ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / News
Australia v NZ, Group A, World Cup 2011, Nagpur
Ponting hopes Krejza can relive debut heroics
February 24, 2011
Jason Krejza has spent more than two years in the cricket wilderness, so it's no surprise that he is loving every minute of his return to the top level. And if he was excited just to get the World Cup call-up, imagine how he has felt over the past few days as he prepared to return to Nagpur, the venue of debut Test, when he picked up 12 wickets, for Friday's clash against New Zealand.
"He's been pretty excited about coming back," Ricky Ponting said on Thursday afternoon, before the Australians hit the nets. "He wanted to come down and train early this morning, to tell you the truth, and we had to hold him back."
It was in November 2008 that offspinner Krejza made one of the most memorable debuts in recent history, when he collected 8 for 215 in the first innings against India, and another four wickets in the second. But the axe came after he failed to stem the runs against South Africa in his second Test, in Perth, the following month, and since then he has been in and out of the Tasmania side.
But now Krejza has reinvented himself as an ODI bowler; still a wicket-taker, but one who can play a defensive role when necessary. His chance came because of injuries to Nathan Hauritz, Xavier Doherty and Steve O'Keefe, and after a nervy debut against England in Perth, he has started to find his rhythm.
Against Zimbabwe, in Australia's opening game of the World Cup, he built on the good work of the fast men and collected 2 for 28 from his eight overs, and he will play an important role throughout the rest of the campaign. Ponting hopes that a confident return to Nagpur on Friday could kickstart a strong tournament for Krejza, who will share the spin duties with Steve Smith and the part-timers.
"To have that feeling, to know the venue and know the wicket conditions really well will definitely help him," Ponting said. "I think in all honesty, every game he's played on the tour, he's improved and got better. The first two practice games and then the hit-out against Zimbabwe, I think he bowled particularly well.
"He's a wicket-taker, we know that. He puts a lot of revs on the ball, he spins the ball and at different times, with conditions looking like they have so far, there are not many wickets that haven't spun during this tournament, and he could be a really important player for us as this tournament progresses."
Adding to the importance of spin in the match against New Zealand is the early start, with a 9.30 am (local) opening so that fans in Australia and New Zealand can watch it at a reasonable hour. That means that dew shouldn't be an issue.
"There's been a lot of talk about dew being a major factor but with it being a day game, it shouldn't be much of a factor so it should make the contest a bit more even and fairer," Ponting said. "Big scores have been made here and that indicates it's a very good batting wicket; even the game here played the other night, there were a lot of runs and the wicket seemed to hold together very well and didn't change much during the course of the game."
As well as hoping for a strong performance from their own slow bowlers, the Australians must ensure they handle New Zealand's spinners with aplomb, after struggling against Ray Price and his colleagues on Monday. Nathan McCullum is likely to open the bowling, while Daniel Vettori also practised with the new ball in the nets on Thursday, and Ponting said his men were ready for the challenge.
"We've had a good talk about that this morning. I think they might do that; we think it might be McCullum that might do it," he said. "We're also prepared for Vettori, and Price opened the bowling the other day for Zimbabwe and did a good job against the right-handers, so there's also that option there for New Zealand if that's the way they want to go. We'll be well prepared."
The Australians arrived in Nagpur on Wednesday night, after staying on for an extra couple of days in Ahmedabad after their opening game. The Chappell-Hadlee Trophy will also be up for grabs on Friday, while the players will wear black armbands and observe a minute's silence before the game in tribute to the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.