Australia v England, 2nd Test, Adelaide December 2, 2010

Hilfenhaus set to miss second Test


Ben Hilfenhaus is set to join Mitchell Johnson on the sidelines for Friday's second Test after Australia's captain, Ricky Ponting, hinted that Ryan Harris was strongly in contention for a recall alongside Doug Bollinger. Bollinger is expected to replace Johnson, who was dropped following Australia's toothless display during England's 1 for 517 at the Gabba, while Cricinfo understands that the selectors have opted for Harris over Hilfenhaus on a wicket that is not expected to offer much conventional swing beyond the first day.

"Hilfy's strengths are his ability to swing the new ball, he's very consistent, bowls in good areas and can tie batters down, as we saw at different times during the Brisbane Test," said Ponting. "Ryan's strengths are he's grown up playing all his cricket here, he's probably slightly quicker through the air, and he hits the wicket a bit harder than Ben does, and he's probably a better reverse-swing bowler for later in the game, which comes into consideration in Adelaide."

Harris, who has a chronic knee injury, has been in excellent form on the domestic scene since returning from off-season surgery, while Hilfenhaus was Australia's best bowler in the tour of India in October. Although Hilfenhaus launched Australia's Ashes campaign in dramatic fashion by capturing Andrew Strauss for a third-ball duck in Brisbane, he failed to claim another wicket in 50.3 overs for the match. He particularly struggled for penetration when the new ball went soft, and is understood to be feeling the effects of a slight hamstring strain.

Harris, meanwhile, learned his cricket at the Adelaide Oval before moving to Queensland three years ago, and with his extra pace through the air is a likelier man to exploit any reverse-swing that may be on offer at a venue that can favour the art. "If you put all those things together, it makes that decision a pretty difficult one," Ponting said.

Bollinger, whose tally of 49 in 11 matches to date makes him Australia's only remaining bowler in the top ten of the ICC World Rankings, seems certain to return after losing out to Peter Siddle at Brisbane. With Johnson already cut from the 13-man squad, the notion of purging two of the three specialist quick bowlers is a drastic one.

"Is it unstable [to make two bowling changes]?" Ponting asked. "No, because we have to pick the best team for every condition that we are confronted with in the summer. We didn't win a Test last week, and so hopefully the team we pick this week will be good enough to win. We wouldn't make changes if we didn't think it would make the attack better for this game. We've got to pick the best five bowlers we could possibly have to get 20 wickets in each game."

Harris, a bowler whom Ponting rates highly, bowled especially sharply during Australia's first practice session at the Adelaide Oval on Wednesday. However, he did not feature in the nets on Thursday, leading to a suggestion that he was feeling the effects of his knee problem.

Ponting denied that this was the case. "We're not worried about Ryan's knee at all," he said. "The reason he didn't bowl today was nothing to do with his knee. We've made one big decision to leave a guy out [Johnson], so we wouldn't be doing that if we were taking a risk on someone who's got an injury. We want to keep it up our sleeves for tomorrow morning, and see what the best 11 is."

Harris' knee is now a case of bone rubbing on bone and he will have to manage the pain throughout the rest of his career, hence the caution during Thursday's session. He convinced the selectors of his form and fitness by claiming four wickets for Queensland in a one-day game last week, and a further six in the recent Sheffield Shield fixture against Victoria. He impressed Ponting during his only two Tests to date, against New Zealand in March, during which he claimed nine wickets at 23.

"Coming out of the game he played the other day, he had a good bowl yesterday and we didn't expect all of our bowlers bowling every day before the game," said Ponting. "That's pretty much what the staff wanted them to do, to get their workload high enough leading into the Test. If you look at both Bollinger and Harris, what they've done in state cricket has been pretty impressive. I faced Dougie this morning and he was impressive, while Ryan was on the mark yesterday. They are obviously ready to go so we'll work things out tomorrow morning."

Andrew Miller is UK editor of Cricinfo.

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christian on December 2, 2010, 23:50 GMT

    Just in case you missed it, because the media are not focusing on it, but the Haus is "understood to be feeling the effects of a slight hamstring strain". The consideration to drop Hilfy is based purely on an injury he has picked up, not his performance. If he misses this test it is through fitness and nothing else. All other comments are just there so create excitment and intrigue. The only question to be asked is what does Marcus North need to do to get dropped, he is a talented player that just is not getting the results. We may be struggling to find bowlers to make it at Test level, but Batsmen are queueing up for a go. I for one would like to see Cameron White given another chance at no.6. If he can perfom well and secure a spot, we have a ready made Captain for the future.... Waugh captained from no.6, maybe it is a good spot to be when you are running the team, less pressure early in the innings and a calming influence over the tail end at the crease.

  • Ant on December 2, 2010, 23:31 GMT

    good decision - I am afraid as much as everyone likes hilfenhaus and he's obviously a good player, he's not a consistent wicket-taker - all this of course assumes harris is fit and doesn't break down - now aust just has to work on some of the batting selections...

  • Ahnaf on December 2, 2010, 21:56 GMT

    Bad luck Hilfy...Not sure Bollinger is the ideal replacement for him..But either way,Best of luck Aussies.

  • John on December 2, 2010, 19:29 GMT

    As an England supporter, the bowlers I didn't want to see in the side were Hilfenhaus and Harris. Bollinger had a good Summer in Australia last year against weaker teams, but he's been a journeyman bowler his whole career and I don't expect anthing special from him. He couldn't bowl a decent line against Pakistan in England (5 wickets @36 each). Harris and Hilfenhaus looked sharp. If Australia are going to bring in Harris, I'm glad it's Hilfenhaus they're dropping. Harris and Hilfenhaus, with Siddle to do the hard yards once the ball gets old, would have been more of a handful than Harris, Bollinger and Siddle. And what happens if any of the three breaks down? They've all had lengthy layoffs for injury this year. From England's perspective, I was sorry to see Johnson dropped, but if they drop Hilfenhaus as well I won't be too unhappy. Hilf's unlucky, though; he's been Aus's best bowler in most of the series he's played (including England 2009) and now he's dropped for one bad match

  • Steven on December 2, 2010, 18:31 GMT

    @Aussasinator "Now who can convince me that Watson, Katich & Ponting are not playing for their places but for the team? "

    I can , easily Katich - last 12 months 1155 runs @52.50 Watson - last 12 months 1098 runs @52.28 Opening Partner ship last 12 months 1134 runs @ 56.70.

    There is absolutely no reason to drop your openers when the avg openng stand is 56 (higher avg than Hayden/Langer, Slater/Taylor )

    Ponting - last 12 months 966 runs @ 43.90, Punters numbers are down but he is the Captain and Australia's greatest modern day batsman, they won't drop him.

    There that was pretty easy

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2010, 18:18 GMT

    When a team starts to make bowling changes other than driven by injury it says a lot about how the team is looking at the future - uncertain and diffident. Nobody ever talks of horses for courses as long as a team is winning! So the dumping of Hognson and Hilfenhaus shows the oz think tank is in disarray - not unexpected when you factor in Greg Chappell - a highly opinionated official. The persistence with North is inexplicable considering the quick dumping of the two bowlers.

  • Anupam on December 2, 2010, 17:11 GMT

    gud decision by the selectors hilfenhaus did't proved yet. i think selectors must think about S.Clark.he is useful in every format(see records).I think s.clark will b the next znthony stuart. plz anyone xplain wat is the role of M.north honestly tell is he deserve in the playing11. A.voges,, p.jaques is the best option. i'm with adam voges.

  • Ravi on December 2, 2010, 16:50 GMT

    When nothing goes right u stop thinking right...Ponting is on way to be doomed..and he is taking decisions to reach there as soon as possible!!

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2010, 15:25 GMT

    @ Boris - im pretty much agreeing with you (if you dont mind). Hilfenhaus is the typical support bowler that needs to follow strike bowlers at test level. Able to move it a little and control runs. Siddle rarely does that and i believe his 6 - for was a bit of a one off.

    The one thing i dont agree on and im frustrated that Hauritz going back to fc cricket has seen him sidlelined is arou nd Doherty. I believe that O keefe is the best performing spinner in Aus and has great backing to back that up.

    The other person id love to see get a call is copeland. I respect katich's opinion on him (which was glowing) and his record so far is phenomenal. Ok - so its early days for him and O Keefe, but im hoping they both get an opportunity after the ashes.

    Im fearful they wont though and Aus will never get there best 11 on the park. There selectors are rubbish! Froma saffa.

  • Dummy4 on December 2, 2010, 14:35 GMT

    I think we need to regard this more as a Harris promotion rather than a Hilfenhaus demotion. So far Harris has done nothing but impress me in every game he has played for Aus. He has all the deliveries (in swinger, out swinger, off cutter, leg cutter, slower ball etc.), he is quick and he is so accurate for a man of his pace. I dont think any of the other Aus bowlers are in the same league to be honest. He simply HAS to play. Although it is harsh on Hilfy, our bowling attack will be better off for it. We need to do what's best by the team.

    I think overall this is a good decision. It means if we loose the toss again, it wont be catastrophic...our attack will be relatively fresh.

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