In the final part of Impact‘s scouting report on the Australian Ashes squad, we take a look at the bowlers. Only a week ago, recently-sacked coach Mickey Arthur described his Australian bowlers as the “best attack in the world” but the feeling is England’s attack is both more experienced and more potent in the English summer conditions. Here we introduce some new Australian faces and offer some hints as to how the English batsman can go about taking them on.
Faulkner is a left arm fast medium bowler who is yet to make his test debut. However at the age of 23 he is clearly well thought as a bright prospect and selectors will no doubt point to an impressive bowling average of 22.34 in first class cricket. Tall enough and a fiery character in the ‘Siddle’ mould, he likes to run in and hit the deck as hard as he can. Looks a promising bowler but will probably deputise for the already capped left arm bowler Mitchell Starc.
A more familiar name to England supporters having played a part in the last two Ashes series, including a hat-trick in the 2010 Brisbane Test, Siddle compensates for what he lacks in skill with heart and nay-on anger when he bowls. With 41 test caps and 150 test wickets, he is probably the safest of all Australia’s selections in the bowling department. As a slightly shorter fast medium bowler he tends to get a ‘skiddier’ type of bounce than his teammates that and can be deceptively quick. However, he’s not the sort of bowler who’s going to get too much swing. Australia have a number of these whole-hearted ‘tryers’ in their pace attack. But, what they lack in my estimation is a bowler who’s going to ‘kiss the surface’ rather than bang it in hard. That type of bowler will give the ball the best chance to do something through the air or off the pitch. Someone in the mould of Ben Hilfenhaus, who finished as leading wicket taker in the 2009 series.
Preferred by the selectors to his fellow left armer and name sake Mitchell Johnson, Starc made his test debut in December 2011 and has picked up wickets regularly, if not in great clusters, over his 9 test appearances. A higher bowling arm than Johnson facilitates a more orthodox action, which is the reason why he is more consistent than Johnson. He has shown signs of being able to swing the ball in Australia and naturally, will find the conditions and the ball more favourable in England. Tipped by many Australian pundits to be the man who’ll take England by surprise, he’s going to have to take his fair share of wickets if Australia are to be competitive. But it’s a big ask for an inexperienced player.
Like Starc, Pattinson made his debut in December 2011 but has been a tad more productive since taking 42 wickets to Starc’s 30. At 23, he is another member of the tourist’s bowlers who has more potential than pedigree; the highlight of his career to date was the five-for he took on debut against New Zealand. He is also similar to the other bowlers at Australia’s disposal in the respect he is a tall guy who likes to try and hit the splice of the bat. This might suit the tennis ball bounce provided by a typical wicket at the Oval or Old Trafford but is unlikely to suit those found at Trent Bridge or Lords.
Featured for three tests in the 2010-2011 series down under, however he has suffered from a string of injury problems. These injuries have limited to just 12 test appearances, however, when he has played he as an impressive bowling average of 23.63 Harris is probably the quickest of all Australia’s pacemen and provides some experience to what is otherwise a rather callow department of the squad. At 5 ft. 10”, like Siddle, he’ll be able to get the ball to skid through and pose the England batsmen a different problem to the rest of the attack.
Bird is a right arm fast medium bowler who has just two test appearances to his name, both of which were against Sri Lanka back home last winter. The twenty six year old performed competently taking 11 wickets in those two tests. From the limited amount I’ve watched of him, he appears to be more of an old fashioned line bowler, in the vein of Stuart Clark perhaps. In fact you could describe him as ‘the most English looking’ of all the Australian bowlers. Unlike his team mates who try and bowl slightly back of a length, he looks like he’ll be willing to pitch the ball up and could prove useful if selected in my view. Bird could prove to be particularly effective if employed at Trent Bridge or from the Nursery End Lords.
Finally, a sufficient amount of time has passed to rule out any Shane Warne comeback rumours. Despite the passing of such time, nobody has claimed his role as first choice test spinner. Australia have tried numerous individuals for the role since, but their choice for this tour is Nathan Lyon. The off spinner has been a regular in the side of late, with 22 caps under his belt and a bowling average of 33.18. He’s confidence grew as the recent series in India progressed, culminating in match figures of 9-165 in the final test in Delhi. Lyon learnt his craft on the spin friendly wickets of the Adelaide Oval but there isn’t a great deal of mystery to him; he has a ball that turns and a ball that goes on with the arm. A neat and tidy spinner who’ll hold up an end and claim a few scalps, but not someone who’ll give England’s batsmen too many sleepless nights.