Australia confident of successful new era

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BRISBANE, Australia, Nov 1(Reuters) Australia's chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch has admitted it was ''daunting'' choosing the first Australian Test team since the retirement of Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne and Justin Langer.

The Australian selectors today announced a squad of 13 for the first Test against Sri Lanka starting in Brisbane on November 8.

While New South Wales batsman Phil Jaques looks certain to fill the opening role left vacant by Langer, the selectors have left the options open for Warne and McGrath's replacements.

The 13-man squad features two spinners, Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg, and four fast bowlers in Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson.

Selectors will cut the squad back to 12 on Wednesday, with either MacGill or Hogg likely to be sent back to domestic duties.

''It's the first time any of us have sat down and named a side that doesn't include the greats like Warne and McGrath,'' Hilditch said.

''We're really confident about the new era of Australian cricket which we believe starts at the Gabba next Thursday.'' MacGill, who filled in for Warne in the past with some success, said the Brisbane wickets suited his leg-spinners.

''For spin bowlers, and I know Shane Warne would agree with me here, if you beat someone through the air they're likely to stay beaten,'' he said.

''On the slower decks you might find they can adjust, but there's no chance of that in Brisbane -- if you do them they stay done.'' MacGill warned the Australian public not to write off Sri Lanka before the two-match series had even started.

''This will certainly be a hard fought series,'' he said.''I think people are underestimating it, to be honest, as they are so looking forward to the Indian series (starting on December 26).

''Realistically this is going to be a real challenge. The Sri Lankans go pretty hard, they've got some incredible talent with the ball.

''Chaminda Vaas seems to slip under the radar but he's got over 300 wickets. I think this series could be hard work.'' Australian squad - Ricky Ponting (captain), Stuart Clark, Michael Clarke, Adam Gilchrist, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hogg, Michael Hussey, Phil Jaques, Mitchell Johnson, Brett Lee, Stuart MacGill, Andrew Symonds, Shaun Tait.

REUTERS RAR PM1436

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