Kasprowicz inspired by competition for a place in the team

Published: Thursday, August 26, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Amsterdam:Michael Kasprowicz has insisted he is inspired, not overawed, by the thought of competing for a place in Australia's pace attack with Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Brett Lee.

Kasprowicz, 32, has been something of a 'nearly' man, as a record of just 22 Tests and 25 Limited Overs Internationals since making his debut back in 1995-96 indicates.

But the lionhearted Queenslander, who has taken 67 Test wickets at 33.46 apiece and 37 at 25.72 in the One-day arena, has seized his chance since being recalled to the Australian squad in October because of Lee's abdominal injury.

In February, on a Colombo pitch notorious for being a pace bowler's graveyard, his five for 45 - including three wickets in an over - helped the world champions to a 40-run One-day series-clinching win against Sri Lanka.

And he was equally effective in July when he took seven for 39 as Australia beat Sri Lanka inside three days at Darwin to win the first Test by 149 runs.

But with the Australian selectors now having the comparatively unusual luxury of having all four quicks fit at the same time, Kasprowicz knows he has a fight on his hands to retain his place.

"It is very tough, it goes without saying. It is not only them (McGrath, Gillespie and Lee) but there are a lot of other great cricketers in Australian first-class cricket so it's very honourable to be selected again."

He added: "All I can do is try to do my best. If I get the opportunity to go out and play for Australia it's up to me to bowl well.

"That way there's no regrets. Competition is healthy within a team. If there are more people challenging for a position in the team then it draws the best out of everyone and the team certainly benefits."

He also explained that his way back into the Australia side had been eased by the fact so many of the players knew each other from junior days.

"I played Australia Under-19s with Damien Martyn and Adam Gilchrist. I also played with Matthew Hayden right through youth cricket in Queensland. It all adds to a good feel in the side."

Kasprowicz was speaking at the Australian team hotel where the players faced another frustrating day after their match on Wednesday in the Dutch triangular One-day tournament against Pakistan was washed out without a ball bowled.

It meant both Australia's group games had been no-result washouts after their match against India had been called off on Monday at the half-way stage without their bowlers taking the field.

Kasprowicz, who in the northern summer plays English County cricket for Glamorgan, following spells with Essex and Leicestershire, said of the weather: "Obviously, we all want to get out and play cricket.

"Being new back in the team I'm pretty keen. But instead I've been laying horizontal and sleeping or in the gym."

Kasprowicz's previous performances have led to him being labelled a 'sub-continental specialist' and he is favoured by many to play an important role during Australia's four-Test tour of India starting in October.

"When people say I'm a sub-continental specialist, I say it's nice to be special at something," Kasprowicz said.

However he added it was playing in England, where he took 77 first-class wickets for Glamorgan last year, that had been a key influence on his career.

"I think what's helped my game is playing a high volume of cricket. County cricket, for example, has helped me a lot because you do play on a lot of different surfaces, different pitches. Even the Glamorgan home wicket in Cardiff, Sophia Gardens, is quite a low slow wicket.

"Obviously Australian bowlers prefer to bowl on nice hard bouncy wickets because that's what we have at home and that's what we've grooved our game on.

"But it's about adjusting when you come across other surfaces and certainly when you come to India the wickets are slower and lower and that's something I've taken on board now."

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