Hayden still in ODI frame - Nielsen
Matthew Hayden will not be pressured out of one-day cricket before he is ready despite Australia's coach Tim Nielsen tipping Shaun Marsh and Shane Watson as the openers most likely to lead Australia's next World Cup defence. Marsh and Watson grabbed their opportunities when they came together in the West Indies in June and an ongoing heel injury for Hayden, 36, has allowed them to continue their success against Bangladesh.
The younger men have established a strong bond and it is a combination Nielsen is keen to foster. Hayden, the player of the 2007 World Cup, has previously said he knows his time is running out in ODIs but Nielsen said Hayden deserved the chance to depart on his terms.
"We'll sit down with him and the selectors will sit down with him and work out where he's moving over the next 12 months and how he'd like to go about that," Nielsen said. "We really do think it's important to respect senior players' ideas of how they'd like to go out, as long as they're still performing and contributing to the group."
Hayden was originally named in the squad to take on Bangladesh but when the Champions Trophy was postponed Cricket Australia's medical staff decided it was the perfect opportunity to give his troublesome achilles tendon extra recovery time. Marsh has made two half-centuries in his two innings in Darwin and there is a chance he and Watson will still be opening at the World Cup in the subcontinent in two and a half years.
"They could be around until the next World Cup and Haydos has made no secret of the fact that he doesn't think he will be," Nielsen said. "I'm sure that Shaun and Shane will have buckets of opportunities to open the batting together for Australia in the future. We don't need to rush that process too much, there is a lot of time before the World Cup."
The Bangladesh games have given several fringe players like Marsh the chance to impress with Hayden, Ricky Ponting, Brett Lee and Andrew Symonds all missing. One man Australia have been eager to trial is Cameron White, who they hope can grow into the role of No. 1 limited-overs spinner.
White still sends down more loose balls than he would like but his seven-over spell on Wednesday was his longest in a one-day international. He has grabbed five wickets in the two Darwin games - his previous 18 ODIs brought only four victims - and Nielsen hopes White's confidence is building.
"If you have a look back at Brad Hogg's career he probably started in a similar vein, bowling his lots of six and seven, fielding well and contributing with the bat, a little bit similar to what Whitey's doing at the moment," Nielsen said. "I'm a huge believer in the fact the only way to learn to play international cricket is by playing it."
White will gain extra experience when he leads the Australia A one-day team in India later this month ahead of the senior squad's Test tour in October. Three other spinners are already in India for Australia A's three-day games and while Bryce McGain made the first bid for inclusion in the Test squad, Nielsen hopes the selectors do not judge McGain, Beau Casson and Jason Krejza on figures alone.
Michael Clarke is also expected to take on a greater bowling workload in India - especially if Symonds does not tour - where he picked up an astonishing 6 for 9 in just his fourth Test. Clarke has had back problems and does not bowl a lot at training but Nielsen said he would definitely be an important part of the attack.
"It's lucky and it's good that he's a natural bowler," he said. "He can pick up a ball and pretty well lob it most of the time where he wants to. So I'd expect that he and Andrew, if he's around the place, would do a lot of support of our full-time bowlers in that series."
Australia's squad for the India Tests will be named next week after the conclusion of the two Australia A matches. The group will be boosted by the return of Lee, who has declared himself ready to return after he pulled out of the Bangladesh series to deal with the break-up of his marriage.
Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo