But Australia wait to decide on bowling line-up December 19, 2007

Hogg banks on MCG pitch

Cricinfo staff



Brad Hogg's recent track record at the MCG could win him his fifth Test appearance when Australia take on India on Boxing Day © Getty Images

Brad Hogg hopes Melbourne's drop-in pitch will help earn him a Test recall after a four-year absence. The condition of the MCG surface will be crucial for Australia's selectors as they decide between four fast men or the more likely make-up of three quicks and Hogg.

The pitch has led to drawn-out first-class games this season, but Hogg was able to break through with eight wickets to lead Western Australia to a Pura Cup victory in October. "I liked it as a spin bowler," Hogg said of the ground in the Australian. "It's always in your favour having a good performance there under your belt."

Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, will not analyse the pitch only to see how lively it will be for the fast men but also to consider how the surface will cause wear to the ball. "I don't think it's necessarily a matter of how much juice it has in it, we'll look at whether we think it's going to reverse, which is a big issue for Taity and all the quicks," Hilditch told AAP. "Whether that'll be more of a factor come the end of the game than spin, you really can't decide that until you see the wicket."

Hilditch said a balanced attack would be selected to suit the conditions. "The pace bowlers are bowling particularly well and they probably are a little more proven at Test level at this point," he said, "but Hoggy's a really experienced spinner."

Stuart MacGill's wrist surgery has allowed Hogg, 36, a chance to play against India after he was part of the squad for the opening Test against Sri Lanka in November. "To be able to represent Australia in a Boxing Day Test, even if I'm 12th man, makes me ecstatic," Hogg, who has appeared in four Tests, said. "It's just good to achieve something that you've always wanted to as a child."

Stuart Clark, who is a certain starter on Boxing Day, "wasn't that impressed" when he played a Pura Cup game at the ground for New South Wales. "The pitch was very hard work for bowlers," he told the Courier-Mail.

"Let's hope they can do something about it and make it more competitive for everyone, not just low and slow and how the batters want it. The easiest way to sum it up was by about the 10th over of each innings there was only one slip in place and a lot of short covers."

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