Doug Bollinger, the Australian fast bowler, believes he is fit enough for Test cricket, contrary to the views of the national selectors.
Having bowled well and demonstrated his fitness at the Australian team's pre-tour training camps in Brisbane, Bollinger was as surprised as anyone when he was left out of the Test squad to tour Sri Lanka for reasons of fitness.
Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, said Bollinger still had more work to do if he was going to be able to sustain his best in back-to-back Tests, but the bowler felt he had learned the lessons of last summer and was ready for Sri Lanka if he had been chosen.
"They just told me I had to keep working on my fitness and same-old, same-old," Bollinger toldSEN Radio. "But I know I'm bowling well at the moment and I know I'm pretty fit at the moment and doing well so that's all I can do to keep going and hopefully I'll get a call-up again soon.
"Obviously your fitness as a fast bowler has to be pretty good, but I keep going. I've been training hard, and when we were up in Brisbane, I felt I was fit and I bowled the house down. I think I bowled pretty well. So I've just got to go over there and bowl well in the five one-dayers and take as many wickets [as I can] and hopefully that can help me get through the stepping stones I've got to go through.
"There's not much I can do, I'm not going to fight, I'm not going to argue about it … I've just got to do what they've said and just ensure my fitness is good and show that I can bowl long spells and I'll be back hopefully as quick as I can."
Bollinger's 2010-11 summer was ill-fated from the moment Chennai advanced to the final of the Twenty20 Champions League in South Africa, giving him only two days to acclimatise and be ready for the first Test against India in Mohali. Though Bollinger was the most effective member of the attack, he broke down with a side strain on the final morning, and was on the sidelines as the match was narrowly lost.
Back in Australia for the Ashes series, Bollinger missed selection for the first Test, was flown to Perth for a Sheffield Shield match, then doubled back to Adelaide where he was pitched back into the series and was unable to sustain his pace. Dropped after the match, Bollinger has appeared on the Test match outer since, and only barely scraped onto the list of contracted 25 players despite having taken 50 wickets at 25.92 in 12 Tests.
"It is kind of a bitter pill to swallow as you'd imagine; it's probably the only bad Test match I've had and to get dropped was obviously disappointing," Bollinger said. "I must say I didn't bowl at my best but I went up to Brisbane, flew from Brisbane to Perth, played a four-day game in Perth, flew to Adelaide then spent three days in the field ... I was always going to be pretty cooked. But there's not much I can do, just one of those games … I've just got to go back and keep knocking on doors."
Hilditch has said that the door remains open for Bollinger, provided he does more fitness work.
"It's been a difficult 12 months for Doug," Hilditch said when announcing the Sri Lanka Test tour party. "He's a very talented bowler and we think he can still get back to playing Test cricket but we need to be satisfied that he can do so at full intensity. That's just critical at the moment because we're playing in an era where back-to-back Test matches are virtually inevitable."
Though he will only be in Sri Lanka for the limited-overs part of the tour, Bollinger spoke glowingly of new pace bowling coach Craig McDermott, and revealed that like Mitchell Johnson, a basic tip or two had allowed him to swing the ball again.
"He's given me a couple of tips and he's actually got me swinging the new ball again, which is something I've been trying to do for the last couple of years," Bollinger said. "So he's been very beneficial and all the guys are happy with him.
"He just got me to change some things with my hands and my wrist; I was holding the ball probably too far back in my hand and not letting it relax a bit, so just bits and pieces like that, that probably are the most effective, the one percenters, he's got me doing that.
"To be honest I just have to go back to smashing the wicket. That's what Hads [Brad Haddin] taught me to do when I first played in Shield cricket, that's all Glenn McGrath did and look at his career. So that's all I do just hit the wicket and keep going until I stop."