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November 11, 2008
After surging from laughing stock to spin hero, Jason Krejza's modest next goal is to be part of the New Zealand series starting in Brisbane next Thursday. Not being sure of your place following 12 wickets on debut adds to the upside-down performance of the offspinner, who was being mocked regularly six weeks ago.
In a warm-up match in Hyderabad Krejza went wicketless as he was hit for 199 runs and seemed as far away from playing a Test as he was last year when trying to break into Tasmania's team. At the end of his magnetic debut in Nagpur he was the toast of slow-bowling, having recorded the fourth-best figures by a debutant in Test history.
"It's pretty unbelievable," he said. "I haven't really realised the extent of what I've done yet. That probably won't be until I get home. It's still trying to sink in.
"Now I'm looking forward, hoping to get into the next Test series, and looking forward to new things in front of me. Once you get a taste of Test cricket you don't want to let it go."
Krejza has worked tirelessly on this tour, chatting to players and coaches and analysing Harbhajan Singh's bowling, but he can't afford to slacken. Now he has to prove his old-fashioned, well-flighted offspinners can work in Australia. It's highly unlikely that he will be left out of the first Test against New Zealand on the seam-friendly Gabba, but despite his Nagpur heroics, he will be employed on a match-by-match basis.
Until then he can enjoy reflecting on a game in which he tricked the best players of spin in the world, and surprised everybody with his bravery. "Jason's debut is astounding really," Ricky Ponting said. "For someone to take 12 wickets on debut is a magnificent achievement.
"He's worked exceptionally hard the whole time he's been here. He's been waiting for an opportunity, it presented itself in this last Test, and he's stood up to be counted probably more than anybody else has in the whole series."
Krejza's 8 for 215 in the first innings equalled the most wickets by a debutant in an innings, and he backed it up with 4 for 143 in the second. His match figures were the second-most expensive of all-time, but he was the only bowler who created regular danger for India. The only shame for him was that his debut ended in an Australian defeat and a series loss.
Cameron White was preferred to Krejza in the first three matches, but Ponting remained convinced the offspinner was not ready for the step up until the final game. "Jason would be the first to admit he's a better bowler now than he was in the Hyderabad game," Ponting said. "He's taken a lot of advice, whether it be from me, or Bishan Bedi helped him out, and lots of things came his way.
"If he could have guaranteed me in the first Test that he'd take 12 wickets he probably would have played that game as well. I and the selectors have been comfortable with the 11 players we've picked for all the Tests."
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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