We all knew that post-Warne, the Australian spin threat was never going to be the same in the Test match arena. But few of us could have forseen the reality facing Cricket Australia—where is the next spinner?
26 Tests after Warne waved goodbye to the international stage, Australian spin bowling can only boast one 5-wicket haul (8-215 J.Krejza v. India in 2008) and no frontline spin bowler has a bowling average below 35.
The "best" being Nathan Hauritz averaging 35.26, boasting best innings bowling figures of 3-63, hardly impressive.
Being realistic, nobody was ever going to replace Warne, he was a once in a lifetime bowler. But it is amazing that a country that has dominated world cricket for the best part of two decades can all of a sudden not have a worldclass spin bowler.
Warne's long standing shoe-in "replacement" Stuart McGill only managed four Test matches after Warne before he retired, taking 10 wickets in those Tests for over 65 runs a piece.
Since Warne's retirement in 2007, Australia have tried a variety of spinners to try and fill the void including Cameron White (four Tests - five wickets @ 68), Beau Casson (one Test - three wickets @ 43), Jason Krezja (two Tests - 13 wickets @ 43) and Bryce McGain (one Test - 0 wickets for 149 runs). The future is looking bleak...
What could be said though is that the man in possesion, Nathan Hauritz (six Tests - 19 wickets @ 35) is at least reminiscent of a certain Ashley Giles, unspectacular but steady. But he looks in no way a long term solution to Australia's spin woes.
A glance round the Australian domestic scene wont fill many Australians with confidence either with only one spin bowler (Hauritz) in the top 20 wicket takers of the 2008-09 state season. And even he averaged over 35.
The problem in my view is unknown, worldclass spin bowlers are hardly a rarity in Australian cricketing history with the likes of Benaud and O'Reilly. Maybe it's just a genuine lack of talented spinners coming through grade cricket, who knows.
All I can say for sure is that Marcus North is hardly a matchwinner, as the Ashes have recently shown...