The Reuters global sports blog
To spin or not to spin? Australia’s crucial Ashes question
Australia captain Ricky Ponting will be praying that the rumours of a sideways turning Cardiff wicket prove to be complete fallacy when the Ashes series begins on Wednesday.
Ponting’s team have been bereft of a front-line spinner since the retirement of the mercurial Shane Warne in 2007 and Stuart McGill shortly after.
Australia has selected just one “attacking” spinner in the tour party, 27-year-old Nathan Hauritz. But “Ritzy” has yet to shine, taking just 2 wickets in the 59 overs he has bowled on tour so far, at a cost of 260 runs.
That could see Ponting select a four-pronged pace attack for the first test on a pitch not conducive to fast bowling, and with Brett Lee unavailable through injury.
Lee’s absence puts a lot of pressure on Stuart Clark, who is likewise on his way back from injury. Can he stay the pace over back-to-back Tests in Cardiff and at Lord’s?
RITZY BUSINESS: Australia’s Nathan Hauritz grimaces during a match against Sussex in Hove, June 25, 2009. REUTERS/Philip Brown