Krejza dropped for Boxing Day Test

2008-12-22 00:00

Melbourne — Off-spinner Jason Krejza has been made the scapegoat and has been dropped for Friday’s Boxing Day Test at the MCG, where Australia will hope to level the series against South Africa.

Krejza has been axed following Australia’s extraordinary defeat to South Africa in Perth with New South Wales off-spinner Nathan Hauritz gaining a recall.

The Australian selectors, hoping to light a fire under Brett Lee and boost the attack, have also included Tasmanian paceman Ben Hilfenhaus in a 13-man squad.

Hauritz played in the second Test against New Zealand in Adelaide after Krejza was forced to withdraw with an ankle injury sustained at training.

Krejza returned for the first Test against the Proteas at the Waca, but conceded match figures of one for 204 as South Africa pulled off the second-highest run chase in Test history.

Hauritz returned figures of one for 91 and three for 72 in New South Wales’s Sheffield Shield win over South Australia at the SCG over the weekend.

“The national selection panel consider that Jason is a potentially fine spin bowler for Australia, but our view is that in Perth we were unable to maintain pressure, and to successfully use our fast bowlers we needed to maintain that pressure at the spinner’s end,” chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch told ABC yesterday.

“Jason has been notified of this reasoning and has been encouraged to continue to be a wicket-taking spin bowler, but will return to inter-state cricket to further those skills.

“We were impressed with Nathan Hauritz’s bowling in the second Test against New Zealand, where he maintained pressure and took wickets and deserves his recall.”

The pressure is on pacemen Brett Lee and Peter Siddle following Hilfenhaus’s inclusion in the squad.

Lee and Siddle took just one wicket each in Perth and captain Ricky Ponting said there were question marks over them for the second Test.

Hilfenhaus is yet to make his Test debut, but did go on the West Indies tour earlier this year.

“Ben is in the middle of a successful Sheffield Shield season for Tasmania and has been added primarily because of his ability to swing the ball,” Hilditch said.

“He also adds depth as a new ball bowling option.”

Under-pressure MCG specialist Matthew Hayden kept his spot, despite scoring 282 runs in his past 13 innings at an average of 23,5.

The opener has scored a phenomenal six centuries in his last seven Boxing Day Tests.

All-rounder Andrew Symonds could also find his spot under threat from Queensland team-mate Shane Watson, who retains his place in the squad.

The Australians are in unchartered waters, having never won a three-match series after losing the first Test.

A 3-0 defeat to the Proteas would hand them the number one ranking.

Australia: Ricky Ponting (c), Matthew Hayden, Simon Katich, Mike Hussey, Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Brad Haddin, Brett Lee, Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Nathan Hauritz, Ben Hilfenhaus, Shane Watson.

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