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George Bailey dropped from Australia squad for South Africa series, Marsh, Pattinson return

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SYDNEY - Australia selectors have dropped George Bailey from the test squad to tour South Africa next month, opting instead for uncapped batsman Alex Doolan and a resurgent Shaun Marsh.

Bailey played in all five of Australia's Ashes tests against England this summer but performed only moderately, scoring 183 runs at an average of 26 with a highest score of 53.

Shaun Marsh was recalled to the Australia squad Monday after a two-year absence. Marsh played the most-recent of his seven tests against India in January, 2012 but has won back his place after a series of strong one-day performances.

Fast bowlers James Pattinson and Jackson Bird have also been named in the 15-man squad after missing the Ashes series, while Nathan Coulter-Nile has been omitted.

Chairman of selectors John Inverarity said the decision to omit Bailey was difficult, but Doolan and Marsh were thought likely to be more at home in South African conditions.

"This was a difficult decision but on this occasion we felt Alex and Shaun have games that are well suited to facing South Africa in South Africa," Inverarity said. "We consider that both are strong players of pace bowling which is important given the strength of South Africa's attack.

"Alex was on standby for the recent fifth test in Sydney and scored a most impressive 165 not out against South Africa for Australia A last season," he added.

Inverarity said Doolan and Marsh had been preferred to Phil Hughes, who was better suited to a place higher in the order. Bailey was also seen to have limitations against seam bowling.

"Shaun is a talented batsman who is striking the ball very well at the moment. He has the technique and potential to do well," he said.

Inverarity said Bailey's contribution to Australia 5-0 Ashes series victory was "very significant."

"He played an integral role there," he said. "It was a wonderful Ashes series and the 11 players knitted together really well and they were a very convincing unit. But going to South Africa, we think that George is less suited there against their attack and we've left him out."

The selectors have kept together the bowling lineup which helped Australia to a 5-0 win in the Ashes test series, retaining Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle. Pattinson and Bird have been included ahead of the young Coulter-Nile to give Australia experienced backup in the event of injuries.

"James Pattinson is regaining fitness and form," Inverarity said. "At his best he is a fine test match bowler.

"Jackson Bird shaded out Nathan Coulter-Nile for the final bowling position and each of these bowlers is showing encouraging form.

The Australia squad will leave for South Africa on Jan. 29, with the exception of James Faulkner who will remain behind to play in the T20 Series against England.

"The selection panel is supporting Darren Lehmann and Michael Clarke in their strong desire to give this test series the highest priority and have the best possible preparation for the players who have performed so admirably this summer."

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Australian squad: Michael Clarke(captain), Brad Haddin, Jackson Bird, Alex Doolan, James Faulkner, Ryan Harris, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Marsh, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Chris Rogers, Peter Siddle, Steve Smith, David Warner, Shane Watson.

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