Australia v New Zealand, 2nd Test, Hobart December 5, 2011

'I'm on top of my game' - Christian


Daniel Christian has been dreaming of a baggy green since he was a child, but he didn't think it would happen this summer. It still might not. But as the Australians make their way to Hobart for the second Test against New Zealand, which starts on Friday, the selectors will ponder the team's balance, and Christian's name is sure to spark some interesting discussions.

Without Shane Watson in the side, Australia were a bowler short at the Gabba. It didn't really matter, as they accounted for New Zealand within four days, but consideration will be given to the workload required in back-to-back Tests for a youthful attack featuring James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc.

There are only so many overs of gentle outswing that Michael Clarke can ask of Michael Hussey. It is in this role that Christian could play a part. For now, he is in the 12-man squad; if the selectors want an extra bowler, he will become Australia's 427th Test cricketer, and the second indigenous man to play Test cricket for Australia behind Jason Gillespie.

"Without Watto [Watson] there, they've obviously got me in there as an allrounder, so hopefully if I do get the opportunity I can provide that bit of balance, some extra overs in there to give the other blokes a [rest]," Christian said. "When you've got a couple of young guys who bowl high 140s [kph] in the team, it's not going to be my role to do that."

On the surface, it seems a strange time for the selectors to have called on Christian for his bowling: he has taken only ten Sheffield Shield wickets this summer - the same amount as Simon Katich - at an average of 49.70. But he believes the figures don't do justice to the way he has bowled this season, and certainly no argument can be built against his batting.

Until the current round of Shield games started, Christian, 28, was the leading run scorer in the competition, with 475 at an average of 59.37. He had scored two centuries and has clearly enjoyed the promotion to No.6 in the South Australia order, following the retirement of Graham Manou at the end of last season.

"I've had a good couple of months with the bat in Shield cricket," Christian said. "I've been bowling as well as I ever have, I think. The stats probably don't show it - I haven't taken that many wickets. But the ball has been coming out of the hand as well as it ever has. Personally, I feel like it's a good time to get picked because I feel like I'm on top of my game."

Not that he was expecting a Test call-up. After playing three Twenty20 internationals at the start of 2010, Christian had fallen behind other similar players in Australia's shorter-format squads, with Mitchell Marsh having made his debut and John Hastings establishing himself as a regular. And of course, when Watson is fit, there is no room in the Test side for another allrounder.

"I thought I might have been close for the Twenty20 and one-day side around last season," Christian said. "I was keen to start this season well and hopefully be involved in that stuff somewhere along the line as well, but Test selection, I wasn't thinking about it at all."

Christian is highly rated by his peers. Last season he won the Australian Cricketers' Association award as the MVP across all three formats. Michael Hussey said Christian would offer plenty to the Test side if he made the cut, above all as a lower-order striker.

"He's a good all-round option," Hussey said. "He can bowl long spells, he can keep it tight, he can bowl reverse swing. Very athletic fieldsman, he can field anywhere really, he's got a good arm and a good catcher, so he's very versatile in that respect.

"But I think the area he's most dangerous is with the bat, particularly against a tiring attack or something like that, he can really take the game away from them very quickly. He scores at a very fast rate, he's not someone who's just going to hang around, he's going to score at a very good rate and he can take the game away from the opposition very quickly. I've seen him in a few one dayers for SA, where he's come in to 50/50 situations and he's just blown the opposition away scoring 90 or 100 off 60 or 70 balls. That's where I think he can be most damaging."

Whether he wins a chance to damage New Zealand depends on how the selectors wish to balance Australia's side in Hobart. But if a baggy green comes on Friday, Christian is confident he'll be ready.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on December 7, 2011, 22:59 GMT

    @davidpk - my response didn't get posted (twice). I was joking about the W/Cup, funny that hit the mark! 2ndly - I will stand by comment about O'Donnell being a better ODI bowler than Beefy. Their stats are similar, with SO'Ds S/rate being better. I did say ODIs! (I think you need to check their stats matey!) As for Beefy v Oz, he peaked about 12 years before he retired, a bit like Elvis before he died really. There was rocking Elvis/Botham & then there was Fat Elvis (jumpsuit) & Beefy!

  • Tom on December 7, 2011, 10:33 GMT

    @ jonesy2, lol. Fair enough, his bowling is actually better than his batting now as well. But if you think he's a better player than Flintoff then you're mad. This bloke Christian is a 20/20 player, got no chance of making it in any Test team, especially a struggling middle of the road one like Australia.

  • Craig on December 7, 2011, 4:46 GMT

    theres no way christian is a better all rounder then flintoff was! if it where the case chrisrtian would avg 45 with the bat and 25 with the ball in first class cricket and he is miles of those sort of numbers! flintoff is the whole reason cricket australia started its endless search for an all rounder, the best all rounder currently for australia is hussey, last two wickets have been sangakara (sri lankas best bat) and vettori ( new Zealand's best bat) currently has stats of 51.36 with the bat and 29.60 with the ball, no need for dan christian!

  • Roo on December 7, 2011, 4:05 GMT

    @Brydon Coverdale... Yes, Hussey admitted that he couldn't bowl 15 overs in an innings... So expecting Watson to open in Tests & bowl 15-20 overs is obviously a flawed processs... Adding Christian to the team - is this a message that Watson is moving back to no.6?... Leaving Christian out of the 11?... he is missing out on SS duties which for him are now finished until February next year... So with Warner playing just 1 Test & needing more experience who will miss out?... Hughes - probably not... Khawaja or Hussey?... Maybe Usie will get the chop again... Tough call, but with Marsh returning Boxing Day, he is the most obvious... & with Cummins out until probably the Adelaide Test, bowlers will be at a premium...

  • Roo on December 7, 2011, 4:00 GMT

    @davidpk... Flintoff did have a few purple patches but can never be considered a great allrounder... Not with his 31/32 record... Kallis was playing before him & still is playing Test cricket - he is the standout for that era... As for the speed of his bowling - so what?... when he doesn't have a low 20's bowling record like Hadlee & Khan... When I think of great 'past' allrounders, Richard Hadlee, Imran Khan, Kapil Dev & Ian Botham come to mind... Watsons batting at 38 & bowling at 28 do make Flintoffs record look average... Just give credit where credit is due is my attitude... I liked watching Botham... gave alot to cricket everywhere...

  • Randolph on December 6, 2011, 22:17 GMT

    @davidpk - flintoff is the most overrated alrounder ever. Dan Christian is already better than him and he hasn't even played a game yet. You seem to forget freddy getting pumpelled to all parts in the 06/07 ashes. His captaincy was possibly the worst in test match history, well maybe not, the South African KP also captained England.

  • david on December 6, 2011, 20:49 GMT

    joneys to be an all rounder you have to be able to bowl longer than 4 overs before injury kicks in. on 2 nd thoughts i agree with your reckoning he is your best. freddy only played 1/2 the games he should have and he was twice the all rounder watson will ever be. read your ex wicket keeper gilly autobiography and you would see who they would not or did not like facing before making such daft statements. or would they rather face dibby dobby watson or 90 mph freddy. dpk

  • david on December 6, 2011, 17:10 GMT

    meety. botham was lucky that the aussies were about during his reign. as every time he either batted or bowled they would wilt. as to a player been better just because a lesser cricketer ( check their stats ) had won a wc is nonsense, and for you to say it not up to your usual thought out cricketing utterances.dpk

  • Dummy4 on December 6, 2011, 11:51 GMT

    @Tony Munro, Symonds was born in England of West Indian heritage

  • Bryn on December 6, 2011, 10:51 GMT

    tomhedley -- considering australia have the best allrounder since kallis debuted, in watson, im not sure what on earth you are talking about

  • No featured comments at the moment.