Australia A Tour of England - Men's
Holland hoping to secure his Ashes reward
Australia’s clear No.2 spinner concedes his hopes of playing Test cricket again may be over if he is not picked for series against arch-rival
Sam Ferris in Canterbury
13 July 2019, 09:25 AM AEST
Playing in the Ashes would be a dream come true for Victoria spinner Jon Holland but he concedes if doesn't make Australia's squad that might be him done in Test cricket.
Holland started his selection campaign in fine style with six wickets in Australia A's emphatic 10-wicket win over Sussex this week.
The 32-year-old has been the leading spinner in the past three seasons of the Sheffield Shield and was rewarded with a Test berth in Sri Lanka in 2016.
He played two Tests against Sri Lanka in his debut series and another two against Pakistan in the UAE last October, four Tests which have resulted in three losses and a draw in challenging conditions.
But despite him being Australia's clear No.2 spinner behind veteran Nathan Lyon, Holland believes his Test career might be over if he doesn't make the Ashes.
"It's something I'm very proud of, to be able to say I've represented the country in Test match cricket," Holland told cricket.com.au in Canterbury on Friday.
"It's been pretty tough, a couple of tough tours.
"I'd love to get another opportunity but I'm probably getting a little bit on now and this is probably it for me, the Ashes.
"So hopefully I can jag a spot and maybe get an opportunity and do well and push on for a few more years."
Only once in the past 20 years has Australia picked an Ashes squad to England without two spinners – the 2009 series when off-spinner Nathan Hauritz shouldered the primary spinning duties, with the part-time off-spin of Marcus North also called on by captain Ricky Ponting.
In 2013, Lyon and a 19-year-old Ashton Agar were the twin tweakers in the squad, while two years later, Holland's Victoria teammate, leg-spinner Fawad Ahmed, was picked to partner Lyon but never played a Test.
With Lyon a lock for his third straight Ashes series, Holland hopes the selectors decide to stick with tradition and take a reserve spinner.
But he says he isn't fazed if he's overlooked.
"I'd like to think they would (pick two spinners) and they pick me," Holland said.
"If they do, they do. If they don't, so be it.
"I'm just over here enjoying being part of the Australian set-up, having fun with the boys and hopefully winning a couple more games of cricket."
In all four of his Tests to date, Holland has bowled in tandem with Lyon and says he would relish the chance to once again team-up with the record-breaking offie.
"It's always great bowling with Nathan," he said.
'Being around him in the nets he's a class bowler and probably the best bowler in the world at the moment.
"An Ashes is everyone's dream so just to be a part of the group would be an amazing feeling."
Should Holland earn an Ashes berth he'll do so with a self-confidence that has taken years to build.
Bowling spin at a young age against seasoned first-class batsmen is about as tough as it gets, that is until you're thrust into the frying pan of Test cricket.
Even Lyon, who will enter the Ashes as Australia's most successful off-spinner in Test history, has had to deal with dips in form and self-belief during his prolific career.
So it's a more assured Holland than the one who made his Test debut three years ago who is pushing his Ashes case with Australia A, which resumes on Sunday against the England Lions.
"It's probably more the mental side of things and having that self-belief that you're good enough and that you belong at the top level," Holland said when asked what's changed between now and when he was handed his maiden Baggy Green cap in Galle.
"Reflecting back on when I first started playing Shield cricket it was the same thing – you probably didn't really think you're up the challenge as a young bloke first starting out but once you get few performances under your belt and believe you can do it's a lot easier.
"It's something you realise yourself. It's hard to fake the self-confidence if you don't have it.
"Once you've done it or taken a bag or put in a few good performances you really start to believe you're good enough.
"There's a few blokes I've spoken to, players that have been in that position. They've looked back and said they wish they did things differently.
"That's the game of cricket and hopefully I do get another opportunity and put a good performance on the board."
Australia A tour of the UK
Get live scores and all the latest news from Australia A's tour of the UK on cricket.com.au and the CA Live app
Australia A one-day squad: Travis Head (c), Matthew Wade, Will Pucovski, Peter Handscomb, Mitch Marsh (vc), D'Arcy Short, Kurtis Patterson, Ashton Agar, Michael Neser, James Pattinson, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Sean Abbott, Andrew Tye
Australia A four-day squad: Tim Paine (c), Marcus Harris, Kurtis Patterson, Will Pucovski, Travis Head (vc), Peter Handscomb, Matthew Wade, Mitch Marsh, Michael Neser, Jon Holland, James Pattinson, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood (vc), Chris Tremain
July 13-16: Australian XI v England Lions, Canterbury
July 23-26: Australia v Australia A, Hampshire