Australia in England 2012 July 3, 2012

Swann puts Doherty in the shade


Watching Shane Warne's 1993 Ashes demolition of England from the dressing room, Phil Tufnell is said to have remarked the legspinner's performances were "ruining my career" by extracting far superior results from the same surfaces. After two matches in which his unfussy left-arm spin has been milked for runs, Xavier Doherty is under a similar level of pressure from his opposite number, Graeme Swann.

Both bowlers have one wicket from two matches, but there the parallels end. Swann tied Australia's middle order in knots at The Oval, and should have taken more than the wicket of Shane Watson, while bowling eight overs for 27 runs. He was principally responsible for the mid-innings torpor the tourists fell into, resulting in a final total England chased with ease.

In marked contrast, England have not allowed Doherty to settle into a rhythm, the use of the reverse sweep by Jonathan Trott and Ian Bell encapsulating the comfort with which the hosts have played him. George Bailey, Doherty's state captain with Tasmania, admitted that Australia's slow bowler on tour was being set a difficult task, both by the batsmen he opposes and the spinner he is invariably compared to.

"They're not letting him settle, and that's something we're talking about with him," Bailey said ahead of the third ODI at Edgbaston. "The opposite of the way we've played Graeme Swann, they're really challenging Dohey from the moment he comes on, not giving him the chance to get into his rhythm and set the fields he wants.

"The way they're manipulating the field is making it difficult for him to settle, along with probably some pressure of knowing the opposition does have a spinner of the calibre of Swann. He's probably feeling that pressure a little bit, the comparisons will be there between the two spinners in the game. That's a challenge for him, but I've seen a lot of him, and every time he has been challenged, he normally finds a way to respond."

Just as Doherty must find a way to set the agenda for England's batsmen rather than reacting to theirs, so Australia's batsmen need to find a better way around Swann. A greater use of the sweep has been advocated by some, and Bailey said there were plenty of ways to gain greater change from Swann's bowling than he managed in a halting start to his innings at The Oval.

"I was pretty happy with how I played him Lord's, not so much the other day where I found it a little more difficult," Bailey said. "I thought he bowled better. That balance of keeping wickets in hand for the final onslaught and to get that total up versus weighing up the risk and reward of putting a bit more pressure on him is something we'll talk about.

"The sweep's a good shot … there are a myriad of options, changing where you bat, use your feet more, sweep more, you can hit shots you're trying to hit better. They're all options and I guess the way he's trying to bowl is try to limit your opportunities to play those shots."

Bailey is in a curious position in Australian cricket, as captain of the Twenty20 team while still aspiring to a regular place in the 50-over side and a first baggy green cap in Test cricket. He will stay on in England after the conclusion of the ODI series for the Australia A tour, which he said would be as important if not more so than these matches in determining whether he might return for the 2013 Ashes series.

"When Test spots have come up over the last few years it's been a matter of being in the right place at the right time and I don't think this would be any different," Bailey said. "I pushed really hard to be on that A tour. There's a lot of other cricket on around it and after it but it's something I feel is really important. I just don't feel this is a time to be missing any form of red-ball cricket.

"Proving that you can handle the pressure of international cricket and handle different situations, there's no doubt it's transferable from ODI cricket to Tests. But I think to back that up you are going to have to be scoring some long-form runs as well."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Geoffrey on July 6, 2012, 11:30 GMT

    @Meety- born in Darlinghurst and have never lived anywhere else.

  • Andrew on July 5, 2012, 12:09 GMT

    @RandyOZ - don't forget Hammond is a 100% tru-blue, bog average Ozzy! LOL!

  • Randolph on July 5, 2012, 9:13 GMT

    @Hammond - yeh, it reminded me of when yourself and co completely disappeared for the entire Pakistan series.

  • Stuart on July 5, 2012, 8:32 GMT

    What a limp article. Totally omits that, apart from McKay, who has been good, Doherty hasn't been any worse than any of the other bowlers. If he is dropped over these 2 games it will show what poor losers us Australians have become, especially as Doherty's ODI record in 2011/12 was 25wkts@30.44; 4.73rpo.

  • John on July 4, 2012, 20:19 GMT

    @AussieheldhostagebywifeinUK - Did you watch any of these ODIs. Swann strangled the run rate in both games and in the second game strangled Watson who was threatening to take the game away from England before taking his wicket. Admittedly Monty outbowled him in UAE. Re the rankings , it's all pretty transparent. England were humiliated in UAE and did not play well in SL but still came out of that series with a draw. Agreed that a number 1 side should not be beaten - esp whitewashed - by a number 5 side but you are talking like Eng lose everytime they travel where in truth the last time they lost (home or away) pre UAE was 3 years ago. I'm sure you must remember what happened the previous winter tour and we drew in SA too. Does a team who draws a home series to an 8th ranked side or a team who draws most of their series , most of which are at home deserve number 1 more?

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2012, 18:49 GMT

    To be fair to Doherty, any Aussie spinner that comes into the team will always have the same criticism. Shane Warne was a brilliant spinner but look at the attack he bowled in?? Doherty is an average cricketer but so is the aussie attack. Lee is a legend but hes not the same player he was, Mckay is an average cricketer at best, Johnson is useless, Watson is basically up and down meduim pace. Whereas the England attack has Swann who i still do not believe is anything special but having Anderson, Broad and either Finn, Bresnan in the attack helps him greatly.

  • Deepak on July 4, 2012, 13:46 GMT

    Doherty? Who the heck is he? Even Michael Clarke has outbowled him.

  • Geoffrey on July 4, 2012, 13:45 GMT

    @5wombats- it's funny that hey- how the commentary from a whole continent disappeared. The test team from the most powerful cricket board has a record losing streak and everyone in India just started concentrating on IPL5 and prophecising the end of test cricket.

  • Nicholas on July 4, 2012, 12:27 GMT

    Sometimes it seems that any spin-bowler who does not closely compare to Warne is destined for the chop... although Doherty seems to have been given an extended run for some reason.

  • Dummy4 on July 4, 2012, 12:20 GMT

    There are only two options really for Aus. A proper spinner that can take wickets, Lyon, or a spin bowling allrounder that can play the Symonds role, Maxwell. White and Smith are just short of international standard, it's as simple as that. Beer, Doherty, Okeefe and co. are just darts players masquerading as cricketers.

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