Australia announces squad for Ashes series

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Melbourne, May 20 (ANI): Australia's selectors have named a 16-man squad to contest the five-Test Ashes series against England.

"We think we have chosen an exciting blend of youth and experience," chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch said.

"At its core, the squad is made up of the side that beat South Africa in that memorable series, and includes Phillip Hughes and Marcus North who both scored hundreds on debut," he said.

Watson was named subject to fitness after sustaining a minor groin injury in the recent limited-over series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates, but Hilditch expected him to take his place in the tour party, FOX Sports reported.

"The injury is not expected to be a serious issue as he is recovering from a very mild groin strain at present and is expected to be fully fit for the ICC World Twenty20 in the UK and the commencement of the Ashes," Hilditch said.

Watson said he expected to be bowling in the nets next week, after recovering from his latest setback, and to be fit and ready by the time the team arrives in England.

Watson is one of three all-rounders in the squad, alongside North and Andrew McDonald.

Ponting will lead the touring party with Michael Clarke as his deputy, and they will have a strong six-strong pace attack headed by Mitchell Johnson and recalled New South Wales stalwarts Brett Lee and Stuart Clark.

Opening batsman Hughes is the youngster of the touring party, at 20, selected after scoring four centuries during a six-week guest stint in England with county side Middlesex.

South Australia's Graham Manou has been named as back-up wicketkeeper to Brad Haddin.

The five-Test series starts at Sophia Gardens in Cardiff, from July 8, and finishes at The Oval in late August.

Australia hold the Ashes after Ponting's side completed a 5-0 series whitewash at home in 2006-2007 to regain the urn after a 2-1 defeat in England in 2005.

Australian squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Phillip Hughes, Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin, Andrew McDonald, Marcus North, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Ben Hilfenhaus, Nathan Hauritz, Graham Manou, Shane Watson. (ANI)

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