Spinning dilemmas for Australia

Neil Manthorp – 05/12/2001

It is encouraging to see that Australia’s national selectors also became ensnared in their own preconceived ideas and find it difficult to adapt to what is available rather than what they want.

South Africa’s selectors used to have those problems all the time before changing in recent years to make the tools fit the job rather than the other way around.

Lance Klusener’s ability to bowl off-cutters came about as a result of needing a second spinner in Sri Lanka 15 months ago but not being able to fit one in to a settled line-up. Further adaptation saw Herschelle Gibbs promoted to opener.

Australia’s selection chief, Trevor Hohns, and his colleagues Alan Border, David Boon and Andrew Hilditch seem intent on selecting a second spinner in the Australian XII for the first Test in Adelaide beginning on December 14.

The trouble is, Stuart McGill and Colin Miller – the logical additions to Shane Warne – are both virtually unselectable.

38-year-old Miller has been dropped by his State team, Victoria, after claiming just three wickets all season at an average of 80 and McGill has fallen foul of the country’s administrators after an endless stream of disciplinary cock-ups.

The Aussie selectors, however, remain convinced that a second specialist is needed for the traditionally spinner friendly Adelaide Oval and Mark Waugh’s occasional off-spinners are not deemed suitable.

As a result South Africa could face a 20-year-old off spinner who has played just two first class matches. Queensland’s Nathan Hauritz could follow in the ‘surprise selection’ footsteps of Glenn McGrath and Ian Healy who both represented their country after just six first class matches for New South Wales and Queensland respectively.

South Africa, of course, will rely on Zulu’s off-cutters to do the job.

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