Holland in the mix but Australian weapon could be canceled – The Island
Australia coaches face a tough call ahead of the Test series opener in Galle on Wednesday
A return to Test cricket for Jon Holland, a prospect that seemed far-fetched not so long ago, could hinge on the condition of his injured finger which put a spanner in the works of the major selection call for Australia.
It is not the first time the Netherlands have arrived in the seaside town of Galle, where the left arm also rushed six years ago on its Test debut when Stephen O’Keefe injured his hamstrings in the first game of the series.
Ahead of Australia’s first Test in Sri Lanka since this tour, Holland is now back in the mix to add to his four Tests with Ashton Agar sidelined with side tension and a question mark over whether the rotation Mitchell Swepson’s wrist will be accurate enough in the conditions. .
Holland did not play practice on Monday, two days before the series opener, but coach Andrew McDonald insisted no final decision had been made on his availability or that of Travis Head.
Head was put through his paces again in training on Monday as fitness staff tested the hamstrings he injured last week, with Glenn Maxwell on standby if needed.
But the decision on Nathan Lyon’s rotation partner is the most important appeal.
Galle’s dry ground has been baking in the sun for the past few days, but conservators have ensured the rest of the square is well watered.
If the surface plays as expected, the ground will provide considerable turn, but the less abrasive wicket table will likely negate Australia’s ability to find a reverse swing.
It was a major weapon for Mitchell Starc in his dominating 24-wicket campaign in Sri Lanka in 2016 and also for Starc and Pat Cummins in their series win over Pakistan earlier this year.
It would be a remarkable comeback if Holland, who played the last of his four Tests four years ago in the United Arab Emirates against Pakistan, were given the green light to play.
The Victorian was on an Australian tour of England in 2019 and then suggested his last chance for a Test recall would likely be the ensuing Ashes campaign, for which he was overlooked.
Matthew Kuhnemann was picked over him for Australia’s recent A tour of Sri Lanka but McDonald, who acknowledged Holland were still in top physical condition, said selectors had never forgotten one of the main spinners national cricket in recent years.
“We know what Jon can do, that’s why he was put on this team,” McDonald said. “I wouldn’t read too much into selection A (team no). He has always been there and more or less, only through his national performances.
“He was summoned late. Was he a bit underrated when he entered Serie A? there is no doubt. But we feel like it can work its way into the shape we potentially need.
“He has a small problem (injury) but we are working on it.”
Hagar was the first-choice left-arm spinner originally chosen for this tour and appeared in line to play, which he could still do if fit for the second test at the same venue.
As of now, McDonald said selectors have yet to make a call between Holland and Swepson.
“What we’re talking about is the direction the ball is spinning and the value of accuracy versus wrist spin, which can sometimes be a little less accurate,” he said.
“Traditionally, finger rotation has worked well here…but there hasn’t been a lot of leg rotation played here either. I’m in no way saying it’s Jon Holland rather than Mitchell Swepson.
Mitchell Starc played without tape on his left index finger on Monday after recently having stitches removed, while Steve Smith was back in net after missing the previous day’s session with a minor illness.