Matthew Wade's selection a treat for upcoming birthday boy
VICTORIAN wicketkeeper Matthew Wade has been given an early birthday present - named in the Australian team for the first Test against South Africa starting in Brisbane next Friday.
He won't turn 25 until the day after Christmas, but the selection ahead of veteran Brad Haddin put Wade into the box seat to play against Sri Lanka in the traditional Boxing Day Test.
"My birthday is on Boxing Day so I'd love to walk out on the MCG on that day and play in a Test match," Wade said.
"I'm just looking at the Gabba match at this stage though. If I get to the others I'll be a happy man."
Wade's selection ahead of Haddin was one of only a couple of tough decisions faced by selectors. The other was which fast bowler to leave out - in the end the unlucky person was young NSW quick Pat Cummins.
Selectors opted for a combination of youth and experience, naming Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus, James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc in the 12-man squad.
Chairman of selectors John Inverarity said Cummins may get his chance before the three-match series against South Africa ended.
"We didn't feel as though Pat was ready to play in a Test match. We're very keen for him to play in a (Sheffield) Shield match first and we think he'll come onto the radar for perhaps the third Test in Perth," Inverarity said.
Whether all four quicks will play at the Gabba is still uncertain, however.
Off-spinner Nathan Lyon has also been named in the squad, and while skipper Michael Clarke said he always liked to have a spinner in his team, Inverarity admitted Lyon needed to improve on his recent efforts.
"We've been concerned about Nathan's form. But he's performed very well for Australia (previously) and we're hoping the 10 or 11 days leading into the Test he'll recapture his old form," Inverarity said.
Clarke said he was confident the players named in the squad could beat the Proteas, adding the player to miss out - either Lyon or one of the fast men - would depend on form in this week's Shield matches, and the condition of the Gabba wicket.
"You need to pick your best squad for the conditions and the opposition, and I believe that's what we've done," the skipper said.
Aussie squad: Michael Clarke (c), Shane Watson (v-c), Ed Cowan, David Warner, Ricky Ponting, Mike Hussey, Matthew Wade, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Lyon, Mitchell Starc.