Clarke could stick with Quiney, if his bowling rates
Inside edge ... Fawad Ahmed was invited to train with the Australian team because his deliveries resemble Imran Tahir's. Photo: Getty Images
AUSTRALIAN captain Michael Clarke appears in no rush to have Shane Watson back, and might call on the part-time medium pace of Test debutant Rob Quiney in his absence.
Asked whether Quiney would be in a selection duel with Ed Cowan for the opener's position when Watson returns, Clarke said:
''Who's to say they're not going to play the next Test together as well? It will be interesting. It's about performance, about making the most of your opportunity and then it's about selecting the best 11 players. As I've always said throughout my career, a winning team is hard to change.''
Clarke has pointed out more than once that Australia defeated India 4-0 without Watson last summer and he did so again on Monday, while questioning whether he would be of such importance to the team without his bowling.
''Shane sees himself as an all-rounder. I haven't heard any different at this stage. I'm pretty sure he wants to come back as an all-rounder and we've selected him through his career as an all-rounder. There's been games where he hasn't been selected because he hasn't been able to bowl,'' Clarke said.
''If he's fit to do both, then he'll do both. If he's not, the selectors will sit down and work out if we're going to select him just as a batsman.
''Last summer we beat India 4-0 without him and the positive we have is that after this game we have a break. So in regards to workloads of bowlers, no matter how many overs you bowl in this Test match, you get a good break leading up to the second Test. I'm confident we can continue to have success like we did last summer.''
Quiney, who will fill the pivotal No.3 position in Watson's absence, held a mock bowl-off with Mike Hussey in Gabba nets on Monday but it could have a serious purpose. Clarke considers Quiney one of a handful of part-timers he can use to give his frontline bowlers a break.
Quiney's first-class haul of three wickets at 129 probably doesn't do his shapely medium-pacers justice, but nor does he actually bowl like his Victorian teammate James Pattinson, as Clarke would have South African readers believe. ''Same height, same pace, same swing,'' Clarke said, grinning.
''We've seen in the past I've got some overs out of Michael Hussey. Rob Quiney will be no different,'' Clarke added, on a more serious note.
''And if there's a bit of spin, I can bowl as well. We've still got the options there. Whether you've got an all-rounder in your team or not, you always rely on your main four bowlers and then you use your part-timers as you see fit. Hopefully, our frontline bowlers can do the job. But if there's a role for a part-timer to play, they'll certainly get that opportunity.''
Quiney is self-deprecating about his bowling: ''If I get thrown the ball, I would love to get an international scalp but I highly doubt it. We've got some pretty good bowlers in our team, so I would have thought not. I'm just making sure I get my bowling loads up and if that rare case does happen, I'm semi-prepared at least.''
■ Pakistani asylum seeker Fawad Ahmed claimed the scalps of a handful of Test batsmen in his net session with the Australian team on Monday.
Ahmed was invited to Brisbane to bowl in the nets to Australia's batsmen to assist with the team's preparation because his leg spin resembles that of South Africa's Pakistan-born leg spinner Imran Tahir.
As he waits for news of his application for refugee protection, which is before federal Immigration Minister Chris Bowen, Ahmed shared a net with off-spinner Nathan Lyon.
He bowled to Clarke, one of the world's best players of spin, and then around the wicket to the left-handers.
''They are pretty good but I bowled all right. Michael Clarke is really good, especially to the spinners, and I really enjoyed myself,'' he said.
''I got a couple of wickets, Matthew Wade and a couple of the fast bowlers, [James] Pattinson and [Peter] Siddle. Matthew Wade, I got with a wrong one, up in the air, and Siddle just tried to slog.''
Ahmeds said he was persecuted in northern Pakistan for promoting western values as a cricketer.
He plays first-grade cricket for Melbourne University, while working in a warehouse.