Smith and Hauritz should play together
Two spinners in India isn’t as crazy as it seems, even if they’re new to the highest form of cricket. Smith/Hauritz needs to be trialled rapidly in preparation for the World Cup and beyond.
Before I am hauled off to the asylum for offering up this nugget of potential craziness, let me justify the idea. I love the idea of tandem spinners working together. The concept of multiple spinners has had mixed results in the past, to its greatest success with the Indian-Quartet of Venkat, Bedi, Chandrasekar and Prasanna. (Though not in the same match all but once. That would’ve been something to behold)
It is something that has been lost on Australia prior to the the spin renaissance of Warne and MacGill. We’ve been a classically pace-inclined nation and love watching a pair of great quicks work together. The list is quite impeccable; McGrath/Gillespie, Thompson/Lillee, Lindwall/Miller, even going back further with Spofforth/Giffen. It makes sense that Australians love fast bowlers more than spinners; they’re active, intimidating and are usually the biggest, boisterous characters on the park. I’ll admit that I enjoy their antics as well, but I was raised on a steady diet of successful, crafty spinners. I am a product of the Warne-generation and as such, I want spinners bowling as much as possible.
This leads me to thinking about the current Test and one-day lineup and the 2 Test / 3 ODI series we’re about to undertake in India. Mohali and Bangalore are the host grounds for the tests and with their inclination towards spinners, it could be worth the time to consider a tandem effort from Smith and Hauritz. Not only is it worth trialling in Test match conditions, but this would be a great strategy to take to the World Cup.
It is not without risk; Smith is severely inexperienced and Hauritz is only just becoming accustomed to his position as the number one spinner. This kind of selection would be the highest level of braveness on behalf of what has been a safety-first kind of selection committee. Readers of this site will know of our distaste for Marcus North, with 36 runs in 4 innings against Pakistan solidifying that believe even further. His time should be up, but the Hilditch reprieve continues unabated, despite a lack of results. I would rather that spot be used to experiment bold practices within Australian cricket, this being the first of these ideas.
For upcoming one-dayers, I think that the two of them in one lineup works far better than previous options of getting overs from Dave Hussey and Michael Clarke. Smith’s batting suits the short form cricket, as has been shown with his recent foray into the international T20 format. Let’s not forget that the World Cup returns to the subcontinent as well, so two spinners getting experience on these tracks will fall in better stead for the tournament proper.
Smith will grow into his all-round capabilities in time. Success was already shown with his bludgeoning 77 against Pakistan at Lords and wickets throughout his time. I don’t think I need to talk up Smith more than I have already (I was sold when I saw him in the 2007 U19 World Cup and captivated by that disjointed run-up), so this is the extension of trusting him as a batting allrounder. He played his tests as a bowling-allrounder, which I think doesn’t sell him enough justice as a batman. He will easily turn into a 35bat/30ball or better allrounder, so given the need to use two spinners in the subcontinent, it is worth consideration.
The other option is to exclude another paceman and have Smith/Hauritz as traditional bowlers at 8 and 10. Never before have I fathomed an Australian team batting so deep. The opening bowlers would need to be supplemented heavily by Watson (something to which I’m uneasy about, but that’s for a different article), but it isn’t the best option to fight the Indian Fortress batting with less bowling. Would rather see one less traditional batsman in order to have a 6-prong bowling lineup with a huge array of variety.
This is the series that could define the outcomes of the Ashes and the World Cup. Preparation for Australia will come down to what we can extract from our squad as a whole rather than relying on the old performers who are starting to come to their end.
Preferred XI for Indian Tests:
Watson, Katich, Ponting, Clarke, M. Hussey, Haddin (wk), Smith, Johnson, Hauritz, Hilfenhaus, Bollinger
Preferred ODI XI:
Watson, Haddin (wk), Ponting, Clarke, D. Hussey, White, Smith, Johnson, Hauritz, Bollinger, Tait
Editor of the True Allrounder