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Monday, 17 December 2012:

Cricket Australia is fond of talking about the primacy of Test cricket but scheduling conflicts with limited-overs matches constantly stretch this policy to breaking point.

The latest case in point is the Test tour to India beginning in February, which is set to involve Australia's squad heading to the sub-continent before the final one-day international against the West Indies at the MCG on February 10.

That's fine for Test-only players like Ed Cowan, Peter Siddle and Nathan Lyon, who will be available for warm-up matches in India to help them acclimatise to local conditions.

But Test skipper Michael Clarke, vice-captain Shane Watson and star batsman Mike Hussey are all likely to be required for an ODI clash against the Windies which is hardly set to capture the public's imagination as pub talk turns from summer sports to pre-season footy.

They'll be in India soon enough and cope as best they can, presumably, but it's not an ideal situation.

Given the choice, surely it's better to throw resources at the Test squad for a crucial tour of India than put an A-grade side on the park for a one-dayer against the Windies.

With the one-day World Cup coming up in Australia in 2015, early 2013 mightn't be a bad time to blood a couple of blokes on the fringes of international selection, for the greater good of Australian cricket.

"We have important games against the West Indies and some of the Test guys will be required to play in that series," a Cricket Australia spokesman says.

"Those who are not selected for the final one-day games will have the opportunity to go to India and get used to the conditions with two practice games.

"The selectors will pick the team that they believe will be able to beat the West Indies in that one-day series. There are some red-ball specialists who would be able to go to India early and then there are others who will be involved in the one-day series."

If it's a bad look for Clarke and Watson to skip the last game against the Windies, if it affects crowd numbers and TV ratings, that's unfortunate.

But Test cricket, that's the name of the game. Isn't it?


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