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 Cricket Paper - - FEATURE & INTERNATIONAL CRICKET -

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?

PIC­TURE: Getty Im­ages

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

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