Vol. 5 Num 215 Fri. December 31, 2004  

McGill in, Lee out
Inzamam, Razzaq may play in Sydney

Australia on Thursday named out-of-form batsman Darren Lehmann in a 13-man squad for the third Test against Pakistan but dropped speedman Brett Lee as selectors expanded their bowling arsenal for a turning Sydney wicket.

New South Wales leg-spinner Stuart MacGill, for so long in the shadow of all-time great Shane Warne, was given the nod on his home ground while Queensland seamer Shane Watson was the other new name.

Chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said Lee, who has been 12th man for the past seven Tests, was unlikely to get to bowl in Sydney and the panel felt it was in his best interests to get some solid match practice with NSW and Australia A.

"We acknowledge that the last few months have been frustrating for him but his attitude and work ethic have been first class," he said.

MacGill played the last of his 32 Tests in Sri Lanka in March and Hohns said the 33-year-old's experience on the spin-friendly Sydney Cricket Ground was a major factor in his selection.

Hohns said Watson, 23, was an exciting new talent whose presence gave selectors the option of going into the Test with a combination of two spinners, two fast bowlers and a seamer.

Lehmann's place was under pressure after a dismal series against Pakistan, where he has looked vulnerable to pace and so far returned scores of just 12, 5 and 11.

The 34-year-old batsman, who is popular among his Test teammates and renowned for his strategic know-how, received public backing from captain Ricky Ponting ahead of the selection announcement.

Australia will be looking for a series clean sweep in Sydney after crushing victories over Pakistan in Perth and Brisbane.

Meanwhile, Pakistan captain Inzamamul Haq and all-rounder Abdul Razzaq are expected to be cleared to play in Sydney.

Inzamam missed the second Test in Melbourne with a back injury while Razzaq was twice admitted to hospital after suffering from a mystery illness.

Both players still need to pass fitness tests to take their place at the Sydney Cricket Ground but Pakistan manager Haroon Rashid was optimistic.

"(Inzamam's) been going to treatment and going to the gym and the signs are good but we won't know until we see how he goes with batting," Haroon told reporters in Melbourne on Thursday.

Razzaq was taken to hospital after feeling dizzy during the Melbourne Test but returned to bat in his team's second innings. He was readmitted after the match ended but was released again with a clean bill of health.

"He came out of hospital last evening and he was feeling much better," Haroon said.

"We couldn't figure it out. Nobody knows what it was, he was just having severe headaches."

News that pair could play in Sydney was as a welcome relief to the tourists who lost the first two Tests and are already resigned to losing paceman Mohammad Sami and all-rounder Shoaib Mailk for the final match of the series.

Sami has been ordered to rest because of a foot injury while Shoaib Malik split the webbing on his fingers taking a catch in the field.

Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Ricky Ponting (captain), Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath, Stuart MacGill, Shane Watson.