Cricket: Gillespie back to face England

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THE FAST bowler Jason Gillespie and the batsman Ricky Ponting were named yesterday to the 12-man Australian squad to play England in the first Test starting in Brisbane on Friday.

Australia's daunting pace attack will consist of Gillespie, who returns from injury, Michael Kasprowicz, and Glenn McGrath, with swing bowler Damien Fleming also in the line-up.

With Shane Warne likely to miss the first two Tests, the Australian selectors have chosen leg-spinner Stuart MacGill to lead the slow-ball attack.

It may be psychological warfare, but Steve Waugh, Australia's vice-captain, began talking up England yesterday, asserting that Australia face probably their toughest Ashes series of the last decade.

Waugh, speaking after the 12-man squad was named for the first Test said that he expected England to start the series in combative mood.

"On paper they look a very good side with a lot of experience and have got the know-how to win a Test series now," he said. "This is a crucial tour for a lot of those guys - a lot of them haven't beaten Australia, like Alec Stewart. They will be desperate to beat us, so I expect this to be our toughest series in probably 10 years."

Waugh said that Australia must avoid a repetition of their poor batting performance on the opening day of the last series, in England. "We've got to be careful we don't do what we did at Edgbaston, when they had us five for about 30, so we've got to have a good first session and I think that's the key," he said.

Warne will not be included in the Australian team for the Ashes series against England until he is "100 per cent fit", Australia's chairman of selectors, Trevor Hohns, said.

"If it takes one, two, three, four or even five Tests, Shane won't be coming back until he's 100 per cent fit," Hohns said.

Warne dismissed Adam Gilchrist on Monday to finish with 1 for 28 off seven overs in the second innings of Victoria's Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia.

AUSTRALIA SQUAD (v England, first Test, Brisbane, starting Friday): M Taylor (capt), M Slater, S Waugh, D Fleming, J Gillespie, I Healy (wkt), M Kasprowicz, J Langer, S MacGill, G McGrath, R Ponting, M Waugh.