Uncapped Australian spinner Matt Kuhnemann, who is flying in for Mitchell Swepson, has a “live chance” to make his debut in the second Test against India starting on February 17 if the visitors opt for three spinners, said coach Andrew McDonald.
Kuhnemann, 26, will be joining the touring party in place of leg-spinner Swepson who will make a pre-planned return home for the birth of his first child.
Swepson, however, is set to return to India ahead of the third Test.
“He’s (Kuhnemann) a live chance to play in the next Test match,” McDonald was quoted as saying by cricinfo on Sunday.
“If we play three spinners then we clearly want back-up here and available in the squad if that’s the way we want to go.” Kuhnemann doesn’t have international experience under his belt, having scalped just 35 wickets at 34.80 in 13 first-class matches.
Kuhnemann was “shocked” to get the news.
“Got a phone call yesterday morning when walking out for the warm-ups. Was pretty shocked,” Kuhnemann said after Queensland’s Sheffield Shield match against Victoria.
“I was just lucky enough that my passport was in my bag. I watched every day (of the first Test) just being such a fan. These series are so good to watch. Todd Murphy was exceptional and sort of watched how (Ravindra) Jadeja bowled. So just really excited to get over there.
“I was fortunate enough to stay with the Test guys and bowl to them in the nets in Sri Lanka, so that’s still pretty fresh in my memory. I learned heaps just being over there for a couple (of) months. If I got the opportunity I’d like to think I’d be okay,” he added.
Meanwhile, McDonald is hopeful about Cameron Green’s availability for the second Test.
The young all-rounder is recovering from a broken finger he suffered against South Africa at the MCG last December.
“We’re hopeful. It’s been six weeks now. I think he’s actually got his final X-ray or scan today. He does allow us different options to the way that we want to structure up,” McDonald said.
Pacer Mitchell Starc, who missed the first Test, has arrived here after recovering from a finger injury he also sustained in Melbourne.
“(Starc) will have a rest day today (in Delhi) and then he’ll train tomorrow on his own up there,” McDonald said.
“A couple of the staff members will go up there. We’re hopeful that both of those are back on the selection table and that would change the balance of our side.” McDonald, however, informed that Josh Hazlewood won’t be available for the second Test after missing the series opener due to an Achilles issue.
“He’s close. So I think it’s just probably the load in that Achilles,” McDonald said.
“We just don’t want to push it. He’s going to have three days off and then have a main bowl if he gets through that.” McDonald defended the team management’s decision to go with Matt Renshaw in place of Travis Head, a selection which raised a few eyebrows. The coach, however, said Renshaw failed to live up to the expectations.
“We valued others’ skill-sets in those extreme conditions. I think the discussion point that we went through in the process will be different to the hindsight. And the hindsight is that those people that you will compare the competition for place around didn’t perform the way that we’d probably expected,” he said.
“(Head) had different thoughts on that and that’s fair enough. And he’s entitled to have different thoughts on that along with others. And we’re not saying any decision that we make is right or wrong.
“The Todd Murphy one was heavily discussed as well. Could we play the ball spinning in, two of those types of bowlers against the Indian batting line-up, all those discussions that we had behind the scenes are pretty much what you discussed as well,” he concluded.
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