Australia names first Muslim cricketer in squad

Usman Khawaja became the first Muslim to be included in Australia's cricket squad as the NSP announced a 14-member squad for the series against England.

updated: June 22, 2010 08:40 IST
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Usman Khawaja on Tuesday became the first Muslim to be included in Australia's cricket squad as the National Selection Panel announced a 14-member squad for the Test series against England.

If drafted into final XI in next month's two Test series, the 23-year-old left-handed batsman will become the first Muslim player ever to wear a Baggy Green.

Injury to Phillip Hughes created space in the squad and the selectors filled it with Khawaja, who impressed the NSP with his performance in domestic cricket.

"Usman Khawaja has been selected on the back of some very strong Weet-Bix Sheffield Shield performances. He is seen by the National Selection Panel as being capable of batting anywhere in the order in Test cricket, but importantly for this particular series a top-order batsman who could bat in the top four should the opportunity arise," NSP Chairman Andrew Hilditch said in a statement.

Also returning to the squad is paceman Ben Hilfenhaus, who has recovered from his injury.

Australia team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said stumper Brad Haddin and fats bowler Mitchell Johnson are recovering from their injuries but a final decision to play them will only be taken later.

"With the Test squad not departing for the UK until late next week it has been decided Brad Haddin will continue his rehabilitation from an elbow tendon injury in Sydney and his availability for these Test matches will be determined over the next week.

"Mitchell Johnson has trained strongly over the past four days with no adverse effect to his elbow. He has been cleared by medical staff to step up his training in preparation for both the Twenty20 and Test series against Pakistan," Kountouris said.

The first Test will start at Lords from July 13 and the second in Headingley from July 21.

Squad: Ricky Ponting (C), Michael Clarke (vc), Doug Bollinger, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Usman Khawaja, Marcus North, Steven Smith and Shane Watson.