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Page last updated at 05:26 GMT, Friday, 26 June 2009 06:26 UK

Aussie coach dismisses spin issue

By Pranav Soneji

Graeme Swann in action in training for England
Graeme Swann is the leading Test wicket-taker in 2009

Australia coach Tim Nielsen insists a spin-friendly pitch in Cardiff will heap pressure on England ahead of the first Ashes Test starting 8 July.

The hosts have named three spinners in their 16-man Ashes training squad with reports suggesting the Swalec Stadium wicket will encourage the ball to turn.

But Nielsen said a twin-spin strategy will play into Australia's hands.

"It puts more pressure on the spinners, England are making the challenge for them to play well," he told BBC Sport.

England are expected to name off-spinner Graeme Swann in their starting XI for the first Test in Cardiff, but could omit a seamer for either Monty Panesar or Adil Rashid if, as is anticipated, the Cardiff track will assist the slower bowlers.

Off-spinner Swann is the leading Test wicket-taker in 2009, claiming 26 wickets in five matches, dismissals which have demoted left-armer Panesar to the fringes of the squad, while leg-spinner Rashid has earned the effusive praise of Australia legend Shane Warne.

In contrast, Australia have only one specialist spinner in their 16-man squad in Nathan Hauritz, who has relatively little Test experience with four caps and 14 wickets.

The beauty of our top-order is that (Simon) Katich, (Marcus) North and (Michael) Clarke can all give us reasonable part-time spinning overs

Australia captain Ricky Ponting

The off-spinner was made to toil on the second day of Australia's opening tour match against Sussex on Thursday, conceding 0-98 from 18 overs at Hove.

But Nielsen dismissed suggestions Australia's lack of support for Hauritz would have repercussions in Cardiff, arguing a spin-friendly pitch could affect the morale of England's fast bowlers.

"All of a sudden they are taking the impact away from the faster bowlers who have bowled so well against the West Indies," he said on Monday.

"(James) Anderson, (Stuart) Broad and (Graham) Onions did well against the West Indies, then all of a sudden they are willing to change that and go a different way because they perceive us to have a weakness.

"It's like they are worrying more about us than they are about themselves.

"We know we have a good squad, we have shown over a while when we play our best we are competitive with anyone anywhere."

TMS Blog
BBC Sport's Oliver Brett

Australia captain Ricky Ponting believes he will not be short of options should he require additional support for Hauritz.

"The beauty of our top-order is that (Simon) Katich, (Marcus) North and (Michael) Clarke can all give us reasonable part-time spinning overs," he told BBC Sport.

"This game (at Hove) will be good for us as this wicket is the one that plays more like Cardiff than anywhere else.

"But Test match wicket preparation is a lot different than most first-class games, so we will wait and see what's in front of us."

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see also
Warne backs Rashid over Panesar
25 Jun 09 |  England
In-depth interview - Shane Warne
22 Jun 09 |  Cricket
England omit Vaughan and Harmison
22 Jun 09 |  England
England must pick Rashid - Adams
13 Feb 09 |  Surrey
Rashid hints at all-rounder role
17 Jan 09 |  England
England changes 'put off Panesar'
09 Apr 09 |  England
Warne backs Panesar to come good
27 Feb 09 |  Cricket
Swann celebrates Antigua success
17 Feb 09 |  England
Mushtaq tips Panesar to find form
23 Jan 09 |  England

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