Hauritz heads for the scenic route
Even when Nathan Hauritz is being helped it feels like he's getting hurt. After his struggles in India he needs lots of overs in home comforts. It's easy to think he'll get that when he plays for New South Wales against Queensland in the Sheffield Shield from Sunday. Except the game is at the Gabba.
For Shield matches the ground is often a place where state spin bowlers operate as waiters for the fast men. If that happens to Hauritz he'll be wishing he's with the one-day squad, where he's almost guaranteed 60 balls a game, instead of waiting to join it for the final two matches of the Sri Lanka series.
Brisbane, of course, is the venue for the first Ashes Test so if he gets a decent chance he can attempt to persuade the selectors that four fast men plus Marcus North's offspin is not the way to go against England. It's a big if. Steve O'Keefe is doing well for the Blues and last summer the Gabba hosted a total of 200 overs of spin in five Shield encounters. In three of those games all the slow men from both sides combined for fewer than 27 overs.
Hauritz's first-class appointment also allows an international trial for Xavier Doherty, a teasing left-arm orthodox from Tasmania. Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, wants to take two spinners to the subcontinent for the World Cup early next year and thinks someone of Doherty's style would be ideal. Which makes it strange that Doherty wasn't on the just finished trip to India.
Doherty is suddenly a contender for the World Cup and Hauritz's spot, while Steve Smith, the batsman-legspinner, is also in the one-day squad. Despite the rise of the fresh men, the shuffling of Hauritz seems unhelpful, especially as he is a player who requires more support than a typical international.
Still, juggling the demands of the players so close to the Ashes is tricky. The Test batsmen Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson, Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke will be involved in the limited-overs campaign, while Marcus North captains Western Australia and Simon Katich hopes to recover from a broken thumb.
Mitchell Johnson and Peter Siddle will warm-up for the main event with short one-day spells next week; Ben Hilfenhaus is not involved in the series but is currently playing alongside Doherty at the MCG. Doug Bollinger will use the time to recover from the stomach injury that stopped him during the first Test against India.
The allrounder Watson said it was important for all the members of the attack to get some decent overs in before the Ashes. "As a bowler the best way to get into a good groove is to be out there in the middle," he told ESPNcricinfo. "No matter how much training you do, it's never the same as getting out there. It's a perfect preparation for all the bowlers to be able to get out there."
Watson is happy with the schedule after being rested from the one-day segment of the India tour, along with Ponting and Johnson. "In the end it's what we've got in front of us," he said. "It's not a bad thing at all to be playing these [one-day] games." When the first one is on Hauritz will be with his state side at the Gabba.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo