Australia turns to spin kingmaker


Befitting of a man credited with unleashing the dark arts of the doosra on world cricket, fly-in, fly-out coach Saqlain Mushtaq is quickly becoming a spiritual mentor for Australia’s current crop of spin bowlers. It’s not just our tweakers who stand to benefit from his prophetic pearls. The softly-spoken but highly influential Pakistan great has urged the Australian selection panel to show patience and faith in their next spin selection or risk the post-Warne stagnation continuing even longer. Mushtaq is at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane with the cream of Australia’s spin talent, spending a week to try to coax everything he can from the 15 men considered our best and brightest slow bowling prospects.
But among names like Nathan Hauritz, Michael Beer, Jason Krezja, Jon Holland, Stephen O’Keefe and Cameron Boyce there lies what Cricket Australia believes to be the longterm answer to a spin bowling conundrum that began the day Warne called stumps on his Test career. Mushtaq is enthusiastic about the possibilities but believes little will be achieved unless the habit of exposing players at Test level, only to drop them in favour of new blood soon after, is shelved and players are given reasonable chances to show their talents.
He believes spinners need time to adjust and mature at the elite level and should be afforded the same sort of latitude given to some of their batting counterparts. “A spinner needs more time. I think the legend Shane Warne set the standard for Australia. It’s a big loss for Australia and because of that, I think these guys have a bit of a problem,” Mushtaq said. “They have all the varieties – left armers, off spinners, leggies – but the thing is spinners need time. You can’t make a spinner in a day or in a month. It takes time. You’ve got to be patient. “Australian cricket has all the varieties but they have to give them proper opportunity, a proper chance.
“And back the bowlers as well. If you back the spinners, they will perform really well. If you’re not backing them, you can’t get maximum from the spinners.”
Australia has used 10 spinners since Warne’s retirement from Test cricket in 2007, with none apart from the sturdy Hauritz (16 tests, 58 wickets at 36.22) playing more than five matches. Beer was the most recent debutant, coming from the clouds to play in the fifth Test in Sydney in January. Hauritz isn’t so solid at the moment, with a shoulder injury leaving Beer and Krejza to slug it during the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe for a place in the side for Test series against Sri Lanka.
Krejza was plucked from the wilds for this year’s World Cup and would love nothing better than another crack at the baggy green after a dramatic rise and fall the first time around.