Bracken ready to swing it some more
Nathan Bracken has returned to a ground of fond memories and is waiting to add to his record. The swing-friendly Gabba was the scene of his Test debut and he picked up 6 for 27 in the Pura Cup final in March, setting up New South Wales' victory. On Thursday it should be the venue for his fourth Test.
With Shane Watson installed as the team's allrounder, Australia's bowling decision rests on whether Bracken's left-arm movement is preferred to Stuart MacGill's legspin. Bracken's variation and the traditionally humid conditions mean it should be a simple decision despite the success of the Shane Warne-MacGill combination during the Super Test. However, a start against West Indies this week will not guarantee a fulltime place for the summer after Trevor Hohns indicated MacGill would be a strong contender for the second and third matches in Hobart and Adelaide.
"If I can play the whole series then great," Bracken said as the ground staff rolled grass clippings into an already hard pitch. "But if I get called in because of conditions then that's how it is. I've got to make it so that when they do want to play the extra quick I'm the one."
Bracken's bowling has improved dramatically since he captured six wickets in three Tests against India in 2003-04 and he credited Bruce Reid, the former Australia left-arm bowler, for his resurgence. He'd been swinging the ball properly for only four months as he ran in on debut, but he now has two-and-a-half years of understanding and fine-tuning.
"During the [India] series when the ball wasn't swinging I didn't know how to change that," he said. "Now I'm able to monitor how I'm going and do things on the spot. Yesterday at training I didn't feel comfortable so I went aside with a red and white ball, bowled three or four balls, got it right and started swinging the ball."
Brisbane has also been helpful to Bracken under match conditions and the surface will give him the chance to seal a place as the summer's on-call seam option. "I enjoy coming up here and the last three times I've got five, four and six wickets," he said. "Ideally it'd be great taking five-for, but it's just great getting out there. If I become a key member I can't be overlooked."