Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane November 24, 2010

Doherty ready for high-stakes debut

Xavier Doherty's level head will be tested over the next week as Australia's latest spin bowling answer makes his debut. Doherty, the left-arm orthodox, has only been a fixture in Tasmania's team this summer, but has been handed the role of tying down an end and tripping up Kevin Pietersen.

While the Gabba is expected to suit the seamers and limit Doherty's role, he still has to show enough to prove he will be a threat on the more spin friendly surface of Adelaide next week. Ricky Ponting plays with Doherty on his occasional state appearances and said he was "absolutely" ready.

"He's bowled a lot the last few days," Ponting said. "He's very excited and looking forward to the challenge over the next five days. He's a pretty level-headed bloke and knows his strengths and weaknesses. He'll stick to those through the five days and I'm sure he'll do well."

Doherty, an architecture student in Hobart, grew up idolising Ponting and supports his charity. Before the toss Ponting will present him with his baggy green and then it will be his job to follow his captain's commands.

One strange aspect of Doherty's promotion is that he has played only four first-class matches at the Gabba and taken just two wickets. Unless it's Shane Warne, spinners are usually an after-thought in Brisbane.

"I don't really have much of a first-class record, I guess," Doherty said this week. "The game we played here this year was pretty much a washout and I didn't play for a few years before that. It's probably not an ideal record before then so it'll be a challenge. But I'm bowling better than I ever have."

Doherty has appeared in 35 first-class games and while he has improved considerably over the past two years, he carries a career average of 48. His goals for this match are suitably modest, given most of the work will be done by the fast men.

"At the end of the day it's just another game for me," he said. "I am not going to go out and try to take six or eight wickets every game because that is not what I've done to get here."

Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo