Australian news August 26, 2009

Krejza keen to spin back into Test spot

Cricinfo staff

One of Australia's many forgotten spinners, Jason Krejza, has vowed to fight his way back into the Test side after the incumbent Nathan Hauritz was overlooked at The Oval, despite the pitch turning into a dustbowl. It was a decision that Australia later conceded was wrong, but it gave a strong indication that Hauritz was viewed more as a defensive option than a game-breaker.

On the other hand, the attacking Krejza is a potential matchwinner, as shown by his 12 wickets on Test debut in Nagpur last October. However, Krejza was quickly axed after his second Test against South Africa in Perth, when he leaked runs and finished with match figures of 1 for 204.

"I've worked on a lot of things, on bowling quicker at certain times," Krejza told the Age. "I got dropped for being too expensive and I went back and was the most economical bowler in Twenty20 cricket. Now I have to start the [domestic] season well and be better than any other spinner. I have to give them the confidence to pick me and that comes down to performances in state cricket."

To work back into Test calculations, Krejza would need to outperform Hauritz, who since returning to the Test side in November has exceeded expectations by taking 19 wickets at 35.26 from six matches. Like most observers, Krejza believes Hauritz should have played in the decider at The Oval but his omission means it is unclear how the selectors view Hauritz.

"It [the spinner's position] is still open, but Nathan did a good job over there and I think if he had played in that last Test he could have had an impact," Krejza said. "I know where I stand and I know what I want to do. I don't think I am very far behind and I think I've got something else to offer as well, every spinner is different. If I'm bowling well I still think I can be the best spinner in Australia."

The problem is that over the past 18 months it hasn't been obvious who the selectors believe is the best slow bowler in Australia. Since the start of 2008, seven frontline spinners have been used in Australia's Tests, while the batsman and part-time offspinner Marcus North also effectively filled that role at The Oval.

Of the men used, Brad Hogg and Stuart MacGill have retired, Beau Casson was dropped and has struggled for New South Wales since, Cameron White is again correctly being seen as a batting allrounder, and Bryce McGain has fallen significantly in the pecking order after his disastrous debut in Cape Town. Besides Hauritz, only Krejza, who recently played for Australia A, remains firmly in the mix.

Prior to Australia's tour of South Africa, McGain loomed as the most likely man to occupy the Test spin role for the next 12 months. However, the chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, said this week that his panel had been forced to look beyond McGain, 37.

"My discussions with Bryce are that he'd pretty much have to knock the house down in domestic cricket if he wanted to force his way back in, and he knows that," Hilditch said. "The reality is he's an older bowler and people in that age group just have to take opportunities if they present. Going into the Ashes we were comfortable with Nathan being our spinner of choice."

On the plus side for all the potential spinners, Australia won't need to pick their next Test squad until late November, when the West Indies arrive for three Tests. That gives slow bowlers in all states plenty of time to push their cases in the Sheffield Shield, although McGain, White, Casson and Hauritz will have less opportunity as the Champions League Twenty20 means Victoria and New South Wales start their domestic summer later than the other four states.