No room for both Tait and Lee in Oz WC squad

Friday, January 14, 2011

MELBOURNE - Australia’s loss to England in the first of two Twenty20 matches in Adelaide a couple of days ago with both Brett Lee and Shaun Tait in the line-up, has led to doubts about both being selected for next month’s World Cup in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka.

There is also a view that Victorian all-rounder David Hussey must do more to ensure himself a place in the 15-man World Cup squad, to be announced next week.

According to the Daily Telegraph, tonight’s T20 match in Melbourne and the first one-day game of the seven-match series against England, at the MCG on Sunday, will double as World Cup trial matches.

The selectors must name their final 15 by next Wednesday and are still undecided about the last bowling and batting spot and whether there is another all-rounder good enough to choose as cover for Shane Watson, who was outstanding with bat and ball on Wednesday night.

Lee, 34, and Tait, 27, are both in a 14-man squad for Sunday’s one-day match, but injured captain Ricky Ponting and reserve wicketkeeper-batsman Tim Paine are at least two players who must force their way into that squad.

With two spinners, Xavier Doherty and Nathan Hauritz, likely to tour because the tournament is on the Indian subcontinent, one of the five fast bowlers in the current one-day squad will probably miss out.

Given that Tait is younger, quicker and less predictable, Lee would struggle to win that battle.

However, much may depend on whether Hussey, 33, can convince the selectors he is an alternative all-rounder with his useful limited-overs spin on the subcontinent.

He has a poor one-day record at international level, has not played that form of the game for 18 months, and struggled on Wednesday night before clubbing a bouncer for a mighty six to lift his run rate above a run a ball.

However, Hussey was bowled with the next delivery for 28 from 27 balls as Australia lost its way after a good start from Watson and David Warner.

While Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger and Peter Siddle appear certainties, there is likely to be fierce competition between Lee and Tait for what could be the final spot. And even if they both go in the 15-man squad, it is unlikely Lee and Tait will play in the same side.

Bowling expert Damien Fleming believes there is room for both in the squad but probably not in the final XI.

The former Test paceman and national academy coach feels that with Johnson it would be a luxury to have three offensive bowlers in the same limited-overs team.

“The positive is we could be bowling teams out for 90, or we could be chasing 520,” Fleming joked.

“Tait is a slinger, Johnson is a left-arm slinger and Brett has a beautiful action, so if they do bowl well batsmen would not get into a rhythm. But their career figures highlight they do leak runs. I think only two of them will play if Bollinger is bowling really well,” he added.

Serious foot injuries to Ryan Harris and Clint Mckay have left Australia without an obvious defensive pace candidate for next month’s tournament.

Fleming, a member of the 1999 Cup-winning team, said it would be an overtly attacking move by selectors if they based their attack for Indian, Sri Lankan and Bangladeshi pitches on Tait, Lee and Johnson.

“When you say those names, it sounds exciting, but they’re more offensive than defensive bowlers so it could be very interesting. We might be chasing some big scores and we might be knocking teams over for about 90,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Fleming, as saying.

Fleming said if selectors decided to take all three express pacemen to the World Cup they should complement them with one of three fringe all-rounders - James Hopes, John Hastings or Daniel Christian - for their defensive capabilities.

“Hopes is a proven international player, you know what you’re going to get without him being a star with bat or ball. Hastings is a bowling all-rounder but I think his change of pace could work over there and he’s a front-foot donger on small grounds. And if they really want an X-factor Dan Christian hits the ball as well as anyone in Australia … he bowls medium-pacers but what might work over there are his cutters,” he said. (ANI)

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