Australia’s seam bowlers for the 2013 Ashes

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Peter Siddle has opposable thumbs

This is an area where you find yourself being dragged along by the consensus. So many people are saying that Australia’s seam bowling is strong that you tend to think it must be true. Frequently, people will talk about the attack as a whole, which is usually a sign that they haven’t actually given the matter a great deal of thought.

Once a current of opinion is formed, it’s hard to swim against it. We’re trying to play devil’s advocate here, but our subsconscious is warning us that we’re opening ourselves up to becoming an idiot buoy floating in a sea of sense. Doubtless many others have felt the same way and have instead just gone with the flow, which is worth bearing in mind the next time you hear or read any assessment of the Aussie quicks.

Let’s try and deal in facts. James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris, Jackson Bird and James Faulkner can boast 33 Test caps between them. There is so much we don’t know. Even someone like Ryan Harris, who has been around for years, is to some degree untested.

That sounds ridiculous, but it’s true. We tend to think that his horrific propensity for injury is the only thing keeping him from taking millions of wickets, but since when have 47 wickets told us all we need to know? Although he’s very good, we sometimes feel like Harris has been a beneficiary of the phenomenon where players are better when they’re out of the side. Hope doesn’t die in tough times. People just find a place to hang it where it’s out of harm’s way.

Of the others, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Jackson Bird have to some extent shown that they can do, but if we can change the emphasis for the second time in two days, what WILL they do? The art of bowling is greatly simplified in the build-up to a series: He’s a left-armer, bowls at a decent pace, swings the ball into the right-hander – ergo, he’s a fantastic bowler.

Think about what James Anderson could do when he first appeared in international cricket and what he can do now. On a basic, Ashes preview level, he could do exactly the same stuff, but he wasn’t remotely the same bowler. We’re not saying that Pattinson, Starc and Bird are bound to fail. We’re pointing out that there’s more uncertainty than people are acknowledging.

Imagine asking two experts whether Jackson Bird will become a great Test bowler. One says yes and lists what he can do, the other says they don’t know, but lists what he can do. The second view makes more sense, but is far less likely to be reported.

Peter Siddle is deeper into his career and so the rose-tinted spectacles are off. In fact, some people are already talking about dropping him – people with short memories, who always feel like there’s something better. Idiots, in short.

For one thing, we already know that Peter Siddle won’t crumple due to the pressure of an Ashes series (he took a hat-trick on the first day of the last one, for crying out loud). That is worth something. That is worth a lot. And it is just one of many attributes that some of Australia’s other bowlers are yet to show they possess.


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  1. The comparison with Anderson is interesting. As far back as I can remember, Anderson always had a specific skill, his ability to swing the ball. He became a better bowler by honing this one skill to an extent where he could even swing the ball to some degree in India, with accuracy. And it was with this specific skill that he made even Sachin look ordinary. It’d be instructive to see how this crop of Australian bowlers grow up. Pattinson certainly has the pace. I am sure Starc has something. And I have no idea who Jackson Bird is.

  2. In the Champion’s Trophy match at Edgbaston, James Faulkner and Mitchell Johnson were their best bowlers. Neither are in the Ashes squad.

    Also, whatever happened to Ben “Hilfy” Hilfenhaus? He was an old-fashioned, unshaven, medium-fast niggler.

  3. Off topic, but the BCCI apparently feel that 7 ODIs are “too many”. Yes, you read that right.

  4. You haven’s mentioned momentum.

    I have no idea whether momentum bowls laft arm or right arm, but I do know that he is important, especially in the context of these fast bowlers.

    If the Aussie pace attack gets momentum, it might well become unstoppable. Whereas if it fails to get momentum, it will probably succumb to injuries and get into an awful muddle and simply fail to deliver in every way.

    It’s an all or nothing thing. Unless the attack sort of performs OK, in which case it will be somewhere in the middle.

    Funny game, cricket.

    1. Since they haven’t become any faster in the past two weeks, one can only conclude they have become fatter.

    2. ….or they have all become identically massless so they cannot possibly be faster in vacuum.

  5. Dropping the highest ranked bowler of either team (Siddle) would be madness. Mind you so would selecting a guy into the middle order who hasn’t played any warmup games. Either or both of these things could still happen.
    Harris is strictly injury reserve and wont be in the team.
    Of the rest Pattinson and Starc are pretty much the same bowler. I would suggest that despite being the least experienced in terms of first class games Jackson Bird should be selected because he has more maturity than the others, but I doubt it.

  6. ah, yer maj… you truly are a cynical observer after my own heart (not in all respects i hope, for your career’s sake..!)

    it’s me feckin 43rd birthday the same day the ashes start this year. even so, wife and daughter won’t go for wall-to-wall radio for long, so cricinfo-plus-highlights it is… i am not assuming i will be able to access the live youtube feed on my rural 2.5Mb “broadband”..!

  7. OK, here it is, the first day of the Ashes series.

    Sadly, the “work like a lunatic and try to work out what is really happening from the highlights” element of the lifestyle won’t change for this first test until the weekend, by which time the drama mmight have all-but unfolded.

    Most important immediate change to my regular lifestyle – complete abstinence from Aussie wine until the Ashes are safely retained.

    Anyone else have an Ashes superstition they care to admit?

  8. Pattinson, Starc and Siddle showed in India that they can do damage on the sort of dry wicket they are likely to find at Trent Bridge. I haven’t seen Jackson Bird, so it would be interesting if he is selected. Harris and Faulkner need helpful conditions to be effective and it’s unlikely they will get any help from the Nottingham soil or sky. – Cricketkeeper

    1. Marvellous opening partnership, less than half of what Cook & Compton averaged. Fine decision totally justified there. When Bairstow gets a duck because he’s hardly played any cricket in months it’ll look even smarter.

    2. Still think it’s exciting? Or depressing?

      At least it makes that clot Botham look stupid with his leotarded 10-0 prediction.

  9. KC, you must be smugly smiling to yourself. Not only has siddle got five, but they didnt pick Lyon and Agar hasnt bowled well.

    1. It’s 213-9. If you think we’re sporting any kind of smile, you don’t know us that well.

  10. That was a bit rubbish wasn’t it. I know others where poor but why is Barstow still in the team? Also should we have bowled especially if the weather is due to be fine next few days? Stuart broad is annoying. About it.

  11. Shit. Loose from Cook, KP, Prior, Broad, Finn, Swann. Root and Bell were got out. Bairstow has got a technical flaw with closing the face. Well bowled Siddle, Pattinson and Starc.

    1. He’s not bad. And he used the phrase “Suck it and See”. Also, I have been subjected to Ramiz Raja for long periods of late.

  12. Hold it, people. It’s 22-3. I just did a little whoop to myself

    Come on, England.

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