Michael Hussey has played 79 Tests for Australia    Getty Images
Michael Hussey has played 79 Tests for Australia Getty Images

Michael Hussey has said he was left confused after Australia picked Ashton Agar and Steve o Keefe for the New Year s Test against Pakistan at Sydney, scheduled to begin from January 3. Agar and O Keefe were added in the squad in place of an under-firing Nic Maddinson and fast bowler Chadd Sayers, who did not get a chance to make his Test debut. Maddinson scored just 27 runs in the four Test innings and as a result, missed out on a place for this Test. The Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG) is traditionally a spinning pitch and Hussey is not surprised by the fact that Australia have boosted their squad with spinners. But the fact that they picked spinners of the same type is what has left Mr. Cricket bemused.

“I m more confused,” Hussey told cricket.com.au after hearing Australia s squad for the SCG Test. “I guess they re really going to consider two spinners for Sydney. Interesting they ve gone for two left-arm orthodox spinners to come into the squad. I don t know what that means; I don t know what to read into that. “They ll get up to Sydney, really assess the conditions and see if they can get two spinners into the playing XI.” If the fast bowlers, consisting of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Jackson Bird need to be rested after a heavy workload, we could see Hilton Cartwright making his Test debut and O Keefe drafted in the side to partner Nathan Lyon in the spin department. If the seamers are fit, Australia could field Agar in place of Maddinson, giving them five bowlers.

Full Cricket Scorecard: Australia vs Pakistan 3rd Test at Sydney

However, Hussey is of the belief that Agar may not be a direct replacement for Maddinson. “If they go down that route maybe [Matthew] Wade would move up to No. 6 and Agar will be at No. 7,” Hussey said. “He s definitely no mug with the bat. I still think you need a really good, proven batsman at No.6, and if he can help out with the ball that s even better. If they can bowl 10 overs a day that s helping everyone else out. Agar certainly hasn t proven himself as a top-order batsman in First-Class cricket but he s certainly no mug, he got 98 at debut batting at No.11. That s pretty amazing in itself.”

While it might be risky to play Agar in the top 6, Hussey also believes that it might be equally risky to play O Keefe as they 32-year-old suffered a calf injury last month. “It s a gamble, but [O Keefe is] a very good bowler,” Hussey said. “His statistics over a long period of time are very strong. “I can see why he s been added to the squad, no question.”

Hussey added, “It looks like they re not going to rest Hazlewood or Starc or Bird, which I think is a good thing,” he said. “The Sydney Test is a big occasion so I m glad they re looking like they want to push through and win this series 3-0.”