Australia gambles on Symonds and Tait - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Australia gambles on Symonds and Tait

By Steve Larkin 13/02/2007 07:28:50 PM Comments (0)

Australia has taken calculated gambles by including injured allrounder Andrew Symonds and novice paceman Shaun Tait in its World Cup squad.

Tearaway fast bowler Tait's selection in the 15-man squad was an attacking move, coming at the expense of an unlucky Stuart Clark, chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said.

Wicketkeeper-batsman Brad Haddin was also named in the squad, with allrounder Cameron White overlooked.

Hilditch and captain Ricky Ponting both said White and Clark were desperately unlucky to miss out on the pinnacle of one-day cricket tournaments starting in the West Indies next month.

Symonds' inclusion comes despite the powerful allrounder recuperating from surgery last weEk to re-attach a torn bicep muscle.

"His rehabilitation following surgery is going as well, if not better than expected," Hilditch said.

"Forward planning is that he'll be fit for the South African game and, with that in mind, we thought the risk of taking him so shortly after surgery was warranted."

Australia begins its quest to win a third consecutive World Cup against minnows Scotland (March 14) and the Netherlands (March 18) before its final group game against the world No.2 ranked South Africans on March 24.

Symonds believed he would play "hopefully half of the World Cup if not more" and was ready to take the slight risk of snapping the tendon again.

"I've been told I have to think long term but the World Cup is a big deal to me," Symonds said.

"It's not the end of the world if I snap it again, it can heal and be okay, so I'm not too worried if it goes again."

Ponting backed Symonds to play a key role in the Cup, despite his injury cloud.

"We have set our sights on him being ready about a month into the tournament," Ponting said.

"He has been sticking to his fitness regime really well already, and if you asked him he'd be ready to go out there and play tomorrow.

"He's a fair way off the mark yet, obviously, but we'll keep our fingers crossed and hope he goes along with his recovery as smoothly as possible."

Vice-captain Adam Gilchrist will travel to the West Indies about three days later than the rest of the squad after his request for compassionate leave, as his wife is expecting their third child, was approved.

Hilditch said Gilchrist was still expected to be available for Australia's warm-up games against Zimbabwe on March 6 and England on March 9.

"We are really pleased with the squad of players we have picked," Hilditch said.

"We think it's capable of winning the World Cup for the third consecutive time. It will be a big ask but we think the squad is capable of it.

"We're still the best side in the world in our view."

Tait's wayward bowling tendencies were balanced against his raw speed, unrivalled in world cricket.

"I don't think we are taking a risk at all," Hilditch said of Tait, who has played just two one-day internationals.

"We think he's an exciting addition to the squad, we think it's an attacking move - we have picked someone who we think can help us win a World Cup.

"Stuart Clark (was) desperately unlucky, but after a very difficult decision time, Shaun Tait's extra pace in the power plays, and particularly at the end of the innings, has seen his well warranted selection."

Symonds backed Tait's selection, describing him as a "real gamebreaker".

"If he gets it right, and settles into his game, he's a real weapon for us," Symonds said.

Haddin was rewarded for his dominance in interstate cricket, adding versatility to the squad by being Gilchrist's back-up or ability to play as a specialist batsman.

"To be part of a World Cup campaign is every cricketer's dream," Haddin said.

Australia's World Cup squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (vc), Nathan Bracken, Michael Clarke, Brad Haddin, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Glenn McGrath, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait, Shane Watson.

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