The Ashes 2010-11 November 20, 2010

Australia's spin cycle claims another victim

31

Australia's selectors have burned another spinner and given two more a chance to feel the heat. Nathan Hauritz's sacking has left Xavier Doherty feeling as buoyant and fortunate as Hauritz did with his catapult two years ago. Doherty will be the ninth Test spin experiment since Shane Warne retired in 2007 and the No.8 Steven Smith is also in the 13-man squad for Thursday's first Ashes Test.

Hauritz has been the most successful of those on trial, with 58 wickets at 36.22 in 16 matches, performing a role without delivering regular victories. The emergence of Doherty, a 27-year-old only recently entrenched in Tasmania's Sheffield Shield team, has forced a late change to the selectors' long-held plans. If Australia pick a specialist spinner at the Gabba it will be Doherty wearing his new cap.

When Hauritz was told to play for New South Wales at the Gabba instead of stay with Australia's limited-overs team at the end of October the chairman Andrew Hilditch said: "This is seen as the best preparation for Nathan ahead of a very busy summer." Two weeks later Hilditch praised Hauritz for having an "extremely good" record in Australia over the past 12 months. Today he said: "He can consider himself unlucky." He certainly can.

The start of the season hasn't been anywhere near as busy as Hilditch promised Hauritz, who has delivered only 58.4 overs in five games. In his first Shield fixture he was given 12 balls and in this week's bowl-off with Doherty he rolled his arm over six times in three days.

Doherty picked up two wickets in 21 overs for Tasmania while Jason Krejza, the side's other offspinner, was handed 10 overs. The clinching moment for Ricky Ponting, if he hadn't already been swayed by his Tasmanian team-mate, was Doherty's bowled-around-the-legs of Simon Katich.

Having stuck with Hauritz through times of trouble and moderate success, the selectors have let him go for the series they had been preparing him for. Marcus North and Michael Hussey were retained to keep faith in the year-old plan, but Doherty comes in on a left-arm hunch. A steady Test bowler has been replaced by a modest first-class operator. The use-and-abuse spin cycle continues.

The time for alterations was before the tour of India, giving new players two Tests to get comfortable, but the selectors' hands stayed steady until the shakes of the past week. It has been a spooky time with the main men spluttering all over the country while England's preparations purr. Still, one debutant for such an important encounter is better than the two or three threatened by Monday's bulging 17-man squad.

After the double failures of Usman Khawaja and Callum Ferguson in Hobart no batting changes were necessary despite the unconvincing nature of the incumbent line-up. Succeeding in the days before a side is named is the most pressure a young player can have away from a Test match, and Khawaja and Ferguson missed out two weeks in a row. At least Hussey and North know how to succeed, justifying another chance. Given all the circumstances, the side is almost the right one.

However, the treatment of Hauritz continues the trend of spinners being treated poorly after Warne's exit. Only Brad Hogg, the second of the eight replacements, has left in a happy mood. Unlike Stuart MacGill, Beau Casson, Cameron White, Krejza, Bryce McGain and now Hauritz.

Smith is the only other one of the group who remains in favour, but he is not yet good enough as a batsman to be in the top six, as displayed by his first-ball dismissal to Chris Tremlett in Hobart today, when he left an offcutter heading for his stumps. He is not ready as a specialist bowler either. A gifted player, he could develop into an all-round genius, but at the moment his selection as a bits-and-pieces man for such an important series is strange. So was White's elevation in India two years ago.

Hauritz is disappointed and Doherty and Smith are ecstatic. The fresh pair need to know those feelings haven't lasted long for Australia's spinners over the past four years. Steve O'Keefe, the in-form Australia A left-arm orthodox, could be next to join the queue.

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • popcorn on November 22, 2010, 18:25 GMT

    Brilliant, aggressive selection! Trump Card Xavier Doherty. The Poms are shaken. Australia has demonstrated clear intent to win.

  • Something_Witty on November 22, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    @ thebarmyarmy, here are a few stats you should probably look at. Watson averages 40 with the bat and 28 with the ball. (His batting average is going up, up, up, and his bowling average is dropping). Stuart Broad averages 28 with the bat and 34 with the ball. Graeme Swann, 25 with the bat and 26 with the ball. Talk about being able to bowl, what a champion bowling average Broad has. Quite obviously the next Curtly Ambrose. But wait, he recently scored 169 against a Pakistan bowling attack which may or may not have been attempting to lose. So he is not only the next Curtly Ambrose, but a combination of Ambrose combined with a right handed Gary Sobers. Absolute legend.

  • on November 22, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    I am not a Hautitz fan but Hilditch seems to have one rule for spinners and one rule for the middle order. Hussey and North have been below per for a long time and stay while Hsutitz, who performed well last summer, and was coming back off injury in India has been dumped based on two matches in a country where Warne averaged in the 40's. Hilditch needs to realize the spinners we have now cannot nail the role Warne had. They are stock bowlers. They will rarely win tests for you and more best need to be put on the quicks to do this, especially on true wickets like those at home.

  • THX_droid_adidas on November 21, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    If they're just picking Doherty to get Kevin Pietersen, just bowl Michael Clarke to him when he first comes out. India did that with Yuvraj, and it worked wonders. If Michael wants a bowl, then bowl him at Pietersen. I've got no problems with that. And if he doesn't want to bowl cause of his back, then he shouldn't be playing! Simple as that!!!

  • thebarmyarmy on November 21, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    Land147 said 'Watson is a better allrounder than anyone England has'

    Totaly disagree. Id rather have Broad or Swann anyday. Least them 2 can bowl.

  • on November 21, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    2008/2009 - Doherty played 2 matches for 1 Wicket at 87.00, 2009/2010 - Doherty got 12 wickets at 24 in 3 shield games and so far this year 3 matches for 11 wickets at 27- These are solid figures and especially the last 2 years but still its 6 matches for 23 wickets (less then 4 a match) at about 25 . I think he has potential and was definatly an option but I think O'Keefe who has similar figures the last 2 yrs and averages over 50 with the bat would have been a better option . As for Smith he isnt anywhere near test standard and Hauritz was unlucky

  • on November 20, 2010, 18:28 GMT

    I've never seen this Doherty bowl, but I just checked out his stats. Despite his limited over stats being acceptable, his first class average with the ball is a shade under 50! As an English fan, I'm definitely not going to lose sleep over this guy..

  • on November 20, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    Too much pressure after a poor series in India , made Hauritz loose his confidence.He shouldnt have been criticized so much for his performance in India, as nearly all visiting spinners have struggled in India.Also Indians are best players of spin bowling, so Hauritz would have fared much better against England. I think Australia made a mistake by excluding him.

  • ant286 on November 20, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    does anyone know why David Hussey hasn't been considered for tests?, he has over 11,000 runs at 55 ish

  • landl47 on November 20, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    Why are so many fans suggesting Australia should go in to the Gabba test with 4 quicks plus Watson? Watson just took 5 wickets in the NSW-Tasmania game, including Ricky Ponting. The one area where Australia has an edge over England is that Watson is a better allrounder than anyone England has. An extra pace bowler is just going to stand about doing nothing. I think if the selectors had been able to wait until after the Aus A game with England they'd have picked O'Keefe, but having committed to Doherty and Hauritz they have to play one of them. Leaving out a spinner almost never works; remember when Australia last did that? It was the Oval test of 2009, which England won with 8 wickets from Swann, while Stuart Clark was almost invisible as fourth seamer. Whatever else the selectors have got wrong, I don't expect them to make that mistake this time around. Picking Smith as a #6 bat and spinner weakens both positions. To me, the only decision is which of Bolly and Siddle will play.

  • popcorn on November 22, 2010, 18:25 GMT

    Brilliant, aggressive selection! Trump Card Xavier Doherty. The Poms are shaken. Australia has demonstrated clear intent to win.

  • Something_Witty on November 22, 2010, 8:02 GMT

    @ thebarmyarmy, here are a few stats you should probably look at. Watson averages 40 with the bat and 28 with the ball. (His batting average is going up, up, up, and his bowling average is dropping). Stuart Broad averages 28 with the bat and 34 with the ball. Graeme Swann, 25 with the bat and 26 with the ball. Talk about being able to bowl, what a champion bowling average Broad has. Quite obviously the next Curtly Ambrose. But wait, he recently scored 169 against a Pakistan bowling attack which may or may not have been attempting to lose. So he is not only the next Curtly Ambrose, but a combination of Ambrose combined with a right handed Gary Sobers. Absolute legend.

  • on November 22, 2010, 0:00 GMT

    I am not a Hautitz fan but Hilditch seems to have one rule for spinners and one rule for the middle order. Hussey and North have been below per for a long time and stay while Hsutitz, who performed well last summer, and was coming back off injury in India has been dumped based on two matches in a country where Warne averaged in the 40's. Hilditch needs to realize the spinners we have now cannot nail the role Warne had. They are stock bowlers. They will rarely win tests for you and more best need to be put on the quicks to do this, especially on true wickets like those at home.

  • THX_droid_adidas on November 21, 2010, 6:00 GMT

    If they're just picking Doherty to get Kevin Pietersen, just bowl Michael Clarke to him when he first comes out. India did that with Yuvraj, and it worked wonders. If Michael wants a bowl, then bowl him at Pietersen. I've got no problems with that. And if he doesn't want to bowl cause of his back, then he shouldn't be playing! Simple as that!!!

  • thebarmyarmy on November 21, 2010, 5:00 GMT

    Land147 said 'Watson is a better allrounder than anyone England has'

    Totaly disagree. Id rather have Broad or Swann anyday. Least them 2 can bowl.

  • on November 21, 2010, 1:20 GMT

    2008/2009 - Doherty played 2 matches for 1 Wicket at 87.00, 2009/2010 - Doherty got 12 wickets at 24 in 3 shield games and so far this year 3 matches for 11 wickets at 27- These are solid figures and especially the last 2 years but still its 6 matches for 23 wickets (less then 4 a match) at about 25 . I think he has potential and was definatly an option but I think O'Keefe who has similar figures the last 2 yrs and averages over 50 with the bat would have been a better option . As for Smith he isnt anywhere near test standard and Hauritz was unlucky

  • on November 20, 2010, 18:28 GMT

    I've never seen this Doherty bowl, but I just checked out his stats. Despite his limited over stats being acceptable, his first class average with the ball is a shade under 50! As an English fan, I'm definitely not going to lose sleep over this guy..

  • on November 20, 2010, 17:45 GMT

    Too much pressure after a poor series in India , made Hauritz loose his confidence.He shouldnt have been criticized so much for his performance in India, as nearly all visiting spinners have struggled in India.Also Indians are best players of spin bowling, so Hauritz would have fared much better against England. I think Australia made a mistake by excluding him.

  • ant286 on November 20, 2010, 15:01 GMT

    does anyone know why David Hussey hasn't been considered for tests?, he has over 11,000 runs at 55 ish

  • landl47 on November 20, 2010, 14:31 GMT

    Why are so many fans suggesting Australia should go in to the Gabba test with 4 quicks plus Watson? Watson just took 5 wickets in the NSW-Tasmania game, including Ricky Ponting. The one area where Australia has an edge over England is that Watson is a better allrounder than anyone England has. An extra pace bowler is just going to stand about doing nothing. I think if the selectors had been able to wait until after the Aus A game with England they'd have picked O'Keefe, but having committed to Doherty and Hauritz they have to play one of them. Leaving out a spinner almost never works; remember when Australia last did that? It was the Oval test of 2009, which England won with 8 wickets from Swann, while Stuart Clark was almost invisible as fourth seamer. Whatever else the selectors have got wrong, I don't expect them to make that mistake this time around. Picking Smith as a #6 bat and spinner weakens both positions. To me, the only decision is which of Bolly and Siddle will play.

  • on November 20, 2010, 13:19 GMT

    Peter, usually I don't like it when you whack the Aussie selectors, but this time I unfortunately have to agree with your cynicism. We spent so long with Hauritz in the side, waiting for him to win a game for us, and just when he was starting to look good in the side (remember the consecutive 5 wickets hauls against Pakistan?) we change it up again on the evidence of 2 poor tests in India...ridiculous...

  • thewombat on November 20, 2010, 13:10 GMT

    doherty is rubbish he's barely an automatic choice for TAS 4 day side. McGain is the best spinner and should have been picked (but that would force Ponting to admit he has no idea how to captain spinners and he won't do that) or if not him, Krezja. Just like not picking McDonald in the original squad, the AUS selectors have no idea. And Smith is a great batsman but nowhere near consistent enough as a spinner at test level...if we pick him as a frontline spinner like we did with White, we might as well hand over the urn now.

  • AB99 on November 20, 2010, 12:09 GMT

    Greg Chappel will complete the unfinished task of desimating the cricket team. He did so for the Aussies when he retired in 1983. He tried destroying the Indian team and was thrown out. Now he is trying again with the Australian team. Greg and Ponting will do to Austrailian cricket what no one could do so - destroy the confidence of the players and the rest would take care of itself. Hauritz would get more changes in the roller coaster ride.

  • Bytheway on November 20, 2010, 11:26 GMT

    Peter, Scathing as you are of the selectors, you still give them too much credit. Their decision making process is driven by fear. Hauritz's head rolled when O'Keefe bowled Peteresen in Hobart. Eureka! They had an answer to Petersen (he's had a string of dismissals to left-arm fingerspinners).

  • tarantan on November 20, 2010, 11:18 GMT

    Jason Krezja had a cutting edge. The man could spin the ball as sharply as any off break bowler in the modern era and though he was uneconomical, he was a potential match-winner and could bat pretty well to boot. Sadly he didn't fit in with Ricky's scheme of things, probably too eloquent, intelligent or not boorish enough.

  • Something_Witty on November 20, 2010, 10:44 GMT

    @ chickenpoo, Andrew Mcdonald currently has a broken hand, so we won't see him this series, and North was not dropped for the 3rd test in SA, I believe he was sick on the morning and could not play.

  • Benkl on November 20, 2010, 10:32 GMT

    I dont think ANY of these players are in or out..the selectors just expect consitant form ( from the bowlers but not the batsman) . White is a batting all rounder option for North spot and he continues to improve . Smith is the bowling all rounder.

  • justsometurkey on November 20, 2010, 10:07 GMT

    To me Hauritz's mind just doesn't seem to be in the right place and his confidence is not shown in his actions. (Actions do speak louder than words). In the Sheffield Shield game where do his actions say "I am Hauritz here to take on England!"?

  • tpjpower on November 20, 2010, 9:37 GMT

    Fareen - I agree that Casson and Krejza have been treated strangely. Casson was unceremoniously dumped after one Test and ended up playing club cricket in Darwin before developing chronic fatigue, whereas Krejza had a poor economy rate and I've heard rumours he may be a difficult personality who failed to "fit in" to the "team dynamic". Also note that South Australia's Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey, who had been groomed as future Test regulars, can't even get a chance for their state side this season.

    Dropping Hauritz is an odd thing to do. Doherty is a fairly average bowler who will be steady but unspectacular. Much like Hauritz. The problem is that the constant chopping and changing of spin bowlers will do very little for the confidence of any incumbent in the Aussie team. Rotating fast bowlers is sometimes effective, but spinners need some stability and faith to flourish. CA's confused approach to this series can only be of encouragement to Strauss and co.

  • chickenpoo on November 20, 2010, 9:26 GMT

    The best team Australia ever played in recent times was against SA in SA. Back then we had NO specialist spinner, instead Andrew McDonald played as a fourth seamer. For some reason North got dropped for the 3rd test and Bryce McGain came in as a spinner, and we lost! So i say no spinner but play Andrew McDonald! He's in form! Sadly I think he's injured so if he can't play then Luke Butterworth from Tasmania could come in as he's in hot form and bowling as good as anyone, his batting is also very good!

  • on November 20, 2010, 8:33 GMT

    Xavier is a good one-day cricketer but a poor first-class spinner. Both Steve Smith and Steve O'Keefe are better as area host of others. Steve O'Keefe is the same type of bowler and bowled better against the Poms than Doherty did against NSW. Plus he can bat and field better.

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 20, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    @Faureen - Krezja wasn't dropped, he got injured. Just that when he recovered from injury Hauritz was already a fixture and by that stage Doherty was out-performing Krezja domestically so Krezja wasn't considered to be good enough.

  • RJHB on November 20, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    I'm disappointed Hauritz won't be there, even as 12th man. Hard to be picked though on his preparation. He's gotta be crook on the weather and dodgy groundsmen! Doherty is clearly high on confidence and this will hold him in good stead. A left armer is also some good variation without a decent legspinner around yet. Smith is NOWHERE near ready yet, may never be! As stated before, gotta like O'Keefe! He's got some rocks in the pouch! Gets sconned pretty hard today, then bats like it never happened. Bowled out the tail yesterday, like a spinner should. An excellent display. How the hell is NSW gonna play Hauritz, Smith AND O'Keefe? Would hate to see the latter miss out.

  • Something_Witty on November 20, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    A very poor decision. I have no doubt that Doherty will do well, but this is very rough on Hauritz and not showing any faith at all.

  • Fareen on November 20, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    That's not sensible.He played against India despite failing.S.smith didn't get his chances there.And in Ashes they're picking him & X.Doherty ( who will make his debut ) . And I'm very curious about Beau Casson.Can any Australian fan explain his situation?He bowled wonderfully well after a shaky start in W.indies & you dropped him after that??? What were the selectors thinking? And even Krejza,took 12 odd wickets in Indian pitches where even murali & warne struggled & you drop him after 1 test match? Please put some light in it.

  • Nipun on November 20, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    Have these guys taken a cue out of Pakistani selectors?Now even I am bein forced to believe that England will win the Ashes-not because I'm doubting Hauritz or Doherty,but because I'm seriously doubting the selectors' attitudes & morale!

  • jonesy2 on November 20, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    i cant believe they dropped hauritz i thought he was becoming one of the better spinners in the world i still think he will play in the series maybe in adelaide or boxing day and/or sydney. but the fact that smith is even in the vicinity does mean that we dont really care about winning. smith is not up to test level even if it is against england

  • on November 20, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    If Stuart McGill was born a few years later, all this wouldn't even be a topic to discuss !!

  • KingofRedLions on November 20, 2010, 5:28 GMT

    Terrible decision.

    25char

  • Dashgar on November 20, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    The difference is that Hauritz was plucked from NSW grade cricket after being dropped for Beau Casson. Doherty has outperformed Jason Krejza to earn his Sheffield Shield spot and performed well there too. Doherty has a big future and seems a much smarter cricketer than Hauritz who was just fortunate to come in at the right time.

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 20, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Xavier Doherty at the age of 17 played in the Under 19 World Cup, where he took 19 wickets at an average of 9.5, which led to him making his FC debut at the age of 18, given long bowling spells in conditions that were unhelpful for spinners. While he bowled very well, he just never had the figures. He was bowled for such huge spells, often when the opposition was scoring heavily. Eventually, Krezja was brought in from NSW, and then Krezja started playing instead of Doherty. Then Krezja made his test debut, and then was injured, which was when Doherty started playing again. After a few good one day performances, he was given an extended run. Then he started to do amazingly well, and in the past 2 years has started to play first class again. He has amazing figures of late and is well and truly in form. You can't judge him based on his performances as an 18 year old. Judge him on recent form. Right now, he is hot property and deserves this chance.

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  • Ozcricketwriter on November 20, 2010, 4:53 GMT

    Xavier Doherty at the age of 17 played in the Under 19 World Cup, where he took 19 wickets at an average of 9.5, which led to him making his FC debut at the age of 18, given long bowling spells in conditions that were unhelpful for spinners. While he bowled very well, he just never had the figures. He was bowled for such huge spells, often when the opposition was scoring heavily. Eventually, Krezja was brought in from NSW, and then Krezja started playing instead of Doherty. Then Krezja made his test debut, and then was injured, which was when Doherty started playing again. After a few good one day performances, he was given an extended run. Then he started to do amazingly well, and in the past 2 years has started to play first class again. He has amazing figures of late and is well and truly in form. You can't judge him based on his performances as an 18 year old. Judge him on recent form. Right now, he is hot property and deserves this chance.

  • Dashgar on November 20, 2010, 5:04 GMT

    The difference is that Hauritz was plucked from NSW grade cricket after being dropped for Beau Casson. Doherty has outperformed Jason Krejza to earn his Sheffield Shield spot and performed well there too. Doherty has a big future and seems a much smarter cricketer than Hauritz who was just fortunate to come in at the right time.

  • KingofRedLions on November 20, 2010, 5:28 GMT

    Terrible decision.

    25char

  • on November 20, 2010, 5:47 GMT

    If Stuart McGill was born a few years later, all this wouldn't even be a topic to discuss !!

  • jonesy2 on November 20, 2010, 6:10 GMT

    i cant believe they dropped hauritz i thought he was becoming one of the better spinners in the world i still think he will play in the series maybe in adelaide or boxing day and/or sydney. but the fact that smith is even in the vicinity does mean that we dont really care about winning. smith is not up to test level even if it is against england

  • Nipun on November 20, 2010, 6:12 GMT

    Have these guys taken a cue out of Pakistani selectors?Now even I am bein forced to believe that England will win the Ashes-not because I'm doubting Hauritz or Doherty,but because I'm seriously doubting the selectors' attitudes & morale!

  • Fareen on November 20, 2010, 6:59 GMT

    That's not sensible.He played against India despite failing.S.smith didn't get his chances there.And in Ashes they're picking him & X.Doherty ( who will make his debut ) . And I'm very curious about Beau Casson.Can any Australian fan explain his situation?He bowled wonderfully well after a shaky start in W.indies & you dropped him after that??? What were the selectors thinking? And even Krejza,took 12 odd wickets in Indian pitches where even murali & warne struggled & you drop him after 1 test match? Please put some light in it.

  • Something_Witty on November 20, 2010, 7:21 GMT

    A very poor decision. I have no doubt that Doherty will do well, but this is very rough on Hauritz and not showing any faith at all.

  • RJHB on November 20, 2010, 7:53 GMT

    I'm disappointed Hauritz won't be there, even as 12th man. Hard to be picked though on his preparation. He's gotta be crook on the weather and dodgy groundsmen! Doherty is clearly high on confidence and this will hold him in good stead. A left armer is also some good variation without a decent legspinner around yet. Smith is NOWHERE near ready yet, may never be! As stated before, gotta like O'Keefe! He's got some rocks in the pouch! Gets sconned pretty hard today, then bats like it never happened. Bowled out the tail yesterday, like a spinner should. An excellent display. How the hell is NSW gonna play Hauritz, Smith AND O'Keefe? Would hate to see the latter miss out.

  • Ozcricketwriter on November 20, 2010, 8:26 GMT

    @Faureen - Krezja wasn't dropped, he got injured. Just that when he recovered from injury Hauritz was already a fixture and by that stage Doherty was out-performing Krezja domestically so Krezja wasn't considered to be good enough.