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September 1, 2008
The loss of Andrew Symonds from Australia's team has opened a door for Cameron White during the series against Bangladesh. One of the few batsmen in Australia who can on occasions match Symonds for sheer power, White's legspin will also become more important if Symonds does not return to the one-day team soon.
In the West Indies this year, Australia were often happy to rely on the part-time slow bowling of Symonds and Michael Clarke instead of including a specialist to replace the retired Brad Hogg. White bowled in only one of the games in the Caribbean but he made the most of his chance against Bangladesh on Saturday, when he took a career-best 3 for 5.
More than any other player, White's place in the team could be affected by the return of Symonds. But he said the squad still had no idea exactly what frame of mind Symonds was in after being sent home from the Darwin series for going fishing.
"I don't think the team really knows," White said. "Obviously no-one's really spoken to Andrew over the last couple of days so only Andrew will know what his mental state is and he'll take the time and work it out for himself I guess."
In the meantime, White is happy to take on as much bowling responsibility as he can. He nearly doubled his career ODI wicket tally on Saturday - he had four victims from his previous 18 games - but he sent down only ten balls as the Bangladesh lower order capitulated in the 180-run loss.
Although he has played mostly as a batting allrounder for Victoria in the past few seasons, White is keen to get plenty of overs at the top level to prove he can handle the role of frontline spinner. Not a huge turner of the ball, White relies heavily on a stock top-spinner and he said he was unsure how much his bowling had improved lately.
"It's hard to get a gauge because I haven't bowled a hell of a lot," White said. "I'm happy with the way I'm bowling in the nets at the moment. I can probably bowl as much as I like in the nets but under the pressures of the game is where it counts the most and that's where I have to prove to myself and my team-mates and opposition that I can do it.
"It's just getting used to bowling at this level and dealing with the pressures that sort of comes with it. So the more bowling I get the better, I guess. It was nice to get a few wickets but it would have been nice to get a few overs under the belt as well."
He will have more opportunities to hone his legspin when he captains Australia A in India next month and he is keen to send down as close as possible to ten overs in each of the four one-dayers. The situation could be similar to Victoria, where he wants to bowl more but finds it difficult to juggle his responsibilities as captain with his desires as a bowler.
"A lot of bowling would be better for me but maybe not necessarily for the team," White said. "So obviously as the captain you have to do what's best for the team in the game situation and your gut feel."
For now, White is happy to take whatever chances he gets in the remaining two games against Bangladesh. If that means more than ten deliveries in each match, all the better.
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