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Whilst the real stuff, the Ashes, starts in Brisbane in November, the Aussies will get a chance to look over the new look England team in five ODI matches between June 22 and July 3. The Aussies will then play two T20 internationals and two Test matches against Pakistan, at Lord’s and Headingley, in July.
The Aussies have been dealt a blow ahead of the series though with fast bowler Mitchell Johnson ruled out of the squad for the England matches due to an infected elbow. His place has been taken by 19-year old New South Wales (of course) fast bowler Josh Hazelwood.
Hazelwood had a big impact on the Under-19 World Cup in January, where he was the second highest wicket taker in the tournament. Speaking to the BBC, Chairman of Selectors Andrew Hildtich outlined the reasons behind his somewhat surprise selection.
“Josh Hazlewood has been identified as one of a crop of young fast bowlers who the selectors consider can impact for Australia at international level”
“We think he will be well suited to English conditions and this provides a great opportunity for him to be part of the Australian set up on a tour of Ireland and England.
“We are sure if he gets an opportunity, he will perform very well."
Wicket Keeper Brad Haddin is also missing due to injury. His place has been taken by Tim Paine who filled in for Haddin during last year’s one-day series. Paine has started the tour in fine fashion as well, scoring 81 in the Aussies’ 39-run warm-up victory against Ireland.
Haddin, like Johnson, is expected to return for the series against Pakistan in July.
The Aussies, fresh from a break after their T20 World Cup Final defeat to England, will be keen to put down a marker against an English side that is chock full of confidence. Since their T20 triumph, England have had a convincing series whitewash over Bangladesh and unearthed a new talent in Steven Finn.
A win in this series is vital for the Aussies’ who need to knock the English down a peg or two and raise their confidence ahead of Ashes at home in November.
The NatWest series: Australia v England
1st ODI: Rose Bowl, June 22
2nd ODI: SWALEC Stadium, June 24
3rd ODI: Old Trafford, June 27
4th ODI: Brit Oval, June 30
5th ODI: Lord’s, July 3
Australian squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke (vice-captain), Doug Bollinger, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, James Hopes, Mike Hussey, Josh Hazlewood, Shaun Marsh, Clint McKay, Steve Smith, Tim Paine, Shane Watson, Cameron White.
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