England will target Head and Henriques in do-or-die match

Ronan O'Connell Columnist

29 Have your say

    Australia’s all-rounders shape as a potential weakness today against England’s ballistic batting line-up in the do-or-die Champions Trophy match.

    Australia must defeat the hosts to be certain of progressing to the semi-finals along with England after their first two matches against New Zealand and Bangladesh were washed out.

    England rely heavily on their batting, with an ODI strategy of racking up massive totals to cover for the fragility of their bowling unit.

    While Australia have an elite front-line bowling attack, the matter of which players bowled the remaining complement of 10 overs each innings shaped as a problem leading into this tournament.

    The injury to Mitch Marsh robbed Australia of their best 50-over all-rounder, a solid seam bowler who can be trusted to deliver up to 10 overs if needed.

    Offie Travis Head and medium pacer Moises Henriques are far weaker options with the ball, yet they’ve managed to sneak through Australia’s first two matches without copping much punishment.

    Australia would be content for that pair to concede up to 6.5 runs per over in batting-friendly conditions, safe in the knowledge that their four frontline bowlers should be far more frugal.

    Instead Henriques and Head have been surprisingly economical in this tournament, giving up just five runs per over. They may have only taken two wickets from their 22 overs, but that won’t faze Australia, who have sufficient strike power among their front liners.

    I had assumed opposition batting line-ups would target Head and Henriques, who are by far the weakest links in the Aussie attack, yet both New Zealand and Sri Lanka showed them a curious amount of respect, happy to milk ones and twos for the most part, rather than seeking to hit them out of the attack.

    This must have been a welcome surprise for the Aussie pair, but they won’t get the same gentle treatment from England.

    This English batting unit is unique among ODI teams in that it typically plays with heavy aggression throughout the full 50 overs – as opposed to most other sides, which aim to bat steadily and build a platform from which they can explode in the final 15 overs.

    Henriques’ stump-to-stump medium pace will look particularly appetising for the likes of powerful English opener Alex Hales, star number three Joe Root and mayhem-making keeper-batsman Jos Buttler.

    Meanwhile, Head usually prefers to bowl to left-handers – but in destructive all-rounder Ben Stokes, skipper Eoin Morgan and middle-order slugger Moeen Ali he will encounter three lefties with a history of dispatching slow bowlers.

    Head somehow got through his first seven overs while conceding a mere 18 runs against Bangladesh on Monday. The lack of aggression he met was truly bizarre.

    When opener Tamim Iqbal belatedly went after Head in his eighth over he conceded 15 runs in six balls, almost as many as he had from his previous 42 deliveries.

    The 23-year-old South Australian has improved greatly with the ball over the past 18 months. He did, however, start from a very low base as a rank part-timer, and he is still some way short of being a reliable fifth bowler like Marsh.

    Travis Head of Australia celebrates after scoring a century

    (AAP Image/David Mariuz)

    It will surprise me if England don’t plan to attack Head from his first over. This could be disruptive to Australia’s bowling plans, forcing them to revert back to frontline bowlers sooner than they would like.

    The same treatment likely awaits Henriques, a once skilful seamer who looks rusty after rarely bowling at domestic level in the past 18 months.

    Smith will be waiting for opportunities to try to rush through overs from Head and Henriques at the safest possible junctures.

    Because if either of them are forced to bowl while a Buttler or Stokes is in full flight, Australia could easily find their all-rounders conceding 80 runs from their 10 overs.

    The heavy focus tonight will be on the tantalising battle between England’s ferocious hitters and Australia’s quality quicks – but how Australia’s all-rounders fare in their required 10 overs could be the tipping point in this blockbuster match.

    Ronan O
    Ronan O'Connell

    Ronan O'Connell has been a journalist for well over 13 years, including nine at daily newspapers in WA. He now traverses the world as a travel photojournalist, contributing words and photography to more than 30 magazines and newspapers including CNN, BBC, The Toronto Star, The Guardian, The South China Morning Post, The Irish Examiner and The Australian Financial Review. Check out his work and follow him on Twitter @ronanoco

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    The Crowd Says (29)

    • June 10th 2017 @ 9:41am
      Trebla said | June 10th 2017 @ 9:41am | ! Report

      Does Tamim Iquarterbackal also play gridiron? Like all media outlets now the auto spellchecker and predictive text has taken over from the human sub editor. I can find an error in just about every article on every media site, but this one is one of the funnier ones.
      Why does not Maxwell bowl any more? If he is only a batsman then I pick Lynn and Khawaja ahead of him. He needs to bowl to get selected in my opinion.

    • June 10th 2017 @ 10:02am
      Geoff from Bruce Stadium said | June 10th 2017 @ 10:02am | ! Report

      Any chance that Lynn will play instead of either Head or Henriques? I’d love to see Lynn in the middle order. I guess the problem with that is the one that stays may have to bowl 10 overs. The solution could be to share 5 each with Maxwell. I think I read somewhere that Zampa is in and Lynn is in the mix. We need somone explosive in the middle order. I think they could get away with Starc, Hazlewood, Cummins (or Pattinson), Zampa, and Head/Maxwell. Does the Birmingham wicket offer much to the spinners? The Aussie attack looked very samey against the Kiwis.

      • June 10th 2017 @ 10:23am
        Nudge said | June 10th 2017 @ 10:23am | ! Report

        Personally, if Lynn did come in I’d like it to be for Finch. 20 overs of Lynn at the start with the field up and it would make it pretty tough for the Poms

        • Columnist

          June 10th 2017 @ 11:13am
          Ronan O'Connell said | June 10th 2017 @ 11:13am | ! Report

          If Lynn comes in I think the selectors will drop either Finch or Maxwell.

          They should drop Henriques for Lynn, but the refusal to bowl Maxwell makes that change extremely unlikely as it would mean Head would be entrusted with bowling 10 overs, or very close to it, against a destructive batting lineup.

          From an Australia perspective I think they’ll be making a mistake if, as media reports suggest, they drop Zampa and go with the Big Four quicks.

          If the pitch has a bit in it for the quicks then there’ll also be decent grip for Zampa. They’re so much better balanced with him in the lineup.

    • June 10th 2017 @ 11:55am
      David a Pom said | June 10th 2017 @ 11:55am | ! Report

      Let alone those two, England will smack the whole lot of them. Hazlewood’s decent, but Starc and Cummins spray it all over the place. 400 on the cards.

    • Roar Guru

      June 10th 2017 @ 12:12pm
      Rellum said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:12pm | ! Report

      So are we expecting some green in the deck tonight?

      If they serve up a free hitting deck I would back our sloggers to out slog them. Plus our bowlers will hopefully limit their batting enough to make it easier for our sloggers to slog successfully.

      • Columnist

        June 10th 2017 @ 12:21pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:21pm | ! Report

        Rellum cricket.com.au is reporting that a fresh pitch is being used and that it’s expected to assist the quicks a bit, certainly more than some of the roads we’ve seen recently.

        I don’t think such a pitch would suit either batting lineup – both are made up mostly of hitters who are much better on flat decks.

        • Roar Guru

          June 10th 2017 @ 12:40pm
          Rellum said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

          If there is green on the deck and am very worried about our chances. I have not seen this English team bat for a while so I am not personally shore how they are playing but we have such a bad record on desks that assist the bowlers you would have to be worried about a big collapse,

          I would love Lynn to come in as he is at least capable of playing a FC class style innings if things are tough. Drop Maxwell if they are so desperate for endless bowling options.

          • Columnist

            June 10th 2017 @ 1:19pm
            Ronan O'Connell said | June 10th 2017 @ 1:19pm | ! Report

            Well the last game England played on a deck with a bit of assistance for bowlers they suffered a record collapse to be 6-20 against SA a few weeks back.

            England have built their ODI batting lineup around players who can blast on the ultra-flat home decks they’ve produced the past 2 years. They’re poorly suited to bowler-friendly decks, just like Australia’s batting lineup.

            • Roar Guru

              June 10th 2017 @ 2:56pm
              Rellum said | June 10th 2017 @ 2:56pm | ! Report

              So if it is green then it is a lottery. England could take that risk because of the group situation. If they loose with a big collapse then no biggy as they are already through, if they get us with a big collapse then they knock us out and Bangladesh goes through.

    • Roar Guru

      June 10th 2017 @ 12:20pm
      Rellum said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:20pm | ! Report

      I would like to see Hales roughed up with the short stuff from Cummins. There was a vid on this site a while ago of a very sharp Vic club club giving Hales all sorts of trouble and Cummins is the main to repeat that. Especially if the deck has some life in it which I expect.

      • Columnist

        June 10th 2017 @ 12:23pm
        Ronan O'Connell said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:23pm | ! Report

        Hales really struggles against express pace – he looked extremely uncomfortable against Cummins in England in 2015 and also against Rabada earlier in this tournament.

      • Roar Guru

        June 10th 2017 @ 12:40pm
        Rellum said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:40pm | ! Report

        “of a very sharp Vic club quick”

        That was meant to read.

      • June 10th 2017 @ 12:51pm
        Nudge said | June 10th 2017 @ 12:51pm | ! Report

        Not sure how Roy would go either and Morgan hates the quick short stuff. You’d think Bairstow will come in for Roy

        • Roar Guru

          June 10th 2017 @ 2:37pm
          Ryan H said | June 10th 2017 @ 2:37pm | ! Report

          Almost has to I’d say; will they open with Moeen as a result?

          • June 10th 2017 @ 3:05pm
            BurgyGreen said | June 10th 2017 @ 3:05pm | ! Report

            The English coach has come out and said that everyone’s place is guaranteed for the group stage at least, so Roy will keep his spot.

            No complaints from me. Happy to see them leaving out their most in-form player.

    • June 10th 2017 @ 1:09pm
      George said | June 10th 2017 @ 1:09pm | ! Report

      They hate the spin, the short stuff, the pace, and they can’t bowl. Australia barely needs to show up eh?

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