Australia shake off cobwebs against West Indies

Kuala Lumpur, September 11 :

Australia go into Tuesday’s one-dayer here against the West Indies with an experimental team in dire need of match practice, having been out of the international loop for five months.

They last played an international series in Bangladesh in April and will be hoping to shake off the cobwebs quickly against Brian Lara’s side in the opening game of a tri-series that also involves India.

Glenn McGrath returns for the Australians, after being out of action since January as the three teams limber up for the ICC Champions Trophy next month. McGrath is using the series as part of Australia’s preparations not just for the Champions Trophy but the Ashes series in November.

“I’ve had a good break. I’ve been training hard and working on a few things that I wanted to touch up on,” he said. With Adam Gilchrist left out of the 18-man squad to rest, Simon Katich and Phil Jaques will open the batting. It means Matthew Hayden, recalled to the one-day squad after almost a year, sits on the sidelines.

Australia has chosen an young team as they look at all their options. As well as Hayden, the senior quartet of Michael Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Brad Hogg and Brett Lee miss the game. Tyros Mark Cosgrove, Mitchell Johnson and Daniel Cullen start, with Michael Clarke as Ponting’s vice-captain.

The West Indies players will use the tournament as a tune-up to defending their Champions Trophy title.

“We have got four games, maybe five if we reach the final in the three-nation series, but it is all going to be a lead-up to winning the ICC Champions Trophy,” said the 37-year-old Lara.

“We will be coming up against two very good teams, and I think we have to take things in our stride.”

A noteworthy inclusion in the West Indies squad is Carlton Baugh, who replaces Denesh Ramdine as wicketkeeper.