Australia v Pakistan, Twenty20, Melbourne February 2, 2010

Nannes keen to grab 'big opportunity'

The only time Dirk Nannes has bowled for Australia was in front of a sparse crowd in Edinburgh in an ODI against Scotland last August. The match was so far off the radar back home in Melbourne that it wasn't even shown on pay television. Things will be different when he steps out at the MCG for Friday night's Twenty20 against Pakistan.

Nannes was chosen in Australia's squad for the two Twenty20s in England following the Ashes but the games in Manchester were washed out and he has had to wait five months for another opportunity. The 60,000-plus crowd expected at the MCG will be a far cry from the Scotland outing and Nannes knows that he can use the chance to press for a place in Australia's ICC World Twenty20 squad to head to the West Indies in May.

"That's massive for me," Nannes said of playing at his home ground. "I was pretty nervous in those few games in the UK. Unfortunately I didn't get a go but fortunately a few weeks ago we played in front of 43,000 here [in a Big Bash game]. I'm sure there'll be a bigger crowd again.

"Any chance to play is a big opportunity. Every game you play in the Big Bash is a massive opportunity to prove yourself. Hopefully I get a few more opportunities after [Friday] and who knows. It's great to be recognised to be in the Australian team and whether that, going forward, gets me a place to the World Cup that would be fantastic."

Should Nannes earn a ticket to the Caribbean it would complete a remarkable 12 months after he represented the Netherlands, the country of his parents' births, at the World Twenty20 in England last June. His Dutch team fared better than Australia on that occasion, beating England in the tournament opener while Ricky Ponting's men failed to win a game.

Since then, the Australian selectors have focused on choosing Twenty20 specialists, especially those who have starred in the Big Bash. By that criteria, Nannes is incomparable. He is the leading wicket-taker in the history of the competition, with 31 victims at 15.77 and an economy rate of 6.43. He was also fearsome at the Champions League last year, with nine wickets at an average of 8.77.

He is a difficult man to score off due to 150kph-plus speeds, an awkward left-arm angle and impressive accuracy. Although Nannes turns 34 in May, he is confident that he has a future in the shortest format, partly because as a former elite skier he came to top-level cricket late and didn't play for Victoria until he was 29.

"I'm a little bit different," Nannes said. "I'm not your standard 33-year-old bowler because I haven't played under-age cricket, I haven't played representative cricket that much, so I really haven't got the miles through my body that a normal 30-odd-year-old bowler has."

Australia have five Twenty20 internationals - this game against Pakistan, two against West Indies, and two in New Zealand - before the World Twenty20. One outstanding performance in that time could be enough for Nannes to head to the world tournament, where Michael Clarke and Cameron White will likely lead a side heavy on youth and possibly thin on Test and ODI experience.

"It's a bit of a different game," Nannes said. "I think there's a different mentality for sure, bowling Twenty20 as opposed to one-dayers. It's probably the first time they [the selectors] have gone down that track. In England they picked a different side and unfortunately we got rained off, so this is the first time really the new-look outfit has a chance to shine."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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