Rogers to make Test debut and Tait recalled
Chris Rogers will make his Test debut at his home ground the WACA in Perth, Australia's captain Ricky Ponting has confirmed, as Matthew Hayden continues to struggle with his hamstring problem. Shaun Tait will be recalled to the attack, as expected, with the team opting for four quick bowlers meaning the spinner Brad Hogg misses out.
Rogers was the other front runner alongside Phil Jaques to replace Justin Langer as opener alongside Hayden once Langer retired at the beginning of 2007. An untimely appendix problem ruled Rogers out of contention for the Sri Lanka series, the first after Langer had gone, and Jaques quickly sealed his place with high scores.
Now the pair will open together in one of Australia's most inexperienced Test opening pairs in years although both have plenty of state experience under their belts. "He's over the moon and has some good form under his belt leading into his Test," Ponting said of Rogers. "Playing in home conditions will be a great advantage. It probably wouldn't matter where he debuted but just to walk out on your own turf and mark centre in a Test will be a great thrill for him."
Hayden, who didn't have a bat today, spent most of the morning running around the field. He struggled towards the end, moving on to have a chat with chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch and coach Tim Nielsen. "We had quite a long discussion after training," said Ponting. "He's sort of gone from 50% running yesterday to 70-80% running today. But with the things that happened in the last Test, having a runner in the second innings, we just felt it was too much of a risk. Just in case the niggle did blow up in the first innings, he wouldn't be allowed a runner then. It will give him obviously this week and after this to get alright for Adelaide."
Ponting was obviously delighted at the prospect of Tait going flat out on this pitch, one that has the reputation of being one of the bounciest in the world. "Tait gives us balance," he said with a gleam in his eye. "Tait and Lee will be our impact bowlers - it gives Lee a bit more leeway about going all out, not conserving his energy for the second innings. I'm really excited. The wicket looks good, has a bit of grass and it's getting back to WACA of old."
Tait pulled up a bit stiff after practice yesterday but Ponting cleared the air about his fitness. "He felt a bit of tightness and stiffness in his groin after practice yesterday," he said. "That's why he came in today to make sure everything was alright. There's nothing at all. He had a reasonable bowl in the nets and he's pulled up 100%. He's been waiting in the wings all of this season. He's been bowling fact and not had an opportunity. Our coach went and watched him in the Twenty20 game and said his pace was right up there."
Siddhartha Vaidyanathan is an assistant editor at Cricinfo