Cullen aims for Pakistan trip
Dan Cullen says he is desperate to tour Pakistan next month and his chances might be improving with the news Stuart MacGill is no certainty for a Pura Cup match starting on March 7. In a club game on the weekend MacGill made his return from surgery for carpal-tunnel syndrome on his bowling hand and he said he would definitely be fit for the Pakistan series.
However, he is running out of chances to prove that to the national selectors. His next opportunity at state level would be New South Wales' trip to Tasmania for a four-day match starting on February 29 but the state's coach Matthew Mott said the South Australia game beginning a week later was a more realistic goal.
"He would be pushing it beforehand, that is probably the best-case scenario I reckon at this stage," Mott told AAP. "It is such a peculiar injury and no one seems to now much about it. He doesn't want to let his team-mates down by going into a first class match and not being able to bowl.
"There are a couple of grade games between now and the next couple of games. A fresh and fit Stuart MacGill is an asset to any side but he has to weigh it up that he is near enough to 100% before putting himself under the glare of the public eye again."
The South Australia match is New South Wales' last Pura Cup game of the season besides the final, which they are almost certain to reach. If MacGill cannot prove his fitness during those appearances it may open the door for Cullen, who has a good chance of being picked for the Pakistan trip anyway.
This season Cullen has the unflattering first-class figures of 14 wickets at 51.71 from six matches but he believes that is not a reflection on how well he has bowled. "I look around at all the spinners this year in first class cricket and it just hasn't been the year for spinners," Cullen said. "I don't know why, tracks haven't really done too much for me.
"I compare myself against the spinners in every game and I've pretty much out-bowled the majority. I took ten wickets in the first three games and it was going well, but then you get a game where you're 12th man and you don't have a little bit of luck and everyone turns on you, but hopefully the people in the right places know you're going well."
The Pakistan series, which may not go ahead, is followed by three Tests in the West Indies and a four-Test tour of India scheduled for October, and Cullen hopes they will give him a chance to add to his sole Test cap. "Those tours are a major goal," he said. "Hopefully if I can finish the season well then I'll be able to get on them, especially with so many tours and Test matches over the next 12 months."