Symonds overlooked for Australia

By Julian Linden

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Troubled all-rounder Andrew Symonds was overlooked for Australia's 16-man squad for this year's Ashes series in England.

Australia's selectors ditched Symonds in favour of the injury-prone Shane Watson even though the Queenslander still has to pass a fitness test.

"Shane Watson has been named in the squad subject to fitness, but that is not expected to be a serious issue," chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said.

"He is recovering from a very mild groin strain at present and is expected to be fully fit for the ICC World Twenty20 in the UK and the commencement of the Ashes.

"Shane in our view has the ability to bat anywhere in the order and enables us to have a batsman in the top six who can provide quality pace support for the fast bowling group."

Experienced fast bowlers Brett Lee and Stuart Clark were both included despite only recently returning from injury while a host of younger players were named after impressing on Australia's tour of South Africa.

"The Ashes squad contains an exciting blend of experience and youth," Hilditch said.

"The core of the squad is made up of the side which successfully won the test series in South Africa and includes Phillip Hughes and Marcus North who both scored hundreds on debut.

"The young fast bowling group which performed so well in South Africa of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus will all be taking part in their first Ashes tour to England.

"As shown in South Africa, they have the skills to perform at the international level and will be well suited to English conditions."

The squad included just one specialist spinner, Nathan Hauritz, and two wicketkeepers, Brad Haddin and Graham Manou.

"Attempting to beat England on home soil is a great challenge for this young Australian squad and both Ricky and the squad are looking forward to it immensely," Hilditch said.

Australia's Twenty20 squad will depart for Britain next week while the five-test Ashes series begins in Cardiff on July 8.

Squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Stuart Clark, Brad Haddin, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Phillip Hughes, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Brett Lee, Graham Manou, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Peter Siddle, Shane Watson (subject to fitness)

(Editing by Greg Stutchbury; T

Article Published: 20/05/2009