Young pacers will relish bowling at WACA, Gabba - Smith
There has been much boasting in recent years of Australia's seemingly endless supply of talented, young fast bowlers. Of a first-class roster bursting at the seams with seamers. Of tall timbers touted as the Next Big Thing.
But, as the injury roll call and retirement parades have multiplied, the next few months may prove to be a true test of Australia's depth across short and long formats in a way not seen for several years.
Selector Rod Marsh, speaking after the Test series against New Zealand - a series that cost Australia two powerhouse Mitchells - put a magic number on the depth question. Twenty.
Marsh believes the selectors need a roster of 20 fast bowlers, capable of playing for Australia in at least one of the three formats, from which to choose.
The latest two off the rank are Scott Boland and Joel Paris, hoping to make an impression on a WACA pitch that is meant to be a paceman's paradise but proved to be a batsman's bonanza earlier this summer.
Even Steven Smith, while expressing hope the pitch would have improved, admitted it felt "soft underfoot" a day out from the first ODI against India. The Australia captain, however, believes playing the first two matches in the five-game series at the WACA and the Gabba will help a relatively green line-up.
"We've got a pretty young, inexperienced bowling attack but they've all been bowling pretty well and I think it's a really exciting time for Australian cricket to see these young guys coming through and getting an opportunity," said Smith. "And I'm sure they're going to relish the opportunity to bowl on places like here and at the Gabba in a couple of days time."
Boland's nine-wicket haul for Victoria against Western Australia at the WACA during a Sheffield Shield match in Victoria so impressed selector Trevor Hohns that he was thrust to the top of the contender pile for a possible Test call-up. While the call-up did not eventuate, Boland did not waste his time in camp, at one point cleaning up Smith's stumps with a searing delivery in the SCG nets.
While that was with the red ball, Smith is now counting on the skills Boland has with the white version in the Matador Cup and the Big Bash League.
"His death-bowling has been very impressive," said Smith. "I think he hits a yorker as well as anyone at the moment and he has a bit of pace to him so hopefully he can hurry up the Indian batters a little bit.
"He's been impressive in the nets in the last couple of weeks. He's hit the bat very hard and bowled good areas and that's what you need to do out here at the WACA so hopefully he can do that for us tomorrow."
While there was praise for Boland's death-bowling, Smith maintained he will go with "gut feeling" when deciding who will bowl the final overs. He described having the choice of Boland, Josh Hazlewood, James Faulkner and the other debutant, Paris, as a "luxury".
Whenever Paris takes the ball, there is a sense that this, while a full international, is still very much an audition for the local boy on home soil.
"He has been very impressive in the Matador Cup the last couple of years and this year in the Big Bash, and I look forward to seeing how he's going," said Smith. "It's a good opportunity for him and some other young quicks around the country so yeah it's an exciting time for Joel to make his debut here at the WACA.
"Traditionally we like playing a left-armer here. They can use the breeze and swing the ball so hopefully he'll be able to do that for us tomorrow."