Battle-ready Quiney relishing Test chance
"This is the little window and fingers crossed I can contribute somehow to a win" ... Victorian Rob Quiney. Photo: Getty Images
VICTORIAN Rob Quiney, a blue-collar cricketer about to add a baggy green hat to his work uniform, believes his battle-hardened forging in Shield cricket holds him in good stead to thwart a stacked South African attack in the first Test in Brisbane.
The 30-year-old left-hander was officially unveiled as Australia's Test No.3 on Monday when Shane Watson was scratched with a calf injury, although coach Mickey Arthur is confident the all-rounder will be available to bat and bowl in the following Test in Adelaide.
Given Quiney raced to the airport two hours early when he was called up as cover, you can only imagine his reaction when Arthur told him on Monday he would be handed his first baggy green cap when the Test summer opens on Friday at the Gabba.
It's the culmination of a cricketing career based on graft, not privilege, ever since he began to idolise another leftie, Allan Border, as a youngster.
''I'm very, very happy that I get the opportunity to play for the best country in the world,'' Quiney said, adding that he was ''30-years young''. ''I've worked pretty hard. This is the little window and, fingers crossed, I can contribute somehow to a win.''
Quiney has played 53 first-class matches but it is his output in recent years that started to catch the eyes of selectors. Already this summer, he smashed 119 in a one-dayer at the Gabba against Queensland and compiled 85 against a near full-strength Proteas attack in the weekend tour game in Sydney.
His four-day average of 37.7 isn't startling but his toughness, appetite for a fight and ability to score quickly has endeared him to Arthur and the rest of the selection panel.
He opens for Victoria but said he had no issues batting at three in the Australian side. Given his versatility, success in Brisbane could put the heat on openers Ed Cowan and Dave Warner should they show any frailties against the South African new-ball attack.
''The thought of batting for Australia, full stop, I'm very happy with. At Victoria, I've been shuffled around the order a fair bit. I'm just happy to fill a role,'' Quiney said. ''I guess my last two years have been my most consistent. I knew there might have been a little window when I could try to get my foot in. I'd never given up. If anything, it's [the desire to play for Australia] probably grown stronger. It's unbelievable news. I'm stoked.''
Arthur was never going to throw a youngster to the wolves against an attack lead by Dale Steyn and Morne Morkel, meaning Quiney was the man for the job when it became clear Watson wasn't going to be available.
The Australian coach said he doesn't see Quiney as a one-Test wonder who will be easily discarded once Watson returns to the fold.
''Against a nation like South Africa right now - we'd probably do the same with England and we'd probably do the same with India - you want an experienced head to come in,'' Arthur said. ''You can't blood a youngster against a team like South Africa. We want a guy that's very confident and knows his game backwards.
''It's been no secret that we've looked to increase our depth pool in the top six. If Rob has success, he'll obviously keep his place. A bit of competition is always good and it brings the best out of all players.
''We're confident going into this Test match that we have the best top six available.''
Quiney is a tall batsman who faced the media on Monday with the kind of stubble that befits his other gig as an apprentice carpenter.
''I'm trying to enjoy it as much as I can,'' he said. ''If you get too hyped up, too worked up, before you know it it's gone and you're back on the tools.''