Sydney, Dec.4 : Everyone knows that Australian captain Ricky Ponting has been Indian off-spinner Harbhajan Singh's bunny in almost all the series that have been contested between the two countries since 2001, and if Ponting does go through with his horses for course" strategy, he would probably have to bar himself from facing the Indians anywhere on the cricket field.
At least, that is what former Australian fast bowler Damien Fleming thinks. Fleming told the Sydney Morning Herald that in cases where a horses for courses policy has been followed in the past, it has always been the bowlers, rather than the batters, who have been made the whipping boys.
"It's been happening since 1832, don't worry about that. The FBU, the Fast Bowling Union, has never had a strong presence in cricket. Batsmen generally end up as coaches, they generally end up as administrators and we've been frozen out for a fair while," he noted.
"We have got together in secret around Australia and I can say safely that people like McGrath, Fleming, Gillespie and Kasprowicz are keen to get into a bit more work in coaching and admin to deal with this horse-for-course issue and a number three will be as vulnerable as a first-change."
When asked if the policy would be applied in Ponting's case were it to involve a contest with India, Fleming said: "Not if Harbhajan is playing, I would have thought."
Ponting has said that he will follow a horses for courses' strategy in deciding the make-up of his final eleven for any Test, ODI or Twenty20 match.
According to the Sydney Morning Herald, Ponting believes that no player should think of his place in the team as guaranteed.
"We'll pick what we need - be it swing, seam or spin - and fashion a team to suit the conditions. It may well prove to be cricket's great idea. Perhaps there are pitches on which Peter Siddle is a better option than Stuart Clark, no matter what form the NSW bowler is in. And maybe a spinner is better off carrying the drinks rather than fielding at deep backward square leg on a raging green top," Ponting is quoted, as saying.
The term horses for courses is a giveaway about what the policy actually means. Bowlers are workhorses, little better than machines that fire balls down for batsmen, the true artisans of the game, to stroke to the boundary.