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Australia ponder twin-spin option

October 17, 2005 19:41 IST
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Australia have finally found a ray of hope from the ruins of their Ashes defeat that could haunt England when they travel down under next year to defend cricket's most famous urn.

Australia's selectors were heavily criticised for their reluctance to play two spinners in the Ashes but the brilliant performances by Shane Warne and Stuart MacGill in the Super Test against the World XI could force a policy change.

The two leg spinners captured 15 of the 20 wickets in Australia's 210-run victory at the Sydney Cricket Ground on Monday and captain Ricky Ponting said there is now a compelling argument to use the same combination at other grounds.

"You're always trying to pick a team for the right conditions," Ponting said.

"We went in with the two leg spinners in this game because we had an idea and felt that this wicket would turn quite a lot as it did.

"But there's no reason why it can't work [at other grounds]. Stuart's going to turn the ball on any wicket just about and Warnie's bowling as well as he ever has."

Ponting said the key to playing two spinners in the future is the addition of promising all-rounder Shane Watson, dubbed Australia's answer to Andrew Flintoff.

Watson has played just two Tests and while he failed to make a big impact against the World XI, Ponting said he has all the ingredients of a fine player.

"Having the all-rounder in the side as well with someone like Shane Watson gives us another bowling option which at times during the Ashes we were looking for and searching for," Ponting said.

"He's a young bloke who's developed his game a lot over the last 12 months. He's someone that I think has got a very bright future in the Australian Test team."

The Australian selectors wielded the axe after the Ashes loss, dropping middle-order batsman Damien Martyn and fast bowlers Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz.


Ponting said he didn't expect any more changes before the start of next month's Test series against West Indies although there are concerns about Simon Katich.

The left-hander broke a finger while fielding close-in on Monday and had no luck with the bat either. He was run out for a duck in the first innings then dismissed for two in the second as the Australian middle-order crumbled, losing 9-47 on a turning wicket.

"We all collapsed pretty badly in the second innings," Ponting said.

"I don't have any concerns there at all I think we've got the right players there, players that have been successful for us for decent periods of time in the past.

"It would be pretty harsh to judge them on just one Test match. I wouldn't expect there will be any changes."

MacGill took 5-43 in the second innings, including the final three wickets in just five balls, to finish with nine victims for the match.

MacGill's Test appearances have been restricted to Sydney in the past couple of seasons but he said his performance in the Super Test has added ammunition to his argument he should play more often.

"I'm very, very comfortable with any role that comes my way," he said.

"I'd be stupid to make a song and a dance about being selected once a year if that was all I'd be considered for but I would like to be a regular part."


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