Michael Clarke and Allan Border talk during an Australian nets session at the Gabba on Tuesday. 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-nil 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 Michael 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 front-line 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 front-line 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,'' Quiney said.
''I used to shape it away a bit but I've lost it for some reason. They come back in …''