Xavier Doherty admits to feeling the extra pressure and expectations generated by being the only specialist spinner in Australia’s pace-packed cricket World Cup squad.
The Tasmanian left-arm tweaker is the primary slow bowling option in a squad that contains four pacemen and three fast-medium allrounders.
That doesn’t mean he’s guaranteed a place in the World Cup side, as Australia could go in with offspinning allrounder Glenn Maxwell.
While Test spinner Nathan Lyon was given half a dozen games in 2014 to advance his World Cup, claims, the selectors ultimately plumped for 32-year-old Doherty, who has played 57 ODIs.
Lyon has played just eight ODIs and Doherty said his experience had probably worked in his favour, with few other specialist spinners given an extended run in recent times,
Asked if he felt extra pressure Doherty said “there probably is, if I was going to be honest, given there was so much speculation about the spinning spot.
“I probably do feel that expectation to really nail it, and when my opportunity comes to take it.”
Doherty came to prominence in shorter forms of the game through his ability to contain batsmen through faster dart-type deliveries rather than through turn and guile.
He won’t be motivated by criticism, which he regards as a standard part of modern day sport.
“Not many people get away with avoiding criticism, you only have to look around our team especially,” Doherty said.
“Guys at the very top are getting criticised, so I’ve got to expect it as well. That’s fair enough.”
He’s philosophical about the tendency towards flat pitches that produce plenty of boundaries and high scoring.
Doherty accepts he may struggle to get a game on some Australian grounds during the World Cup.
“The authorities are after higher scoring games and that’s the way it’s turning out and that’s what this World Cup will be, high-scoring affairs I’d imagine,” Doherty said.
“I’m under no illusion I probably won’t play every game and there are probably certain pitches where I’ll be looked at to come into contention.
“So it’s when I get those opportunities to really nail it.
“But I feel if I’m bowling at my best I can make it pretty hard for the selectors as well.”
With Michael Clarke injured of late, Doherty has found himself working under George Bailey his skipper at Tasmania.
“George and I have known each other for a long time, so he probably gives me a bit more reign than `Pup’ (Clarke) does and knows my game a little bit better, so will trust what I can do,” Doherty said.
The Australian squad will play its first World Cup lead-up game against England at the SCG on Friday.
TALE OF A TWEAKER – XAVIER DOHERTY’S YEAR-BY-YEAR ODI RECORD
*2010 2 matches, 4 wickets, average 15.75, econ rate 4.50
*2011 – 14 matches, 16 wickets, average 34.81, econ rate 4.52
*2012 – 21 matches, 22 wickets, average 36.86, econ rate 4.87
*2013: 14 matches, 7 wickets, average 65.57, econ rate 5.15
2014: 6 matches, 5 wickets, average 45.20, econ rate 4.26.
Stats: ESPN Cricinfo Statsguru.