Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Aussies decide on Casson as Windies mull over options

Beau Casson will become the 401st player to wear the Baggy Green cap for Australia, when he makes his debut in the third and final Test against West Indies starting on Thursday.

The Australians have ignored local knowledge that the Kensington Oval pitch - relaid for last year's World Cup - will be livelier than the surfaces for the first two Tests of the series in Jamaica and Antigua.

They have resisted temptation to pick four frontline fast bowlers and have chosen to stick their long-held policy of a balanced attack which will include Casson.

The left-arm bowler will replace Stuart MacGill, who retired after the second Test, as the only change in the Australia line-up for the crucial Test.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting is confident that Casson will handle the pressure of his first Test, considering the maturity that he has seen from the spin bowler since the Aussies arrived in the Caribbean.

"He has come along in leaps and bounds as a person,"
Ponting said.
"He has been a little bit more outspoken than at the start of the tour.

"It has helped his bowling a lot, and if you talk to him, he feels he has become a more consistent bowler now than when he arrived, and this is a good sign for him."

After battling injuries, poor form and switching states in the past few years, Casson has come to this point following Brad Hogg's retirement, as well as MacGill's, along with the failure of Cullen Bailey and Dan Cullen to impress in Australian domestic cricket.

"I have had a pretty close look at him throughout this tour, and I have had a few good chats with him about his bowling,"
Ponting said.

"He is pretty eager to learn, but he's well sorted to tell the truth. He knows his stuff pretty well, and it's obvious he's had a fair bit of help along the way."

Australia lead the three-Test series 1-0, after they won the opener at Sabina Park by 95 runs, and Ponting hopes the predictions about the pitch hold true, since he reckons some of the West Indies' top-order batsmen are a little susceptible to short-pitched bowling.

"Some of their bowlers have been talking to some of their batsmen, and telling them that they can't wait to get us down to Barbados where there is more pace and bounce,"
he said.

"We are brought up on these kinds of pitches, so I do not think there will be too many Aussie batsmen having sleepless nights.

"But it's also the style of cricket that West Indies have grown up playing. Their bowlers are going to enjoy it, our bowlers are going to enjoy it, but our batsmen may enjoy it a little more than theirs."

Wicketkeeper/batsman Brad Haddin also had a cloud of doubt hovering over him, but this has cleared, following medical treatment which included the nail on his injured finger being removed.

"He was more worried about this than the break in his finger,"
Ponting said.
"He has played with those sorts of things before. He's played the first two Tests with it, and he's a tough little bugger, so he'll be fine."

West Indies (from): Chris Gayle (captain), Ramnaresh Sarwan (vice captain), Sulieman Benn, Dwayne Bravo, Shivnarine Chanderpaul, Sewnarine Chattergoon, Fidel Edwards, Xavier Marshall, Runako Morton, Daren Powell, Denesh Ramdin, Kemar Roach, Darren Sammy, Jerome Taylor.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (captain), Phil Jaques, Simon Katich, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Stuart Clark, Beau Casson.

Umpires: Aleem Dar, Mark Benson, TV Replays: Goaland Greaves, Reserve: Vincent Bullen.
Match referee: Roshan Mahanama.

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