Warne staggered by Hauritz’s omission from Oval Test

Monday, August 24, 2009


LONDON - Former Australian leg spinner Shane Warne has said that the decision to leave off spinner Nathan Hauritz out of the fifth Ashes Test was “staggering” and someone will have to take the blame.

“There is bound to be a lot more talk about why Australia did not choose Nathan Hauritz. Personally, I have to say that I was staggered by the decision. I would always want to have a spinner in the side for variety’s sake, but I think this time Australia simply misread the pitch,” Warne wrote in his Times column.

England’s 197-run win on day four of the fifth and final Test at The Oval gave them the series 2-1.

Australia chose not to recall off-spinner Hauritz, the lone specialist slow bowler in the squad.

Instead they opted to stick with the four-man pace attack that had bowled them to victory by an innings and 80 runs in the fourth Test at Headingley, a ground that traditionally favours the quicks.

England did field an off-spinner at the Oval in Graeme Swann and he took a valuable eight wickets for 158 runs in the match.

Groundsman Bill Gordon too copped some flak in the Australian press for preparing a “result” wicket rather than the traditional batting-friendly surface for which the Oval is known.

“The pitch wasn’t a minefield, but it was ordinary. I am not making a big thing about it, because it produced some decent cricket. Other than Australia’s mad couple of hours in the first innings (when they were bowled out for 160), the scores were not that low. In a way, you could say that it was a typical Oval wicket-except the first day was more like your normal day four,” said Warne.

Warne stressed: “I do not believe that it was doctored in favour of England. It is not as though they picked two spinners, and they couldn’t have known that Hauritz would be left out.”

Warne said Hauritz’s omission raised questions for the selectors and Australia captain Ricky Ponting who, in Hauritz’s absence, had to rely on part-time spinner Marcus North.

“I do not know who had the final say on selection, whether it was the selectors themselves, or Ricky, or what degree of input came from Tim Nielsen, the coach,” he said.

“We all make mistakes and somebody, somewhere, will have to take the blame for this one.

Warne said conditions had made it a bad toss to lose for Ponting.

“If Ricky had called correctly and batted first, things probably would have been different. England had to win and effectively they gambled fifty-fifty on getting the opportunity to put runs on the board first time,” he said.

Asked about the non-selection of Hauritz, Ponting said: “We probably got that wrong.

“I don’t think anyone in their wildest dreams thought the wicket would play the way it did. In hindsight, a specialist spinner would have been pretty handy out there,” he said. (ANI)

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