Why Australia is still in search of a quality replacement for Shane Warne

The search to find another Shane Warne has turned into an obsession and a few bad performances means end of the road for the spinner © Getty Images

Eleven spinners have been played by Australia since Shane Warne’s retirement, yet none have been able to entrench themselves in the side. Ronald Chettiar explains why.

 

Shane Warne had a nightmarish Test debut in which he ended up with figures of one for 150. But the confidence reposed on him by the Australian selectors ensured that he went on to become one of the giants of the game with a tally of 708 Test wickets.

 

In over five years since Warne’s retirement, Australians are still trying to find a quality replacement for him. None of the 11 spinners Australia have tried since Warne’s exit have been able to entrench themselves in the side.

 

The likes of Stuart MacGill, Beau Casson, Jason Krejza, Brad Hogg, Cameron White, Nathan Hauritz, Michael Beer, Xavier Doherty, Bryce McGain, Nathan Lyon and Steven Smith came and left like transit passengers at airports.

Australia’s spin worry aggravated when Stuart MacGill – the sixth fastest bowler to pick up 200 Test wickets and the second fastest Australian to do so after Dennis Lillee – had to return back from the Caribbean in 2008, before quitting with fitness issues. In 44 Test matches, MacGill had scalped 208 wickets.

 

Brad Hogg was called to fill in the role of spinner but he too, like MacGill, walked into retirement in 2008 after a disappointing series against India.

 

Hogg’s sudden retirement opened the door for 25-year-old for Beau Casson. The left-arm spinner bagged three wickets for 86 runs on his debut Test against the West Indies. However, he was later dropped from the squad for Jason Krejza and Byrce McGain.

 

Casson, perhaps suffered the most depressing fate as a spinner. The left arm Chinaman played just one Test against the West Indies in 2008 before he was shown the door.

 

The Australian selectors then called in Krejza, who had a dream debut against India finishing with 12 wickets in the Test. However, he conceded 358 runs which resulted in him getting the axe in the series that followed. He was later recalled against South Africa, but has played only one Test since then.

 

After Krejza, Byrce McGain became the latest victim of selectors’ obsession to replace Warne. The leg-spinner debuted against South Africa in the third Test at Cape Town in 2009, but he never wore the Baggy Green again after conceding 149 runs without any success.  

 

The arrival of Nathan Hauritz seemed to provide an answer to Australia’s spin crisis, but after a mauling in Indiahe too joined the list of discards.

 

Since then, the likes of Michael Beer, Xavier Doherty, Nathan Lyon and Steven Smith have been part of the Australian squad but have failed to live up to the selectors expectations.

 

Spinners used by Australia since Shane Warne’s retirement

 

Bowler

 

M

Runs

Wickets

Stuart MacGill

4

651

10

Beau Casson

1

129

3

Jason Krejza

2

562

13

Brad Hogg

3

481

8

Cameron White

4

642

5

Bryce McGain

1

149

0

Nathan Hauritz

16

2101

58

Michael Beer

2

178

3

Xavier Doherty

2

306

3

Nathan Lyon

13

1169

42

Steven Smith

5

220

3

 

Statistics reveal that the selectors have not given enough rope to the tweakers to build their confidence and find their feet at the top level. The search to find another Warne has turned into an obsession and a few bad performances means end of the road for the spinner.

 

Warne’s example is a lesson for the current Australian selectors, who have failed to unearth a top class attacking spinner making them look as merely a device to give the fast bowlers a rest or speed up the over rate.

 

Bowlers need to enjoy the trust of the captain. They need to develop their confidence to build their place in the team. Unfortunately none of this is being observed by the Australian selectors.

 

The Australian selectors should show patience and give a longer rope to Xavier Doherty and Michael Beer and Nathan Lyon before deciding their fate.

 

Since making his debut against Sri Lanka in 2011, Lyon has been quite impressive with 42 wickets in 13 Tests. The 24-year-old, as been a regular starter for Australia in the longer format of the game and seems to be the man Australian selectors were in search of.

 

It’s time the Australian selectors show greater faith in spinners for them to bloom.

 

(Ronald Chettiar is a self-confessed cricket fanatic, who loves everything related to the game. An ardent Sachin Tendulkar fan, he likes to pen his thought on the intricacies of the game)