Doherty gets nod for MCG

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Xavier Doherty

Left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty, who made his Australia debut at the MCG in November, is set to play there again tomorrow in the opening ODI

Xavier Doherty will get the chance to convince Australia's selectors to include him in their 15-man World Cup squad after he was selected to play in tomorrow's first one-day international against England in Melbourne.

Australia are using the MCG match as a final audition for their fringe players ahead of Wednesday's World Cup squad deadline.

Returning pacemen Shaun Tait and Brett Lee have also been included, with Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson rested, while David Hussey will make his first 50-over appearance since August 2009.

Doherty's inclusion comes at the expense of Nathan Hauritz, who was also overlooked for the Ashes behind his Tasmanian counterpart.

It would seem on this occasion, however, Hauritz has already done enough to earn his place for the World Cup, after national selector Greg Chappell revealed they had planned for the off-spinner to sit out tomorrow's game.

Left-armer Doherty has therefore seemingly been picked to give him an opportunity push his claims to partner Hauritz on the sub-continent.

“The NSP continues to look closely at certain players as the deadline for ICC Cricket World Cup selection approaches," Chappell said. "Our plan had always been to play Xavier Doherty in this game.

"We spoke to Nathan Hauritz in the week and advised him that, if selected, the first game he plays in this series would be in the group of Commonwealth Bank Series matches which start with the second ODI on 21 January at the Bellerive Oval, Hobart."

Tait and Lee could be involved in a straight shoot-out as they aim to complete their last bids for the World Cup, which starts on February 19.

Both have been beset by injury in recent times with Tait recently returning from an elbow complaint while Lee retired from the longer formats last year to rest his ailing body.

The 34-year-old's decision has been rewarded as he has taken 15 wickets in the domestic 45-over competition this season, the second most of any bowler.

Hussey's form has not been as impressive in the Ryobi Cup, where he has managed 143 runs at an average of 23.83.

Skipper Michael Clarke, who will lead the team in the absence of the injured Ricky Ponting, hinted however that the Victorian's ability to bowl part-time spin made him an attractive option looking ahead to the sub-continent.

"I definitely think you could get your extra overs out of your spinners," he said. "David Hussey's part-time off-spin adds to our bowling."

Australia team to play England at the first ODI: M Clarke (captain), C White (vice-captain), D Bollinger, X Doherty, D Hussey, M Hussey, B Haddin (wicketkeeper), S Smith, B Lee, S Tait, S Watson.

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