Bowlers picked in 12-man outfit December 18, 2007

Hogg and Tait push for Test place



Shaun Tait has sped back into the Australia squad after proving his fitness against New Zealand © Getty Images
Brad Hogg will face another last-minute battle to resume his Test career after he was named in a 12-man squad alongside Shaun Tait for the first match against India. Hogg lost a bowl-off to Stuart MacGill for the opening game of the Sri Lanka series, but he is now in a different fight as the selectors decide whether to field an all-pace attack at the MCG on Boxing Day or include his left-arm spin.

Steve Waugh has pushed for Hogg's inclusion and Harbhajan Singh would love him to play, believing he is significantly inferior to MacGill or Shane Warne. "Brad deserves the opportunity to once again represent Australia in Test cricket," Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said.

Hogg, who has not appeared in a Test since 2003, has been an outstanding performer in Australia's one-day sides, but he has struggled in first-class fixtures since taking eight wickets against Victoria, adding another five victims in three games. With MacGill out following wrist surgery for at least two matches, and probably the entire series, Hogg has an opportunity to play a string of games.

However, containing India's batsmen during 25 overs a day is a much harder task for Hogg than attacking them during a one-day international when they are obliged to hit out. India's plans could involve going after Hogg or sitting on him - and his hard-to-pick wrong'un - while waiting for a loose delivery. The threats are much easier than the dangers provided by Tait.

India have come from a series on their low-bouncing pitches and they have only three days to acclimatise during a match against Victoria at the Junction Oval. Tait's pace has been fierce against New Zealand over the past week and Australia will wait to analyse the drop-in surface at the MCG before making a call. Originally in the opening squad for Sri Lanka, Tait pulled out with injury and is looking to play his first Test since 2005 after regaining his spot from Ben Hilfenhaus.

Australia already have three bowlers who complement each other, with Brett Lee providing the pace, Stuart Clark the consistent steep bounce and Mitchell Johnson the left-arm variety. If four fast men were employed Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds could break things up with their part-time spin, but it is a risky option against players who mastered MacGill and Shane Warne in previous series.

Australia squad Matthew Hayden, Phil Jaques, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist (wk), Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Stuart Clark, Mitchell Johnson, Shaun Tait.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo

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