If there’s one aspect of the game the Englishmen have bettered the Aussies in over the last few years (no, seriously, there is something), it is left-arm spin. Monty Panesar may not have had a very successful Ashes series the last time over, but if you consider him and Phil Tufnell and Derek Underwood long before that, they surely have had better international success than the Aussies have had, notwithstanding the odd turns of Allan Border, Michael Bevan and Michael Clarke. And in the anodyne tradition of Ray Bright, Murray Bennett and Tom Hogan (Am I missing someone? That tells its own story, doesn't it?) comes Beau Casson, a left-arm finger spinner from that Mecca of spin bowling, Perth.
Beau has been named as the second spinner to that fitness fanatic, Stuart McGill, so it is fair to imagine he won’t be in the starting line-up for the first test at Kingston, Jamaica on May 22. But what are the odds that he may be in the fray for the second test? Well, McGill can injure his wrist again; or he can miss practice and upset the team management; or he can show dissent on the field for being given out 48 short of a well deserved maiden test half century. And hey presto, test player number 401, Beau Casson. The only thing about it is that the opponents are the West Indies, and so before Beau comes on to bowl, the tail will be in. A few days ago and one could have bet on Shivnarine Chanderpaul holding one end strong, but now he may well have gone off to attend an awards ceremony in one of the other islands.
Speaking of Chanderpaul, Australia have included their version of the West Indian (in terms of batting elegance), Simon Katich in the squad. Surely this is a serious message to Ricky Ponting, considering Peter Roebuck’s suggestions not so long ago that Katich should take over as captain of the Australian team? Considering Ponting has not been in the best of batting form of late, this added pressure will surely be a test to his character and leadership skills. Oh, what an exciting series this is going to be!