Australia v South Africa, 3rd Test, Perth, 3rd day

Lillee not a fan of resting bowlers

Australia's bowling stocks lack a definite spearhead, according to Dennis Lillee, a go-to fast bowler that can move up a gear to break open the game

Brydon Coverdale at the WACA

December 2, 2012

Comments: 57 | Text size: A | A

It was a day of toil for Mitchell Starc and the rest of the Australian bowlers, Australia v South Africa, third Test, day three, Perth, December 2, 2012
Mitchell Starc took six wickets in South Africa's second innings, but not before the visitors had set a gargantuan target © Getty Images
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Oh, for a Dennis Lillee. As Australia's third-string attack sweltered in the Perth heat on Sunday, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were on their enforced holiday, both working towards the aim of returning refreshed for the first Test against Sri Lanka. Would they have performed any better than Mitchell Starc, Mitchell Johnson and John Hastings, who eventually dismissed South Africa for 569? We will never know. Their bowling workload was deemed too heavy in Adelaide for the selectors to risk them at the WACA.

Siddle sent down 383 deliveries at Adelaide Oval, Hilfenhaus 321. The three-day break between matches was not considered adequate. But reflect on the workload of Lillee, one of the finest fast bowlers the game has seen. In December 1976, he bowled a phenomenal 535 deliveries against Pakistan, also at Adelaide Oval, the greatest workload a genuinely fast bowler has endured in the modern era. After a two-day break he was back in action for the next Test and took 10 for 135.

Lillee, now the president of the WACA, was at the venue on Saturday and Sunday, watching Hastings, Starc and Johnson toil. On Saturday night, he and some of his colleagues got together for a few drinks and talk turned towards Australia's resting of fast bowlers. Ian Chappell, who captained Lillee in 20 Tests, wondered what reaction he would have received had he asked his strike fast man to sit out of an important match.

"You couldn't have convinced me," Lillee said on Sunday. "[Last night] Ian said, 'I can just imagine me trying to say to you you're not playing the next Test, I'd have to duck real quick wouldn't I?' My theory was never give a sucker an even break. That was just me. I used to think if someone else gets a game and he gets five-for, you've got to get back in the side."

Although it is difficult to imagine a side featuring Lillee being mauled and milked for runs the way the Australians were over the past two days, there were times during his career when the opposition batsmen made him earn his keep. But there were only six occasions during his 70 Tests when the opposing team piled on 500-plus totals, and while he sympathised with Australia's attack at the WACA, he noted that the lack of a distinct spearhead was a problem.

"I think they bowled pretty well and they had an opportunity there to knock South Africa over for 140-odd [in the first innings]," Lillee said. "I don't think they grabbed that, they [South Africa] batted well as well. But I think that attack is a pretty good attack. You've got to weigh it up and say the guys who had a three-day break, would they have bowled any better? There's talk about them being tired and whatever. Would they have bowled any better? Who knows.

"Great bowling attacks, let's look at [Dale] Steyn, there's a go-to man. The go-to man is the man that can break it open and is the man that when it gets a bit tough and you can't get a breakthrough, you go to that guy and he often comes through. I guess this attack at the moment, you probably can't say that there's a go-to man. I'm not being unfair on them but I just think that they're all around that 135-140 mark and there's not someone like a Steyn who can go up a gear and down a gear. All good attacks have that one go-to person."

In the end, Starc picked up six wickets and Johnson collected four, but by then South Africa had all but batted Australia out of the match. Neither man was in Australia's starting attack at the beginning of the summer, and with Pat Cummins, James Pattinson and Ryan Harris all sidelined by injury, the group being used at the WACA was realistically not even Australia's second-string attack. When all the bowlers are fit, Pattinson is the one Lillee believes can best spearhead the attack.

"Pattinson looks a very, very good prospect to me," Lillee said. "If he can stay fit and stay on the park then he looks a bloody good bowler to me."

The problem for Pattinson, as for the rest of Australia's fast bowlers, is staying on the park. Do they train too little? Do they play too much? Are their recovery methods right? Lillee had no definitive answers, but noted that his modus operandi was never to bowl in the nets for less than an hour at a time, and to go for a five- to six-kilometre run at least once a fortnight. He also conceded that the amount of cricket played these days made the balancing act tougher.

But you can bet he wouldn't have been rested after bowling 321 balls in a Test.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by uwe71 on (December 5, 2012, 9:31 GMT)

i think hilfanhous could of played as he doesnt put the strain on his body that siddle does and i think we needed a right hand swing bowler in perth,but even then at the end of the day the south africans were the better side when it counted so hindsight is a wonderful thing and someone made a good point that no matter who is bowling you have to pitch the ball up at the waca ie steyn and philander.

Posted by ygkd on (December 4, 2012, 20:14 GMT)

Yes, both Lillee and Thomson suffered injuries. However, in the last thirty-plus years (geez, has it been that long?) you'd think the management of bowling injuries, workloads and training programs should have progressed more than they appear to have.

Posted by mjcoxx on (December 4, 2012, 14:07 GMT)

More on Dennis Lillee: He played 70 of the 93 Tests he could possibly have played between 1971 and 1984. He was never dropped so obviously missed a fair bit of cricket through injury. Not indestructible, but still the greatest fast bowler who ever lived.

Posted by mjcoxx on (December 4, 2012, 13:38 GMT)

Didn't Dennis Lillee miss the 1977 Ashes tour of England because stress fractures has re-opened in his back? Lillee played all six Test matches in which Australia was involved in 1976/77, bowling a considerable number of overs. Perhaps he could have benefited from being rested at some point and possibly not missed the subsequent Ashes tour. Any thoughts?

Posted by wellrounded87 on (December 3, 2012, 20:59 GMT)

Call me crazy but wasn't Lilllee perennially sidelined from injury? I had no problem with the rotation. Siddle was exhausted and Hilfenhaus was doing very little with the ball anyway. I thought Johnson bowled well, not his best but still much more consistent than in the past. Starc learned a hard lesson and Hastings didn't do much at all. SA batted extremely well, but i think the bowlers needed to learn from Steyn and Philander and pitch the ball up. Far too many balls being pitched short of a good length at the WACA

Posted by Someguy on (December 3, 2012, 20:51 GMT)

@Mark Skully - the selectors logic is sound, yours is seriously flawed. Resting them for 1 test, they miss 1 test. They get injured and they are usually gone for at least 2. Often more. Cummins was out for a year. Pattinson is gone for the season. Brett Lee had several injuries that put him out for a season. Watson missed 2 matches and only half bowled in the 3rd. If the selectors believe that playing a certain player will result in an injury, why risk it?

Posted by BG4cricket on (December 3, 2012, 20:47 GMT)

Gilly4ever - if you seriously think that Siddle is not in the top 4 pace bowlers in Australia you must be watching something different to me. I would be interested then in who you actually think the top 4 bowlers are then

Posted by ygkd on (December 3, 2012, 20:42 GMT)

The end of this test is business as usual for Australia. The two Mitchells, Johnson and Starc, got consolation wickets and catches and consolation wickets and runs respectively, so will play another day. Wade played the sort of shot that Haddin's been criticised for, so will be there for years. Watson will continue to not bowl enough to justify his high-quality all-rounder status. Warner's batting will probably have a feast-and-famine approach. Lyon will probably bowl too fast unless given the nod to relax about his selection. Michael Hussey will not retire and the team will go on winning enough to be a mid-ranked test side. But number one in the world was always out of reach. Fellow Australians, let us not kid ourselves about that. The glory days of the last two decades are but an ever-diminishing memory. Australia must rebuild from the ground up, at grade and state levels first, before the national team can have the depth that characterised those glory years.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 3, 2012, 16:06 GMT)

Alright - so another wonderful chance to upstage a strong team goes by without taken. And how long are we gonna continue with the habit of not being able to finish things off ? It happened in Melbourne 08, Perth 08, Cardiff 09, Mohali '10, , Adelaide '12 , Perth '12 . What is the problem that ails us ? Can't our so-called fast bowlers bowl 140K+ yorkers to tail-enders? I would blame it on the bowling coach - is bowling yorkers not part of training sessions at all ? Fine. Innings 1 was over. Shouldn't we have moved on and put up a better bowling display in Innings 2 ? Got smacked all around . Okay. Now what on earth stopped us from not trying to play out for 2 days ? The way clarke and cowan got out, the less the better. Is playing to save a game considered a shameful act ? I am furious, I mean it. I would have taken a 0-0 scoreline on any day against a 0-1 loss. Sigh though.

Posted by PrasPunter on (December 3, 2012, 15:51 GMT)

@ raghavan88 , since you made that point, i would love to add a few about my childhood hero Kapil Dev - Kapil took almost more than half of his wickets on the lifeless wickets of the subcontinent. And Kapil would toil hard with very less support from other fast ( were there any ? ) bowlers on the other end. One of the fittest players ever to have represented india. And as you said, he hardly missed out a test-match for fitness reasons - played 65 test matches in a row - an awesome record for a fast bowler- before he was dropped for the 3rd test against Eng in 84 - for reasons better not printed. I recollect that legendary fast bowler Imran grew fitter because of running for longer hours. Even that's what Dennis Lillee has advised to keep fit. Way too much is being made out under the so-called "workload management".

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 10:33 GMT)

the bowlers are rested so they do not get injured and miss a test?? The logic is astounding!! Only a selector could think like that.

Posted by Meety on (December 3, 2012, 9:24 GMT)

@v_singh on (December 03 2012, 05:55 AM GMT) - you're right BUT, the plan was to win back the #1 spot THEN rest bowlers. The plan was also to rotate the younger pacers thruout the entire summer. MAYBE if they had stuck to that plan, Patto wouldn't of been injured at Adelaide, that said he would of been hard to drop our best bowler from the Gabba.

Posted by anver777 on (December 3, 2012, 7:43 GMT)

Well said Lilee....... nowadays after few tough games, this practice had become normal for any cricketer specially bowlers !!!!

Posted by v_singh on (December 3, 2012, 5:55 GMT)

(from an Indian cricket fan) I think Aussies are very focussed on getting the Ashes back. By resting key bowlers and giving 2nd and 3rd string attack a go against the SA in real match conditions, they are making 8 - 10 bowlers (IF fit) ready for action in back to back Ashes series... I think that is what they are doing.. Imagine Siddle or Hilffy breaking down in England and with replacements having little practise in real tough conditions...

Posted by raghavan88 on (December 3, 2012, 5:05 GMT)

And though India have lacked a real quality Fastman I am proud to say that Kapil Dev played 131 out of 132 tests without injury missing just one test only due to politics.

Posted by raghavan88 on (December 3, 2012, 5:03 GMT)

Awesome points from Lillie.If you look at his career stats,he bowled 263 balls per Test despite suffering severe back injuries.Even though they had a rest day it was a great feat.Today Bowlers bowl 180 to 200 balls per Test and still break down.

Posted by Gizza on (December 3, 2012, 4:57 GMT)

A sportsman's training regime should match the skills they need during match time. For a fast bowler, that involves bowling in the nets and medium-long distance running. Maybe some fielding drills as well. Bench presses, squats, etc. are counter productive. The size of your muscles doesn't really determine your bowling strength. Compare the stocky Watson with the lanky Ambrose, Walsh, McGrath and these day's Steyn and Morkel. By all means be a bodybuilder after you retire but being cricket fit (whether it be bowling fit, batting fit or fielding fit) should be of prime importance.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 4:37 GMT)

Truth is somewhere in the middle... we've gone overboard in not overloading the fast bowlers, but the players of yesteryear are being unjust in comparing their situations to current. Lillee didn't play 3 formats against heavy bats at 9 different locations on the globe - but having said that he would've endured much better than current crop.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 4:18 GMT)

Dont understand this term "Workload management". Rotation and workload management are rhythm killers. Never in history of cricket it has happened. WI had 10-12 good bowlers available during post packer 1979-1984 era but they still picked the best 6 available for a tour and played best 4 for a test.

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 3, 2012, 3:47 GMT)

Although I like our current crop of seamers in Oz, none clearly stand out as a true no.1 attack bowler - currently Sidds & Patto are good no.2's; Hilfy Starc Johno & the rest are no.3's... We'll do well against most nations, but SA & Eng have vg batters that need that no.1 bowler to break up the top order... Of the 6 States, only Sth Oz doesn't have a strong group of seamers, so the future does look good...

Posted by zenboomerang on (December 3, 2012, 3:47 GMT)

@ dkbhanu... On top of Lillee bowling 47.7 overs in the 2nd innings, they were also 8 ball overs... An extra 33% per over compared to modern bowlers = 63.5 overs today... Also Oz batted first, so the rest day didn't rest Lillee at all, then he had 2 days off before the next Test... Lillee bowled the equivalent to 89 overs today - Siddo bowled 63.5 overs over 2 innings, while Hilfy bowled 53.3 overs... That really does put the massive amount of effort put in by Lillee into an even higher perspective...

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 3:33 GMT)

You've got it right, Chris. Bunch of soft cricketers nowadays. I'm from the old school. Get out there and do what you like to do and for which you're receiving handsome sums. Sure more cricket is being played today and that is part of the problem. But you can't tell me with what, 6-7 pacemen in their rotation, that Australia can't start at least 3 quality ones each match?

We have one in the Caribbean named Rampaul. Were the old 5-match series still in vogue, there's no way that he could play in all of the matches. Breaks down every other match. His problem though, may be the extra unwanted lbs which he carries.

Lillee, Marshall, Roberts, Holding, Hadlee, Akram, Trueman, all champs in my view. Wes Hall once bowled a whole day at Lord's in 1963. Said he had blisters galore at the conclusion of the day's play. Who could do that today? A fellow bowls a 5-over spell and exits the field to rest or see his trainer.

Posted by joseyesu on (December 3, 2012, 3:14 GMT)

It is the problem of plenty. To me rotating is not good within the series.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 2:47 GMT)

Let's be clear here ... "Lillee had no definitive answers". Not sure how better to say it. Sure, as a bowler he has his views, his own version of events, and that's great, he never felt like he needed to be rested. But they guy is just giving a vague personal response based on his own limited experience. On the other side of things there are proper teams of sports scientists who study this kind of stuff for a living. Injuries to fast bowlers are a fact of life and no one can claim to have a magic formula, not yet. I'm inclined to side with the people who have dedicated their careers to trying to understand how to get the best out of a human body without going past the limit and causing an injury. The rest of us need to admit we're just commentators and armchair experts.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 2:30 GMT)

There's little value in asking whether an attack featuring Lillee would have been hit for a score over 550, because Lillee wasn't up for selection. The question is whether an attack featuring Siddle and Hilfenhaus, tired or not, would have been more effective. Siddle and Hilfenhaus are excellent bowlers, but they're not so wonderful that a score of 500+ couldn't happen - England hit those two guys for scores of 500+ in three of the four tests last Ashes tour. If an attack has a genuine, worldclass spearhead like Steyn, or Lillee when he played, or like Cummins or Pattinson might become, then it makes sense to play them no matter how tired they might be. But when you're swapping guys who are solid, Test standard bowlers for other solid, Test standard bowlers then swapping players for workload reasons becomes much more of an issue.

Posted by ygkd on (December 3, 2012, 2:08 GMT)

Fitness in AFL footy has also changed in the last few decades. Today's players are unbelievably fit, but don't play out a game. In the old days there was a chosen 18 and they almost invariably stayed on the field for four quarters or about 2 hours in all, often in exhausting, muddy conditions (a la St Kilda FC at Moorabbin). Now you see an interchange substitution every minute or so, so there's a different type of fitness today, trained towards shorter, harder bursts with lots of rests. Old-time players had to keep going and going and, although they didn't train like nowadays, they usually had jobs which supported the fitness levels they needed. You don't have to be unfit to have the wrong fitness for the job at hand and I think that's what Lillee's on about.

Posted by popcorn on (December 3, 2012, 1:59 GMT)

I agree with Dennis Lillee.The fast bowlers of yesteryear,hardly ever had injuries. Glenn McGrath,Dennis Lillee,Jeff Thomson - and yet, James Pattinson, Trent Copeland, Pat Cummins do not play more than one Season?The ONLY exception I would make is Peter Siddle, who bowled his heart and soul and body out at Adelaide. Ali de Winter and the Physio Experts MUST WORK ON THE BOWLERS' Run- ups. THAT's the Key to avoid injuries and side strains.

Posted by Someguy on (December 3, 2012, 1:57 GMT)

The problem wasn't so much how many overs Siddle had bowled, it was how well he recovered. Apparently even day 1 of the Perth test he was still exhausted. He would never have lasted the second innings.

I wonder how much of that is due to becoming a vegetarian? Even at the start of the series he looked like he was starving, not like the big strong wood chopping axe man we had come to rely on.

Hilf needed to be dropped because he's not a genuine wicket taker.

Posted by   on (December 3, 2012, 1:39 GMT)

As the article implied, the idea of resting fast bowlers from tests because of "fatigue" is absurd. Think about it: super-fit Siddle got dropped because he bowled his heart out on the final day in Adelaide, trying to get Australia a win (and he almost succeeded).

Great fast-bowlers of the past played with genuine injuries, and still won matches.

At the very least, the selectors should plan better: Adelaide was always going to be a batsman's wicket, and Perth a fast-bowler's wicket. So why not 2 second-string fast bowlers + 2 spinners for Adelaide, and our best three fast bowlers + Lyon for Perth?

Right now it looks like we are about to lose a series, a series which could have reinstated us as Number 1, because of this dumb idea of the selectors. Hopefully this will be the wake-up call.

If not, expect the same thing to happen at the SCG test, as that is only three days after the MCG test.

Posted by Ozcricketwriter on (December 3, 2012, 1:33 GMT)

Starc should have been in the first two tests. If he had been, we wouldn't have this problem. Criticising the two bowlers that took all 10 wickets to fall, as opposed to the ones who played in the last two matches and did horribly badly and cost us the match, is pretty silly. Siddle and Hilfy are not in Australia's top 4 test bowlers at the moment and for me they were dropped, not rested.

Posted by wpAus on (December 3, 2012, 1:14 GMT)

@Spelele. Wrong. Pattinson is responsible for much of Australia's success in the past home summers.

Posted by Sinhaya on (December 3, 2012, 0:56 GMT)

Well Lillee the problem is that many pace bowlers are injury prone and having a spearhead bowler is not easy. Actually the ideal spearhead bowler for Australia is Ryan Harris, but how long will he play? He looks extremely strong but sadly too injury prone.

Posted by BlightyTragic on (December 3, 2012, 0:32 GMT)

Can someone please justify to me how this Pat Cummins seems to be the potential Spearhead Australia needs? Nothing of his stats points to an automatic selection when fit, or in fact that he has any durability about him at all. he has played a grand total of 4 First class games and one test. Sure, that test average is fantastic - BUT IT IS FROM ONE TEST!!!! Going by that philosophy, Faf du Plessis may as well retire with an average of 146.5 as the games best. Get a grip people, this kid is no more the messiah of fast bowling than Imran Tahir is to Spinning. Like am I missing something here? Why is it that Australia, traditionally had fast bowlers falling out of trees and now we seem happy to pin our hopes on a injury prone teenager??? Not knocking him and his abilities, but surely we have someone who is tried and tested (more than 4 FC games) in the four day arena of shiled who is worht investing in until he has developed some more? Get him playing County cricket to learn how to swing.

Posted by Moppa on (December 3, 2012, 0:30 GMT)

Lillee's modus operandi of extended (hour +) net sessions is interesting - in other words consolidate your bowling action by repeating it for extended periods when you're already warm. This is in stark contrast to the 1 or 2 over spells quicks are expected to bowl in T20 - come on and bowl flat out straight away and then stop. I think it also relates to Peterincanada's point about workhorses like Trueman and Statham. I doubt they would have had to bowl flat out to succeed in country cricket, which was probably for them like Lillee's extended net sessions, and kept them in the groove, so on the few occasions they stepped up to top gear their bodies had thousands of overs of muscle memory to call on. I think we could learn from this approach - our young quicks should bowl more overs in the nets, gradually building up to full intensity.

Posted by Marcio on (December 2, 2012, 23:39 GMT)

Beyond the specific merits of resting bowlers or who is better than who, it pays to remember that just 10 days or so ago the SA attack suffered an even worse shallacking than AUS' second stringers, going at 6-7 runs an over for two and a half sessions. One of the problems is that conditions are so much in favour of batsmen, what with DRS reviews and no-ball reviews and wickets that flatten out after a day or so, that bowlers have to bust themselves to get wickets. And again, I point to the fact that SA's top-billed attack went for far more runs than AUS' did in the first two games, so I am not just talking about this game. AUS should rack up 400+ on this surface (anything less than 300 would be poor), being day 4 only. I'd even give them a tiny chance of getting the runs, if luck goes their way.

Posted by bobagorof on (December 2, 2012, 23:25 GMT)

Let's have a closer look at that scorecard, and Lillee's workload, shall we? It turns out that there was a rest day after the first day of the match. Pakistan were bowled out on the first day, so Lillee had the whole of the rest day, plus the whole next day when Australia batted, to recover from his 152 balls (19 overs at 8 balls per over). After bowling Pakistan out early on the final day (including 383 balls across 4 days), Lillee wasn't required for the rest of the match. He then had the two day break between Tests. So effectively, Lillee - as fit as he was - had nearly 3 days to recover from 383 balls over 4 days. Siddle bowled 185 balls across 2 days in South Africa's 1st innings, and just over 2 sessions later (ie the next day) had to bowl another 198 balls in 1.5 days - so effectively 383 balls in 3.5 days. Clearly, both are huge efforts - but let's not jump on Siddle's back for not being able to back up from that.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 22:52 GMT)

Hastings is not a test quality bowler. Trent Copeland much better control over line and length for a medium pacer.

Posted by Don_The_Green on (December 2, 2012, 22:05 GMT)

@dkbhanu - Don't forget it was 8-ball overs to so DK's 47.7 is the equivalent of 63.5 overs today. As you've said, a massive effort given a rest day or not.

It's a pitty that we never got to see Sids and Hilfy bowl on this deck, but the selectors will be justified or not by the result. I'm not sure why we did not pick the best team regardless of fatigue - after all this could have put us back on top of the world again. If those were the stakes, I would definitely have my best team on the park.

Not to take the importance out of the SL series, but after seeing their form at home agains the Kiwi's, it should be a cake walk for the Aussies. Our selectors need to be able to be more flexible in their adherence to policy.

Posted by The_Wog on (December 2, 2012, 22:04 GMT)

It is bizarre that Johnson is brought in to rest a bowler despite playing a Shield match at the same time. Maybe Siddle really was in such a bad state (it WAS hot in Adelaide) that he was physically unable. You have to assume this call was made by the medics not by the selectors.

Starc would have played anyhow. So the question is would Siddle have done more than Hastings, esp in the 2nd innings? (And could he possibly have done LESS?)

Posted by Nerk on (December 2, 2012, 21:56 GMT)

No-one knows more about fast bowling than DK! I suggest all pace bowlers get a copy of his book, the Art of Fast Bowling. Part of the problem is all the gym work these guys do. They are in there day, building their muscle, blasting their nards and so forth. But fast bowlers need muscle flexibility more than muscle strength. Shane Watson said that this was his problem early in his career. He used to gym all week, build his muscle and because they became so big they were not flexible enough to complete the actions needed from a pace bowler, so they snapped. Almost ruined his career. Learning ballet and doing simple fitness exercises would assist the Aussie fast bowlers more than gym every day. As for the spearhead, we have a young side and out of Pattinson, Starc etc the spearhead will develop. Hilfy has to step up I think. He has potential to lead our attack but needs to develop more balls than the one outside off stump.

Posted by BG4cricket on (December 2, 2012, 21:49 GMT)

Siddle is Clarke's go to man and unbelievably they left him out. Even fatigued he would have been better than Hastings for this Test and would have made a difference. Good to know that he is certain to play the next Test where we don't have the series and no 1 ranking on the line. What a joke !!!! Starc did get wickets but mainly when the game became like an ODI which reflects where his bowling is at while Johnson gave a reasonable account of himself and at least looked like a Test bowler. The other strange thing was that Watson who at least looked tidy only bowled 9 overs in the second innings despite the fact at worst he would have stemmed the flow of runs - perhaps his workload was being managed which again was ridiculous !! The sooner Pat Howard goes the better - it is not rugby and the best way to stop bowlers being injured is generally for them to bowl consistently.

Posted by Tumbarumbar on (December 2, 2012, 21:31 GMT)

If anyone can tell me why John Hastings was selected ahead of a genuine fast man I'll be pleased to read your reply. Recent history has shown that medium pacers without a decent out swinger or leg cutter are fruit for the side board after the second day at the WACA and Hastings doesn't have either. Also why, if he is in the side, would you not give the new bal to Johnson? 'He bowls better with the older ball' people say. What a heap of bull, prior to his loss of form in England he tore teams apart with the new ball so if he's back in the team on form give it to him and tell him to bowl it!

Posted by dkbhanu on (December 2, 2012, 21:14 GMT)

I think people often forget that there also used to be something like a rest day in middle of test match. In the Lillee match cited in the article, Lillee bowled the first day and second day was the rest day, following which Australia batted. To the author's point, however, Lillee bowled almost 48 overs in second innings, which is a lot by any standards any day.

Posted by Patchmaster on (December 2, 2012, 21:10 GMT)

Aussie basically don't have a fast bowler. Johnson can occaisonaly reaches 140kph, but not that often. Eng have Finn and a couple of others coming through, SA have Steyn and Morkel, West Indies have Best and so on. I genuinely think this is the weakest bunch of Aussie bowlers I've seen in a while, and I think they'll struggle to get back to number one status until they find one.

Posted by ygkd on (December 2, 2012, 20:34 GMT)

I think I've said it before but I'll say it again. How many 20-odd year olds and near-retirees can you shoe-horn into the one test team? It's all very well to say they have the potential to be world-beating, but they still need to serve an apprenticeship or be part of a sensible, long-term strategy of succession. Indeed, the whole test team is lacking in the crucial 26 - 30 yo bracket. If Australia lose this, and surely they will, can we not go back to picking a majority of players of the right age?

Posted by Chris_P on (December 2, 2012, 19:30 GMT)

@Spelele. it's not often I agree with your comments, but you are spot on with our spearhead. To be blunt, we have none. That is usually reserved for someone special, above the pack (like Steyn or McGrath when he played) At the moment we have a collection of bowlers all similar in nature & ability, ergo why they can be easily replaced. Pattinson maybe in the future, Cummins definitely at some point in the future, but presently? No cigar, not even close.

Posted by Peterincanada on (December 2, 2012, 19:26 GMT)

@binjopeter I know it's fashionable to slag Johnson but his numbers were 6-164 and was by far the most economical bowler in the second innings. I think credit should be given when due so I would hardly call him ineffectual.

Posted by Chris_P on (December 2, 2012, 19:25 GMT)

There is a huge difference between DK Lillee & other pace bowlers. Lillee was an unbelievably fit athlete who used to go on 6km runs while his team was batting, just to keep his enurance & fitness up. Now, bowlers sit back with their feet up resting their precious bodies. Just like society, we have gone soft.

Posted by SICHO on (December 2, 2012, 19:02 GMT)

Yeah right! Much wasn't said about the attack when they bowled SA out for 225 in the 1st innings. Now that SA has piled up 569 runs Lillee and Chappell aren't fans of resting bowlers, great.

Posted by binojpeter on (December 2, 2012, 16:51 GMT)

Australia totally should have played Siddle and Hilfenhaus. They were totally in grove and knew what to bowl to SA batsmen and they would have reveled in WACA pitch. Also they were not really essential for the Test against Srilanka. On the contrary, their replacements were totally found ineffective in WACA pitch against a good SA batting lineup.

Posted by Peterincanada on (December 2, 2012, 15:48 GMT)

This is a very debatable point. The test and one day international work load is far greater than it ever was. However, compared to the overs bowled by Trueman and Statham it is not even close. They would play in a county match on Saturday Monday and Tuesday. Play the test on Thursday- Saturday Monday and Tuesday and hurry back to a county match beginning on Wednesday. On Sundays, the rest day they would sometimes appear in charity matches. Neither of them, to the best of my knowledge ever broke down.

Posted by OhhhhhMattyMatty on (December 2, 2012, 15:12 GMT)

3rd string? Only missing Siddle and Pattinson from their first choice attack (Harris is finished, far too fat to be a fast bowler in Australia). Hilfenhaus, Johnson and the laughable Hastings (county trundler...) are their back ups! Compared to England's back ups: Bresnan, Tremlett and Onions. There is no contest!

Posted by Spelele on (December 2, 2012, 14:38 GMT)

Pattinson the spearhead? Not to discredit him as he has a lot of potential, but Patto is nowhere near a spearhead. When you start looking to a 20 odd year old to spearhead your attack, you know that - as Front-Foot-Lunge would say - the cupboard is bare!

For me, I think Aus have to be content for now with Siddle as the spearhead (yes, NOT Mitchell Johnson who is just simply not good enough anymore). Siddle has shown that he is the only one at present fit enough to be the leader. In a few years' time, it will be Cumings (not Patto as he has a bigger mouth than his talent).

All in all, Aus have good prospects for the coming years. Unless SA unearth a few new quicks soon in addition to De Lange - as they usually do just when you think the cupboard is bare - I think that Aus's young guns have the potential to dominate world cricket in about 5 or so years' time. But until then, Steyn, Morkel and Philander will continue to be the best :)

Posted by bumsonseats on (December 2, 2012, 13:48 GMT)

fully agree i feel if you are going to get inured you get injured. so sitting on the bench is not doing your game any good. i can understand siddle as he was absolutly knacked. an i bet when he saw what the 2nd innings bowlers he was pleased he was.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

Lillee has it dead right. The Australians are not bowling anywhere near enough. that is why they are breaking down. As well as weight training which is not good for muscle looseness at all. As for Siddle supposedly bowling too much? Maybe they should see that Johnson bowled 30 overs a day AFTER Siddle bowled his. And he is supposed to be fresher?? Hastings also bowled 27 just a few days before. The selectors still have no idea what they are doing and this entire problem is easy to solve. Wake up

Posted by R_U_4_REAL_NICK on (December 2, 2012, 12:31 GMT)

If they'd stop picking players on promise, and bring in guys like McKay that have consistency, they'd be much better off.

Posted by   on (December 2, 2012, 12:00 GMT)

This is rich. I wonder what Chappelli had to say after the first day's play when this revamped Aus bowling attack managed to skittle South Africa for 225 after Graeme Smith won the toss. I'm sure he wasn't moaning about Siddle and co. being rested *then*.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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