by Sam Coulson
Over a decade ago, a 25-year-old Jason Krejza took eight wickets at Nagpur. Now it’s a 22-year-old country boy from Echuca on the Murray raising eyebrows. Todd Murphy, a right arm off-spin bowler who has played only seven first class matches for Victoria however has amassed an impressive 29 wickets at a tidy average of 25.
It was a bold call from the selectors playing Murphy, as Australia has not played two strike off-spin bowlers in a Test match since 1988. This new look Australian side has not been afraid to make a change, dropping their inform middle order batsman Travis Head causing some stir from Australian supporters and in particular South Aussies.
George Bailey made his intentions clear prior to the first test in Nagpur, stating in a Fox Sports article,
“This is not a development tour for Murphy; we don’t pick someone unless we think they’re ready.”Goerge Bailey
With the greatest respect to Jason Krejza and also Sydney spinner Steve O’Keefe who took 12/70 in the first test in Pune in 2017, this appears to be a different circumstance. Receiving his baggy green from Australia’s greatest ever off spin bowler Nathan Lyon, is this the passing of the baton?
Australia began their Test tour of India in Nagpur, winning the toss and choosing to bat losing both openers for one run each with the Australia in dire straits at 2/2.
Steve Smith and Marnus Labuschagne looked to resurrect the innings putting together an 82-run partnership before Labuschagne was stumped on 49, with Smith departing soon after bowled for 37.
The Aussies ending up with a below par total off 177, they needed to be good with ball in hand.
India started well with the bat seeing themselves to 0/76 before the debutant Todd Murphy in his seventh over had the ball hit straight back to him taking a straight forward catch, to claim his first Test match wicket of KL Rahul.
Murphy went on to claim the first four wickets of Australia’s bowling innings, including Rahul, night watchmen Ravi Ashwin, Cheteshwar Pujara and his most celebrated wicket so far of Virat Kohli, first ball after the lunch break.
India reached tea on day 2 at 226/5 after 80 overs, with an excellent 118 not out to Rohit Sharma.
With the new ball available, Captain Pat Cummins opted to take it, opening the session himself he blasted Sharma’s off stump out of the ground, back on track after a wayward start on day one.
Opening the bowling from the other end, was Australia’s new cult hero Todd Murphy. A role he may have to share with fellow Victorian Scott Boland.
In just his second over post tea he appealed to the umpire for a leg before wicket which was turned down by the on-field umpire. Growing in confidence he persuaded Cummins to take it upstairs, DRS displayed three red lights meaning Srikar Bharat was departing, but more importantly the new kid on the block was celebrating his fifth wicket on debut.
Editor’s note: Murphy finished with 7 for 124 from 47 overs in India’s first, and ultimately only innings.