Henriques ‘speechless’ ahead of Test debut
A few hours after being informed that he will, for the first time, don the baggy green in a couple of days, Moises Henriques was “still speechless and lost for words” as he sat in front of the gathered media personnel.
The 26-year-old pace-bowling all-rounder was chosen over Glenn Maxwell to complement the three-pronged pace attack of Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc and James Pattinson. While one would wonder if given Australia’s pace strength, his role will be more of a batsman who can get quick runs and bat with the tail, Henriques insisted he will play as much as a bowler as batsman.
“The role in the side is pretty clear to me and that is to continue to play the way I have been playing in the Sheffield Shield season,” Henriques said. “I have a pretty big role to play with both bat and ball. I will play as a genuine all-rounder.”
Australia’s decision to go with only one spin bowler in Nathan Lyon on the spinner-friendly Chepauk wicket has proved that they want to back their strength rather than adapt their attack to suit the conditions. While Henriques admitted the fast bowlers will be tested by the sapping Chennai humidity and heat, he also claimed the bowlers are fit enough to not only endure but also defeat the trying conditions.
“The exhaustion and the energy sapping heat take a lot out of the bowlers. But we’ve got some pretty fit bowlers; that’s the strength of this side and we have to play to it. In James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Peter Siddle, we have three very fiery quicks and we’re confident they will help us achieve success,” he said.
While the three specialist pacers are more on the quicker side, Henriques derives his advantage with accurate lengths and reverse swing. It prompted the senior all-rounder in the team, Shane Watson, to compare his young teammate to himself and said that Henriques has a bowling style that will bear him fruits on the subcontinent wickets.
“When I was younger, I was a bit of a tearaway and would come and bowl as fast as I could. But having suffered a lot of injuries growing up; I had to adapt and change the way I bowled because my body just couldn’t handle it,” Henriques revealed.
“I bowl a lot within myself now and try to challenge the batsmen with my lengths. I also try to get some movement with the reverse swing; that’s obviously what Shane does so well. His length is impeccable and he bowls very well with the old ball.”
Making a Test debut in India is a tough ask for any youngster. Henriques said that having people like Watson and Peter Siddle around will help him soak in the pressure and inspire him to produce his best.
“Having those guys around is a lot of help. Siddle is a guy you want in your side. He will run in for you all day and he inspires the other bowlers around him to keep doing the same thing. That’s just the type of person he is and everyone who watches him, grows a little bit as well. It rubs on to everyone else,” Henriques said.
While the current Indian Test batting line-up is still in transition, Henriques said that the young Indian batsmen have what it takes to take the legacy forward.
“I’ve been lucky enough to play against a lot of their batsmen – Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli – growing up and seen them play a lot. I have utmost respect for these guys and I think they’re fantastic cricketers. So there’s no way that any bowler of the Australian cricket team will be underestimating them,” he said.
On the verge of becoming the 432nd player to don the Australian Test cap, Henriques said that he has done his homework on how to tackle Indian spinners in their own backyard.
“I was aware of the conditions and have got plans in place to go out and combat that. They’re all a part of watching the footage and doing the homework. I kept a very close eye on the India-England Test series. Seeing what worked over here and what didn’t played a crucial role in the plans that I have made,” he said.
Henriques is, of course, over the moon to be making his Test debut in India. He said that his past experiences here will help him stay calm as he embarks on the most important journey of his cricketing career.
“India is a place I love to come to. Off the field I’m very calm and happy, and that certainly helps me. I’ve got a lot of good memories here not only on the field but also away from the cricket. Even when I’m not playing cricket or training here, I’m very happy. That helps,” he said.