New Zealand in Australia 2011-12 December 4, 2011

Christian included for Hobart

Daniel Christian, the South Australia allrounder, has formally replaced Ben Cutting in the only change to the Australia squad for the second Test against New Zealand in Hobart, as the national selectors chose not to touch the injured quintet left out of the team for Brisbane.

As the second of back-to-back Tests, the Hobart match may require a fifth bowling option for Australia, something Christian would provide in addition to the aggressive batting that has placed him at the top of Sheffield Shield aggregates so far this summer with 459 runs.

The inclusion of the 28-year-old Christian will add to the intrigue surrounding the place of the opening batsman Phillip Hughes, twice out cheaply to Chris Martin at the Gabba. In order to fit Christian into the XI as a batsman who can bowl, it would be necessary to drop one of the top six. With Usman Khawaja a capable opening bat and David Warner in arguably better form, Hughes appears the man most likely to lose out in any reshuffle.

Michael Hussey, whose occasional medium pace served as Australia's fifth option in Brisbane, said there were arguments for and against Christian's inclusion. However Hussey also said he did not like the thought of bowling any more than a few nuisance overs himself.

"I look at it a couple of different ways. It is nice to have the extra option for sure, for the captain particularly if guys have had two or three spells each," Hussey said. "The other side of the coin is they're young bowlers so they seem to back up pretty well, they freshen up pretty well.

"But then you can also look on the other side to having that extra option because they're inexperienced and maybe their bodies aren't used to bowling in back-to-back Tests and maybe it would be good to have that extra option. I don't know what they're going to do, but at least they've got the options to mix and match it as they please.

"I don't know if I'm ever going to do a lot of damage, but I'm more than happy to play a back-up role or give the quicks a bit of a rest or just try to chip in and break a partnership here or there. I don't know if my body would cope with bowling 15 or 20 overs in a day. But I'm enjoying it I must admit, it is nice to get the ball and you know the batsmen are trembling a bit because you don't want to get out to someone like me."

John Inverarity, the national selector, said Christian's inclusion at the expense of the injured Cutting enhanced the balance of the squad. Christian started his first-class career in New South Wales, but was signed for South Australia by Rod Marsh, who is now a national selector.

"It is disappointing for Ben that he will be sidelined for some weeks with a side strain, but this provides an opportunity for Daniel who has been performing well as an all-rounder for South Australia," Inverarity said. "The balance of a team is always enhanced by the presence of an energetic all-rounder who is in good form.

"Michael Clarke and his team are buoyant after their convincing victory in Brisbane. James Pattinson's performance on debut will provide a great boost not only the team as a whole but to those who are new to the team in particular."

Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Shane Watson, Shaun Marsh and Pat Cummins remain sidelined, with their recovery time ranging from Johnson's season-ending foot surgery to the expectation that Cummins, Watson and Marsh will be available to play against India in Melbourne on Boxing Day.

"Shane Watson is making good progress from the right hamstring injury he sustained in the second Test against South Africa, in Johannesburg," the Australian physio Alex Kountouris said. "He has not fully recovered to be considered available to play the second Test against New Zealand but is on track to be fit for the Boxing Day Test against India.

"Pat Cummins is still recovering from the left heel injury sustained during the South Africa Test series. Whilst he is improving he is still not bowling and is unavailable for the second Test against New Zealand. He will continue his rehabilitation in an attempt to be fit for the first Test against India.

"Ryan Harris will resume bowling this week after been given time to recover from the pelvic injury sustained in South Africa. He is therefore unavailable for the second Test against New Zealand. His return to playing will be determined by the progress made over the next week, when he returns to training.

"Shaun Marsh has made good progress from the lower back injury sustained in South Africa. He is expected to return to training later this week with a view to being fit for the India Test series later this month.

"Mitchell Johnson had surgery earlier this week for a left foot injury sustained in the second Test against South Africa. The surgery went well and he is due to return to Perth in the coming days. He is expected to be out of cricket for approximately 5 months."

Second Test squad: Michael Clarke (capt), David Warner, Phillip Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Daniel Christian, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments