When Stephen O’Keefe debuted for Australia in their recent T20 international match against Pakistan, he became the ninth spinner that Australia trialled since 2008 when Stuart MacGill retired. On the lines of this article, we take a look at all of them.
Debuting in the ODI series of the 2002 tour of South Africa, Hauritz’s rise from a player who did not get a state contract in 2006-07 to Australia’s current lead spinner, has been nothing short of phenomenal. He got his baggy green during the tour of India in 2004 in the final Test in Mumbai. His five wickets in the match included those of VVS Laxman and Sachin Tendulkar in the second innings but Michael Clarke‘s figures of 6/9 gained more prominence and the next game he played was the Adelaide test against New Zealand in 2008. He became the talking point after the final Ashes test in 2009 when Ponting erred by going in with a fourth seamer on a slow pitch at the Oval. He was instrumental in New South Wales’ success at the T20 Champions League when he got the ball to turn in the semi-final against Victoria. With 57 and 62 wickets, respectively, in Tests and ODIs, he is currently a permanent fixture in the two formats.
A left-arm chinaman bowler in the mould of Brad Hogg, Casson was one of the two migrant players for New South Wales in 2006, the other one being Nathan Hauritz. He was part of the Australian under-19 team in 2002 and his solitary appearance in baggy green colours came in 2008 in the third Test after Stuart Macgill retired after the second. Match figures of 3/129 did not seem to encourage the selectors who dropped him for the squad for the India tour later that year. He last played for New South Wales in the 2008-09 season and is struggling to make his way up.
McGain was 35 when he was named in the squad for the India tour of 2008. However he picked up injury even before the tournament began and was replaced by state-mate Cameron White before again making it to the tour of South Africa in 2009. Shane Warne termed him the best leg-spinner in Australia at that time but a forgettable baggy green debut ensued as he was carted for 149 runs in his 18 wicketless overs. He continues to play a game or two for Victoria but with age not on his side, he stares at the twilight of his first-class career.
White began his career as an allrounder, a spinner who could bat. Being a leg-spinner hailing from Victoria meant comparisons with Shane Warne (a Victorian himself) were always going to be there. In fact, Warne himself had termed him a future Australian player way back in 2002. The opportunity came in 2008 during the tour of India when Bryce McGain got injured ahead of the series. White got to play all four Tests and his first wicket, that of Sachin Tendulkar, brought him tears. After jostling with Andrew Symonds for a middle order spot in ODIs, he gained permanence during the Natwest ODI series in England in 2009. He no longer bowls even for Victoria though former players insist he must. The all-rounder is a permanent member of their T20 and 50-over outfits though it is more for his batting abilities.
Sourav Ganguly‘s retirement and Ricky Ponting‘s slow over-rate in the Nagpur Test of 2008 obscure the achievement of Krejza who bagged 12 wickets for 358 runs, that included an 8/215 in the first innings. An injury kept him out for the home series against New Zealand but he got another look-in in the Perth Test of 2008 against South Africa. The rise of Nathan Hauritz and a slew of injuries meant he disappeared from national contention. Many a time, he was been successful with the new ball as well.
North is currently playing the role that Andrew Symonds used to do at No.6. Though he does not possess much wicket-taking ability, he is being used as the second spinner and is considered more for his batting abilities.
Young Steven Smith has been marked out by the selectors as a player for the future. He is considered a spinning allrounder though his first class bowling average of 49 raises doubts about his bowling. He has had some success in the 5 ODIs and 13 T20Is he played and an injury to Nathan Hauritz means Smith is all set to wear the baggy green cap in the Tests against Pakistan next week.
The latest spinner to play for Australia. He is part of the current Test squad as replacement for Nathan Hauritz. With Steven Smith certain to debut, O’Keefe has to play the waiting game.
Holland was part of the ODI side that toured India in 2009 for the seven ODIs but did not get a single game. Playing for Victoria, he is the support spinner for Bryce McGain and David Hussey and is all set to take over the lead role when the former calls it quits.
With the Ashes later this year, it would be interesting to see which of these spinners, apart from Nathan Hauritz, makes the cut in the quest for the baggy green. Hauritz’s success means that the selectors will now searching for a support spinner, someone who can step up in his absence, someone who can complement him like how Stuart Macgill and Brad Hogg did during Shane Warne’s time.