India in Australia 2011-12 December 20, 2011

Christian could make Boxing Day debut

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Daniel Christian's chances of making his Test debut on Boxing Day could be boosted by Australia's desire to have five bowling options against a powerful India batting line-up. Australia's selectors will name the squad for the Melbourne Test on Wednesday and it could be a larger-than-usual group as they wait on the fitness of key players, including Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh.

The possible permutations to be considered by the selectors were complicated on Tuesday when opener Ed Cowan made his case with 109 against the Indians for Cricket Australia Chairman's XI in Canberra. In the same match, the incumbent opener Phillip Hughes, certain to be axed for Boxing Day, scored 20 batting at No.4, Usman Khawaja made 25 and David Warner scored 2.

The rest of Australia's Test batsmen converged on Melbourne for a batting camp after their struggles in the series against New Zealand. The allrounder Christian, who was 12th man in the loss to New Zealand in Hobart, will join the group on Wednesday after he plays for the Brisbane Heat in Tuesday night's T20 match against the Melbourne Stars at the Gabba.

Christian has been one of the leading Sheffield Shield run scorers this summer but it is his bowling that will appeal the most to the selectors, with Watson unlikely to bowl if he plays at all in Melbourne as he continues to recover from a hamstring injury. The Australians did not play an allrounder against New Zealand, whose top order struggled, but the coach Mickey Arthur said the team's needs might change against India on flatter pitches.

"We played on two pretty helpful wickets against New Zealand to be honest, so we didn't need a huge amount from that fifth bowler, we got through that easily," Arthur said. "But when you're playing at the MCG and at the SCG and there's back-to-back Test matches, it does become hard when you've got four bowlers.

"I see the spinner bowling a huge amount more, though. We need to be able to fiddle some overs from some of our batters. That's how we'll look at it. If we think our allrounder is in our best six batters at the present time then he'll get a game."

Asked if Christian had done enough to be considered a top-six Test batsman for the India series, Arthur pointed to his first-class form this summer. In five Shield games, Christian has made 475 runs at 59.37, including two centuries.

"He's got an unbelievable record this year," Arthur said. "He's done superbly well for South Australia. Stats will tell you that he could possibly be in our top six batters. The fitness of our other players will also possibly determine that down the line. We'll have a squad and work out the certain permutations in terms of fitness and then settle on an 11 closer to the time."

The national selector, John Inverarity, will announce the squad at 1pm Melbourne time on Wednesday, but the size of the group remains to be seen. Watson is expected to be named after missing the New Zealand series due to a hamstring problem he picked up in South Africa, but his chances took a blow when he did not bat on the first day of the batting camp.

Marsh has less of a chance to make the starting line-up but could be named with a view to giving him as much time as possible before the Test to prove his fitness. He has battled a back problem since the first Test in South Africa and while he was at the Melbourne batting camp on Tuesday, Arthur said it was an issue that Marsh had not played a match in more than a month.

"It is a concern," he said. "Ideally you want guys to be playing. Whenever you're playing a game your intensity goes up 20% from a practice session, the competitive juices kick in and the guys are put through a lot more in a game. We would have liked him to play more cricket but it hasn't been possible. He is a class act. We've got to give him every opportunity. Time will tell.

"Guys like Watson and Marsh, if ultimately selected, we'll probably give them as much time as they need to get themselves ready to play. So it might be a slightly enlarged squad for this one but our preference is always to be decisive and name a 12. I guess we'll know tonight once we put the finishing touches to our squad."

There is less uncertainty surrounding Australia's attack, with Arthur declaring there were "no concerns whatsoever" about the fitness of the fast men James Pattinson and Peter Siddle. Both men had minor niggles after the New Zealand series but were in the MCG nets on Tuesday to bowl to Australia's batsmen, and neither is considered in doubt for Boxing Day.

Mitchell Starc, who was adequate without really grabbing his opportunity against New Zealand appears likely to retain his place, with Ryan Harris facing a near impossible ask to prove his fitness for Boxing Day. Harris has had a hip problem since the first Test in South Africa and was named to play for the Brisbane Heat on Tuesday night. However, the injury-prone Harris will struggle to prove to the selectors that he can last through a Test match with no first-class cricket in which to test himself.

Possible squad: David Warner, Shane Watson, Ed Cowan, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Nathan Lyon

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • dummy4fb on December 22, 2011, 9:31 GMT

    @Kritika Prasad fantastic gesture lady . Hats off to you @ hira02 any team comprising of Tendulkar , Dravid and Laxman can never called as an A team as they are best ever batsmen in test cricket for more than a decade and they had played all the tests in England . Agreed fatigue.luck (ODIS) and IPL played important roles in the defeat at the hands of Englishmen but the main difference between the two teams was Zaheer Khan . Had he not been injured in that series things could have definitely been in India's favor as he is one of the best bowlers in modern day cricket . It is a pity that we have heavily relied upon him and there is no obvious replacement for Zaheer though we have Irfan , Yadav and Aaron in the wings .cheers

  • dummy4fb on December 21, 2011, 16:52 GMT

    @Vicky Ganesan.Ha ha! I'm sorry I misread the comment!My folly. Cheers.:)

  • dummy4fb on December 21, 2011, 16:44 GMT

    @RandyOz.! Oh! Mr.Randy Dandy! So true.. India wont draw games,infact it will win 4-0. And that to as you said, by innings!:) Thanks for the prediction.Cricinfo please publish.

  • dummy4fb on December 21, 2011, 3:18 GMT

    randy babu tour results does not reflect true things its just a practice game nothing if best australian team can loose in perth god knows wat will happen to this club australian side beaten by n0 8 newzealand also if tour results reflect then surely australian will be bamboozeled by ashwin buddy

  • .Raina on December 21, 2011, 2:45 GMT

    Ed could make his debut in the baggy green; but considering the way OZ is going about the series, there seems to be too much pressure on the whole team. And Ed & Warner, the only too guys in some sort of form, would face an up-hill task to rescue the whole team. Both of them have been consistent recently, and both of them clicking together will be difficult, especially Ed (he is due for a low score now, Warner already had one). Although IND have a recent history of losing the first test and then bouncing back, @RandyOZ may be disappointed at MCG as the prospects for IND this time around seem to be better than for OZ. They seem to be under less pressure albeit with some concerns over their bowling options. I expect OZ to be batting first irrespective of who wins the toss, and that could put extra pressure on the 'young' higher order. The Boxing Day would be more about OZ Batting 'fishing' and gifting their wickets under pressure, rather than IND bowlers doing something exceptional.

  • dummy4fb on December 21, 2011, 2:27 GMT

    @ Wefinishthis: After 2 matches you're already ready to throw Starc to the wolves?

  • dummy4fb on December 21, 2011, 2:14 GMT

    everyone here that has marsh in the side but has watson out cos he might not be fit is an idiot. watson has more of a chance of playing then marsh. my XI would be 1.D.Warner 2.S.Watson(if fit) 3.E.Cowan 4.R.Ponting 5.M.Clarke 6.M.Hussey 7.B.Haddin 8.P.Siddle 9.J.Pattinson 10.R.Harris(if fit)/M.Starc 11.N.Lyon and if Watson is unfit it would be 1.D.Warner 2.E.Cowan 3.R.Ponting 4.M.Clarke 5.M.Hussey 6.D.Christian 7.B.Haddin 8.P.Siddle 9.J.Pattinson 10.R.Harris(if fit)/M.Starc 11.N.Lyon but thats just my opinion

  • Srini_Indian on December 21, 2011, 2:13 GMT

    This is good news for India. They're making it easier for Indian bowlers to get through this already brittle or popgun batting line up. 4-0 to India

  • RightArmEverything on December 21, 2011, 2:03 GMT

    @sunny, Marsh is very unlikely, He will be back in the team soon but not for Boxing Day, too much of a risk. Can't believe you would pick Bollinger, didn't get results for Chairman's XI and has also not played much cricket lately. I'd pick Copeland or George before him at the moment.

  • RightArmEverything on December 21, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    @captain_buddy, you want to drop Lyon for O'Keefe after Lyon has been performing well? I reckon if Ashley Mallett thinks Lyon is the real deal then I'm taking his opinion. I understand O'Keefe has a good FC record, but there is a real obsession with him on this site. @tfjones1978, If you are picking on form alone, Watson would struggle, apart from his 88 in Sth Africa he hadn't done much for a while before getting injured. If he's not 100% fit I wouldn't pick him, and I'd pick Ponting or Hussey as a batsman before him. Can't believe you are having a go at Siddle's batting, he's actually performed well, not just getting valuable runs but being able to occupy the crease for a while. He cops a lot of underserved criticism. Wouldn't have any argument with Cowan getting a game, and if they feel an extra bowler is required then I guess let's see how Christian goes without expecting him to be some kind of new all-rounder superstar.

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