You can ask any England fan what qualities a bowling attack needs to bowl the opposition out in Australia. We all know. You need as many as possible of the following:
- Extreme pace
- Freakishly tall bowlers
- Mystery spin
- Reverse swing
How many of those can you find in the current Australia team? Pretty much none of them.
Their tallest bowler bowls round-arm. They don’t pick spinners at all. Reverse swing is occasional and functional. The bowlers are quick without being exceptional. All in all, the attack is pretty samey.
What should they do?
Identify someone – anyone – with at least one of those qualities. England didn’t have pace, but Broad, Tremlett and Finn are taller than all of Australia’s bowlers while Anderson and Bresnan bowled reverse swing better. Josh Hazlewood’s about two metres tall. That’s not a bad start. Work with him.
The problem might lie in the ‘sporting’ pitches that are currently being prepared for Sheffield Shield matches. One of Australia’s great advantages until recently was that their first-class pitches were generally fairly flat, like Test pitches. Bowlers who excelled in those conditions were therefore well-suited to Test cricket.
The bowlers excelling in Australian first-class cricket at the moment are different beasts altogether. They’ve become better suited to their habitat. That’s what happens.
“Adaptation is the heart and soul of evolution.” – Niles Eldredge
How significant is this?
This is the heart of the problem. Australian Test batting averages were swollen for years thanks to McGrath, Warne, Gillespie, MacGill, Lee et al. These guys created situations where the batsmen could play at their absolute best, with no fear of failure. That’s not the case any more. The bowling has a major knock-on effect on the batting.
It shouldn’t take an Englishman to point out what’s wrong with this Australia team.