SYDNEY // Brad Haddin will be given the chance to lead Australia for the first time today when they play New Zealand in a one-off Twenty20. The wicketkeeper-batsman, 31, has established himself as Australia's first choice behind the stumps in recent times and his status will be further enhanced when he captains his country on his home ground. Haddin's promotion comes following a Chappell-Hadlee series during which he impressed with the bat but also courted controversy. The New South Wales player thrived following his mid-series elevation to the top of the order, scoring his maiden ODI century in the third match, but also came under fire after game one when he appeared to flick off the bails when Neil Broom was incorrectly given out bowled.
Regardless of that, Haddin has the backing of regular skipper Ricky Ponting to fill his shoes, with the Tasmanian resting before the team fly out for their tour of South Africa tomorrow. "He brings a lot of experience and he has a lot of leadership qualities," Ponting said. "He thinks about the game." Australia will also be without the vice-captain Michael Clarke, who will sit out on the orders of team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris after he suffered back pain in Tuesday's game in Adelaide, as well as Mike Hussey (rested) and Mitchell Johnson (ankle).
"It's unfortunate that Michael Clarke has been forced to miss the game due to injury," the Australia national selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch said. "Given the side leaves for South Africa the morning after, there was no alternative but to take a conservative approach to management of this minor injury. "Mitchell has not been replaced in the squad as we consider a squad of 12 for the game is adequate given the bowling strength available within the group."
The withdrawals of Clarke and Johnson have left Australia with a 12-man squad, meaning Rob Quiney is in line for an international debut. The Victoria batsman, 26, hit 91 off 56 balls in the final of Australia's Twenty20 competition last month. He has also signed up for Rajasthan Royals yesterday along with Shane Harwood and Lee Carseldine. The defending champions of the Indian Premier League signed up Quiney and added his two compatriots as replacements for Pakistan's Kamran Akmal and Sohail Tanvir.
* With agencies