As we approach the tours of India and England, the shining light for Australian cricket is the depth in our seam bowling ranks.
The hot topic of the summer has been player rotations but the emergence of a bowling “squad” will undoubtedly be an advantage as we embark on this gruelling test year. In a previous article I made predictions about the likely fortunes of our test batmen and here I do the same for the bowlers.
Peter Siddle: Has been a war horse and a favourite of his captains due to the consistency of his effort. However, he now has a younger crop of bowlers snapping at his heals.
As there will be little there for the quicks in India you would expect his ability to bang the ball in all day long will get him picked despite his ageing body.
James Pattinson: Coming back from a side strain that ended his summer. Pattinson has all the attributes, namely: pace, swing and aggression.
If fit, he is amongst the first couple of bowlers picked. Unlike Mitch Johnson’s aggression which was confected after he was told he was too placid, Pattinson’s seems to be innate, he loves a stare and a stoush. Along with keeper Wade, Pattinson could be the new generation of ‘in-your-face’ Aussie cricketers that were a feature in the era of dominance. A new culture seems to be forming around these guys.
Mitchell Starc: Starc has raised his rating due to his stellar performances in the one day series this summer, however, judged on test form alone he is not an automatic pick. He is six-foot-five and can hoop the ball around at 150kmph but he can also leak runs and bowl wides.
Will be tested in the Indian conditions. He is also competing now with a resurgent Mitch Johnson for the left arm pace spot. If he can show the same form with a red ball that he has with the white, he will play a big role this year.
Jackson Bird: The find of the summer. Produced Glenn McGrath like line and length to take out man of the match in Sydney. Captains love bowlers can bowl one side of the wicket. Bird also has subtle rather than obvious movement. I hate to draw the parallel again but McGrath proved you only need to move the ball far enough to take the edge. Bird will take many edges and wickets in 2013.
Mitch Johnson: The Lazarus of Australian fast bowlers. Has had an up and down career. Great performances in South Africa were mixed with horrible ones in England. Now with a higher arm action and a more substantial run-up (under the tutelage of Dennis Lillee) he seems to have found his best form.
Has a penchant for breaking bones of opposition talismanic batsmen such as Graham Smith and Kumar Sangakarra. Even his teammates don’t like facing him in the nets because he is so hard to pick up out of the hand.
Pat Cummins: Has slipped out of focus due to a long term injury but in a pretty full roster this is the kid to watch. A prodigious talent who at nineteen can bowl outswingers at close to 150kmph, the holy grail of fast bowling. Will lead this attack in years to come and has the potential to be out next great quick in the foot-steps of Lillee and McGrath.
Ben Hilfenhaus: Was back down to low 130skmph this year and that will not cut the mustard. Stock in trade is a well-shaped late outswinger but it is less effective at that pace than at 140kmph. You get the sense that he is on his way out, although the conditions in England will suit him more than any other.
Nathan Lyon: Unlike others in the post Warne era such as Beer and Hauritz, Lyon has bedded down his spot and will be the prime spinner in India.
He has done so through good consistent performances rather than taking bags of five-fors. One criticism is that he has not been able to make an impact on many top order batsmen.
A lot of his wickets have been lower order batmen caught in the deep. Perhaps we were spoilt with Warne, Lyon now the team song singer deals more in economics than histrionics. As for other spin options, Glenn Maxwell appears to be the leading contender.
It is hard to justify Doherty’s test selection with his first class average of mid forty and Steven Smith appears to have little confidence in his wrist spin.