Pace bowlers aplenty, but who makes the cut?

Keagan Ryan Roar Pro

By Keagan Ryan, Keagan Ryan is a Roar Pro

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    While Cricket Australia’s rotation policy for top bowlers has received some criticism, it at least has shown the great depth of Australia’s fast bowling stocks.

    Tasmanian seamer Jackson Bird showcased his worth in Australia’s annihilation of Sri Lanka inside two-and-a-half days, claiming four top-order wickets.

    Although it wasn’t against the strongest opposition, the 26-year-old Bird looked the part with the new ball in hand, nibbling the Kookaburra just enough each way, a la Stuart Clark.

    Bird’s impressive debut creates a welcome conundrum for both the immediate and distant futures’ of the National Selection Panel.

    The makeup of the bowling attack for the third and final Test starting in Sydney next week is unclear, shrouded by the imposing form of Peter Siddle, Mitch Starc and Mitch Johnson in unison with Bird.

    At the end of the day, four does not fit into three and one of the aforementioned will be resigned to carrying the Gatorade.

    The longer term selection challenge is even more curious.

    Once James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Ben Hilfenhaus and to a lesser extent Ryan Harris regain fitness, who will make the final XI?

    Not even the most expansive rotation policy can satisfy Australia’s plethora of fast bowlers.

    First things first, it’s virtually impossible to leave the leader of the pack Peter Siddle out given his performances in the past 12 months.

    The heart and soul of the Australian team is just about the first selected each test and is a given starter despite the talent challenging for his position.

    Accompanying him and taking the new ball in this starting XI is fellow Victorian James Pattinson.

    Pattinson’s career to date has been brilliant, exemplified by his bowling average which mirrors his young age (22).

    He’s constantly in the batsman’s face, and it’s that same fieriness and exuberance, coupled with youthfulness, which gives him the edge over his fast bowling comrades.

    The third and final position, assuming the team is in the traditional set-up of three seamers and a spinner, is the toughest but for mine it has to be Mitchell Johnson. On song, he is a match winner and he narrowly edges out Starc.

    Johnson’s readmission to the national team has shown how good he can be when he is brimming with confidence and is mentally fresh.

    His battery of the Sri Lankan batsmen bordered on assault, as he sent Prasanna Jayawardene and Kumar Sangakkara to hospital with suspected fractures and left the rest of the team with broken hearts.

    It’s this x-factor and match winning ability that gives Johnson the nod over less-proven performers Starc and Cummins.

    This same debate will rage on up to and beyond next years’ Ashes series, but we can be happy with the fact that exciting times lie ahead in the fast lane for Australia.

    For what it’s worth, here is my fast-bowling pecking order: Siddle, Pattinson, Johnson, Starc, Bird, Cummins, Harris, Hilfenhaus.

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    The Crowd Says (10)

    • Roar Guru

      December 29th 2012 @ 5:03am
      peeeko said | December 29th 2012 @ 5:03am | ! Report

      they are all pretty good but not great. hopefully pattinson and cummins can become great fast bowlers

    • Roar Guru

      December 29th 2012 @ 6:10am
      Rabbitz said | December 29th 2012 @ 6:10am | ! Report

      Sure there are plenty.

      Unfortunately, there are none who are stand-out match winners.

      Your praise of Johnson missed three salient points:
      1. Has now had his once in two years good match, so will be a spent force.
      2. He was playing against Sri Lanka – The Drummoyne Under 6’s would have looked good against them.
      3. He is a home-series bully. In India he will lose all control and fire because he is mentally weak – the first moment of adversity, say the hotel doesn’t cook his eggs just right, he will then disappear in a puff of self-doubt and petulance.

      • December 29th 2012 @ 10:16am
        Keagan Ryan said | December 29th 2012 @ 10:16am | ! Report

        It’s going to be wait and see for Johnson, so far he’s 2/2 in terms of good performances. I agree Sri Lanka haven’t been the best opponents, but I believe he’s showed enough to suggest he’s a different person, unburdened by the pressure of leading the attack.

        • Roar Guru

          December 29th 2012 @ 11:18am
          Rabbitz said | December 29th 2012 @ 11:18am | ! Report

          2 from 2?

          4 tail-enders for 100 odd? maybe 1 from 2.

          Well I don’t want to “wait and see”, he will fail if he goes to India.

          The team can not afford to carry him on the field and I am sure his petulant attitude would not be fun to be around the rest of the time.

    • December 29th 2012 @ 7:59am
      James said | December 29th 2012 @ 7:59am | ! Report

      Interesting how everyone now rules out Hilfenhaus who will be ideal for bowling in the UK and has taken 37 wickets this year at an average of 21

      • December 29th 2012 @ 10:22am
        Keagan Ryan said | December 29th 2012 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Jackson Bird filled the Hilfenhaus void nicely, and with age on his side, Bird might have the upper hand in that jostle

      • December 29th 2012 @ 12:11pm
        Red Kev said | December 29th 2012 @ 12:11pm | ! Report

        20 of those 37 were against India. Hilfenhaus bowls poorly more often than he bowls well.

    • December 29th 2012 @ 12:32pm
      pj said | December 29th 2012 @ 12:32pm | ! Report

      johnson at his best allround makes watto look pretty tame really. under a better captain in clarke, i can see mj as one of our best ever allrounders. bet the selectors would be thinking along similar lines. must be thinking of a way to let watto go without too much backlash.

    • December 29th 2012 @ 6:17pm
      Felix said | December 29th 2012 @ 6:17pm | ! Report

      I’m still perplexed by Cummins’ automatic inclusion in everyone’s shopping list. He’s had a horror run with injury and is still very, very green. For mine he needs two seasons on the field with a red cherry in his hand to prove he still has the wicket taking ability that got him a Guernsey in the first place, and I sincerely hope he does regain that form. The depth of fast bowling in Australia is absurd at the moment but so too is the scrap pile. When the trade winds of the rotation policy blow your way you need to be fit, and unfortunately Cummins sits well below plenty of others in Australia in that category.

    • December 29th 2012 @ 7:23pm
      Chui said | December 29th 2012 @ 7:23pm | ! Report

      I’m thinking it will be nice to have reasonable alternatives.

      If you don’t make the team, you go back to shield and put in there instead. Then you wait for your chance and improve your game.

      Hang on a minute, that sounds a bit like the old way that served so well for so long.

      I hope we get the opportunity to examine batsman the same way soon.

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