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Harmison looks on, and Hauritz's downturn puts Australia in a spin

Do you think, after such sports-related injuries as tennis elbow, runner's knee and PlayStation thumb making their way into medical parlance, we will soon be talking about people suffering from selectors' headache?

If so, Geoff Miller and his cohorts must have been fighting over the Paracetamol yesterday, when they met to decide upon a final 13-man squad for the first Ashes Test against Australia (here it is, by the way). They probably weren't helped by the utterly insane run chase undertaken by Peter Trego and Somerset. Even though the 13-man squad can be changed for future matches, it can't have been an easy decision.

It can't have been easy, for example, to leave Steve Harmison out of the side. He bowled superbly for the England Lions in Australia's warm-up game, hurrying the batsmen with his pace and bounce and exposing some real flaws in the famously unorthodox technique of opener Phillip Hughes, dismissing him twice for seven and eight respectively. He bowled brilliantly, just as we all knew he could, but in the effective shootout between Harmison and Durham team mate Graham Onions, who also bowled well, Onions got the nod.

Ricky Ponting spoke out against Harmison's omission, but perhaps oversold him a touch. "He bowls at over 90mph," said Ponting, "and with his height, it's a pretty handy package." The thing is, though, Harmison doesn't bowl at over 90mph - not any more. And when he's not at his best, he's at risk of looking tame.

The 13-man squad is, as Aggers has smartly noticed, a balanced one, with flexibility allowing different selections depending on the conditions. If it's overcast, Onions will take the ball alongside Broad, Flintoff and Jimmy Anderson, with Graeme Swann likely to be the lone spinner, but given Sophia Gardens' - sorry, the Swalec Stadium's - aptitude for spin, it's likely that England will field two spinners, and in the thankful absence of the not-yet-ready Adil Rashid, they will be Swann and Panesar.

The question, of course, is whether Panesar has the nouse to spin out Australia's batsmen. He hasn't developed as well as we would have hoped in the last couple of years, and still sends down stock delivery after stock delivery, like some sort of gravy salesman. Until he learns the importance of variation, he's not going to pose the sort of threat he should.

Australia have a much bigger problem. Their only specialist spinner, Nathan Hauritz, has been very out of touch, and it looks increasingly possible they won't even pick him for the Swalec Stadium Test.

This is surely unthinkable.

The pitch won't just take spin - it will positively demand it. It's no coincidence Glamorgan were fined two points for a "poor" pitch that took too much turn (which naturally didn't help the controversy over the pitch's selection for the first Test). Quite simply, Australia need a specialist spinner, and Hauritz is the only one they have. Michael Clarke and Marcus North are both good quality part-time spinners, but they won't be bowling to take wickets, and I certainly can't see them taking five-fors.

They have to pick Hauritz despite his downturn in form. That's all they can do. Australia's dearth of spinners is good news for England though, especially with the rejuvenated Swann - who, by the way, I have been backing for an international call-up for at least ten years - being the leading Test wicket taker this year. It's enough to make you think Glamorgan's spinfest was picked for reasons other than money.

Maybe not.

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Harmison looks on, and Hauritz's downturn puts Australia in a spin + TIME