| Steve: In outstanding form
Melbourne: Steve Waugh, who was last week considering retirement, will lead Australia on their four-Test tour of the West Indies starting later this month, the Australian Cricket Board (ACB) announced on Monday.
ACB selectors named Test cricket’s third-leading run-scorer as skipper of a squad of 15 that is based on the team that beat England 4-1 in the Ashes series that finished in January.
However, one-day captain Ricky Ponting has moved a step closer to replacing 37-year-old Waugh as skipper of both teams with his elevation to Test vice-captain.
“The move certainly isn’t a reflection on Adam Gilchrist’s performance in that role, because he has been and will continue to be a terrific leader,” ACB chairman of selectors Trevor Hohns said in a statement. “But we feel that it is a logical step, given Ricky’s role with the one-day International side, and Adam is fully supportive of the move.
“As for the captaincy, Steve Waugh has signalled his intention (two days ago) to keep playing, and has displayed some outstanding form for New South Wales since the end of the Ashes series.”
Australia included leg-spinner Stuart MacGill in place of Shane Warne, who last month was banned for a year for a doping offence.
MacGill, 32, played the last two games of the Ashes series when Australia’s leading wicket-taker was unavailable because of a shoulder injury. MacGill has taken 94 wickets in 19 Tests.
Jason Gillespie has been selected but must pass a fitness test after the fast bowler was sent home from the World Cup in southern Africa earlier this month with a heel injury.
The uncapped Ashley Noffke, an Ashes tourist in 2001, was named as a back-up paceman. The 25-year-old right-arm fast bowler took 39 wickets at 22.05 for Queensland and Australia A in 2002-03.
Left-arm wrist spinner Brad Hogg, who played one Test against India in 1996-97, was also included after impressing the selectors at the World Cup.
Queensland batsman Martin Love, who broke into Australia’s side with 95 runs at 47.50 in the fourth and fifth Ashes Tests when Darren Lehmann was injured, was also chosen.
The squad leaves Australia on March 31. The first Test in Guyana starts on April 10.
A separate squad for seven one-day Internationals will be announced at a later date, the ACB said.
Steve Waugh (captain), Ricky Ponting (vice-captain), Andy Bichel, Adam Gilchrist, Jason Gillespie, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Justin Langer, Brett Lee, Martin Love, Darren Lehmann, Stuart MacGill, Damien Martyn, Glenn McGrath, Ashley Noffke.