Pakistan v Australia Test - Men's
Holland ready to take one last chance
Victorian discusses his recent form in India and long journey back to Australia's Test squad
17 September 2018, 06:34 PM AEST
Spinner Jon Holland concedes next month's series against Pakistan could be his last chance to establish himself on the international stage.
Almost a decade after his first tour with Australia, Holland will head to the UAE this week with just two Tests to his name and a Test bowling average in the 50s.
Following the UAE tour, Australia won't play Tests in Asia again until February 2020, underlining the importance of this campaign for Holland to prove he can perform at the highest level.
The 31-year-old insists he's a better bowler than he was during his hurried and brief stint in the Baggy Green more than two years ago and says there'll be plenty of nerves if he's picked to partner Nathan Lyon for the first Test in Dubai on October 7.
"It definitely crossed my mind that I was probably running out of time (to play Test cricket again)," he told SEN.
"Obviously every time you play cricket you want to do well, so the nerves and everything will be there again if I do get another opportunity.
"It probably is my last crack, so I really want to put a good performance out there and hopefully I can get a couple more years in the Australian colours."
Holland is back in favour having been surprisingly overlooked for Test tours to India and Bangladesh last year, with Ashton Agar, Steve O'Keefe and Mitchell Swepson picked ahead of him on those tours.
Former Test captain Ricky Ponting, Holland's skipper when he was picked as a 22-year-old for Australia's ODI tour of India in 2009, said last week it was a "no-brainer" for Holland to play alongside Lyon for the Pakistan series.
And Ponting added the left-armer had a chance to end any debate about who should partner Lyon if conditions require a second spinner on future tours.
"He has been Australia's second-best spinner for some time," Ponting told cricket.com.au last week.
"Whenever he plays for Victoria, he takes wicket after wicket. He's a quality bowler.
"He let himself down a little during those two Test matches he played for Australia in Sri Lanka a couple of years ago. He probably didn't bowl as well as he could have.
"If he gets a crack at it now, he's someone who could potentially play for Australia over the next few years in the right conditions."
Holland all but assured his Test spot on the recent Australia A tour of India, where his nine-wicket haul steered the tourists to a victory over a strong India A side in Bengaluru.
The Victorian was picked as the lone spinner in that side ahead of Agar and Swepson, his main rivals for a Test spot, and bowled more than 53 overs in a match-winning performance.
"I think it was important ... there were two other spinners over there that missed out on that game," he said.
"To take on the job as the only spinner and bowl the team to victory on the last day really strengthened my case for a recall.
"Throughout the winter I’ve been I’ve been working pretty closely with our coach at Victoria Andrew McDonald on a few plans and the conditions that we might face in India and maybe the UAE if I was to be selected.
"I had a little bit of a chat with Justin Langer and some other people about what they expected the conditions to be like and what was required in those conditions. So I think I worked pretty hard in the winter and luckily enough it paid off."
Qantas Tour of the UAE
Australia Test squad: Tim Paine (c), Ashton Agar, Brendan Doggett, Aaron Finch, Travis Head, Jon Holland, Usman Khawaja, Marnus Labuschagne, Nathan Lyon, Mitch Marsh, Shaun Marsh, Michael Neser, Matthew Renshaw, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc
Sep 29 - Oct 2: Tour match v Pak A, Dubai
Oct 7-11: First Test, Dubai
Oct 16-20: Second Test, Abu Dhabi