Justin Langer faces a selection headache as spearhead Nathan Coulter-Nile returns to the attack for the crucial semi-final clash against the Sydney Sixers at the SCG on Wednesday.
Coulter-Nile enters the frame off dominant form with the national limited-overs squad, taking seven wickets across Australia’s whitewash Twenty20 series against England, with figures of 4-31, 1-29 and 2-21 in the three matches.
Coulter-Nile adds to the already-enviable speed stocks of Jason Behrendorff, Pat Cummins and Alfonso Thomas and only the availability of injured death-bowling specialist Yasir Arafat would have Perth’s pace options in a stronger position.
It presents a difficult situation for Perth, which faces some tough selection decisions given the SCG’s reputation as a turning pitch likely having both spinners Brad Hogg and Michael Beer in strong contention to retain their spots in the playing XI.
“Every one of our bowlers could play tomorrow night and I’m going to have to tell one or two of them that they’re not playing”, said Langer. “That’s what we get given the positions of responsibility for, but I’m not sure exactly what way we’re going to go, but I promise you, I’m going grayer by the day trying to work it out.
“We had a look at the wicket last night and it looked quite green, there was a lot of grass on it and it was quite hard.
“The last time we played here, it spun a lot, but it was a used wicket.
“This looks like a new wicket, so we’ll have to have a look at it (prior to the game) and make a decision then.
Simon Katich has said it will be his last season as a player, but Langer said, “One hundred per cent (we want him involved) and he knows that and the longer we can have Simon Katich involved with Western Australian cricket, the better. He knows that.
“We might have to talk to Georgie, his wife, about that and we might have to (continue to) talk to Kato about that.
“He’s enjoying it, he’s a great leader and the more Katos around, the less gray I’ll become, I reckon,” Langer admitted.
“It’s hard, when you get to this stage of your career, you never know when the last one is”, said skipper Simon Katich, on playing in BBL03. “I try not to look too far in front, but obviously with the new job, (this being my last season) could possibly be the case.
“Hopefully, we’ve got another game to look forward to on Friday. I’ve got a great opportunity starting next week with the Giants. I did a little bit of work with the (GWS) boys prior to the Big Bash and they certainly got me in good nick physically. We’ll wait and see what happens.”
I wouldn’t say I’m looking forward to it, “katich added when asked about facing Brett Lee in the semi-final. “I’m thankful we’re good mates and he’s generally looked after me over the years, particularly in the nets.
“Come game time tomorrow night, I’m sure it’ll be no-holds barred and it’ll be on, but we enjoy the challenge of coming up against each other.
“I know how good a player he is, having played with him for Australia.
“He’s still got it, there’s no doubt, and this season he’s a big reason why the Sixers are in the semi-finals.
“Some of his spells up front and at the back end of the innings have won them games when they’ve been under pressure, so we know he’s still a fantastic competitor.
The PERTH SCORCHERS SEMI-FINAL SQUAD
Young paceman Joel Paris makes way in the 13-man squad for Coulter-Nilorchers 13-man squad v Sixers: Simon Katich (c), Michael Beer, Jason Behrendorff, Hilton Cartwright, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Brad Hogg, Mitch Marsh, Craig Simmons, Alfonso Thomas, Ashton Turner, Adam Voges, Sam Whiteman.
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