Cricket: Bichel chosen for Caribbean

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The Independent Online
AUSTRALIA, who seem to be engaged on a non-stop cricketing tour of the planet, selected their Test squad for the tour of the West Indies yesterday. The team departs next week immediately after the one-day triangular tournament.

If there was a surprise it was the inclusion of the Queensland fast bowler Andy Bichel ahead of Mike Kasprowicz and Brendon Julian. Adam Dale has been included after a sterling one-day series, though, in the absence of the injured Damien Fleming, the Test new ball attack is likely to be Glenn McGrath and Jason Gillespie.

Both leg spinners, Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill, are included. Matthew Elliot has been recalled in the opening bating spot left vacant because of Mark Taylor's retirement. Three men in the squad have been playing cricket almost without a break since September.

Steve and Mark Waugh and Ricky Ponting were at the Commonwealth Games, have since been to Pakistan for a Test and one-day series, have featured in the Ashes and the Carlton & United Series, and now embark for four Tests and probably seven one-dayers in the Caribbean. They will then travel to England for the World Cup. Apparently, the Australian Cricket Board have nothing arranged for July and August but there is time yet.

The captain for the West Indies will be announced on Friday. The three selectors, having chosen the squad, will nominate their candidate to the 14 members of the Australian Cricket Board. That recommendation could be either Warne or Steve Waugh and, while the Board traditionally goes along with the panel, it is felt there is a clear majority in favour of Waugh.

The Australian all-rounder Michael Bevan has pulled out of his commitment to play for Sussex this summer and will be replaced by Michael Di Venuto. Bevan, who was to be Sussex's vice-captain, is to have a year off from his contract because of the World Cup in May and June and has signed a three-year deal to return to Hove in 2000.

Sussex responded quickly by signing another Australian left-hander in Di Venuto. He has a first-class average of 41.66, having hit 4,542 runs in 65 matches. He has played in 33 one-day domestic games, scoring 877 runs at an average of 31.32.

Sri Lanka's off spinner Muttiah Muralitharan is to stay on in Australia for an operation on his bowling arm. Murali will not leave with his team- mates after his country's unsuccessful tour of Australia. Their manager, Ranjit Fernando, said Sri Lanka will not be seeking any reaffirmation of Murali's action by the International Cricket Council. "There's no need. The ICC has approved his action and there's been no change," he said. "We're happy with his action. It was never a case of asking him to do any remedial work, and I don't see any reason why it should be done now. There's been no change in his action from then until now - there shouldn't be any problem."

AUSTRALIA SQUAD (to tour West Indies): M T G Elliot, M J Slater, J L Langer, M E Waugh, S R Waugh, R T Ponting, I A Healy, S K Warne, J N Gillespie, S MacGill, G D McGrath, C R Miller, A J Bichel, A J Dale, G S Blewett.