Sydney:Australia announced a bumper 17-man Ashes squad Monday as they battle injuries and poor form ahead of the crunch Test series against England.
Michael Clarke remained as Ricky Ponting's vice-captain despite a flare-up of his long-standing back problem, while there were surprise call-ups for batsman Usman Khawaja and left-arm finger-spinner Xavier Doherty.
Fast-bowler Doug Bollinger and batsman Simon Katich were given the chance to recover from rib and thumb problems respectively, while paceman Ryan Harris was included despite a swollen knee.
Under-fire Michael Hussey and Marcus North kept their places despite indifferent recent performances with the bat. Victoria quick Peter Siddle is also coming back from stress fractures in his back.
The squad will be trimmed to 13 before the players travel to Brisbane for the first Test starting November 25.
Australia have slipped to fifth in the Test rankings, one place below England, as they attempt to win back the coveted Ashes trophy in the five-match series.
Australia - Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke (vice-capt), Doug Bollinger, Xavier Doherty, Callum Ferguson, Brad Haddin, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz, Michael Hussey, Ben Hilfenhaus, Mitchell Johnson, Simon Katich, Usman Khawaja, Marcus North, Peter Siddle, Steven Smith, Shane Watson