Cullen set for shock Champions inclusion - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Cullen set for shock Champions inclusion

By Greg Buckle 17/10/2006 06:12:01 PM Comments (0)

Australia is considering rushing young off-spinner Dan Cullen into the side for the Champions Trophy match against West Indies to take advantage of the crumbling Brabourne Stadium wicket.

Australia captain Ricky Ponting has confirmed pace-bowling all-rounder Shane Watson would be promoted up the order to open the batting with Adam Gilchrist, with regular opener Simon Katich dropped.

South Africa captain Graeme Smith has described the Cricket Club of India's Brabourne Stadium pitch in Mumbai as a spinners' paradise and Ponting is talking up the prospects of South Australia's Cullen playing a key role with left-arm wrist-spinner Brad Hogg.

Cullen, who made his Test and one-day international debuts in April in Bangladesh and has only five one-dayers under his belt, could be thrust into the spotlight, possibly at the expense of left-arm paceman Nathan Bracken who took 0-63 in Sunday's practice match against Mumbai.

"You would have to think that Cullen would come into some consideration after what we saw last night with the wicket having played like it did last night with the spinners being so dominant in that game," Ponting said.

"It's probably going to be ugly sort of cricket that we are going to have to play.

"I don't think you are going to see too many guys go out there and whack the ball all over the place."

New Zealand made 195 all out in Monday's game at Brabourne Stadium with South Africa managing only 108 in 34.1 overs in reply.

Last weekend West Indies was bowled out for 80 in a qualifying game there against Sri Lanka.

"Reading the papers this morning, 195 would have been the biggest chase ever I think at that ground, if South Africa had got them last night," Ponting said.

Ponting said the fact Cullen, 22, had been overlooked for both of Australia's practice matches last week would not stand against him.

"I've faced a fair bit of him in the nets and he's going nicely," Ponting said.

"It would have been nice for him if he had a game under his belt for his own confidence, but he'll bowl well.

"He's a good young kid with a good head on his shoulders. He'll be okay."

Ponting said veteran paceman Glenn McGrath would also be suited to the crumbling pitch.

"We saw a few last night breaking through the surface and guys were caught out trying to drive. Glenn will hit that area all day," Ponting said.

Ponting expressed sympathy for the plight of Katich, 31, who has been Australia's leading scorer in one-day internationals in 2006 with 783 runs at 39.15 in 22 matches.

However, Watson has made 79 and 18 as an opener in last month's tri-series in Malaysia against India and West Indies, plus totals of 70 and 34 in practice matches last week.

Watson also threw in a three-wicket haul with the ball on Sunday against Mumbai to underline his case, as Katich ran the drinks.

"He (Katich) has done little wrong but we feel we'll have a better balanced team with Watson in it," Ponting said.

Ponting said patience would be vital for batsmen and bowlers.

"From what we've seen so far, if you are patient and get the ball in the right area, you are going to get a bit of natural variation off the wicket," he said.

"The same with the batting. You just have to bite your tongue a little bit and really not worry about the scoreboard.

"Try to soak up a fair bit of pressure when you're batting and get through the tough periods of the game.

"We'll be ready for it. Having a chance to train over there a few times and we've been able to have a pretty close look at the two games there as well."

Ponting said Australia would aim to silence West Indies two key batsmen, skipper Brian Lara and opener Chris Gayle.

"There's no doubt they are the two targets for us in this game, Gayle and Lara," he said.

"I know it's been 11 years since they played international games here, but the way the wicket played late last night it looks like it's going to be pretty hard work for any team batting second."

Australia (possible lineup): Ricky Ponting (captain), Adam Gilchrist, Shane Watson, Damien Martyn, Andrew Symonds, Michael Clarke, Mike Hussey, Brad Hogg, Brett Lee, Dan Cullen, Glenn McGrath.

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