by Malcolm Conn – The Daily Telegraph – January 31, 2013
NSW all-rounder Moises Henriques is expected to be named in Australia’s squad for the tour of India. Picture: Gregg Porteous Source: The Daily Telegraph
MOISES Henriques will today be the big winner from Shane Watson’s decision to give up bowling, with the NSW all-rounder set to be named in an extended squad for the Indian tour.
And the Portuguese-born Henriques may bound over Pakistani-born batsman in waiting Usman Khawaja for a place in the first Test next month.
Khawaja seemed destined to replace the retired Mike Hussey in the Test team, but with Watson expected to return from injury and the selectors desperate for an all-rounder, Henriques’ former NSW teammate is in line to be the bridesmaid again.
The selectors will choose as many as 17 to ensure all bases are covered and continue the international education of Australia’s next generation, including spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell.
Despite NSW captain Steve O’Keefe being the best performed spinner in the Sheffield Shield, fellow left-arm tweaker Xavier Doherty is likely to go as the second spinner behind Nathan Lyon because of the Tasmanian’s international experience at one-day level.
Jackson Bird, the major beneficiary of Mitchell Starc’s Boxing Day rest, will be chosen ahead of Ben Hilfenhaus as one of five fast bowlers along with James Pattinson, who is returning from injury.
The inclusion of Henriques would appear to be simply because he is the last all-rounder standing, with Watson not bowling while Mitch Marsh and Andrew McDonald both have season-ending injuries.
However, Henriques is the leading run-scorer for NSW in the Sheffield Shield this season with 385 at 77 and also has 14 wickets at 18.
His sometimes innocuous looking seamers also claimed 3-32 during the final one-day match against Sri Lanka in Hobart earlier this month, helping Australia secure victory to tie the series 2-2.
Unfortunately, Henriques has been ruled out of the opening two one-day matches against the West Indies in Perth tomorrow and Sunday because of a finger injury, but that is not expected to jeopardise his Indian tour.
Once again, the major debate appears to revolve around Watson’s bowling even though he has stated that he wants to simply bat to regain some momentum in Test cricket.
Watson missed all of last season’s Tests and three of the six this summer because of recurring injuries.
However, the same questions which surfaced at the beginning of the season are being asked again privately.
If Watson is not fit enough to bowl in a Test match, is he fit enough to play?
And if the suggestions are true that he is aiming to begin bowling again in the IPL, how can any player not be available to bowl for his country but be okay to bowl in a glorified domestic competition, now matter how golden it may be?
Then there is the question of where should Watson bat. He wants to return to the top of the order, which is understandable given opening the bating is by far his best position in all forms of the game.
But should incumbent opener Ed Cowan be ditched for Watson on the back of Mike Hussey’s retirement Australia will need to find two new batsmen for the most demanding tour in the game.
Slotting in Usman Khawaja at five and Henriques at six exposes the middle order.
LIKELY AUSTRALIAN TOURING SQUAD
BATSMEN: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Phil Hughes, Shane Watson, Michael Clarke (c), Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith
ALL-ROUNDERS: Moises Henriques, Glenn Maxwell
FAST BOWLERS: Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Mitchell Johnson, Jackson Bird
SPINNERS: Nathan Lyon, Xavier Doherty
WICKETKEEPER: Matthew Wade