Australian cricket September 28, 2008

Bracken puzzled at prolonged Test exclusion

Cricinfo staff

Nathan Bracken: "I have people come up to me on the street who say they can't understand why I don't make the Test team because they see me take wickets in the ODIs" © AFP

Nathan Bracken, the Australian fast bowler, says he does not know what else he must do to make Australia's Test side. Despite remaining one of Australia's top one-day international bowlers, Bracken has played only five Tests and has been overtaken by several less experienced men in the Test queue.

"I have done everything - and more - that has been asked of me by Cricket Australia," Bracken told the Sun-Herald. "They pointed out a few areas I needed to work on. I have ticked off each and every box on that list.

"I have worked hard on and off the field. I go to the gym in my own time, I even did early-morning boxing classes with the former world-title contender Troy Waters before I needed to rest my knee after surgery. I do plenty of net bowling sessions, I work on my batting where possible and think a lot about my bowling and how to improve. As soon I received the summer schedule I was thinking about where I wanted to be at certain stages of the summer season."

Despite taking 203 first-class wickets, Bracken - who has 148 wickets from 92 ODIs - is primarily seen as a limited-overs bowler. In August, Bracken made it to the top of the ICC rankings for ODI bowlers. In his view, that should have counted in his favour when it came time to pick Australia's Test squad.

"It's funny but I have people come up to me on the street - and they're cricket supporters, not former Test players or critics - who say they can't understand why I don't make the Test team because they see me take wickets in the one-dayers," he said. "Their view is if I can take wickets in the one-dayers then I should be able to get them in the longer form. It's my view, too. Maybe they should send letters and emails to the selectors."

Bracken, 31, said no one from Cricket Australia spoke to him about his non-selection. He did, however, admit that a decision to bowl against India at the SCG in 2004, despite having a groin injury, affected his Test chances. Bracken went wicketless for 133 runs, but said he decided to bowl, even on three paces, "for all the right reasons".

"I have no doubt about that. I was asked by someone I respected to keep bowling despite the injury," he said. "It wasn't my best bowling performance but because it was my captain's last game and I wanted to do what I could for Steve [Waugh].

"I did it for all the right reasons and that was important. I'd also been told there was a perception that I struggled to play with injury or through pain. I thought that view might change after that Test. It actually helped me mentally, taught me to push through things. Last season I played with a knee injury up until it reached the stage where I needed an operation."

Asked if he would consider leaving Australia to play exclusively in lucrative Twenty20 leagues, such as the IPL or Stanford competitions, Bracken said it had crossed his mind. "Twenty20 is already very popular and it is only getting bigger. It is something a lot of players will probably consider because it is played in a relatively short amount of time, the money is good and you're able to play cricket. And we all love playing cricket."