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Ashes 2013 preview: Part one – the pace attack

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    As Australian cricket fans watch the Test against South Africa in Perth, they can’t help but keep one eye on the spectre that is the 2013 Ashes series.

    Spiro has astutely concluded that the Australian cricket team, as it stands, does not have the shape to win back the Ashes in 2013.

    So what does Spiro mean when he talks about shape in a cricket team?

    A cricket team must be balanced so that it may deal with a number of different variables. This means a team (and a captain) must also have a diverse range of skills in order to address the various situations that may be encountered.

    While the Australian team is currently playing close to their best, I believe that the lack of shape will mean that their best, put simply, will not be good enough against the English in 2013.

    So in this three part series I want to address three crucial areas for Australia’s playing stocks moving forward:

    • The quicks
    • The batsmen and
    • The area closest to my heart, the spinners.

    First, it is important for us to accept that our pace attack is two dimensional and at times (especially during those fourth and fifth days) it can be like watching a butter knife cut steak.

    An attack of Siddle/Hilfenhaus and Pattinson, while perfect on paper (i.e. Siddle the hard deck bowler, Hilfenhaus the swing bowler and Pattinson the strike bowler), in reality does not seem to threaten to the level we need from our opening bowlers.

    After watching what young Kiwi Trent Boult could do with the ball last night in the Sri Lanka test, you could not help but draw comparisons with Mitchell Starc.

    Boult is growing immeasurably from game to game, after being exposed to conditions and batsmen like Jayawardene, Sangakarra and Dilshan (on one occasion he cut the latter in half with an incredible late inswinger) – Starc needs this experience.

    Starc should permanently take the place of Ben Hilfenhaus. He would provide the Australian attack with youth, hunger and a left arm option.

    Siddle must hold his place. Which leaves the one quick spot open in the Australian team.

    Here are the contenders. Note that I haven’t mentioned Pat Cummins – I am sick of him and his injuries:

    • Josh Hazlewood: Young up and comer, who has gone through the system (so is the heavy favourite despite indifferent statistics: 15 FC matches, 41 wickets at 31.97, at a strike rate of a wicket every 10 overs).
    • Jackson Bird (who ironically took six wickets in the game in which Mitch Johnson took four, leading to reselection in the Aussie squad). Bird is my pick of the bowlers. He is developing into a niggling, Glenn McGrath/Stuart Clark back-of-a-length style bowler – he should be a serious contender (Bird, in 17 FC games, has captured 87 wickets at 19.72 with a strike rate of a wicket every 6.5 overs).
    • Ben Cutting – returning from injury and looking like he is in some good domestic form – one to watch
    • Nathan Coulter-Nile: the dark horse of the pack, very highly rated by Mickey Arthur, and consistent in his performances for Australia A against England earlier this year.

    I am really interested to hear what Roarers believe would be the best pace attack leading into the 2013 Ashes.

    In my view, considering the conditions:

    – Jackson Bird, a back of the length seamer for the green top wicket.
    – Mitchell Starc, a genuine swing bowler to use the Duke during an overcast morning, and to provide some difference in angle across the right hander (and also the ability to swing it away from Alastair Cook).
    – Siddle, to embrace the journeyman aspects of his bowling and to keep an abrasive and aggressive bowler in the attack
    – Pattinson (if he is fit) to lead the attack, hoping he can find that 145 pace bracket once again

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    The Crowd Says (17)

    • December 1st 2012 @ 6:23am
      Johnno said | December 1st 2012 @ 6:23am | ! Report

      How Jackson Bird, who clearly has recent form on the WACA . How Hastings got picked ahead of him I will never know. Bird’s figures are very impressive.

      And on a side note Mitch Starc wow, he sure has developed in the last year. He got some of the most lovely shape on the ball I have seen in a long time He uses the air really well, getting th ball to move and shape in the air. The ball he got Kallis out was near unplayable , as good as a perfect cricket delivery from a left armer you will see, you could not basically bowl a a better delivery , that was almost unplayable that delivery.

      So the quicks if they can all get to full fitness we will have some genuine world class bowlers. The one that is so sad is Pat Cummins, as he too me is the pick of the bunch and the most talented. But just injuries are holding him back. If he was fit then the best attack we could put out would be this

      Our no 1 attack
      -Pat Cummins
      -James Pattinson
      -Mitchell Starc
      -Nathan Lyon
      -Shane Watson

      -That is a genuine World class attack.

      Our 2nd best attack
      -Mitchell Johnson
      -Peter Siddle
      -Jackson Bird
      -Josh Hazelwood

      No spinner else i have mentioned coz other than Nathan Lyon no one is stepping up at all. Maybe Hauritz but he has not done match in a while.
      And some other young players like Nathan Coulter.

      The big problem is getting them on the pitch and fit.

    • Roar Guru

      December 1st 2012 @ 8:10am
      biltongbek said | December 1st 2012 @ 8:10am | ! Report

      Gee John, don’t you think you need to finish us off before concerning yourslef with England? 😉

    • December 1st 2012 @ 8:11am
      Josh said | December 1st 2012 @ 8:11am | ! Report

      I think we need 6 or 7 bowlers to be competing. For mine this list includes Pattison, Siddle, Starc, Bird, Cutting, Hilfernhaus, Hazelwoo and Johnson as the 8 choices at this stage. I feel that Bird and Cutting were unlucky not to get in the current squad

    • Roar Guru

      December 1st 2012 @ 9:22am
      Rabbitz said | December 1st 2012 @ 9:22am | ! Report

      And this is exactly why the current team and management are struggling.

      They are too caught up in what might or might not happen many months down the track.

      Yet they are playing the World No.1 side RIGHT NOW. Then there is the little inconvenience of the Sri Lankans, and I am sure any number of indistinguishable T20 tournaments, err sorry, world championships, before they head to the UK.

      Lets win this match first, eh?

      You are really only as good as your last game and the only game that really matters is the current one.

    • December 1st 2012 @ 10:33am
      TheSilentProgressor said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:33am | ! Report

      I was saying before the series that if you have a left arm quick in Starc who is able to consistently swing the ball back into right handers then he should always be picked!! It offers so much variety to the attack and it is incredibly hard for a right handed batter to play. Going into the ashes i would pick an attack of:

      and Lyon.

      Hilfenhaus while a good toiler has lacked any real penetration this summer and his pace seems to have dropped off again, he could still be a useful bowler especially in England where he will probably find some swing, but Starc should be played against him. Cummins needs to overcome his injury problems and start playing some more FC cricket, he is immensely talented and will replace Siddle in the attack one-day but he needs to get back to playing consistently before he can be serisouly considered. I have yet to see Bird but his figures are very impressive and i find it hard to believe that Hastings and Johnson were preferred to him in this test match.

    • December 1st 2012 @ 10:43am
      Chui said | December 1st 2012 @ 10:43am | ! Report

      You haven’t mentioned Cummins because you are sick of his injuries?

      Seems strange to rule out a young kid because of a few injuries.

      Does he get injured intentionally? He’s out there busting a gut, and doing things that kids his age shouldn’t be capable of, and he’s punished for it. I note that spinners are close to your heart, so maybe you don’t appreciate the rigours of pace bowling.

      I think we have a great crop of fast bowlers at the moment that could really turn into something special. Hazelwood’s figures are a bit askew. He’s had to come back from back fractures that weren’t diagnosed. He’s going to take some time to get back to full strength and pace, but he’s coming along nicely.

      Bird has been very unlucky, and agree should have been in before Hastings.

      Pattinson has proved worthy, and now Starc is getting a chance to show his wres in the long form of the game.

      I, for one, look forward to watching Australia’s pace stocks in the future

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