Australia’s fast bowlers in the 2010 Ashes

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One, two, three hundreds

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.


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  1. I think your cricket analysis is pretty balls, quite frankly. Firstly the idea that you need to be especially tall and or fast is rubbish. Well it’ll help, probably, but it’ll help anywhere, not just Australia. How about “get good bowlers”? I think Hilfenhaus is alright. He’s not tall or fast, but give him and Siddle/Johnson/Harris 50 tests each and he’ll have better figures. Even if he doesn’t, I’d still take him over the others. “Bowls round arm” is a retarded criticism, one you wouldn’t make if Johnson wasn’t such a dumbass and bowled properly for a change. Flat pitches good for bowling – yeah and we all know how India is a fast bowling powerhouse. And really, I’m interested to know whether you actually have knowledge of Australian pitches having changed or whether you pulled that out of somewhere (butt).

  2. You don’t have to be tall or fast to be good, but it’s another attribute. You say as much yourself.

    ‘Bowls round arm’ isn’t a criticism. It’s an observation in relation to the lack of height in the Aussie attack. They don’t make the most of what they do have.

    Flat hard pitches are different to the flat low-bouncing pitches of India (this is why height and pace are so important in Australia).

    We’ve heard of spicier pitches in Australia from a few sources, most recently Peter Roebuck:

    ”Result tracks have become commonplace and matches are measured in hours, not days.”

    Your criticism of our analysis is balls, quite frankly.

  3. Tall, short, round-arm, side-arm, 14.927 degree-arm – all this is quite pointless. Everything depends on what makes you feel comfortable as a bowler and more importantly, what comes naturally to you. Joel Garner was the tallest bowler I know, and he was more interested in yorking batsman than bouncing them out.

    It is interesting, however, to note that cricketers are not very flexible creatures. Bowlers don’t experiment with their actions and batsman don’t experiment with their batting stance. In baseball for instance, I have seen Cal Ripken Jr say that he has pretty much tried every batting stance out there.

  4. I think Mark Cameron looks quite useful – I’m amazed that a crocked Bolly is preferred to him.

    Peter George is tall and will be a fine pace bowler, but would probably struggle as part of *that* attack right now.

    And there lies the other piece of the problem – once a bowling line-up goes out of kilter it can be wretched hard to get it back into kilter, as England found for donkeys and the Aussies are finding out now..

    But apart from that (missing) point, I think your analysis is pretty much spot on KC. Don’t let e-normous unsettle you. It’s our job to unsettle the Aussies with our incisive and informed views.

    Gawd I hope we win the final test now!!

  5. Deep Cower, a lot depends on what makes you feel comfortable as a bowler, but not everything.

    Height is an attribute for fast bowlers, as is fitness, accuracy, experience, intelligence, pace, swing, reverse swing etc.

    In Australia, height becomes a lot more significant, just as conventional swing becomes less important.

  6. This all getting a bit too serious for me.

    I hope when the series is over we can return to pictures of cats and paul horton.

  7. (btw, not trying to be insulting or annoying (that comes without trying) but I just honestly completely disagree with everything

  8. I’ve sobered up now, so I no longer agree with everyone. You are no longer all my best mates, you aren’t.

    England’s attack is entirely the result of deciding some years ago that they needed certain types of bowlers, identifying the best candidates, then sticking with them. Broad did not come into the team with anything more than potential. A varied attack has potential on all sorts of pitches around the world.

    Australia has a set of bowlers that can only play well on certain pitches (Perth). If they want to they can stick with the line that these happen to be the best four bowlers in Australian cricket. If they do, they will continue with this series’ sort of return – one win every four matches or so. The problem seems to be still that they are looking to find a new McGrath and a new Warne (i.e. players so breathtakingly good that they can bowl well on any wicket in the world). Good luck with that (*).

    (*) Obviously I mean bad luck with that. It would be a fucking disaster if they found them.

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