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Australia's new 'Big Three' demolish England

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23rd August, 2019
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Australian fans long have dreamed and speculated about the carnage the so-called Big Four quicks could wreak if unleashed as one unit.

While that day is yet to arrive, last night’s events should have tided them over.

Bowling together in a Test for the first time, Josh Hazlewood (5-30), Pat Cummins (3-23) and James Pattinson (2-9) combined to roll England for a paltry 67 on the second day of the third Test.

With the fourth member of that unofficial group, Mitchell Starc, still in reserve, Australian supporters could be forgiven for feeling giddy at the side’s pace stocks.

That’s without even considering the gigantic potential of 22-year-old Western Australia quick Jhye Richardson. If fit, Starc and Richardson should press strongly for a Test berth at home this summer.

Today, however, it’s all about the new Big Three of Cummins, Hazlewood and Pattinson.

What they achieved last night was remarkable. Granted, this is a fragile England batting unit. Yet in batting conditions far more favourable than those Australia encountered on day one, England were powerless to halt the Aussie trio.

James Pattinson

James Pattinson of Australia. (Photo by Ryan Pierse/Getty Images)

On the opening day, Jofra Archer and Stuart Broad had put on a remarkable display of pace bowling. Quite often they were too good, producing deliveries that were un-nickable. That was a seriously tough act to follow.

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Yet Australia’s quicks were every bit as skilful, every bit as clever, every bit as composed.

It all started with Hazlewood. Forced to sit out the first Test as the selectors went with Pattinson, Cummins and Peter Siddle, the giant right armer had a point to prove at Lord’s.

His first spell in that match was phenomenal as he hit the right line and length with a consistency very rarely witnessed.

Hazlewood was just as precise yesterday while also rediscovering some venom. Whereas at Lord’s he concentrated on mimicking Glenn McGrath, yesterday he broke up those sequences of testing length deliveries with searing short balls.

This aggression added another dimension to his bowling, the same way it did in the last Ashes during which he intimidated the English batsmen with his under-rated bouncer.

First and foremost, though, it was his ability to find that perfect in-between length that befuddled the hosts. Time and again Hazlewood had batsmen trapped on the crease, transferring their weight neither back nor forward. Joe Root and Jonny Bairstow were undone in just this manner as they nicked off.

While a suffocating line and length is Hazlewood’s biggest strength, Cummins’ stand out weapon may is his short ball. Few bowlers in the past decade can have achieved as high a percentage of wickets with bouncers as Cummins.

It’s not that he’s unable to operate with the accuracy of Hazlewood, perhaps just that he recognises his intimidation factor offers him a point of difference. All three of Cummins wickets yesterday came from well-directed short balls.

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Pat Cummins of Australia

Pat Cummins will be crucial to Australia’s chances. (AAP Image/Julian Smith)

Rory Burns, Chris Woakes and Jofra Archer all were unable to cope with his aggression. Cummins is tearing this Ashes to pieces, with 16 wickets at 14 so far. His Test record is growing more extraordinary by the match, now standing at 110 wickets at 21.

Pattinson, meanwhile, showed last night he does not need to take the new ball to be effective. Up to yesterday he had played almost exclusively as an opening bowler in Tests, rarely ever coming on first change.

When he was handed the ball after 14 overs last night Pattinson made an immediate impact. From his third delivery he had Ben Stokes caught at first slip flaying at a wide, full delivery.

It was a loosener, a rank warm-up. But with that wicket Pattinson gained some of the fortune he lacked in the first Test when things, repeatedly, did not go his way.

From there, Pattinson settled into a good rhythm and bowled quicker than he has at any point this series. Regularly he passed 140kmh and regularly he troubled Denly and Bairstow.

This wasn’t quite vintage Pattinson, not quite his peak, but it proved quite enough. He finished this lively spell with 2-9 from five overs before handing it over to Cummins and Hazlewood to complete the kill.

In the space of 27.5 overs yesterday, this new Big Three thrilled Aussie fans, rattled the English team and gave the tourists a solid grip on the Ashes.

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