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No instant impact from Hauritz

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Oliver Brett | 15:30 UK time, Thursday, 25 June 2009

At a seaside ground so genteel that the man on the tannoy feels it is appropriate to offer a lady spectator best wishes on her 62nd birthday, Australia's Ashes preparations are beginning in earnest.

The ongoing four-day match at Hove against a near-enough full-strength Sussex side will not answer all the issues that must be addressed ahead of selection for the first Test in Cardiff, but it might show who's hot and who's not.

Thursday on the south coast - the second day - was always likely to be an important day for Nathan Hauritz, the sole specialist spinner selected in Australia's Ashes party.

With Australia declaring on their overnight 349-7 - in which Hauritz hit a rapid, unbeaten 65 which would have done him no harm at all - Ricky Ponting had the opportunity to give five bowlers a decent workout.

But in hot weather on a wicket getting drier by the hour, these were not the best conditions for the four quick bowlers to be operating in, so it was no surprise that Hauritz was asked to bowl his first five overs before lunch - and initially the signs were good.

Peter Siddle and Ricky Ponting celebrate a Sussex wicket

He had the young right-hander Rory Hamilton-Brown in some trouble, but from the second over onwards things were less promising. Sussex opener Chris Nash, well established at the crease, hit Hauritz with the spin through midwicket for four. Precociously, Hamilton-Brown then skipped down the track to hit him for an easy six in an over costing 16.

Hauritz continued for three overs after lunch but was milked for easy runs and Ponting decided it was time to bring back Brett Lee.

After the 2006-07 Ashes series, Australia had to face the task of replacing Shane Warne and it got a whole lot harder when Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg followed him into international retirement.

Over the past year, the identity of Australia's Ashes tweaker became blurred as Beau Casson, Cameron White, Jason Krejza, and Bryce McGain were all given a go - and then given the boot.

So it was that the selectors returned to Hauritz, who seemed to have been on the fringes of Australia squads for several years without making a breakthrough.

Indeed, so peripheral was his involvement in the 2003 World Cup that when I stepped into a fast-food joint in Port Elizabeth during the tournament and saw a young chap taking away a large stack of boxed pizzas it took me a while to realise who it was.

Now he is no longer Australia's pizza delivery boy, Hauritz needs to nail down his place in the side - but there was little evidence in his initial spell at Hove that he is going to have a major impact in the Test series which starts next month.

Lee is another bowler with something to prove, having lost the role of Australia's spearhead to Mitchell Johnson, who was rested for this game. For the first time in many a campaign, the blond paceman is no longer an automatic Test pick after injury blighted the start of his year.

But running down the hill with the new ball - with the familiar 17-stride run-up, three slips and a gully in place - he delivered a wonderful first over, beating Michael Yardy three times. Then no-balls began cropping up, and he struggled to find the right line to the right-handers.

After lunch, now charging up the hill from the Sea End, he was much better. Luke Wright and Hamilton-Brown tried to dominate, but each man paid dearly for a flurry of boundaries by being dismissed by Lee.

If not 100% match-fit yet, he must be very close to it, bowling his 11th over of the day before three o'clock and still inconveniencing the batsmen with good pace.

By that stage, Peter Siddle, whose fluid, elegant action allows him to bowl long spells with no great apparent effort, was matching Lee's two-wicket haul, while Stuart Clark and Ben Hilfenhaus had each picked up a wicket.

Though everything suggested that it was a day to be bowling spin, it was the pacemen who were keeping Australia in good shape.


  • Comment number 1.

    I personally think Peter Siddle is the key bowler for Australia. I've got a lot of time for him as a bowler. He reminds me of Merv hughes in that he has good pace, isn't the most svelte figure but has a huge heart. He'll bowl all day if you ask him.

  • Comment number 2.

    Siddle = Hughes? I can, sort of, see something similar in the build and delivery stride but Siddle certainly doesn't do the Merv histrionics. He could have a big series. Ashes series have a tendency to produce Aussie match-winners out of players who are not well known to England, and this could be another example.

    Hauritz still wicketless, incidentally, in 18 overs. Siddle into his 14th over now...

  • Comment number 3.

    Nothing for England to be in awe of. Lee's record in England is average.
    It seems Siddle and Clark will try and keep it tight and there is nothing in the spin department. Australia will need to bowl as a five man unit. Johnson is the pick but England shoud not be worried by this attack. The weakest Australian attack they will face since possibly 1991 (i.e. before Warne/McGrath). England wil just need to be patient particularly against Siddle/Clark.

  • Comment number 4.

    I think the fact that Hauritz hasn't bashed the door down for inclusion speaks volumes. It almost feels like it's a timing thing, it could almost have been any of the spinners picked and discarded over the last 3 years who'd got the nod.
    As for Siddle, I think he's a really clever bowler who's deceptive in that he doesn't appear to do anything spectacular or explosive, but very effective in causing mistakes. I think he'll learn the conditions and have a successful summer.
    He's still responsible for headline of the year;
    "From second fiddle to fecund Siddle"

  • Comment number 5.

    An interesting look at who I think may become the single most important player in deciding the winner of the Ashes.
    With Australia perhaps slightly superior with bat and pace, England will feel that spin is the sole area they have the advantage - Swann is far better than Hauritz and I doubt the impact of North or Katich for Australia (though Clarke will probably dismiss KP at least once).
    Hauritz is no Warne or McGill but if he can chip in with regular wickets, Australia will do well, if he does a McGain, England have a great chance to win.

    On the Australia pace bowlers front, I think that Australia, like in the 2005 Ashes, are one quality pacer short. Johnson is the best bowler on both sides and Siddle is looking like a steady performer. However, Lee is a shadow of his former self. On the other hand, is Hilfenhaus good enough? No. Is Clark? Possibly. I think Australia can't risk a broken Lee in the Ashes.

  • Comment number 6.

    Having watched the Australian's series against South Africa(2) and India I'm so pleased, as an Englishman, that Hauritz was selected.
    Jason Krejza is Australia's best spin bowler by a street, plus he can bat.
    How they've got stuck with Hauritz amazes me. In fact, I'm even more amazed that Bryce McGain was given a chance [proper village].
    Krejza is a threat, as he proved against India in batting friendly conditions.
    Hauritz holds up an end - and leaks runs. Badly.
    David Warner was called up for Australia[albeit for the Twenty20 side] before he played for his state side [NSW] because he has clear talent and was worth looking at.
    Hauritz doesn't get into the NSW side for the opposite reason. He just isn't very good.
    I predict Marcus North[if selected] will pose more of a spin threat than Hauritz. In fact, I'd goes as far to say North bowls more overs than poor Nathan.

  • Comment number 7.

    It wont take a great spinner to bowl England out so the articles point is somewhat moot.It wont take a good spinner either just one who can get the ball from one end of the wicket to the other. So dire are Englands players in both batting and bowling that it is almost comical to suggest there is going to be a contest of any sort here this summer. Hauritz bowls faster than Englands seam attack-Broad and Anderson have a combined bowling speed of 3.5 mph on a good day.Australia could probably field 5 men and a docile labrador and still make the current English team keel over.The fact that England rest their entire hopes based on the legacy of a good performance last time is almost too much to bear for a grown man-Flintoff is mediocre at best and yet he is apparently holds the key to success.The fact that any faith is being placed in him shows how desparate and wayward England are.

  • Comment number 8.

    tea time at harrods, yeah you were annihilated by india and SA in recent series. you really arent that great. youre the third best overall team in the world behind india and SA. you couldnt even get out of your group at the world cup.

  • Comment number 9.

    @6 - Krejza is an interesting case - sure he had an amazing debut and took a lot of wickets but I don't think he would be a better bet than Hauritz.

    Firstly, he also conceded the most runs in an Aussie debut which shows two things, first, that in times of less success (like his second test 1-200), he will be very, very costly and second that he benefited from a slightly arrogant over-aggressive Indian batting line-up - England probably wouldn't make the same mistake.

    Second, he did not do well in his second test - this shows ineffectiveness against a more wary batting line-up.

    And anyway, do Australia want an expensive wicket taking spinner with their pace line-up?

    @7 I think it is clear that everything you wrote is wrong.

  • Comment number 10.

    I think the need for a spinner is over talked about. Pace will be the key to this series + england arent going to go out and prepare spinning wickets because this time the aussies have no shane warne and they have swann....their key to success is not spin, it is also pace. Without some assistance in the wicket England have a weak bowling attack...sure Swann is handy, but the likes of Anderson, Broad and even Flintoff will need assistance in the pitch to trouble the Aussies. Anderson and Broad are not world class, they will be fodder on flat decks. THe only time Anderson has looked half decent was recently in conditions which arent going to surface come those conditions even the labrador aforementioned in post 7 could get the ball to swing. A full pace battery from AUstralia..with their handy 3 man slow bowling backup..will indeed batter the poms into submission. Only flintoff would make it into the Aussie fast bowling lineup...and the english know it - they are trying to spin the aussies into selecting a spinner..and unfortuantely, your convict pals just arent that stupid.

  • Comment number 11.

    Pizza delivery boy? Thanks Oliver, I see the world famous BBC 'sledging by sleight' has already begun. Looking forward to more responsible journalism.

  • Comment number 12.

    Could be an interesting dual between two un-rated spin bowlers if England go for the 'safe' option and choose Monty over Rashid. But then our Ashley did a job in 2005 the difference being he had built momentum in his earlier performances.

    The bat could end up dominating the 1st Test if the spinners fail to cash in on potentially favourable conditions after that the seamers seem perfectly matched.

    Who knows where this one will go....

  • Comment number 13.

    After today's unimpressive showing at Hove, the Aussie pizza-delivery boy's day job appear secure. However, if he finds conditions suitable, as the summer progresses, he may be able to delay returning to the pizza parlour, for the time being.

    But what if Ponting had delayed the declaration to allow him time to reach the ton, would that have guaranteed him a spot at Cardiff and beyond?

  • Comment number 14.

    Even last two players of sussex played 15 overs. Australian bowling doesn't look penetrating.

  • Comment number 15.

    Never underestimate England's ability to capitulate to average bowlers!
    Still, they aren't nearly as fearsome as four years ago, so hopefully no whitewash!

  • Comment number 16.

    Krejza got carted in the tour match in India and the selectors crapped themselves and rushed Cameron White, of all people over, to the sub continent and started him in the first test as a bowler. Australia can't make this mistake again, they have to stick with their initial plan and not panic because a player has had one bad outing. The pitch is supposed to be a turner first up so Hauritz must play.

    England won the ashes with Giles, South Africa beat us with Harris. The bowling attack is more than the sum of it's parts.

    A spinner provides two purposes 1) It reduces the workload on the pace bowlers, important when the lot of them are injury prone and 2) It helps with the over rate situation, which we have always had an issue with since Ponting has been captain. Clarke and Katich have a dodgy back and shoulder respectively and can't carry the burden of bowling on top of the key role the two of them need to play with the bat.

    The first test attack should be Johnson, Siddle, Clark, Hauritz. Then pitch conditions and the performance of the individual bowlers comes into play. If the pitch is conducive to swing, we can play the 4 quicks with Hilfenhaus coming into the side for Hauritz.

    As far as I'm concerned Lee should be left right out. We lost in India with him, lost the first two tests in Aus v. SA with him, yet won the third test in Aus v. SA without him and won the away series against SA without him. That is more than a co-incidence in my opinion.

  • Comment number 17.

    Interesting discussion about Krejza. He can go for runs but I see him more of a wicket taker than Hauritz. He flights the ball and gets more than Hauritz.

  • Comment number 18.

    A few more observations about Hauritz. It was interesting when he was finally replaced by Katich yesterday - I thought we might see the part-timer get the Sussex players into more difficulties. But although Katich did get a wicket - a dubious lbw with the batsman a long way down the track sweeping - it was not really the case.

    The press box is not ideally situated at Hove - square of the wicket - so I honestly can't tell you how much Hauritz turned it, but I felt there was not nearly enough variation of flight or speed. He might be the sort of bowler who likes bowling one delivery repetitively and creating pressure - a bit like Monty Panesar if you will.

  • Comment number 19.

    Of course, there is a real danger that if Hauritz doesn't improve his performances in the coming warm up matches he may not start in Cardiff. That would be bad news. Surely the chaps at Sussex could do England a few favours and let him get a few 'wickets'.

  • Comment number 20.

    I think North will end up as the aussies main spinner this series and as the saffers show time and again, a team without a good spinner is not necessarily lost.

    Four pace bowlers, Johnson, siddle, clark and one of Hilfenhaus, lee or Watson, along with North and if necessary Clark and Katich bowling some overs. There main threat will come from the pace attack.

    There is no point in playing a spinner just because you feel you have to. If he is not up for it (and it does not look like Hauritz is) Krejza was a flash in the pan, one test wonder. Since then he has been carted about the few times he has played.

    Still somewhat surprised by the selection of Macdonald, really thought they would bring some batting cover in Hodge, hope he is keeping match fit somewhere and Macdonald does not look like getting anywhere near the team.

  • Comment number 21.

    Can someone please show some appreciation for Alistair "Chef" Cook's fine T20 hundred yesterday? Not many have managed the feat so hats off to the man. Surely he should at least be considered for our one-day side? At least he could bat his way through the innings allowing our supposed sluggers a bit of freedom at the other end.

  • Comment number 22.

    Underthepump, I am very pleased to see a fellow Australian speaking plainly and sensibly about Lee. I too hope he is not picked. I do not understand why the Australian selectors have persisted with him for ten years. It is hard to find a regular Australian bowler of the last fifteen or twenty years with a worse bowling average than him. I think it may be impossible if you look only at bowlers who spent ten years or more as fixtures in the team (ie suggesting they are leading and dominant Australian and international cricketers). With the exception of a couple of series shortly after McGrath retired, he has never stepped up and taken responsibility for the attack. Year after year he has persisted in bowling as fast as he can without any craft while getting carted for 7 an over. With McGrath and Warne in the side, this didn't matter much. But now...

  • Comment number 23.


    He has been tried and found seriously wanting against international standard bowling. I am surprised somewhat that he has made a T20 century, his foot movement is poor and (in the recent past) variety of shots has been non-existent. Did he not open the ODI batting in India and scratched around for 20 odds at .75 strike rate and got out most of the time. Maybe he is developing his game (coughs) but more likely he scored a century against a very poor county attack. You need people who can hit gaps and over the top to open and batting in ODIs and cook does neither against good bowlers and imagine him and strauss opening (laughs)

  • Comment number 24.

    20. The feeling among the Aussie press pack at Hove is that they may well not play Hauritz at all for the first Test, and then see what happens. Hilfenhaus was sparingly used, so I think it's Lee, Johnson, Siddle, Clark. In that case, the logical thing would be to play North at six, and get spin from him, Michael Clarke and Katich.

    21. As an Essex fan I am of course utterly thrilled with Cook's match-winning ton last night. I generally believe that Test-class batsmen should be able to adapt to other formats, so expect him to be a fixture in ODIs at some point at the very least.

  • Comment number 25.

    England won the ashes with Giles....


    For heavens sake, he was in teh team that won the ashes, but of the five bowlers he contributed the least. The ashes win was a one off occurance where all four seamers (Flintoff, Harmison, Hoggard and Jones) all played fantastically well. Giles only got any wickets becaus ethe Aussies tried to make the most of his overs and ended up chipping it to fielders. He was a defensive and very ordinary bowler.

    I actually think that the Aussies might well play without a proper spinner in the first test, go with Mitchell, Siddle, Lee & Clark. North and or Katich can throw in 10 overs between them pre new-ball.

  • Comment number 26.

    if aussie coach really wasn't worried about the spin department he wouldn't be talking about it and trying to put pressure on england spinners

  • Comment number 27.

    Comments on the blog so far:
    Spinners vary in their roles- true some are stock bowlers there to keep an end tight whilst the quicks rest. Ashley Giles was in this mould. However, others are wicket takers- Murali for much of his career has been in an attack where the pace bowlers took the shine off the ball for him. There is of course then the variety in between. I would say Swan is more a wicket taker than a stock bowler. I am not sure where Hauritz fits in. On a turning wicket it is not always necessary to have the wicket taking variety, the wicket is on your side and sometimes big spinners of the ball actually have more difficulty as they become more unplayable.
    Bowling attacks ate a team and complement each other- In 2005 Englands attack was much greater than the sum of its parts and out competing an Aussie team with two of the greats! I think Lee has been used in this way. He is very quick and he offers different problems, for most of his career he has had to compete for wickets from two giants. I think Australia will want his experience and for him to step up and lead the attack. I am sure he is hungry and would want that.
    Part time spinners are always going to be a risk. Occasionally they come off, for example Border, but in general a team will want the balance of a specialist.
    Finally a bowling attack should be made up of the best bowlers available and not just chosen for the conditions. If Hauritz is good enough play him, if not then go with the seam attack. In Englands case Swan is one of the bowlers that would be chosen for all conditions.
    As for the Aussie who has classified the English bowling attack as ordinary- well the proof of it will out, but I think collectively Englands attack looks stronger and with strength in depth. The Aussie batting is overall superior, so a contest between bat and ball. I hope the old adage of Bowlers win matches is the theme of this summer.

  • Comment number 28.

    No Hauritz, surely no Monty!?

  • Comment number 29.

    Amen to that sentiment, Tree...

  • Comment number 30.

    The captain and selectors will have the performance of Bryce McGain in their minds from the SA tour. Essentially he contributed nothing to that team in the match. With the Australian batting still not fully firing, they can't afford a player in the side who isn't contributing in some department.

    The more interesting question will be whether Michael Hussey plays. He's looked dreadful for months now and the lack of form has started to affect him in the field (remember the catch he missed in the World T20? He dropped at least one fairly easy one against SA in the last year too and misfielded a number of times). The Hughes/Katich/Ponting trio up front are settled, Clarke and North are settled but Hussey is not settled. With everyone predicting a turner in Cardiff, I wonder if they might consider dropping Hussey, and put out a side like this:

    Lee or Clark

    If you do ignore Hauritz and don't play him at Cardiff on a spinning wicket, that's going to dent his confidence. If you don't get picked to bowl on a wicket that really suits you, why would the selectors bring you back to bowl on wickets that won't help you? The Aussie selectors learnt the hard way in India what happens when you have an unbalanced attack and I don't think they'll go into the Cardiff game without a specialist spinner if the wicket looks like a turner.

  • Comment number 31.

    England really don't have a better attack then the Australians, they're really two pretty evenly matched sides in most departments. Australia bat extremely deep, and probably shade England, England have a more balanced attack with better spin options, but Mitchell Johnson is the premier bowler in the series and leads a fairly good pace attack. I guess it depends on the way Flintoff bowls. I remember in the previous ashes series, he wasn't in outstanding fitness and really didn't trouble the Australians a great deal, so he will be key for England. I'm not buying into the hype of Jimmy Anderson, i've seen him swing the ball beautifully before, then deliver rubbish in the next few games. All he's done is dismiss a poor west indian side in a couple of games and all of a sudden the british press make him a world beater. Hauritz is one of those typical one day spinners who will bowl a decent spell of 10 overs for 45-55 runs. He's not really a great test bowler, not a lot of spin or variation. If the first test in Cardiff does turn alot, he'll bowl okay because he'll have assistance and he's accurate, but in most cases he won't pose much of a threat at all, he won't be a sure pick in every game for sure.

  • Comment number 32.

    Sorry, I know this is a bit off-topic, and I have asked the question before, but...

    The World Twenty20 has been an excellent competition, the coverage on BBC radio has been excellent as always and it has been really good having some cricket back on BBC tv. The highlights programmes have been very well put together and I've been enjoying Empire of Cricket too.

    Lets hope this isn't it for cricket on BBC tv for the next few years, and you are able to follow it up with highlights of the ICC Champions Trophy later this year, next years World Twenty20 and the 50 Overs World Cup, plus perhaps even the away Test matches???

    I know you work for radio, but would you be able to find out from your tv colleagues what the future BBC tv cricket plans are please?

    many thanks


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