How sacked Test spinner White turned his career around to become a one-day hit and captaincy candidate
Sydney Morning Herald
Friday February 5, 2010
LAST summer Cameron White was coming off four Tests as Australia's spinner, even though he felt like a batsman on the inside and there was no permanent place for him in Australia's limited-overs teams. Soon afterwards he was overlooked for the ICC World Twenty20, a balls-up that was all over in three days for a country that failed to recognise the importance of short-form specialists such as the Victorian captain.Since then, the national selectors have seen the light and promoted White to vice-captain of the Twenty20 team that will step out against Pakistan at the MCG tonight, but there are plenty in Australian cricket, including former Test batsman Mark Waugh, who believe they should have gone further and put him in charge of the new-look side instead of Michael Clarke based on the younger leader's wealth of experience and success in the format.Another luminary, Justin Langer, last week enthused that the accomplished batsman with the sharp cricket brain and massive pair of hands not only had the attributes to captain his country but could be the best player in the world, if only he was not so down about his bowling.And, should White's hot form in the limited-overs arena continue, he will surely come under close consideration for a place on the Test tour to New Zealand, albeit in a different role from the one in which he made a surreal debut in India 16 months ago."It's a very, very tough team to get into," White says in response to the suggestion he could put pressure on the incumbent No.6 Marcus North. "I definitely hope there is another opportunity in the Test team at some stage. It will probably be a different way in for me. It will probably be primarily as a batsman who bowls a bit."The cricket world has started to see White differently since he seized the chance presented by Ricky Ponting's post-Ashes break in England and, in three innings at No.3, produced scores of 53, 42 and 105 - his maiden international century. This summer the 26-year-old has cemented a place up the order, starting with 105 in Brisbane.Still, White is insecure about his bowling even though he did what was expected of him when he was called out of left field as a replacement for the injured Bryce McGain in India in 2008. He did not regard himself as a frontline leg spinner then and has bowled just 25 overs in four Sheffield Shield games this season - and not at all at international level."I was surprised [to be picked as a Test spinner]," he said. "Looking back, whether I was ready or whether I wasn't, I'm happy that I did it. I've played four Test matches and I will be better for it when or if I get another chance."There is no doubt that as I go through ups and downs with my batting in one-day cricket that if I can start bowling again, that is going to help my cause. It's been talked about a hell of a lot and it's something I need to do."Beyond doubt are White's credentials for Twenty20, in which he has led Victoria to four of the five domestic Big Bash titles. His 141 not out for Somerset in 2006 remains the third-highest innings in the history of the 20-over game and his strike rate of 150 is superior to Clarke's.Still, White said this week he was content to bide his time as second in command even if the senior man's back problems and struggles in the shortest form suggest the Victorian would have been a better choice."I'm still really young in the [Australian] job as well and very inexperienced at this level, so I think I can learn a lot off him," he said.– Dynamic fielding will be a crucial ingredient in rectifying Australia's mediocre record in international Twenty20, Clarke predicts."We have so much talent in this squad in the field that we can really display that great Australian fielding side," he said. "That's been the strength of one-day cricket for Australia for a long time, since I've played, and that's definitely a priority of mine, to make sure we are the No.1 fielding team in the world."T20 TEAMSAUSTRALIA: (from) M Clarke (c), C White,S Marsh, S Watson, D Warner,D Hussey, T Birt, B Haddin,S Smith, M Johnson, R Harris,S Tait, D Nannes.PAKISTAN:(from) S Malik (c), K Akmal,F Alam, I Anjum, I Farhat, I Nazir, K Latif, M Asif, R Naved-ul-Hasan, S Ajmal, S Butt, S Ahmed, U Akmal, U Gul.