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Maxwell in Test squad

By Kim Hagdorn
28 December 2012 05:51PM EST

AUSTRALIAN plans for a deep squad of in-form all-rounders for next year's Ashes showdown is in full swing with a call-up for Victorian spinner Glenn Maxwell.

Maxwell, 24, was added to Australia's squad for the Third and final Test against an injury ravaged Sri Lanka in Sydney starting on January 3.

The competent and highly regarded spin-bowling all-rounder replaced injured Aussie vice-captain Shane Watson.

Watson has broken down again with another nasty calf strain that appeared to affect his batting late into his 83 in Australia's only innings in the two-and-half day thumping of Sri Lanka in the Melbourne Boxing Day Test.

Australian team management also indicated continuing concerns for captain and form batsman Michael Clarke, who looks headed for a fitness test on his nagging right hamstring as well.

Clarke is most likely to play as he did in Melbourne following extensive rehabilitation treatment to take his place and lead the side.

Significantly with Watson already ruled out and doubts lingering over Clarke, the national team management did not name an interim vice-captain to take over if the skipper failed to prove fit.

But, in case Clarke is unable to take his place at Australia's helm for the final Test of the summer schedule, the national team management placed young left-hander Usman Khawaja on stand-by.

The Australian squad was released almost immediately after dispensing with a shoddy Sri Lankan outfit at the MCG just after drinks in the middle session on the third day.

The squad is: Michael Clarke (capt), Jackson Bird, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Mike Hussey, Mitchell Johnson, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Peter Siddle, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Glenn Maxwell.

Australia's selectors also confront a stinging selection dilemma with success of strike-bowler Mitchell Johnson and first-timer Jackson Bird in Melbourne with big left-armer Mitchell Starc rested.

Starc had already been assured of playing in Sydney if he sat out Melbourne for Johnson to continue his Test re-birth with a stunning man-of-the-match performance and Bird to bowl alongside established pace attack leader Peter Siddle.

Maxwell has previously been considered a limited-overs specialist but now shapes as a crucial spin back-up to frontline spinner Nathan Lyon as Australian team hierarchy plan well into the future with 10 consecutive Tests away and then back at home next year against England.

Maxwell announced himself by blasting a 19-ball half-century against Tasmania in 2011, the fastest one-day 50 in Australian domestic history.

He impressed national selectors earlier this summer with knocks of 64 for Australia A against South Africa at the SCG and 91 for the Chairman's XI against Sri Lanka in Canberra earlier this month.

Normally batting at No.5 or No.6 for Victoria, Maxwell averages 42 with the bat in 15 first-class matches with his highest score and only hundred a rapid 103 not out against South Australia last year.

Maxwell is also a handy offspinner having claimed 27 first-class wickets at 33.81 and is an athletic fieldsman.

The 24-year-old earned his first national call-up to Australia's one-day and Twenty20 squads to play Afghanistan and Pakistan in the UAE earlier this year and was also picked in the squad for the World T20 in September.

He has played four one-day and seven T20 games for Australia.

With AAP.

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