Selectors in a spin over SCG line-up

Hilton Cartwright in the nets ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne.
Hilton Cartwright in the nets ahead of the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne. JULIAN SMITH

HILTON Cartwright sees himself as a batting all-rounder but the West Australian is confident his bowling is up to scratch if asked to be a back-up to Josh Hazlewood and Mitchell Starc.

With selectors having dropped Nic Maddinson for the third Test against Pakistan at the SCG starting on Tuesday, Cartwright is set to bat at No.6.

The Zimbabwe-born 24-year-old averages 44.50 with the bat in first-class cricket and will be asked to bolster the middle order after Maddinson's failures so far this summer.

Selectors are mulling over whether to include a second spinner alongside Nathan Lyon, with either Stephen O'Keefe or Cartwright's WA teammate Ashton Agar to get the nod.

That would likely mean seamer Jackson Bird would miss out in Sydney, leaving Cartwright to bowl some overs as a third seamer.

If that happens, Cartwright is happy to back his bowling.

"I can definitely contribute overs during a game,” he said.

"That's always been a part of my game.

"I've just been trying to get it to work as close to (as good) as my batting.

"So if they say I'm going to be the third seamer, I'm preparing to have that opportunity to contribute 10, 15 overs, whatever it may be, to hopefully try and cement my spot.”

The only way Cartwright looks unlikely to play is if selectors decide to go with Agar to bat at six or seven with his left-arm slow bowling as an option at the spin-friendly SCG.

If he does debut, however, Cartwright - a former schoolmate of Mitchell Marsh - said he was ready to take his chance.

"The way it's been over the last 12, 18 months, there's been a spot there or thereabouts (for an all-rounder),” he said.

"To get that opportunity, I'll definitely grab it if I get it.”

Coach Darren Lehmann has guaranteed Lyon one spinner's role after his return to form in Melbourne.

The inclusion of 23-year-old Agar would end O'Keefe's hopes of a recall.

Agar says he is an all-rounder and backs himself to bat in the top seven, if the selectors go for him.

He averages 26.41 with the bat in 44 first-class matches, with two centuries, and batted at No.5 in WA's Shield match against NSW in November, scoring 15 and 35.

O'Keefe, 32, suffered a calf injury against Victoria last month and since then has played only three matches for the Sydney Sixers in the Big Bash.

Topics:  ashton agar australian cricket team hilton cartwright test cricket

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