PITCH PERFECT?: National selector Andy Bichel watches on as Australian captain Michael Clarke checks out the Gabba wicket on the eve of today’s first Test.
PITCH PERFECT?: National selector Andy Bichel watches on as Australian captain Michael Clarke checks out the Gabba wicket on the eve of today’s first Test. AAP Image

Watto's bowling could shape Test, says Bichel

IPSWICH-bred allrounder Shane Watson will bowl if his country needs him, George Bailey is expected to make his Test debut and the Gabba pitch will give everyone an opportunity to impress.

England is also beatable if the Aussies seize the big moments.

They are some of the assessments of former Laidley Test player and current national selector Andy Bichel, heading into today's first Test at the Gabba.

Chatting to Bichel preparing for a new Ashes series, one senses he would love still being out there displaying his fierce competitiveness against the old enemy.

However, as a selector for two and a half years, Bichel is enjoying his role.

"It is tough at times,'' Bichel, 43, said. "You're making tough decisions, but that's fine.

"At the end of the day, it's important we get the right people that are playing good cricket and making good cricket decisions.''

The player popularly known as "Bic'' backed the Aussies to stand up to the reputable English side despite questions over the home team's preparation.

"I think they are ready for this moment,'' he said, having just returned from India where he watched the recent one-day international series.

"They've been preparing for the last three months.

"I think they have prepared themselves as best they can and hopefully that will take care of itself over the next few days.''

The Laidley-born and bred cricketer displayed his all-round bowling, batting and fielding talents during 19 Tests and 67 one-day games for Australia.

That's why Bichel knows how important Watson is to the team.

With much of the pre-Test talk centred on injury-prone Watson's hamstring, cricket fans have been speculating whether he will bowl in this Test.

Bichel said it would depend on captain Michael Clarke's assessment of the situation.

"He (Watson) is quite confident he can bowl a few overs,'' Bichel said.

"The challenge for Michael is the fact those overs that he bowls, are they penetrating enough to cause some problems for the batsmen?

"That's the decision we'll see when it comes to the heat of the battle.

"He is a key player for us in this series and we don't need him out of the series after the first Test.''

Watson is expected to bat at number three, coming off his century in his previous test.

Another talking point was Australian one-day skipper Bailey making his Test debut aged 31.

"Dealing with international media, dealing with the environment of playing against international bowlers is the best grounding you can have and George has that,'' Bichel said.

"I just hope that he takes it in his stride and really believes that he belongs there.''

Good wicket

AS for how the Gabba pitch will play after recent rain, selector Andy Bichel expected a flat surface that would give the bowlers some incentive.

"There's some good grass clippings on it but I think they will be taken off by tomorrow morning,'' Bichel said. "I think it will be a pretty good wicket.

"I think it will be a little bit faster than last year. If you get caught on the crease, you'll be out.''

The former Aussie rep said the main lesson from the recent Ashes series in England was performing under pressure.

"We just lost those big moments,'' Bichel said.

"Over 20 days of cricket, we won at least 12 of them but we came home 3-0 (losers). If we can turn those little periods around, it will be really good for us.''

The weather remains the big unknown over the next five days. "That's probably why we haven't named the team,'' Bichel said. "You probably wouldn't normally think about this (the unusual weather pattern in Brisbane at this time of the year) but it's something that we have to take into consideration.''