It’s a motley spin crew heading off to India as king Kohli lies in wait
From Adam Collins and Geoff Lemon of ABC News Down Under
The current visit of Pakistan and the climax of the BBL – there’s so much for the boys to talk about but one man is in their thoughts. Adam Collins: One-day cricket and Big Bash to feast on at home, the Final Frontier tour ahead. We’re still allowed to call it that in the post-Waugh era, right? Where’s your head at this week? Geoff Lemon: To be honest I’m still getting over that Kohli shot.You know something special has happened in cricket when you can say ‘that shot’ and you don’t have to specify which. Now, I’ve watched that clip 60 or 80 times on loop trying to work it out. At first it looks like a pick-up shot, a midwicket flick. But eventually you realise it’s actually an ondrive. To a bouncer. That ball is nearly chest high, and it’s outside off stump. And from there he leans back and drives it, almost with a straight bat, but flicks the wrists just a touch and it goes over wide long-on. Not midwicket. Not the hoick zone. Long-on. I’ve talked to some physicists, and that is literally impossible. AC: It’s certainly sobering. Any time that a Test squad is named to tour India reality is suspended in favour of a bit of optimism. But then you think about Kohli, and you consider that the spin offensive to take him down includes 23-year-old bolter, to go with another 23-year-old, Ashton Agar, known more for his batting and his adorable smile, then Steve O’Keefe, a first-class mainstay who has played four Tests, and a bloke who is routinely savaged in this part of the world, Nathan Lyon. To begin at the top, the kid Mitchell Swepson. Is there any more to this than the fact we love a leggie, we love a youngster, and we’re inordinately influenced by Shane Warne? GL: It’s boring when we agree but it’s hard to fight you on this one. Aside from the world’s second-most-prominent orange human being pumping him up, would anyone even have thought of Swepson for this tour? He’s had a couple of good BBL games, but that means less than zero in Tests. He also went for 39 off three overs the other day. He’s barely played first-class cricket and he’ll get eaten. All our spinners most likely will, but at least Fawad Ahmed knows Subcontinent decks, given he… you know… learned how to play cricket in Pakistan. AC: Fawad, who I adore and I’m not going to pretend otherwise, can’t get a Shield game, though. Was always going to hurt, and the perception that he “failed” as an Australian cricketer for some sub-par tour games. What’s been lost in a bit of the commentary is how unlucky Jon Holland is – the guy who is keeping Fawad out of the Victorian team and leads the Sheffield Shield for wickets. And he’s not happy, saying that he hasn’t so much as received a call from the selection panel since the Sri Lankan tour where he debuted. Pretty ordinary stuff. They also left Hilton Cartwright out in favour of Mitch Marsh. Now that the blessed man Watto is no longer, is Marsh Australia’s most derided cricketer? Not even his brother inspires the same bile anymore. Simpler times. GL: Poor old Mitch Marsh. He was copping stick for making a first-baller in the one-day game against Pakistan the other afternoon, even though he’s played some ripping ODI innings as a top-order batsman in the last year or so. He’s not the same player between formats, but
people’s antipathy to his Test work means they don’t see the rest. A bit like our friend Watto’s incredible ODI record never gets noticed. Anyone know S.R. Watson has the sixth-best average ever in run chases? Doubt it. Up at 52.80. But Marsh for India is less about batting than bowling fast. AC: Those ODIs. Haven’t been convincing. A couple into the series of five and it was one apiece with Pakistan, who won their first game of the tour on Sunday. They’ve been strangling Australia with, what do you know, spin. But it sure was timely for Matt Wade to find form with a maiden ODI ton. He’s a frustrating player to track. It’s not as though he’s a kid anymore, having debuted nearly five years ago. This should be routine, not novelty, right? GL: Well, he started coming good in Sri Lanka in mid-2016, that one-day series they played over there on some dry and difficult decks. Aaron Finch and George Bailey played well, too, then got punted from the national team in the last couple of weeks. Which had an added piquancy when, as you say, the new line-up twice got choked out by spin. Kept to 220 at home is not pretty, and the same should have happened in the first game except that Wade got them out of jail. But there’s some pep about the visitors: Imad Wasim has bowled his left-arm spin beautifully, Mohammad Hafeez and Shoaib Malik have used their experience, and Mohammad Amir has cracked the code and started bowling closer to his best. Mind you this column goes to print around the end of the third game in Perth, and Pakistan might not like the conditions over there. AC: I suspect just as many eyes, if not more, will be on how the BBL finals shake out in the last few days. I know we went on about this last week, but I’m firming in the view that we’re but a couple of summers away from an isolated window in January where nothing on the domestic calendar will be allowed to chew into that evergrowing rump. The quintessential good problem to have. GL: It’s been fun, even if I can’t remember games a day later. I’ll remember Bangladesh in New Zealand though. Poor blighters. Shakib makes a double, they have their first dominant batting performance outside Asia, and manage to slip up right at the end. Still, one step closer, and it’s one of the joys of cricket to see them starting to come good at last. We have to tour there this year too - if we don’t find some players who can handle India, that might end up another embarrassment.
The kid Mitchell Swepson, is there any more in this than the fact we love a leggie and we’re inordinately influenced by Shane Warne?
Topsy turvy: Pakistan levelled the series before Australia went 2-1 up at Perth thanks to Steve Smith’s ton
Love a leggie: Mitchell Swepson has been picked to tour India