Aussies' spin cycle turns to left-arm trundler who may unnerve Pietersen
Xavier Doherty is the latest name plucked out by the selectors in the forlorn hope of replacing Shane Warne
Monday 22 November 2010
The name may be somewhat exotic but the record is decidedly ordinary. Come Thursday, though, Xavier Doherty will be the latest addition to an already long line of Australian spinners invited to embark on mission impossible: to fill the chasm created by Shane Warne's retirement.
As England discovered over the years, there never was going to be another Ian Botham. And even the most optimistic Aussie knows there never will be another Warne. But someone has to take the place on the team-sheet and, unless the home selectors decide to launch the Ashes series in Brisbane this week with an all pace attack, Doherty will become the ninth specialist slow bowler to wear a Baggy Green since the Golden One retired in early 2007.
Among those who have come and gone are Beau Casson, Jason Krejza and Bryce McGain so simply having an unusual name is no guarantee of success. Boasting a good track record in domestic cricket might be an advantage – and a glance at the record book would suggest Doherty does not even have that in his favour.
The Tasmanian, 28 today, has played 35 first-class matches over nine years, capturing only 84 wickets at a distinctly unimpressive average of 48.26. What is more, he was mainly thought of as a one-day player until last year and it is only during the current season that he has become a regular in Tassie's four-day team. So what has possessed Australia's selectors to punt on Doherty when they could have persevered with off-spinner Nathan Hauritz, who - for all his limitations - has a decent Test record on home soil?
First, Doherty is a form horse. In his last six first-class matches he has taken 23 wickets, including a couple last week under the gaze of fellow Tasmanian and soon-to-be Test captain, Ricky Ponting. And he showed at the beginning of this month that international cricket did not faze him by making a four-wicket ODI debut against Sri Lanka in Melbourne.
Secondly, the new man on the block is an orthodox left-arm spinner which means he should turn the ball away from England's exclusively right-handed middle order – and maybe cause Kevin Pietersen's pulse rate to quicken. Andrew Hilditch, Australia's chairman of selectors, has said that Doherty is the "better option" because of the make-up of the opposition batting unit. He will hope that Pietersen's susceptibility to left-arm spin – assorted southpaws, good and pretty hopeless, have done him 17 times in Test cricket – will become a big issue all over again.
Typically, Pietersen is bullish: "I don't have technical glitches [against left-armers] – I've sorted them," he said. "It is something that people have talked about but it doesn't bother me. I'm always looking to score against every bowler, but any bowler can get any batter out." The last bowler to dismiss Pietersen was Steve O'Keefe, for Australia A, in Hobart last week. That is Steve O'Keefe, the left-arm spinner, by the way.
Reaction down under
Australia's pursuit of excellence costs Hauritz
Nathan Hauritz's axing indicates that Australian cricket has embarked upon a new strategy. No longer is it enough to manage a slow decline from the heights attained in recent decades. The Age
Selectors running on spin cycle
Australian cricket's spinning merry-go-round continued when [Xavier] Doherty was named in a 13-man squad for the first Test at the expense of incumbent tweaker Hauritz, whose Test career lies in tatters. Herald Sun
Selectors treat batsmen like koalas
The fall from grace of Hauritz was complete yesterday. The off-spinner turned out for his club side, while recent Test team-mates flew to Brisbane for the first Test. Hauritz appears solely responsible for Australia's tumble to fifth, below England, on the world Test rankings. The Australian
Angry dad blasts Hauritz axing
Hauritz's angry father last night accused Australian selectors of playing mind games with his shattered son, who has been tossed on to the Test scrapheap. Courier Mail
Diving in at the deep end is no excuse for shirking the style stakes
World Cup 2014 final - Germany vs Argentina preview: Why Brazilians don't love their neighbours Argentina any more
Germany vs Argentina World Cup final 2014: Five reasons why Argentina will win the World Cup
Thomas Vermaelen to Manchester United: Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger thwarting Louis van Gaal over transfer
World Cup 2014 final - Germany vs Argentina preview: German team ethic tests Lionel Messi's ability to meet the challenge
Brazil vs Netherlands World Cup 2014: Arrogant Brazilian team may never be forgiven by the fans
- 1 Why I'm on the brink of burning my Israeli passport
- 2 War is war: Why I stand with Israel
- 3 L'Oreal cuts ties with Belgium supporter Axelle Despiegelaere after hunting trip photographs
- 5 Iraq crisis: How Saudi Arabia helped Isis take over the north of the country
Sustained immigration has not harmed Britons' employment, say government advisers
War is war: Why I stand with Israel
7/7 memorial defaced on anniversary of 2005 attacks with ‘Blair lied thousands died’ graffiti
Australia facing international condemnation after turning around Sri Lankans at sea
Even when it brutalises one of its own teenage citizens, America is helpless against Israel
Socialist Worker called to apologise over ‘vile’ article saying Eton schoolboy Horatio Chapple's death is ‘reason to save the polar bears’