Doherty 'on top of the world' after Test call
Xavier Doherty, Australia's newest spin selection, knows he is not going to be the next Shane Warne but is determined to make an impact in Thursday's Ashes Test. The only way Doherty won't play at the Gabba is if Ricky Ponting decides to go without a slow bowler, which is highly unlikely even on a greentop.
But Warne, who is proving impossible to replace four years after his retirement, said it was a "dumb" decision to drop Nathan Hauritz. Warne tweeted that the call was "very, very harsh on Hauritz" and that "he deserved first crack at Poms". He also asked: "What happens if Smith or X don't do well[?] Back to Hauritz? That seems dumb to me ... Got it wrong way around the selectors!"
Doherty is the ninth Test spinner to be chosen since Warne walked away after the 2006-07 Ashes. "Warney is a tough comparison so I don't think I'm going to be taking 800 wickets in Test cricket," Doherty said in Brisbane. "But I certainly think I can make some sort of impact."
He said he felt for Hauritz, who he played against in the Tasmania-New South Wales Sheffield Shield fixture this week. Doherty took two wickets in the match dominated by the seamers, while Hauritz was given one over.
"It's one of those things in professional sports, there is always going to be ups and downs and at the moment it's hopefully my time to shine," he said. "But now I'm the one being hunted and they are all after my spot. I do feel for him."
In 35 first-class games Doherty has 84 wickets at 48.26, and he impressed the national selectors with his performances in two ODIs against Sri Lanka earlier in the month. "I average 48, which isn't pretty, but that 48 is over 35 games and my first 25 games I averaged 60 or something like that," he said. "In the last 10 I average something like 30 and that's the form I've been picked on. I've been picked on my form on the last eight or nine."
In his most recent six Shield appearances he has collected 23 wickets and regained the state's No.1 spin bowling spot from Jason Krejza. It was Krejza's arrival in Tasmania four years ago that sparked the turnaround from Doherty, who will be 28 on Monday. "It was a real kick up the bum for me, I went from playing all forms of the game to only playing 10 games a year in one-day cricket," he said. "But that burning desire to get back into the four-day team for Tassie is what really kicked me on."
On Thursday all the work will end in a Test debut in the opening Ashes encounter. "I'm on top of the world at the moment, I couldn't be happier," he said. "When I got the phone call this morning I couldn't really believe it. I'm very excited."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo