Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Sydney January 2, 2009

Excited Bollinger wants to keep it simple


Ricky Ponting is flanked by Australia's two debutants © Getty Images
 

Doug Bollinger is the sort of bowler that could quickly develop into an Australian cult figure. He is fast, swings the new and old ball and takes wickets regularly, especially at the SCG. It was those traits that earned him a spot ahead of Ben Hilfenhaus for the third Test, but he also brings colourful off-field characteristics.

A year ago he was bald, but now has locks as lush as the outfield, and he speaks with the honesty of a guy who grew up in western Sydney. After hearing about his recall to the squad this week he said he would give 150,000% for his country; he was told on Friday morning he would become Australia's 405th Test player.

When asked whether he would rest well the night before the game he said: "I hope I sleep well, I'll just try and take it as another cricket game, basically. If I think about it too much I'll go insane." Are you nervous? "Yeah."

In the past 14 months Bollinger has taken five five-wicket hauls at the SCG, including 6 for 47 in his last match here against South Australia. A Sheffield Shield season of 45 wickets at 15.44 in 2007-08 won him tours to West Indies and India, but he had to wait for an opportunity after slipping behind Peter Siddle, who he will share the new ball with.

"I'm just going to go out there and just do what I've been doing for New South Wales and try swinging the ball," he said. "Just try to intimidate batsmen and just try and be competitive. I'd just like to compete and do well, I'm not out there to make friends."

Graeme Smith and the South Africans do not know much about Bollinger, but they are learning quickly about his quirks. "Any guy who is going to try 150,000% in this game is someone we're going to have to respect," Smith said teasingly. The tourists have traded jokes about Bollinger's hair on the team bus, but say they won't use them on the field.

While Bollinger spoke off the cuff, Andrew McDonald, the other debutant, was more cautious. McDonald's long-term options are less certain - he comes behind Andrew Symonds and Shane Watson on the allrounders' list - and he was not sure that he would be batting six.

Jacques Kallis is the player McDonald has looked up to most during his career, but he was reluctant to describe the balance between his batting and bowling qualities. "I'll let you guys make up your own minds," he said. "I'm not going to put myself in any category." He bats at five or six for Victoria and chips in with regular overs.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo