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Fekete favoured for Aussie A efforts

Paceman still coming to terms with selection gained off the back of superb subcontinental bowling

The naming of Andrew Fekete in Australia’s Test squad for the upcoming tour of Bangladesh was one of the more left-field selections in the country’s recent history, and it seems even the man himself is still getting his head around it.

Seemingly off the back of a 37-wicket Sheffield Shield season, Fekete jumped to the front of a lengthy queue of Australian fast-bowling talent to claim his spot on the plane to Dhaka, prompting pun-tastic headlines such as ‘Who the Fek?’ from Australia’s bemused media.

Yet the real reason behind his selection occurred while most Australian cricket fans had their eyes firmly fixed on one footy code or another, as the 30-year-old toured India with Australia A and learned some valuable lessons about subcontinental bowling.

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In two first-class matches against India A, Fekete bowled 54 overs, taking just five wickets but conceding only 117 runs at the miserly economy rate of 2.17 runs per over.

"I heard he bowled extremely well in India for the ‘A’ stuff there and there’s no doubt that the conditions are likely to be quite similar," Australia captain Steve Smith said of Fekete at the recent squad announcement. 

"I think he reverses the ball quite well and hopefully that will be one of our strengths that we’ll be able to do well in Bangladesh and he certainly provides that option."

And it was his tight lines, together with that ability to reverse swing the older ball that Smith mentioned, that saw Fekete catapulted to the forefront of the selectors’ thinking for Bangladesh.

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"You don't come across conditions like that in Australia, but you do come across periods in games where not much is happening and you do have to bowl pretty tight, have straight fields and play boring cricket, which is what you have to do a fair bit in the subcontinent," he told Launceston-based newspaper The Examiner.

"I've had some experience in how to bowl over there, where you just have to bowl tight and let the spinners come in and do the rest."

With the National Selection Panel opting to rest Mitchell Johnson and Josh Hazelwood ahead of an extremely busy period of Test cricket for Australia, Fekete sensed that there may be an opportunity for a bowler of his ilk, yet he refused to convince himself that it could in fact be him.

"Deep down in the back of my mind I did think that if ever there was a time (for an Australia call-up) then now might be it, but until you get that phone call from selectors saying you're picked and you're in, you don't believe it," he said.

"It was just a combination of shock and elation and after the phone call ended I just sat there quietly for five to 10 minutes and just tried to process what had just happened.

"It hasn't really sunk in and it probably won't until the first training session over there."

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Despite the recent injury to Pat Cummins, Fekete remains pragmatic about his selection.

Realistically, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle are likely to start the first Test ahead of him, and his selection could hinge on whether Australia opt to play two spinners or three quicks; if the latter, he will be in a shootout with Tasmania teammate James Faulkner.

Yet concerns such as those seem not to be worrying the unassuming fast bowler, who is instead focusing squarely on the positives.

“The chance to get some tips on my bowling from someone like (national bowling coach) Craig McDermott and a few of the senior bowlers, I will be able to bring that back to Tasmania and my own game,” he added.

"As far as I'm concerned, this three weeks with the Aussie squad might be the only time I'm ever part of it.

"Any opportunity I get in a tour game or a Test match I will try my best, but if it doesn't work out there and I don't play a game at least I have that tour to look back on and say I was part of an Australian squad which is a feat in itself."