Lee, Johnson 'lethal', says Maher - Sports News - Fanatics - the world's biggest events

Lee, Johnson 'lethal', says Maher

By Greg Buckle 29/10/2007 08:57:45 PM Comments (0)

Queensland captain Jimmy Maher promised that Mitchell Johnson and Brett Lee would be "lethal" on the Gabba wicket for next month's first Test against Sri Lanka.

It will be welcome news for Australia's selectors who are set to announce a team on Thursday for the November 8 to 12 first Test against Sri Lanka after Lee (0-113 and 0-75) and likely Test debutant Johnson (0-134 and 0-21) had little impact in the Pura Cup match which ended in a draw.

NSW's Stuart MacGill (3-183 and 1-97) also failed to take the game by the throat at the Sydney Cricket Ground as the 36-year-old tries desperately to find top gear for the upcoming six home Tests against Sri Lanka and India following the retirement of leg-spinning great Shane Warne.

In an unfortunate piece of timing for MacGill, West Australian spinner Brad Hogg took match figures of 8-83 in his side's Pura Cup win over Victoria in Melbourne, adding to the nagging doubts over MacGill's selection in the Test side.

"Stuey's done a wonderful job for Australia, Hoggy's in very good form at the moment," Australian vice-captain Adam Gilchrist said.

"It's a very very exciting time to go into a Test series... Having several options, not having to pick someone by default or because there's no one else around.

"That's the positive part of this first Test match approaching without Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath.

"It's not panicking who do we pick to replace them, it's who don't we pick, because there's too many candidates."

Hogg, 36, said his eight-wicket haul "doesn't hurt" his Test chances, however unlikely they may be behind MacGill who has 198 wickets in 40 Tests.

"I've had a good career up to now and it would be icing on the cake if I can play a few more Test matches and improve on my performances there," Hogg said.

Hogg, a wonderful bowler at one-day international level and two-time World Cup winner, has taken nine wickets at 50.22 in his four Tests, having last worn the baggy green cap in Sydney against Zimbabwe four years ago.

While the spinner's spot is shaping as a two-way battle, the third pace-bowling option behind Brett Lee and Stuart Clark could be between Johnson and South Australia's Shaun Tait.

NSW's Stuart Clark defended MacGill and the wicketless games of Lee and Johnson on an unresponsive SCG pitch, although Clark himself took seven wickets.

"He (MacGill) bowled pretty well. He was a bit rusty as well in the first innings after his knee operation. It took him a little bit of time to get into the game," Clark said.

"If I was selector I would probably pick him. Only on his past record and he has done enough here and he has shown he is fit enough to play Test cricket."

Maher said with Tait in action against Tasmania in this week's Pura Cup match in Hobart, Test selectors had plenty of fast-bowling talent at their disposal.

"Australia should be pretty confident going into the first Test," Maher said.

"But both of them (Lee and Johnson) I think will be lethal on a quicker bouncier strip at the Gabba."

Maher also tipped Clark to move up from first-change to new-ball bowler following Glenn McGrath's retirement.

"They are pretty big shoes to fill, McGrath's, but Stuie Clark is perfect for that role," he said.

Australian batsman Michael Clarke didn't field for NSW because of hamstring stiffness but said after the game he would be fine for the Gabba Test.

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