BRAD Haddin could be a shock contender to fill the vice-captain role made vacant by Shane Watson when Australia’s selectors spring a surprise naming of their Ashes squad in Sydney tomorrow.
Having been in the Test wilderness for more than 12 months since he was unseated as wicketkeeper by incumbent Matthew Wade, Haddin is a now genuine chance to be named Michael Clarke’s deputy when selectors announce their 16- or 17-man squad at either the State Library of NSW or the Royal Mint.
The identity of Clarke’s deputy has remained a mystery since Watson stood down from the post last week following a tumultuous tour of India.
Australia have suffered from a lack of experience since the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey, leaving Haddin, 35, as a viable option to be Clarke’s right-hand man.
The veteran, known to be a confidante of Clarke’s, flew to India in March as a last-minute replacement for Wade and played in Australia’s third-Test loss to India in Mohali.
He scored 21 and 30 and took four catches and made a stumping.Opening batsmen Dave Warner and Ed Cowan are also being considered for the vice-captaincy role, as is Wade.
When contacted by The Daily Telegraph last night, chairman of selectors John Inverarity said the announcement would be made “soon”.
Fawad Ahmed, the Pakistani-born spin bowler, is unlikely to be selected even if his application for citizenship is fast-tracked by the federal government.
Cricket Australia will receive an update of his status in June, but coach Mickey Arthur said Ahmed would be a good option to have.
Queenslander Usman Khawaja is also facing stiff competition for an Ashes berth from former Test batsman Shaun Marsh.
Khawaja is far from being the flavour of the month with Australian selectors, who had reservations about him even before he was one of four players axed for a Test in India for disciplinary reasons.
However, it is a surprise that Marsh is the name on selectors’ lips after the left-hander averaged just 19 in the Sheffield Shield last season.
Marsh’s stunning Big Bash form, combined with promising signs of improvement late in the Shield season, have selectors talking.
Another thing counting against Khawaja’s Ashes selection is a lack of top-level cricket last summer, when he spent much of the season as a travelling Australian reserve.