But coach won't rule out playing four fast men December 6, 2007

Hogg's chances for Melbourne continue to rise

Cricinfo staff

Tim Nielsen: "It's the four best bowlers for the conditions we are faced with" © Getty Images

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, has given Brad Hogg a Boxing Day boost by saying the Australian team has better balance when it has a spinner. Hogg is the next slow-bowling option following Stuart MacGill's withdrawal for wrist surgery, but the case for playing four fast men has been considered by the coach Tim Nielsen.

Hilditch said they would look at that option only if the wicket was suitable. The MCG drop-in pitch played low and slow in the Victoria-New South Wales Pura Cup game and a similar surface would further improve Hogg's prospects.

"Test cricket is generally better with a make-up of a quality spinner, particularly going into a third, fourth or fifth day," Hilditch said in the Courier-Mail. "But I don't think we've ever been adverse to the concept.

"I don't think it's any secret that Australian cricket generally would prefer to go in with a spinner to give us the balance we need. Brad Hogg will do an excellent job if he is chosen."

Nielsen said Hogg had the best claims on a spot in the final XI because he was in the squad for the first Test against Sri Lanka. "That is an indication and you would expect he is the next cab off the rank," Nielsen said in the Sydney Morning Herald. "But Hoggy needs to keep working hard.

"It's the four best bowlers for the conditions we are faced with. In the ideal set-up, we have got a frontline spinner and we would certainly like to have one in the squad, I'm sure, but we will have to sit down in Melbourne and see what the wicket looks like."