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The Roar


Vics must pick Muirhead

Twenty20 cricket is here to stay. (AFP PHOTO/ PUNIT PARANJPE)
Roar Pro
8th November, 2014

Queenslander Cameron Boyce has reminded everyone in Australia that leg-spin is a legitimate option in international cricket.

Watching South Africans Reeza Hendricks and Farhaan Behardien running down the pitch to Boyce’s hard-spinning leg-breaks, swinging wildy, missing by a long way, and turning to see ‘keeper Ben Dunk removing the bails excited many.

Australia, of course, has been crying out for a quality leg-spinner since the great man retired. I won’t mention his name because doing so guarantees every other spinner named in this article will disappear into his shadow for the rest of time. We shouldn’t forget Stuart MacGill was one of the all-time greats too.

Whether Boyce can become Test relevant is an unknown. His average of nearly 50 in First-Class cricket suggests not but he’s still young and clearly has talent.

The question on my mind, though, is that, at a time when Australia are looking for an excuse to pick a leg-spinner in any format, Victoria aren’t picking James Muirhead. Remember him? He’s the guy who was plucked from nowhere at the start of 2014 and started looking like a quality international bowler.

He excited everyone with his control, his calmness and, most importantly, his prodigious spin. He looked like he could perhaps be, if everyone crossed their fingers and toes, the stars aligned and batsmen started becoming scared of leg-spin again, the Test spinner Australia wanted.

People called for him to be picked in the Twenty20 World Cup. Some wanted him in the One Day team. Some even suggested he could be worthy of a Test. Most agreed he wasn’t ready for that.

Nathan Lyon’s and Steve O’Keefe’s troubles in the United Arab Erimates though, and Boyce’s media attention, has meant the selectors must at least be considering their spin options for the first Test in Brisbane.


Lyon deserves to be picked. He’s deceptively young, spins the ball hard, has performed well for a while now and improves each game.

But the Vics should be making very loud noises for Fawad Ahmed and James Muirhead. They should be telling everyone how good their two leg-spin bowlers are. As it stands they can only clamour for Fawad because he’s the only one getting a game.

Victoria has some excellent cricketers but surely there is room for two spinners in their Shield team. Alex Keath and Dan Christian are in the side as medium-pace all-rounders, which means the Vics could get away with Clint McKay and a second seamer to complement Fawad and Muirhead.

The two spinners complement each other too. Muirhead flights it and turns it more. Fawad is quicker and tighter. Victoria is blessed to have two of the nation’s finest leg-spinners and three of the best spinners if you count Jon Holland. They are all different types of bowlers and can function in the same team.

Muirhead bowled 17 overs for St Kilda this weekend, taking no wicket for 70. The previous week he took 5/18 though, on the back of 3/58 and 2/55. He’ll have the odd bad day but he gets quality batsmen out and could play for Australia in the near future. And he’s only 22.

Victoria must give Muirhead a chance. If it doesn’t, there’ll be another state that would love to give him one next year.