Lehmann and Gillespie push for spinner at MCG
The South Australians Darren Lehmann and Jason Gillespie have called for Australia to play a spinner on Boxing Day, but their former international team-mate Michael Kasprowicz believes four fast men could be used if Stuart MacGill is not fit. MacGill's hand and knee problems have created the discussion and Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, has talked about a full pace attack if the conditions suit.
"I always think you've got to pick a spinner," Lehmann said in the Australian. "I hear they are talking about and thinking about a fourth seamer, but it depends what the wicket is like, generally the ball spins on the last few days at Melbourne."
Indian batsmen usually perform strongly against slow bowling and Australia's fast men will try to upset them with rising deliveries during the four Tests. However, Lehmann believes the local conditions will also support the tweakers. "We've had more success in Australia against the Indians with spin because it bounces and spins here more than it does in India, so it plays quite differently," he said.
Kasprowicz felt pace was the way forward in Melbourne. "It's a big opportunity to play four quicks if MacGill isn't fit,'' he told AAP. "Indians play spin very well, they're quite accustomed to spin bowlers, so I think playing four quicks and hitting them with a pace assault is not the worst idea."
Gillespie said playing a slow bowler against India would be sensible. "I must admit I like to be in a team where there is a quality spinner and for mine MacGill is the No. 1 spinner in Australia,'' Gillespie said. "On one hand it would be exciting to see four quicks go at it, but for the balance of the line-up having a front-line spinner is beneficial.''
If MacGill is ruled out of the first Test Brad Hogg, who was part of the opening squad for the Sri Lanka series, would come in. Hogg did not take a wicket in the Pura Cup game against South Australia, but Tom Moody, the Western Australia coach, said he was the form spinner in the country, having taken 13 first-class victims for the season.
"It would be unfair to judge him on that match alone because his form over the last month has been outstanding," Moody said in the Australian. "Who knows what tactics Ricky [Ponting] and Tim [Nielsen] go in with, but at the end of the day he is experienced enough and versatile enough to play whatever role is required of him."