Between Shane Warne and Nathan Lyon : Australia's army of unheralded spinners
Shane Warne was arguably Cricket's greatest leg-spinner. For all the years he played for Australia, it was unusual for a team outside the sub-continent to have a spinner as their best wicket-taker in Tests and leg-spinners by themselves were a rarity.
Post the Warne era, Australia struggled long and hard to fill up the void left behind by the charismatic bowler. Stuart MacGill was there for a while, but he too left, possibly with a potential that remained unfulfilled. It would be almost a decade and a squad of spinners later that Nathan Lyon would establish himself as a certainty in the Australian XI and become one of the premier spinners in Tests in the modern age.
Let us have a look at a select few spinners who held the Baggy Green during this time but couldn't really make it big in international cricket.
#8 Dan Cullen
Before making his Test debut in 2006 against Bangladesh, Dan Cullen was for a while at the top in the list of bowlers queued to replace Shane Warne as Australia's long term specialist spinner. Cullen burst onto the scene as a big turning off-spinner who could bowl the doosra, an art form looked upon with frown in Australian cricket circles.
He first came into prominence in 2004, taking 43 wickets in the Pura Cup (now Sheffield Shield) at 30.37, impressive numbers where pitches are non-conductive to spin in general. His dream of playing for Australia came true when he formed a part of a three-pronged spin attack, rare for Australia, alongside Warne and MacGill in the 2nd Test of Australia's tour to Bangladesh in 2005-06.
Bowling a total of 14 overs spread across two innings, Cullen could only manage the solitary wicket of Mashrafe Mortaza as Warne and MacGill made hay, grabbing 15 wickets among themselves. That match against Bangladesh remains his only appearance at the Test level as he was dropped from the side thereafter and never came close to a recall.
It can be argued that he should have been given another crack at Test cricket but subsequent first class seasons didn't justify his case. He appeared for Australia in 5 ODIs too but without impressive returns.
#7 Beau Casson
Beau Casson was forgotton almost as soon as he came into prominence. Battling a long spate of injuries and loss of form, lady luck finally smiled on him when he was selected for Australia's tour of West Indies in 2008. With Stuart MacGill deciding to retire mid-way through the series, Casson was selected to play in the 3rd Test.
A slow left-arm chinaman bowler, Casson was in similar mould as Brad Hogg. Born with a heart condition, he adjusted his training regime and was continuously monitored. With figures of 3/129 in his debut match, he didn't exactly grab eyeballs and was subsequently dropped for Australia's next assignment to India, with selectors favouring more conventional spin options in Jason Krejza and Bryce McGain.
The fall didn't stop there for Casson as he soon lost his place in the New South Wales side after a poor run of domestic matches, with Nathan Hauritz replacing him as the team's leading spinner. He moved to Sydney in order to revive his steeply falling career and inflating bowling average, but a shoulder injury hampered those plans.
His heart condition eventually forced him to retire from all forms of cricket in 2011, aged 28. His debut Test against West Indies remained his only international appearance for Australia.