Clarke eyes White bowling challenge
To call Cameron White a reluctant bowler would be to greatly understate his position. For the past 57 matches of his international career White has been allowed to exist solely as a batsman, having not delivered a ball for Australia since the three he sent down against Scotland in August 2009. But all that changed on Thursday when he delivered four tidy overs against a Bangladesh Cricket Board XI at Fatullah. New captain Michael Clarke has stated his intention to revive White's flat legspin irrespective of the latter's noticeable lack of commitment to the art.
Xavier Doherty (nine overs, 1 for 45) and Steve Smith (seven overs, none for 49) fared poorly against their modest opposition, leaving Clarke to toy with White, and the brief audition prompted the captain to call White an allrounder. White, though, has always preferred the sobriquet of batsman.
"I would love to [get him bowling again], I think he's got plenty of talent, not only with the bat but with the ball as well [though] he hasn't bowled much of late for Australia," Clarke said. "He bowled [four overs] yesterday and bowled really well, so I think his bowling can play a big part going forward in Australia in the shorter form of the game, and I thought yesterday was a good opportunity to get a few overs under his belt."
Addressing White's reluctance to bowl, never more evident than when leading the Bushrangers, Clarke made a sound case for belief.
"I think giving him an opportunity is probably a good start [to building his confidence]," he said. "He's certainly got the talent, now it's about getting some overs under his belt so he gradually builds that confidence back in his bowling.
"Whitey is an allrounder, he is a batsman who can certainly bowl for us; it's just about now giving him the opportunity."
That opportunity coincides with an extended run of poor batting form, for it is now 17 matches since White passed 50, or since he managed to clobber the ball with his customary power. Pressed for his spot by David Hussey during the World Cup, he may now be duelling with Smith and Doherty on this tour. Clarke said he expected more from his two specialist slow bowlers.
"They're both two very good bowlers but haven't played too much in these conditions either, so yesterday was about adjusting to the conditions, he said. "The wicket was quite slow yesterday and had inconsistent turn. Playing in the subcontinent a big part of having success is not only how you face spin but how you bowl spin as well.
"I do believe we've got talent there with Xavier and young Smithy, White as well; so we've got some spin bowling options, hopefully we'll learn a bit from yesterday and bowl better tomorrow."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo