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Rodney Hogg questions Australia's team selection for Sri Lankan tour

The Ashes legend questioned the logic behind selecting six seamers for a series which is expected to feature rank-turners.

Fawad Ahmed Australia Cricket
Hogg believes leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed should have been picked instead of Steve O’Keefe

Australian Ashes legend Rodney Hogg has expressed his disappointment at the decision made by the national selectors to not opt for a leg-spinner for Australia’s upcoming tour of Sri Lanka. He also questioned the logic behind picking six fast bowlers in the side when the pitches in Sri Lanka are expected to be spin-friendly. 

Hogg, who rose to international prominence with his very first Test for Australia against England during the 1978-79 home Ashes series, picking up six wickets on debut in the first innings of the first Test, before going on to collect 41 wickets in total in the six-match series, didn’t hold back in his remarks as he launched a scathing remark about the team’s selection for the three-Tests series against Australia. 

“We are under question because we’ve gone with fast bowling which I don’t think wins games in Sri Lanka,” Hogg told the Sunday Herald Sun. “Sri Lanka is not a great place for fast bowling.”

Australia’s squad includes seamers Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Jackson Bird, Mitchell Marsh and Moises Henriques. Hogg was of the opinion that should the Australian selectors indeed wanted so many seamers in the side, they should have opted for 26-year-old Chadd Sayers instead of the likes of Courter-Nile and Henriques who Hogg believes were not worthy of making the cut. 

“I was disappointed that Chadd Sayers from South Australia was not selected,” Hogg said. “Henriques must be very lucky to get (selected). Coulter-Nile is (also) very lucky.”

Hogg was also disappointed with the choices in the spin department with Australia opting for left-arm finger spinner Steve O’Keefe as Nathan Lyon’s deputy over promising leg-spinners like Adam Zampa and Fawad Ahmed.

“They’ve just turned their back on Fawad Ahmed,” Hogg said. “If I was wanting to win a Test match in Sri Lanka I’d be taking Fawad. I’d be taking three spinners. Our stocks for spinners aren’t very high.”

“Adam Zampa (who took five wickets in four matches in the 2016 World T20) looks like he has come along. Lyon, O’Keefe and either Fawad or (South Australia’s) Zampa would have been how I would have gone. You’d want a leggie over there, in case they do prepare spinners’ wickets,” he added. 

Hogg is in no doubt that the hosts will be preparing rank turners to exploit Australia’s weakness against spin bowling and believes a lot of their chances will depend on how Rangana Herath performs. However, he still expects Steven Smith’s men to come out on top, considering the wretched run of form Sri Lanka are in presently. 

“You would have thought if Sri Lanka wants to beat us they’d prepare spinners’ wickets,” the 38-Test veteran Hogg said. “Our inability to play spinners in renowned a little bit.”

“(But) I can’t see Sri Lanka (winning), from what we saw in England (where the tourists lost a three-Test series 2-0),” Hogg said. “It will be interesting to see what support Herath gets because they’ll only beat us with spin in Sri Lanka.”

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