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09th-Sep-2014

O'Keefe, Marsh surprise in Australia Test squad

By AFP, Sydney

Left-arm spinner Steve O'Keefe and allrounder Mitchell Marsh were surprise inclusions Monday in Australia's Test squad for the upcoming series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
The uncapped duo were in a line-up that also includes allrounder Glenn Maxwell and the return of batsman Phil Hughes.
Australia named their squads for the two Tests, three one-dayers and a Twenty20 match against Pakistan in the UAE in October and early November.
"We have picked Steve O'Keefe as the extra spinner for the Test tour," chief selector Rod Marsh said.
"We are unsure what pitch conditions we will encounter in the UAE but we need to be prepared to play two spinners.
"Mitch Marsh is a player of immense talent and is a bright prospect for the future of Australian cricket," he added.
"His form with Australia A has been fantastic and he carried that through to the recent Zimbabwe tour. If he gets his opportunity, we know he will make the most of it."
Hughes will vie with incumbent Alex Doolan for the number three spot in the Test batting order.
He will travel to the UAE earlier than his team-mates to work on his batting against spin with coaching consultant and Sri Lankan great Muttiah Muralitharan.
"Phil has been in excellent form and has been rewarded with a place in the Test squad," Marsh said. "His attitude to his game has been first rate and he thoroughly deserves this opportunity."
Selectors named only three fast-bowlers-Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle-in the Test squad for the anticipated slower, spin-friendly pitches.
Captain Michael Clarke and allrounder Shane Watson were also named ahead of fitness tests, having been ruled out of the recent one-day tour of Zimbabwe.
Aaron Finch, who tops the Twenty20 international batting rankings, was named as Australia's new Twenty20 captain after George Bailey stood down to focus on the one-day World Cup.
The 27-year-old has racked up an average of 41.25 in 18 Twenty20 internationals, including a stunning 156 off 63 balls against England last year.
"Having the honour to captain your country in any form of the game is something that all young cricketers dream about," Finch said.
 "It came as a big surprise but it was a very nice phone call to receive from Rod Marsh."