Out of form North, troubled Clarke in Australian Test squad

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Melbourne, Mar 10 (ANI): Troubled vice-captain Michael Clarke and out-of-form batsman Marcus North have been included in the 14-man Australian squad for the coming two-Test tour of New Zealand.

Clarke retained his place in the squad despite quitting the Chappell Hadlee series tour of New Zealand on Monday for personal reasons related to a nude-photo scandal-involving fiancee Lara Bingle.

Australia's chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, also named young New South Wales all-rounder Steve Smith, Blues opener Phillip Hughes and uncapped Queensland quick Ryan Harris.

The two-Test series starts on March 19 in Wellington, FOX Sports reports.

"The core of the squad is the Australian Test team that performed so well during the Australian summer in defeating West Indies and Pakistan," Hilditch said in a statement.

"Ryan Harris, having overcome injuries at the start of the season, has played really well for Australia in the shorter formats of the game. Phillip Hughes has also been in excellent form at state level and richly deserves his selection on the back of another fantastic (Shield) season," he said.

"Steve Smith has had an excellent Shield season, including a big century against Tasmania recently, and, of course, has already demonstrated his ability to cope with the pressure of international cricket," Hilditch said.

But North's effort in retaining his place in the squad means the 30-year-old Western Australia captain is likely to keep his spot in the side at No.6, despite the impressive credentials of Smith.

He has averaged only 10.25 in the summer Test series at home against Pakistan. (ANI)

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