Expect 'something special' from Australia, Mitchell Johnson warns India
What’s the story?
Former speedster Mitchell Johnson expects Australia to unveil an uncharacteristic team combination during their upcoming Test series in India. The 35-year old has gone on record stating that Steven Smith’s men could attack the number one ranked side with relentless spin.
“They (Indian pitches) are bunsen burners at the moment, they've been turning a fair bit (and) South Africa lost a Test series there. It's going to be very interesting. I don't know whether they go for two or three spinners in a Test. I've just got a feeling we'll see something different, something maybe special. We'll see a very different side to what we're normally used to. We're going to see more spin bowling over there”, Johnson was quoted as saying by The Sydney Morning Herald.
Acknowledging Australia’s recent paucity of quality spinners, he felt, “That's a good thing because you've got to play the conditions in India. The stats say that our quicks are better over there but mostly it's the quicks that bowl over there – we don't really bowl a lot of spin. It was Shane Warne before that and over the last 10 or so years, there's been a lot of changes with our spin bowling.“
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While doing commentary for a BBL game earlier this month, National Selector Mark Waugh indicated that Australia could feature three spinners and seam all-rounder Mitchell Marsh in their playing eleven. However, the downside on such a ploy would see one of Mitchell Starc or Josh Hazlewood miss out.
The heart of the matter
Considering the type of pitches prevalent in the subcontinent, the Australian selectors have included as many as four specialist spinners in their 16-member squad. Apart from lead spinner Nathan Lyon, the likes of Steve O’Keefe, Ashton Agar and the uncapped Mitchell Swepson all find a place.
Two left-armers, an off-spinner and leg-spinner each should provide Smith with plenty of options. Adding all-rounder Glenn Maxwell’s handy off-breaks to the mix, the touring party seems to be loaded with slow bowlers.
Despite an obvious sense of pessimism back home, the Australians have not veered away from preparing as hard as possible for what should be a gruelling tour. Intense training sessions in Dubai could go a long way in getting acclimatised to Asian conditions.
Johnson’s views notwithstanding, Australia’s best chance to create an upset rests on their fast bowlers. If the pitches for the series are anything like those seen in the England one, Starc’s extra pace and Hazlewood‘s metronomic control might pose a few questions to Indian batsmen. As the old adage says – pick your best bowlers irrespective of the conditions.Published 29 Jan 2017, 20:32 IST