Earlier this year, when Australia played young off-spinner Daniel Cullen alongside Shane Warne in a Test against Bangladesh, it seemed the long search for a quality off-spinner was over.
However, with one wicket in his solitary Test and two in five one-dayers, Cullen hasn’t proved himself. The Australian selectors, who rate him highly, have presented him another opportunity by naming him as fast bowler Stuart Clark’s replacement. And the last-minute inclusion was looking forward to improve his record, in the Champions Trophy.
“The Indian pitches are very much different from what we have in Australia,” he said after his team’s gruelling four-hour practice session at the Cricket Club of India on Wednesday.
“Pitches here are more prone to turn as the match progresses, but back home we have more bouncy and flat tracks that are not entirely helpful for a spinner.”
Cullen is not new to bowling in India either. “I had toured India four years ago as part of the Australian Cricket Academy’s (coached by Rodney Marsh) overseas programme,” he said. In his quest to improve the tricks of his trade, he has sought Warne’s coach Terry Jenner’s help. “Working with him (Jenner) has been terrific for me,” he said.
The 22-year-old South Australian said coming to India more than a week ahead of their opening game will help the Australians.
“Our early arrival and having a couple of practice matches is good for the team and myself,” he said. “This helps us familiarise with the conditions here.”
Australia have a field day
A week ahead of their opening game, a four-hour rigorous practice session set the Australians’ campaign rolling at the CCI on Wednesday. And guess what did the world champions practised for almost two hours - fielding. John Buchanan’s team, in quest of the only major title that they haven’t won yet, practised various aspects of fielding, including close catches, boundary line catches, ground fielding and most importantly, direct hits within the 30-yard circle.