Hogg is Aussies' weak link: Kumble
A day after Bhajji commented that India would feast on the left-arm spin of Hogg, Kumble identifies him as a weak link.cricket Updated: Dec 19, 2007 13:28 IST
Anil Kumble has identified Brad Hogg as Australia's weak link only two days after the Indian skipper's off-spinning teammate Harbhajan Singh said Indian batsmen would feast on the left-arm wrist spin of Hogg who was "not close to the class" of the retired Shane Warne or the injured Stuart MacGill.
Unperturbed by the orchestrated criticism, Brad Hogg believes he can succeed against India in Test cricket.
The West Australian's belief looks to be tested sooner rather than later as, 11 years after his debut on a crumbling pitch in New Delhi, he has edged closer to his childhood dream of playing a Boxing Day Test.
Indian captain Kumble had barely set foot in Melbourne when he identified spin as Australia's weakness.
He said Hogg, who has not played a Test for four years, would not worry India's batsmen if he was selected ahead of Shaun Tait, after both were included in a 12-man squad for Boxing Day.
"That (spin) is definitely an area we will look to," Kumble, also a champion leg spinner, said.
"I think one-day cricket is a bit different. We have played him before so we should not have a problem. We play spinners day in, day out. It's not an issue for us. If the wickets have spin, then definitely we have the advantage," he added.
Even Warne and MacGill struggled to replicate their exceptional career records against India who, with batsmen such as Sachin Tendulkar, VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly, can play wrist spin almost in their sleep.
Kumble said India, which has beaten England away and Pakistan at home in its most recent Test series, had the experience and the "batting capabilities to handle whatever comes our way". He was unfazed, for instance, by Tait's brand of express pace.
"He is definitely a good fast bowler. (But) we have played fast bowlers before," Kumble said.
"Yes, he is a bit new in the sense he has a very different action compared to other fast bowlers. But other than that I am sure the batsmen, with their experience, will be able to handle him," he added.
Hogg, however, believes he is far better equipped to succeed in Test cricket now than when he last played against Zimbabwe in 2003. Hyperactive by nature, the 36-year-old, who played a solitary Test against India in 1996-97, declared he has learnt the art of patience.
"I've always wanted to be in a rush," he said in Hobart, where Australia's one-day team is to play New Zealand in the Chappell-Hadlee series decider Thursday.
Hogg recently took 11 wickets at 22.63 in the one-day series against India, where the batsmen struggled to pick his wrong one, and has 13 wickets at 30.69 in four Pura Cup matches this summer.
"We think he'll do really well - most countries and most batsmen seem to have some difficulty reading him, so I think he's ready to make that step," said Australian chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch.
"Hoggy, performance-wise, what he offers to the side is a real good package. So we've really very little doubt about how he'll perform at Test level," Hilditch added.
Both Hilditch and Australian coach Tim Nielsen have endorsed the traditional structure of three seamers and a front-line spinner, but have retained the option of using the pace of Tait as a shock weapon if the conditions warrant four quicks. So far this season, Tony Ware's drop-in pitch at the MCG has been low and slow.
It is possible Tait in his destructive form could squeeze Mitchell Johnson out of the starting XI, although the selectors are attached to the variety that the left-arm paceman offers.