It is daunting to be the only specialist spinner in the World Cup squad, says Xavier Doherty

"I had myself in the team, then out of the team, and gradually the closer it got I wasn't sure at all"

“I had myself in the team, then out of the team, and gradually the closer it got I wasn’t sure at all”

Image courtesy of: ESPNcricinfo

Australia left-arm spinner Xavier Doherty has admitted that it is daunting to be the only specialist spinner in the Baggy Greens’ World Cup squad.

Doherty also admitted that he had doubts about making the World Cup squad when Australia decided to pick Nathan Lyon ahead of him for the ODI tri-series in Zimbabwe and for the tour of the United Arab Emirates last year.

“It’s a nice one to get and you never know. I had myself in the team, then out of the team, and gradually the closer it got I wasn’t sure at all. So when the phone call came I was pretty excited,” he said. “I tried to avoid all the talk and the speculation but any time you seem to turn on the TV someone’s throwing a name up there and a smokey position and usually for that spinning spot.

“Given there was so much speculation, I probably do feel that expectation to really nail it, and when my opportunity comes to take it.”

However, even though he made the World Cup squad, Doherty stated that the fans are more interested in watching the batsmen hitting boundaries and sixes than watching him bowl.

“It’s part of the game,” he said. “The spectators want to see runs and boundaries and sixes and that sort of thing, so I think that’s the way the game’s been going for a few years now and that’s probably why the fielding restrictions have changed from five men to four to really up those scores a little bit. That’s something we’ve all got to accept and try and deal with as best we can.

“I’m under no illusion, I probably won’t play every game, and there are probably certain pitches where I’ll be looked at to come into contention. Given the way the team’s been picked over the last few years, there’s a game in Perth and Brisbane, and given the strength of our fast bowlers that would be the way they would look. But I feel if I’m bowling at my best I can make it pretty hard for the selectors as well.”

Doherty also attributed his inclusion in the World Cup squad to the fact that teams are allowed to have less fielders patrolling the boundary.

“It makes it tough for leg-spinners, which has probably given me a bit of an advantage when it’s come to this selection,” Doherty said. “You really can’t afford to bowl bad balls because you’ve lost that protection to one side of the ground. So when you’re spinning the ball in, for me to a left-hander, it does make it hard. It means one side of the ground’s going to be unprotected.

“Coming out of the Big Bash where you’ve had five men out, just bowling in the nets then you’ve got in your head, half those shots they’re hitting over midwicket now are going for four or six without that extra man. That’s something you’ve got to adjust to, but that’s the way the game’s been going. The authorities are after higher-scoring games and that’s the way it’s turning out and that’s what this World Cup will be, high-scoring affairs I’d imagine.”

Doherty is also feeling upbeat heading into the World Cup, especially since the team is set to be captained by George Bailey for the first few games since regular skipper Michael Clarke is still recovering from having his hamstring surgically repaired.

“George and I have known each other for a long time, so he probably gives me a bit more rein than Pup does and knows my game a little bit better so will trust what I can do,” Doherty said. “George has been captain of this team quite a bit in the last few years as well, so I think everyone’s pretty comfortable under his leadership and I think it will be pretty smooth when Pup does come back into that.”

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