Aussies spring a surprise in weakened t20 squad to face England

Hampshire Chronicle: Dan Christian Dan Christian

Australia have surprisingly named leg-spinner James Muirhead in a weakened 14-man Twenty20 squad for the three-match series against England.

Muirhead has just two first-class appearances to his name and only four in the shortest format, but recently took three for 52 for a Prime Minister's XI against Alastair Cook's men in a tour match.

He and several others will be given their chance to earn a place in Australia's World Twenty20 squad, which will be named on February 16, after it was announced the likes of David Warner, Shane Watson and Mitchell Johnson would be rested.

"The ICC World Twenty20 is just around the corner and these and other players will come into contention for our 15-man squad for that tournament," said national selector John Inverarity.

"The NSP (National Selection Panel) is looking to develop spin bowling options for both the ICC World Twenty20 and the 2015 ICC World Cup.

"Twenty-year-old James Muirhead has impressed recently. He is an exciting prospect as an emerging leg-spinner and will be looking to make the most of his opportunity."

Warner, Watson and Johnson all played a key role in Australia's 5-0 whitewash over England and would usually command a place in their country's line-up in Twenty20 internationals.

But instead the trio will fly out to South Africa on January 29 - the date of the first Twenty20 at Hobart - to prepare for the Test series, which begins on February 12 in Centurion.

"The NSP is supporting (Australia coach) Darren Lehmann and (captain) Michael Clarke in their strong desire to give this Test series the highest priority and have the best possible preparation for the players who have performed so admirably this summer. As such some Test players and others were not considered for the KFC T20 International squad," said Inverarity.

Batsmen Chris Lynn is the only other uncapped player named in the squad which will be captained by ex-Hampshire man George Bailey, who was omitted from the 15-man Test squad to face South Africa.

"Cameron White and Chris Lynn have been in tremendous form this season and have shown themselves to be destructive hitters of the ball, as have all-rounders Dan Christian and Ben Cutting," added Inverarity.

Christian will be remembered by Hampshire followers for the role he played in the county winning their first t20 title in 2010.

Australia squad: G Bailey (captain), A Finch, D Christian, N Coulter-Nile, B Cutting, J Faulkner, J Hazelwood, M Henriques, G Maxwell, J Muirhead, C Lynn, M Starc, M Wade, C White.

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