Australian cricket’s desperate search for a frontline spinner has come to this — Nathan Hauritz.
Hauritz, on debut on a “bunsen burner” in Mumbai, was outbowled by part-timer Michael Clarke, who took 6-9 in a losing side against India.
Right-arm off-spinner Hauritz returned figures of 3-16 and 2-87 and hasn’t played Test cricket again. He has also claimed nine wickets in eight one-day internationals, making his last appearance in 2003.
The retirements of Shane Warne, Stuart MacGill and Brad Hogg in the past two years, an injury to Victorian leg-spinner Bryce McGain and NSW left-arm wrist-spinner Beau Casson’s form troubles had gifted Jason Krejza his Test debut in Nagpur earlier this month.
The 25-year-old Tasmanian off-spinner responded with an extraordinary haul of 12 wickets in the match.
After being left out of the side for last week’s first Test against New Zealand on the seam-friendly Gabba pitch, Krejza was all set to return to the side for Friday’s second Test at Adelaide Oval, having beaten off pressure from Victorian leggie Cameron White who offered no threat to India’s batsmen on the subcontinent.
But after rolling his right ankle during a fielding drill on Wednesday, the Sydney-born Krejza is facing a fight to prove his fitness.
Which leaves Hauritz being flown to Adelaide on standby, despite figures of six wickets at 40.67 apiece in two Sheffield Shield matches for NSW this season.
Considered more of a one-day bowler, the former Queensland spinner could have a massive chance to re-establish his credentials as a Test player, depending on the fitness of Krejza.
Australian team physiotherapist Alex Kountouris said x-rays had cleared Krejza of any major damage to his ankle.
“He has suffered a ligament strain to his right ankle. He will be provided as much time as necessary in order to be available for selection although the likelihood of this is still uncertain,” Kountouris said.
Chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch expressed confidence in Hauritz’s ability to do the job if required.
“It’s very disappointing for Jason that this injury may rule him out of contention for what would be his first Test on Australian soil,” Hilditch said.
“As a precaution we have decided that Nathan Hauritz will join the Australian squad. Nathan has experience at the international level in Test and ODI cricket and as a finger spinner we see him as the appropriate shadow player for this match.”
Hauritz will train with Ricky Ponting’s team on Thursday.
Krejza’s dramatic collapse during Australia’s training session on Wednesday morning, hobbling from the field in obvious pain and supported by Kountouris, came as the latest Andrew Symonds drama had threatened to derail Australia’s preparations this week.
The Test batsman has been cleared to continue his international career following a Cricket Australia investigation, although he appears to be on his last warning.
CA chief executive James Sutherland said a report from general manager Michael Brown satisfied him that Symonds did nothing wrong when approached by a member of the public seeking a photograph at a Brisbane pub on Sunday night following the first Test victory.
The man was reported to have thrown punches at Symonds after his request was refused and was subsequently removed from the premises by staff.