashes.
And veteran Western Australian Adam Voges has been rewarded for his record-breaking domestic season with a Test call-up.
Voges was the standout batsman in Shield cricket // Getty Images
Ahmed took a competition high 48 wickets for Victoria in the Bupa Sheffield Shield this season, including an eight-wicket haul in the final, while Western Australia's Ashton Agar was considered to be in contention after an excellent season that included 31 wickets at 30.48.
Agar had been called into Australia's Test squad for the final Commonwealth Bank against India in January, but Ahmed's brilliant end to the Shield season meant he got the nod for his first Test tour as support for incumbent Test spinner Nathan Lyon.
Agar will instead head to India in July for a series of four-day and one-day matches with the Usman Khwaja-led Australia A squad.
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Ahmed, 33, was born in Pakistan and granted Australian citizenship in 2013. He played three one-day internationals and two T20 internationals on Australia's tour of the UK later that year.
Fawad Ahmed takes eight in the Shield final
National Selector Rod Marsh said Ahmed's ability to keep things tight as well as be a big a wicket-taking threat impressed him during the season.
"Him being a leg-spinner as opposed to a finger spinner gave him a slight advantage," Marsh said.
"Believe it or not, Australia is always looking for leg spinners. We've had a proud history of leg spinning in this country and we want that to continue.
"(Ahmed) doesn't bowl too much rubbish and he creates a lot of pressure
"He has men around the bat in most instances and he keeps asking the batsmen questions, which is what good spinners do.
"You need to be able to remain on as a leggie. It's all very well coming on and ripping it, but if you bowl two full tosses and two long hops in an over, it's hard for the skipper to keep you on.
"He maintains good economy and asks questions of both left and right-handers, bear in mind that England may have up to seven left-handers."
Ahmed celebrates his eight wickets in the Shield final // Getty Images
Voges had a magnificent year with the bat in Shield cricket, scoring 1358 runs, the fourth-most in the history of the competition.
His record-breaking season included six centuries, five half-centuries and a highest score of 249, and Marsh said he and his fellow selectors Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns were blown away by the right-hander's performances.
"I looked at him on four or more occasions and I thought 'I don't know how anyone will get this bloke out, he was that dominant," Marsh said of Voges.
"It wasn't just the 1300-odd runs, it was the way he made them.
"It was as good a Sheffield Shield batting as I have ever seen.
"Pure weight of runs, the way in which he got those runs, you could see Test player written all over him.
"(Other selectors), all the state coaches, the state talent managers ... everyone said the same thing. Surely we can't all be wrong."
Australia will take four fast bowlers to the West Indies - Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Peter Siddle - while Ryan Harris will miss the tour due to the birth of his first child. He will instead link up with the squad in the UK ahead of the Ashes.
James Pattinson was not selected due to a left hamstring injury he picked up during last week's Shield final, which has been described as a "moderate grade injury" by Bupa Support Team Physiotherapist Alex Kountouris.
Pattinson last played a Test in South Africa last year // Getty Images
Kountouris said the injury requires "intensive rehabilitation over the coming weeks", but Marsh didn't rule out the possibility that the right-armer could be called into the squad for the Ashes.
"He's injured. Unfortunately," Marsh said of Pattinson.
"We hold him in high regard. He's a hell of a good bowler. It's just a shame he's injured.
"We want him right. When he gets right, then we will have some real selection problems.
"It doesn't mean that if someone gets a niggle we can't get him to England."
Pattinson's state captain Matthew Wade also missed out with NSW wicketkeeper Peter Nevill getting the nod as back-up 'keeper to Brad Haddin.
Nevill scored 764 runs in 10 matches for the Blues this Shield season, with a top score of 235 not out, and was also tidy behind the stumps.
Peter Nevill has been rewarded for a strong season // Getty Images
Wade has instead been selected for the A tour of India, where he played as Australia's Test keeper on their four-Test tour of the country in 2013.
The left-hander was then relegated to the role as reserve wicketkeeper behind Brad Haddin for the 2013 Ashes.
Marsh gave a cryptic response when asked about the decision to pick Nevill ahead of his former Melbourne Renegades teammate Wade.
"He's just bashed down the door," Marsh said of Nevill.
"Matthew Wade had a very good season as well.
"Not sure what you can read into the fact we picked Wade in the A team; that's up to you to read into it if you want."
The squad includes two fast-bowling allrounders - Shane Watson and Mitchell Marsh - while Voges is one of six frontline batsmen in the squad, along with skipper Michael Clarke and Test incumbents David Warner, Chris Rogers, Steve Smith and Shaun Marsh.
The was no room for Queensland's Joe Burns, who made his Test debut against India this summer and scored twin centuries in the fourth Test in Sydney.
Joe Burns during the fourth Test against India // Getty Images
He was also the sixth-highest run-scorer in Shield cricket this season, and will get his opportunity on the A's tour of India.
"It's worked out quite nicely for Joe in a lot of ways in as much as he'll be going to India, where he's never played cricket," Marsh said.
"He'll have two four-day matches and five one-day matches in India I reckon that will be very very good for his overall development as a batsman."
The squad departs for the West Indies on 19 May.
Australia's Frank Worrell Trophy/Ashes squad
Michael Clarke (c), Steve Smith (vc), Fawad Ahmed, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris (Ashes only), Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Peter Nevill, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Adam Voges, David Warner, Shane Watson
Australia to West Indies 2015
- May 29-31: Tour Match, Antigua
- Jun 5-9: First Test, Dominica
- Jun 13-17: Second Test, Jamaica
Australia to UK 2015
- Jun 25-28: Four-day v Kent, Canterbury
- Jul 1-4: Four-day v Essex, Chelmsford
- Jul 8-12: First Test, Sophia Gardens
- Jul 16-20: Second Test, Lord’s
- Jul 23-25: Three-day v Derbyshire, County Ground
- Jul 29 - Aug 2: Third Test, Edgbaston
- Aug 6-10: Fourth Test, Trent Bridge
- Aug 14-16: Three-day v Northants, Northampton
- Aug 20-24: Fifth Test, The Oval