England v Australia, 1st npower Test, Cardiff, 5th day July 12, 2009

Sorry, Haury

A letter of apology to Nathan Hauritz from The Hauritzer Fan Club

Dear Nathan,

As you know, it's sometimes hard for Australians to apologise, but we're sorry for the way we've thought since you came back into the Test team in November. Before getting too far in, don't worry, we know you're not in the Shane Warne category. It's just that we have realised we like having you in the team and you can contribute in a healthy way. It will be great to see you delivering a few overs at the home of cricket from Thursday.

Out-bowling Monty Panesar and Graeme Swann in favourable surrounds deserves to be the highlight of your unconventional career. These are men who know the conditions, have succeeded in them and played more Tests than you. They should have led England to a convincing performance in the opening Test, but they froze and spluttered, like we expected you to do.

After the first innings you had more wickets than both of them and on the final day your deliveries spat in unfamiliar ways, giving you three more victims. Sometimes there were five close men around the bat - and none of them were in danger of being hurt. It was a big difference to the four that were employed on the boundary to Kevin Pietersen on Wednesday, and you attacked, forgetting the containment and going for breakthroughs. Overall figures of 6 for 158 from 60.5 overs didn't win the Man-of-the-Match prize or the game, but they sealed your status as a Test bowler.

All that was missing was another wicket, but any of the bowlers could be blamed for missing that. By the end you were tired and your bowling arm must have been sore. Thirty-seven second-innings overs will do that, and tail-enders are annoying when all they think about is defence. The fatigue led to that misfield at point late in the day.

It sounded fanciful at the time, but you were right when you talked about your method before the Ashes squad was picked. "I see that when the game comes into the fourth or fifth day I can be more aggressive and set more aggressive fields, and bowl different lines," you said. "Early on, I bowl tighter lines."

Andrew Strauss and Matt Prior failed to deal with the attacking mindset before lunch on the final day. Strauss didn't spot the extra bounce outside off stump, brushing an edge to Brad Haddin, and Prior thought he could late cut you before the ball leapt and spun towards him on the way to Michael Clarke at slip. Less than half an hour before tea Stuart Broad played back to one that didn't turn and was lbw. It was clever, well bowled. Of course you know all this, but it's worth repeating. Like us, England's batsmen were silly to underestimate you for this game.

After day one the Sun ran the headline "Madcap KP swept aside by no-hoper Hauritz", but Pietersen warned us that you were a good operator. "He's a clever bowler, and he's no fool," he said. We never thought you were a fool, and have always found you a genuine, nice man. It was just the spin that wasn't very convincing.

Not in Adelaide on your return, when you were blasted before lunch by Aaron Redmond, after four years of toiling in club, 2nd XI and state cricket. Or during the tour games here when the second and third rungs of England county batsmen treated you as well as Queensland's captain on your return from that 2004 Test debut in India.

We're sorry for laughing at Worcester when we compared you to Warne, who never showed his full hand during tour games. There were only two wickets in two matches and you wrote in your Cricket Australia blog how nervous and disappointed you had been. Nobody expected that less than a week later you would cause discomfort for England batsmen every day you bowled. They were tentative and unsure.

After your troubles in Queensland and New South Wales, we didn't think you would appear in another Test. Now you've played a crucial part on the final day, operating like a man in his 50th match instead of fifth. You can now appeal without feeling self-conscious.

To add to this apology, we'd like to give you the chance to choose your own nickname. "Haury" is a bit bland and the "Hauricane" was an ironic moniker handed out from the press box. It was coined back in the days when the revolutions you created on the ball barely caused a zephyr. How about the "Hauritzer"? It's snappier, suits you, and doesn't cause people to laugh when they hear it. The howitzer is a cannon that can cause moderate damage from shells delivered with a high trajectory, just like your bowling. It's yours if you like it.

Now we know what you're capable of, we look forward to watching you some more. Congratulations on Cardiff. May Lord's turn as much as Sophia Gardens. May all batsmen be as meek as England's specialists. And may you make it to the end of the series.

Yours in spin,

The Hauritzer Fan Club

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo