Andrew Symonds set to keep his spot - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Andrew Symonds set to keep his spot

By John Salvado 08/12/2005 04:45:41 PM Comments (0)

Andrew Symonds' murderous innings against New Zealand on Wednesday is set to make him one of the select few to shore up his berth in the Australian Test team with his feats in the one-day arena.

The Australian selectors have long had a policy of treating the two forms of the game separately when it came to picking teams.

But Symonds' match-winning 127-ball innings of 156 - the third-highest ever by an Australian in a one-day international - should prove impossible to ignore when the team for the first Test against South Africa at the WACA Ground is named on Friday.

Australia is almost certain to overlook leg-spinner Stuart MacGill and revert to a three-pronged pace attack on the bouncy WACA strip - meaning Symonds' versatile blend of off-spin and medium-pace bowling could also prove handy.

But it's the type of game-turning innings which the Queenslander is now producing more regularly on the limited-overs stage that the Australian brains trust sees as his most valuable asset.

If Symonds is retained, Michael Clarke is destined to spend at least one more Test on the sidelines, despite his own impressive unbeaten innings of 82 in the narrow win over the Kiwis in Wellington on Wednesday night.

"(Symonds) hasn't played much Test cricket but he's a quality cricketer, he's played for a long time, he knows his game pretty well so given a good crack at Test cricket I'm sure he'll succeed," Shane Warne said on Thursday.

"He can change the course of a game in a session or an hour of play, so if he can play like that he's going to be fantastic in the Test arena.

"And if he keeps bowling well then I'm sure he can keep playing for Australia in Test cricket as well.

"His fielding is brilliant ... if he can get some wickets or bowl well then that might help him get a longer chance with the bat."

Symonds has claimed two wickets and made only 63 runs at an average of 10.50 in four Tests, including a ponderous 51-ball innings of nine in the recent third Test against the West Indies.

It compares poorly to his ODI international record of 3,101 runs in 129 matches with an average of 38.28 and a strike rate over 90.

He has also claimed 97 wickets in the abbreviated form of the game.

Spearhead Brett Lee, in England earlier this year, and Symonds himself in Sri Lanka in 2004, are among the few Australians in recent times whose limited-overs form has played a major role in their inclusion in the Test lineup.

If Lee recovers as expected from likely nasal surgery in time to take his place in the team for the first Test against South Africa starting on December 16, he will feature in a three-pronged pace attack with Glenn McGrath and - almost certainly - Blues left-armer Nathan Bracken.

Victorian tearaway Mick Lewis could also be rewarded for a long spell of success at first-class level and three wickets on his ODI debut on Wednesday night with a spot in the Test squad for the first time.

"He's (Mick Lewis) got into the one-day squad, he's a contracted player, his name has come up at selection meetings so obviously he's not that far away," said Australian selector Merv Hughes.

"His efforts for Victoria over the last three or four years have been phenomenal."

The 31-year-old Lewis would also earn points from the selectors for his composure in bowling the final over in Wednesday night's two-run win over the Kiwis.

"He is as cool as ice, he's a senior player, he's an experienced player, given the situation like that you're hoping he would come through - a lot of players seize up under pressure," Hughes said.

Likely Australian squad: Ricky Ponting (capt), Justin Langer, Matthew Hayden, Brad Hodge, Mike Hussey, Andrew Symonds, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne, Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken, Glenn McGrath, Mick Lewis.

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