Portugal is as far removed from cricket as it can possibly be. The country’s biggest sporting icon in recent times has been a footballer, the mesmeric Cristiano Ronaldo. As Australia announced its team for the first Test against India beginning here on Friday, it emerged that Moises Constantino Henriques was set to make his debut. Born in Funchal, Portugal, Henriques moved to Australia with his parents, Alvaro and Anabela, while he was still a toddler. Now, at 26, the New South Wales all-rounder is on the cusp of becoming Australia’s 432nd Test cricketer.
“There are a lot of people I want to thank but probably it isn’t the right time to do it. I am still very speechless and at a loss for words, so I will miss way too many people. But obviously, my mum and my dad, and my two younger brothers have been a massive support growing up,” said Henriques at a media interaction on Wednesday, the morning of which Australia’s side was named.
Summing up his role in the team as that of a “genuine all-rounder,” Henriques said his brief was unambiguous. “The role in the side is pretty clear to me and that’s to not change the way I have been playing so far in the home season, in Sheffield Shield cricket.” Henriques, who picked up four wickets in the first practice game against Board President’s XI, dead-batted a query on Australia fielding four pacemen and him being preferred to the spinning all-rounder Glenn Maxwell. “I never really have played four or five-day cricket in Chennai before so I will leave those decisions to people who make them. I have got some plans in place, to go out there and try and combat spin bowling. “It’s all well and good to talk but once you go out to the middle it’s about how you execute them. I kept a very close eye on the India-England series. I was seeing what worked and what didn’t.”
Shane Watson had said on Tuesday how Henriques’ game resembled his and the latter concurred with the assessment. “When I was younger, I was a bit of a tearaway who liked to bowl as fast as I could.
“Having suffered a lot of injuries growing up, I had to adapt and change the way I bowl. I bowl a lot more within myself now and try and challenge the batsmen with my lengths and hopefully get some reverse swing. That’s something Shane does very well.”
Henriques, who has played five ODIs and one T20 International, spoke of his admiration for Indian batsmen, particularly Virat Kohli and Cheteshwar Pujara.
“I have been lucky enough to play against Pujara and Kohli growing up. I have utmost respect for these guys and I think they are fantastic cricketers. So there’s no way any of the Australian bowlers will underestimate this team.”
He noted that playing his debut Test in India will help him breathe easy. “India is a place I love to come and play. I have a lot of good memories here, not only on the field but off the field as well. I am very calm and very happy to be here.”
Team: Michael Clarke (Capt), Ed Cowan, Moises Henriques, Phil Hughes, Nathan Lyon, James Pattinson, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Starc, Matthew Wade, David Warner, Shane Watson.