THE parlous state of Australia's Test batting stocks has seen selectors turn to 35-year-old Victorian opener Chris Rogers to bolster our top order for the coming Ashes series in England.
The inclusion of Rogers, and the recall of veteran wicketkeeper Brad Haddin were the two surprises in the 16-man squad unveiled by chairman of selectors John Inverarity and captain Michael Clarke yesterday.
With the lack of experience and consistency among Australia's top six batsmen exposed in the 4-0 flogging at the hands of India earlier this year, Inverarity pointed to the fact Rogers had those traits in spades to justify his selection.
"Chris Rogers is a hardened first-class cricketer and has been given a deserved opportunity on the back of sustained run-scoring in both Australia and England over many seasons," Inverarity said.
"He has vast experience in the UK and has performed outstandingly well over there. During the past four seasons in England - between 2009 and 2012 - he has scored more than 5000 first-class runs at an average of 52.3, including 17 centuries and 21 fifties."
The left-handed Victorian has played just one Test, making four and 15 against India in Perth in the 2007-08 season.
Not only has Haddin been recalled at the age of 35 to be the first choice wicketkeeper, he has also been named vice-captain after Shane Watson stepped down from the position last weekend.
Inverarity insisted the decision to name the veteran New South Welshman ahead of Matthew Wade had been made before deciding Haddin would be Clarke's assistant.
That means Haddin will keep wickets and bat at No.7, with just one of the seven batsmen named - Rogers, Ed Cowan, David Warner, Phil Hughes, Clarke, Watson and Usman Khawaja - missing out.
With Watson expected to bowl in England, Tasmanian James Faulkner will be his understudy as the all-rounder.
Nathan Lyon, who yesterday announced he was switching from South Australia to New South Wales ahead of the next domestic season, is the only spinner in the squad.
While the batting stocks are low, the opposite applies to the fast bowlers.
Having recovered from a shoulder injury, Queenslander Ryan Harris has been recalled and joins Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird in a quality pace battery.
Perhaps in anticipation of a tough time on tour, Inverarity also said 14 other Australians would be in England playing for various county teams and selectors would make changes to the squad if needed.
AUSSIE ASHES SQUAD
- Michael Clarke (c)
- Brad Haddin (v-c)
- Ed Cowan
- David Warner
- Chris Rogers
- Phil Hughes
- Shane Watson
- Usman Khawaja
- Matthew Wade
- Nathan Lyon
- Peter Siddle
- James Pattinson
- Ryan Harris
- Mitchell Starc
- Jackson Bird
- James Faulkner