New Zealand in Australia 2011-12 November 24, 2011

Ailing Watson puts Copeland in the frame

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Though Trent Copeland does not want to be considered Australian cricket's best reserve, he agrees a bleak injury prognosis for Shane Watson has greatly enhanced his chances of taking part in the first Test against New Zealand in Brisbane.

Having performed creditably in his first three Tests in Sri Lanka, Copeland found himself out of the team in South Africa, shaded first by Peter Siddle and later Pat Cummins.

However the likelihood of Watson's hamstring strain keeping him out of the Gabba Test means that Copeland's knack for long spells will be valuable to a team lacking an allrounder. His ability to field in the slips, where Watson is usually posted, is another useful attribute.

"That does help, and now I'm not in the XI, it may give me an extra opportunity," Copeland told ESPNcricinfo. "But I certainly don't look at it that way, I want to be in the best XI at all times, not just when people are injured.

"In Sri Lanka I was picked where there was not one bowler in Australia injured but I was able to be in the best XI for three Tests. Provided the right situation occurs and the right conditions are there, then I'm still in the mix no matter who's fit or who's firing and all that kind of stuff."

Copeland will turn out for New South Wales in a Sheffield Shield match against Western Australia at the SCG from Friday, having been ruled ineligible for Australia A's fixture against New Zealand, beginning a day earlier, due to his 12th man duties in Johannesburg.

Originally ruled out of the Shield fixture as well as the tour match, Copeland was given permission to play a match ahead of the Gabba Test by Australia's captain Michael Clarke.

"Talking common sense as he does, he thought this Shield game starts the when the Test squad gets named and it is a good opportunity if I'm in that squad to get some match practice in beforehand, having bowled in the nets for quite a while the last couple of weeks," Copeland said. "If I'm not in the squad then it gives me the opportunity to take some wickets and put my name back up in lights."

The scheduling quirk may also work in Copeland's favour, for Ben Cutting, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson and Ben Hilfenhaus were given some harsh treatment by Brendon McCullum at Allan Border Field.

The match at the SCG is set to be played on a green tinged pitch due to a series of downpours in Sydney over the past week, and Copeland said his objectives were singular - making sure his control was at the precise level it needed to be to conquer international batsmen.

"I want to go through the things I want to achieve, and whether I take no wickets or 10 wickets I'm not too fussed about that," Copeland said. "It's about being comfortable, ticking the boxes and getting preparation right in terms of building pressure, and when I want to bowl the ball in a certain spot that I actually land it there. My main asset is my control and my persistence and that sort of stuff, so I just want to be able to execute that well this week."

Copeland's time on boundary's edge in South Africa made him a keen observer of others, as he learned how best to meet the needs of the playing XI. But it also filled him with motivation to return to the team, on merit as well as through injuries to others.

"You can't help but learn things about how other people cope in pressure situations and how you can help and how you can contribute as the 12th, 13th, 14th man on tour," Copeland said. "I learned a lot about that, but it also gives you the drive to get back into the team so you don't have to do that, you can just worry about your own performances and helping the team win the game."

The Wanderers victory was significant for many reasons, not least the emergence of Pat Cummins, but Copeland disagreed with the contention that a defeat would have sent the team into another spiral of self-doubt and poor results.

"It is probably a catalyst for good things to happen," Copeland said. "The question has been posed that it was a necessary win and really we were on the brink of bad things and all this kind of stuff, but you wouldn't feel that if you're in the group. Michael Clarke's got a very positive attitude about things, and honestly believes we're on the cusp of good things, and so do I.

"We weren't far off producing a really good first Test, apart from that second innings batting display, and we really turned it around in the second Test and unearthed a potential superstar in Pat Cummins. There's good things happening all around the place, everyone wants to get better every day, and no doubt Mickey Arthur is going to help that. It could prove to be one of those summers where Australian cricket turns a corner."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • RandyOZ on November 26, 2011, 9:18 GMT

    Why am I the only one who sees how rubbish Siddle is? Get him out the team!

  • zenboomerang on November 25, 2011, 3:42 GMT

    With Cummins, Harris, Johnson, Watson & Marsh now ruled out (injuries) from the first Test it leaves a lot of room for 2 new pacemen & an allrounder... Copeland, Pattinson, Cutting, Starc, Butterworth, Christian & Siddle as the selectors (Clarke) will want at least 1 experienced fast bowler in the team...

  • dsig3 on November 25, 2011, 3:16 GMT

    Copeland has to play. Possibly should have been playing in SA instead of Siddle. Now there is no excuse. Myself and probably alot of Aus supporters will grit their teeth when he opens the bowling with 116km/h dobblers but he is very good. Its just hard to accept when the opening bowler for Aus is only as quick as the local club level bowler.

  • Aussierise on November 25, 2011, 1:21 GMT

    Its pretty clear that Aussies have injury problems with almost all of their bowlers (99% of them anyway). Even in the state teams they are breaking down as well. Not sure all this latest 21st century sport science is working :)?? Basically this is proof that Australia need to get a core group of about 5-7 fast bowlers all of which should be variable and then simply selected upon 'horses for courses motto' almost like a bowling 'super squad' depending on the situation and pitch - e.g. right arm, left arm, swing, bounce, workhorse, into the breeze, down breeze etc. On top of this we also need probably 2-3 allrounders in the team to assist with best team balance. watson/christian/cutting/coulter nile/ maxwell/ butterworth/ faulkner/ m marsh/ mcdonald/ henriques. If Australia has one strength atm it is certainly with our abundance of developing allrounders....something which we could exploit in other world teams!! Watson to bat4, clarke 5, paine 6, christian 7, cutting 8, coulternile 9,

  • MinusZero on November 25, 2011, 1:11 GMT

    Hilfenhaus's time is over. He is not an opening test bowler. His figures are worse than Johnson!

  • Meety on November 25, 2011, 0:35 GMT

    @ kickittome70 - mate Mitch Marsh is a massive talent but IMO, would only be close to the test side a specialist bowler batting @ #8 or #9, his FC form with the bat is underwhelming! @Facebook User - Bollinger has an injury cloud as well!

  • Wefinishthis on November 24, 2011, 23:55 GMT

    Harris, Cummins and Copeland would be ideal, but with Harris or Cummins injured, I think Cutting and Butterworth should be next in line. I really want to see O'Keefe in for Lyon though!

  • Wozza-CY on November 24, 2011, 22:55 GMT

    The pressure Copeland was able to build on the Sri Lankan batsmen on batting friendly pitches was key to the success of the team in SL. Ironically, when was able to bowl accurately, the other bowlers followed suit and when he wasn't there they became more eratic. That's why he should be in the team for Brisbane. He's tall & surprises people with bounce, so Brisbane should suit him as well. He should open the bowling with Cummins with Cutting as first change (don't bowl Cutting fifth change after the spinner)!

  • Wefinishthis on November 24, 2011, 22:39 GMT

    Warner, Khawaja, Marsh, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Wade, O'Keefe, Harris, Copeland, Cummins. If Harris or Cummins are not fit, Cutting, Butterworth, Faulkner, Pattinson or Coulter-Nile should come in.

    For the love of God, no Johnson, no Siddle and definitely NO Hilfenhaus.

    On the batting side, had Rogers and D.Hussey been in the side back when we were playing the West Indies at home like they should have been, a quality batting lineup wouldn't have been in such short supply like it is now.

  • kickittome70 on November 24, 2011, 12:25 GMT

    I'd stick Mitchell Marsh at 6 and have him bowl first change

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