Hussey, Hauritz battling poor form to retain places in Oz squad

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Sydney, Dec.9 (ANI): Going into the third Australia-West Indies Test at Perth, the Australian selection committee has a fresh headache on its hands in the form of middle-order batsman Michael Hussey and off-spinner Nathan Hauritz.

The Windies display of Caribbean character and heart in the Adelaide Test match, has once gain brought into focus the two most scrutinised players in the Australian line-up because of their meek performances, reports the Sydney Morning Herald.

Though both will be picked for Perth, the selectors and their critics will be watching them with more intensity than normal.

In four-and-a-half hours at the Adelaide crease, Hussey managed 41 and 29. At 34, Hussey is in the unfortunate position of wearing speculation of retirement after every innings, but that always grows louder when he doesn't slash a big score.

He was a slow scorer, unable to get his strike-rate above 36 in either innings despite spending 272 minutes in the middle. He failed to capitalise on his start and never appeared comfortable dealing with the pace of Kemar Roach and Dwayne Bravo.

He managed five boundaries in a total of 207 balls faced, and, having spoken of eliminating hesitancy in his game after Brisbane, did not wield with confidence.

Callum Ferguson is the obvious middle-order contender for Hussey's spot, but he is injured. If the selectors decide to eventually move Shane Watson down the order for Hussey, openers Phillip Hughes, Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers come into contention - but Rogers seems marked not to be picked again, while Hughes and Jaques are not beating the door down with big scores.

Hussey enjoyed the silence for a week, but must now make good at his favourite ground to regain peace.

Hauritz, meanwhile, earned total backing despite an inability to destroy line-ups. Australia has accepted that, for now, they must persist with a toiler who can hold up an end for the pace men, but as more results are drawn and lost, his position will grow tenuous.

When the Windies required a spinner to rip through Australia's middle-order, Sulieman Benn looped the ball from 10 feet in the air to strike five times in the first innings.

Australia needed a similar job from Hauritz on the fourth day, as the home side prepared to dismiss the Windies for a achievable total in the afternoon, but there was no breakthrough from him or Marcus North.

Having claimed 3-17 and 2-40 in Brisbane, Hauritz returned the figures of 2-111 from 36 overs in the first innings, and 0-68 off 27 in the second.

His rival, Jason Krejza, has not delivered the figures in first-class matches to command replacement.

It appears to be the ideal time for Hussey and Hauritz to suffer a lull in form, but the clock is ticking. (ANI)

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