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October 14, 2008
Cameron White was worn out and relieved at the end of his first Test. There had been no embarrassing two-bounce deliveries or savage treatment from the India batsmen, and he had proved to the team he would be of use during the remaining three matches.
Despite the one wicket, White's legspin exceeded Ricky Ponting's expectations in Bangalore. He had zip, overspin and his control was surprisingly tight. However, White is an option for Australia rather than a long-term answer, as Ponting showed, using him as the sixth bowler in the second innings after Michael Clarke had a couple of spells with his part-time offerings.
At the end of the match Ponting said Australia had missed a quality spinner on the final day. He was not downgrading White's contribution, but being realistic. White is a batsman who bowls a bit. In his early days his characteristics - a blond, Victorian legspinner - earned him heavy comparisons with Shane Warne, but nobody believes he will develop into a world-class bowler. The team will be satisfied if he becomes a solid contributor.
White will be happy if he can find a way to relax in the game's most exacting arena. "I'm happy to get it out of the road and relieved the game is finished," he said. "I felt under pressure the whole time and was pretty nervous the whole way through."
He said he was yet to feel that he belonged in the side and was appeared diffident over another opportunity in the second Test in Mohali from Friday. Tall, strong and multi-skilled, White is unsure when he speaks. He showed some belligerence with the bat in making 18 not out from 14 balls in the second innings and was composed with the ball, but before the match he was worried. What if his first ball bounced twice?
"I guess they're the things that make you nervous, thinking about the bad things, which is probably what you shouldn't do," he said. By the end of the game he had less reason to be fearful.
White's first wicket was the most fabulous batsman in the modern game. The worsening light was a distraction, but White tempted Sachin Tendulkar to drive and Clarke took the catch at cover.
"I was happy with the way I bowled," he said. "It could have been better, could have been worse. We'll see how it goes." The figures of 1 for 88 were an improvement on Warne's opening effort of 1 for 150 against India 16 years ago, but White realises his career figures will be worse.
|I'm happy to get it out of the road and relieved the game is finished. I felt under pressure the whole time and was pretty nervous the whole way through|
Over the past week he has learned to bowl fuller to the Indian batsmen, who are so strong off the back foot, and wants to increase his pace to cut down the time they have to play him. "I was trying to bowl a bit faster," he said. "I looked at my speeds and they were in the high 80s, that's probably as slow as I want to bowl on these pitches. I want to keep my pace around the 90 kph mark."
He expects India will go after him and will spend time with Ponting this week working out some more detailed plans to cope with the treatment. "I'm pretty sure they will probably do that the whole series, if I'm lucky enough to play," he said. "They're always going to try to be attacking - I'm the new spinner, and they're trying to put pressure on me."
One area White is less concerned about is his batting. Australia's untried middle order of Shane Watson, Brad Haddin and White chipped in during the opening Test and will need more useful stands over the remainder of the series.
"I've always felt not as nervous, and a lot more comfortable and confident, in my batting," he said. "I've never really had any dramas there.
"I would have liked more runs in the first innings - the situation just got the better of me. I felt better in the second innings and it was nice to play with freedom. There was no second guessing, just going out and try to score at a run a ball."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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