Shane Warne has blasted the Australian selectors for dropping the off-spinner Nathan Hauritz from the first Ashes Test in Brisbane on Thursday, declaring the decision 'dumb' and 'very, very harsh'.
Warne, who had earlier thrown his support behind Hauritz as Australia's No 1 spinner, used his Twitter account to criticise selectors after Australia's 13-man squad for the first Test was posted today.
Hauritz's axing leaves the uncapped left-armer Xavier Doherty as the only specialist spinner in the squad, though Marcus North and Steve Smith also provide a spinning option within the squad.
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, admitted Hauritz could "consider himself unlucky" after taking 38 wickets at an average of 29.65 in nine Tests on home soil, while also announcing the omission of Callum Ferguson, Usman Khawaja and Ryan Harris.
Ferguson and Khawaja make way for struggling middle-order duo Marcus North and Michael Hussey, who will be given an opportunity to fight for their place, and Warne says Hauritz should have been afforded the same courtesy.
"I think it's very, very harsh on Hauritz, he deserved first crack at Poms. Nothing against X or Smith I wish them luck," Warne tweeted.
"What happens if Smith or X don't do well back to Hauritz?? That seems dumb to me. Got it wrong way around the selectors!
"I think some of the batsmen should have been dropped if they use the same selection criteria to Hauritz. Let's hope we are all wrong.
"Not a bad record in Australia, Hauritz. Over four wickets a Test... Good average of 29... Wow, it's a big call."
Warne returned to his Twitter account an hour after his original outburst to clarify his comments, saying Australians should get behind whoever walks out to the Gabba pitch on Thursday.
"As Australians we can all have a go at selectors etc, which is part and parcel of there (sic) job. Once Ashes starts we should all support the 11," he said.
Meanwhile England gave a further signal of their powerful Ashes threat by completing an impressive 10-wicket win over Australia A. Tim Bresnan took four wickets, while Chris Tremlett and Monty Panesar three apiece as England dismissed Australia A for 301 in its second innings, and scored the requisite nine runs without loss. Ian Bell's innings of 192 on Friday helped England to 523 in reply to Australia A's first innings of 230 and set up a win that continued the tourists' impressive form ahead of the Ashes.
Australian squad: Ricky Ponting (captain), Michael Clarke, Simon Katich, Shane Watson, Mike Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin, Xavier Doherty, Steve Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter Siddle, Doug Bollinger.