Australia to rely on spin and youth to tackle India

Published: Sunday, September 19, 2004, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Australian selectors named a new line-up of spin bowlers and four uncapped youngsters for a four-Test tour of India, hoping variety will help break a 35-year drought in the sub-continent giant.

Leg-spinner Stuart MacGill was the biggest casualty left off the 16-man squad in favor of all-rounder Cameron White, a 21-year-old who was named to the team that played in Zimbabwe earlier this year after MacGill boycotted the tour.

Nathan Hauritz, a finger spinner, was also named to help back up Shane Warne for the spin attack during the tour which begins October 6 in Bangalore.

In addition to White and Hauritz, batsman Michael Clarke and all-rounder Shane Watson will be making their Test debut during the series.

Also added to the squad which beat Sri Lanka in a three-test series earlier this year is pace bowler Brett Lee, who came back from a nagging angle injury to join the One-day squad in the ICC trophy series.

"This is a well-rounded squad that gives us enormous flexibility," said chief selector Trevor Hohns.

Hohns said White's batting had nudged him ahead of MacGill for the team.

"We've selected three very different types of spinners in Shane Warne, Cameron White and Nathan Hauritz," he said.

"We were very keen to include two all-rounders in the squad and Cameron's ability with the bat worked strongly in his favour, and as such, was the preferred second-choice leg-spinner ahead of Stuart MacGill," he said.

Hohns said selectors had added one more player than normal due to the desire to have flexibility for the spin-friendly conditions expected in India.

A decision would be made after the second Test in Madras whether to send one or two players back to domestic cricket in Australia if their selection in the remaining Tests was unlikely.

"We've chosen one more player than usual but we wanted to select a squad that allows us to cover every possible condition that may be presented," he said.

"One of Australian cricket's greatest challenges remains winning a Test series in India and were confident that this squad will give us every opportunity to do so."

Hohns said Watson's inclusion, at the expense of Andrew Symonds, as a genuine all-rounder would give the team extra options in playing three or four seamers when assessing the tricky conditions.

"Shane has proven his full fitness since coming back from injury and could be particularly valuable as a medium-pace bowling all-rounder if conditions were more suited to playing just the two specialist fast bowlers," he said.

"He had a terrific domestic season as a specialist batsman, but has also done a lot of work on his bowling action since recovering from injury and is an exciting all-round talent.

"Likewise, Michael Clarke has been knocking on the door for around 18 months now and is suited to Indian conditions given his abilities against quality spin-bowling."

"While not a huge turner of the ball, he generates significant bounce off the pitch and is very quick through the air, and it's a style of bowling which has proved extremely effective on Indian wickets.

"In Nathan's case, we thought it sensible to include a finger spinner given the conditions and our history of including a finger spinner in the squad on our last two Indian tours."

Australia squad for India Test series:

Ricky Ponting (capt), Adam Gilchrist (vice-capt), Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Damien Martyn, Darren Lehmann, Simon Katich, Michael Clarke, Shane Watson, Cameron White, Shane Warne, Nathan Hauritz, Brett Lee, Jason Gillespie, Michael Kasprowicz, Glenn McGrath.

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