Sri Lanka in Australia, 2012-13 January 29, 2013

Bailey eager to find a death bowler


George Bailey, Australia's Twenty20 captain, believes finding bowlers who can restrict runs at the death will be one of the keys for his side over the next year as they prepare for the 2014 World Twenty20 in Bangladesh. The world tournament is just over a year away and with relatively few T20 matches coming up over the next 12 months, the Australians are already looking to build a squad as they aim to improve in last year's semi-final appearance.

One of the problems that was evident over the past two games against Sri Lanka was the leaking of runs in the final overs, despite the fact that the selectors had picked men who had specialised in death bowling during the Big Bash League. Ben Laughlin was especially expensive, leaking 20 runs in the final over at the MCG and 19 from his last five balls in the first match in Sydney as Sri Lanka chased down the target with seven deliveries to spare.

Laughlin was not the only culprit, though. In Melbourne on Monday, the final five overs of Sri Lanka's innings cost Australia 60 runs and that period was the difference between the two sides. It was a stark contrast to the first match in Sydney, where the Australians were batting first and managed only 36 runs from their final five overs as they struggled to find the boundary against Lasith Malinga and his colleagues.

"That's probably the gap between the best T20 team in the world and the seventh best," Bailey said after the Melbourne loss. "Hopefully we'll learn a lot about that. I think we've got some bowlers in our side who can be world-class at T20. There's great foundations there. I thought James Faulkner was really good tonight. Mitchell Starc has been outstanding, Glenn Maxwell's two back-to-back games have been really good with the ball. There's some good stuff there.

"There's a huge opportunity there for a bowler to step up, and not just for T20. I think if a bowler can step up and nail their death stuff they're almost walking into our one-day side as well. If I was a bowler it would have to be a huge source of excitement, something certainly to be working towards."

Bailey said it was disappointing that his Hobart Hurricanes team-mate Laughlin had not been able to translate his BBL form to the international stage over the past few days, but that he would be better for the experience. However, whether or not Laughlin retains his place for the one-off T20 against West Indies next month remains to be seen.

"That's what he's in the side for," Bailey said. "He's in the side to do what Lasith Malinga does for them, to be able to nail his death stuff, to be hard to hit through the middle with his change-ups. He's got a great amount of variation but Lasith will tell you the same thing, if you're not putting the ball where you want then at this level you will be made to pay.

"I still think Benny has the skills to do it, so it's nice that he's had a look at international level and knows exactly what he has to go away and work on or how he has to find a way to relax so he can execute as well as he did during the domestic summer."

The coach Mickey Arthur said the two matches against Sri Lanka, last year's World T20 runners-up, had been an eye-opener for those players who had stepped up from BBL level. He said while Mitchell Starc had been a consistently good death bowler for the Australians over the past year they needed to find others who could also do the job.

"It is a problem for us and it's something we're looking to solve pretty quick and we need to get some answers," Arthur said. "We work fairly hard on it and we've just got to identify guys who can do it consistently for us, that's the key. We thought we had picked some really good death bowlers and the domestic BBL shows that they were the best, if you looked at the stats. They still are.

"I spoke to the guys the other night after the game in Sydney and the guys have actually seen what the level is. We had pretty much a BBL all-stars side playing. We took the best of the BBL and gave them an opportunity here. I think they've seen what the difference is between playing and being successful at a domestic level and then trying to do it at international level. We've been short in that department."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • David on January 30, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    @Kelum_w, you are dead right. There are more than enough talented players in the T20 & ODI Australian squads for them to be a very powerful team. But that's just it. They are not a TEAM. All this chopping/changing/experimenting is really playing havoc with the team. It is also alienating the Australian public. I sat down for lunch recently with a cousin I had not seen for 18 years. I was amazed when she started getting stuck into the selectors of the AUS cricket team. She was really annoyed. I didn't even know she followed cricket. I'm afraid the sentiments put forward by S Warne are shared by a huge number of people, & that is a reality that the selectors and team are going to have to address. The results of the rotation experiment have been disastrous in every conceivable way: results, player performance, team harmony & the relationship with the AUS public. A main purpose was to blood new players. But almost every new player has failed miserably. The admin gets an F grade from me.

  • Patrick on January 30, 2013, 3:18 GMT

    Nannes is still one of the best T20 bowlers in the world, and comfortably the best in Australia. But he's not even close to selection . . . age is being held as far too important a factor by the selectors recently. Especially after looking at D. Hussey's dropping.

  • Adrian on January 30, 2013, 0:13 GMT

    Shane Watson is very good at death bowling. Mitchell Starc seems pretty good too. Clint McKay seemed good too. Ben Laughlin hopefully will be axed after this.

  • Dale on January 29, 2013, 20:56 GMT

    I think Kane Richardson is worth a look at for a death bowler. Though i've only seen him bowl once when the strikers played the heat. He completely turned the game around with a 2 over spell that went for 3 runs. All 12 deliveries were right in the blockhole and quick mid 140 k mark.

    If he can do that consistently in the final overs you've got yourself a death bowler.

  • Peter on January 29, 2013, 18:57 GMT

    You need 2 death bowlers. One medium pace - like James Hopes / Andrew McDonald. One fast - like Brett Lee / Dirk Nannes. Both are too old so Starc is the best option. Just need to find that medium pace option for the future.

  • ubaid on January 29, 2013, 16:55 GMT

    shaun tait is the solution for the problem..he is fast, experience and accurate.

  • Lou on January 29, 2013, 13:14 GMT

    TheBigBoodha, it isn't about Bailey making a mistake. Ben Laughlin was chosen specifically to see if he could bowl at the death. Even very experienced bowlers have trouble with it, so you can't blame the selectors for trying someone who had been so successful in the BBL. It is the only way they will find out if domestic players are up to it. Bailey had to give Laughlin more than one shot at it, or there was no point in picking him at all.

  • dharshana tharanga on January 29, 2013, 12:25 GMT

    Australia's best death bowler Joe mennie should include there side