Selectors not 'up to speed' By Andrew Ramsey March 11, 2005 AFTER Australia were repelled by world cricket's least-experienced No.3 batsman and an opener making his Test debut, criticism yesterday of their decision to omit their fastest, most intimidating bowler was as valid as it was predictable. Consistent ... selectors went for Gillespie over Lee. Pic: Reuters Without Brett Lee in their arsenal but opting to send New Zealand in to bat regardless on a benign Christchurch pitch, Australia endured their toughest opening day for many a Test as the dogged Kiwis posted a first-day total of 3-265. Their innings was underpinned by Hamish Marshall's maiden Test century (only his second first-class hundred in his sixth season) and an unflappable 74 from rookie opener Craig Cumming. Neither batsman was troubled by the preferred three-man pace attack, the sameness of which prompted former Test opener Michael Slater to claim the national selectors had made a rare error by overlooking Lee. "All of us can understand why the selectors have continued with this formula, because none of the three fast bowlers (Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kapsrowicz) have done anything wrong and we keep winning Test matches," Slater said. "But there are only two blokes in the world who can bowl at 150km/h- plus with any sort of accuracy - (Pakistan's) Shoaib Akhtar and Brett, and now Brett's a much finer bowler than Shoaib because of his control. "Logically, it just doesn't make sense as to why the selectors don't get him in there. It would be a more potent bowling attack with Brett Lee there. "If I was a selector, I would have been pushing to have Brett Lee in the side. And I can't understand why they are scared or nervous of getting him in there." Lee yesterday admitted he was bitterly disappointed by the decision, although NZ captain Stephen Fleming and Marshall had the good grace to claim his absence only afforded them minor relief against a world-class pace attack. Having fought his way back to career-best fitness after major ankle surgery last year, the 28-year-old concedes he must now work even harder to find a method of impressing selectors even though he has no first-class cricket scheduled before this year's Ashes tour. "Each time a problem has come up throughout my career I've managed to find a solution," Lee said yesterday. "This time around I don't have any straightforward answers. So far I've done everything that has been asked of me - I got my ankle right, got my speed back and took wickets." In the lead-up to the first of three Tests, captain Ricky Ponting made no secret of the fact he wanted Lee in his line-up but lost out to selectors who chose to retain the bowlers who had performed well over the past year. But Slater pointed out they were prepared to make an exception in Sydney last January when all-rounder Shane Watson was preferred to Kasprowicz for reasons of team balance, and said they should have opted for Lee over Gillespie. Lee would have been less of a talking point if the slips cordon had held their catches, with straightforward chances muffed by Justin Langer (off Fleming on 5) and Shane Warne (off Cumming on 43). Marshall's century was a mixture of patience and concentration, playing within his self-confessed limitations until he reached 95 shortly before stumps when he aimed an ambitious square cut off Gillespie which sailed over the slips for four. "The shot to get me to 99 was a little bit hairy, but after that I knew it was such a good wicket I had to make a pretty big mistake to get out," said Marshall, who will resume this morning on 103. The only good fortune to smile on Australia - after Ponting opted to insert the opposition for the first time in 11 Tests as captain - was the line-ball lbw decisions upheld against Fleming (18) and Lou Vincent (27).