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

Bailey eager to find a death bowler

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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

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 30, 2013, 3:39 GMT

    Personally - I am happy that Laughlin is playing T20s, as I really don't want any of our blue-chip talent playing these games unless it is in the direct lead up to the T20 W/Cup. My T20 side (no injuries) would be 1. SMarsh, 2. Finch, 3. White (c), 4. D Hussey, 5. Rohrer, 6. Ludeman, 7. Hopes, 8. O'Brien, 9. Laughlin, 10. Nannes, 11. Doherty 12th: Hopes. Meanwhile all our proper cricketing assets can get on with the job of trying to be Test (& 2ndly ODI) stars.(BTW - I consider Ludeman "proper" talent, but think it is good exposure for him). If the Bangladesh T20 W/Cup was tomorrow, I would pick 1. Warner, 2. Watson, 3. Pomersbach, 4. White (c), 5. Lynn, 6. Christian, 7. Paine, 8. O'Keefe, 9. Starc, 10. McKay, 11. Doherty - 12th Maxwell. 13 - Rohrer, 14 - Hastings, 15 - AB MacDonald.

  • POSTED BY Kelum_w on | January 29, 2013, 23:35 GMT

    The difference between the death bowling is experience. Both in batting and bowling. Malinga and Kula have been playing cricket for around 8-9 years. Even Thisara whose 23 has been playing internationally for 3 years. What people need to realize is there is a vast difference between BBL and the international level and you need to give players time to get accustomed to playing at the highest level to perform in the highest level. Chopping and changing players every other match is not going to get them the exposure they need nor is it going to give them the confidence they require. Pick with a set of players and then work with them, not drop them when they have one bad series.

  • POSTED BY Jayzuz 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.

  • POSTED BY PFEL 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.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter 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.

  • POSTED BY wellrounded87 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.

  • POSTED BY pb1961 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.

  • POSTED BY greatshinwari on | January 29, 2013, 16:55 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY Winsome 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.

  • POSTED BY kohomban on | January 29, 2013, 12:25 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 30, 2013, 3:39 GMT

    Personally - I am happy that Laughlin is playing T20s, as I really don't want any of our blue-chip talent playing these games unless it is in the direct lead up to the T20 W/Cup. My T20 side (no injuries) would be 1. SMarsh, 2. Finch, 3. White (c), 4. D Hussey, 5. Rohrer, 6. Ludeman, 7. Hopes, 8. O'Brien, 9. Laughlin, 10. Nannes, 11. Doherty 12th: Hopes. Meanwhile all our proper cricketing assets can get on with the job of trying to be Test (& 2ndly ODI) stars.(BTW - I consider Ludeman "proper" talent, but think it is good exposure for him). If the Bangladesh T20 W/Cup was tomorrow, I would pick 1. Warner, 2. Watson, 3. Pomersbach, 4. White (c), 5. Lynn, 6. Christian, 7. Paine, 8. O'Keefe, 9. Starc, 10. McKay, 11. Doherty - 12th Maxwell. 13 - Rohrer, 14 - Hastings, 15 - AB MacDonald.

  • POSTED BY Kelum_w on | January 29, 2013, 23:35 GMT

    The difference between the death bowling is experience. Both in batting and bowling. Malinga and Kula have been playing cricket for around 8-9 years. Even Thisara whose 23 has been playing internationally for 3 years. What people need to realize is there is a vast difference between BBL and the international level and you need to give players time to get accustomed to playing at the highest level to perform in the highest level. Chopping and changing players every other match is not going to get them the exposure they need nor is it going to give them the confidence they require. Pick with a set of players and then work with them, not drop them when they have one bad series.

  • POSTED BY Jayzuz 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.

  • POSTED BY PFEL 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.

  • POSTED BY Ozcricketwriter 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.

  • POSTED BY wellrounded87 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.

  • POSTED BY pb1961 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.

  • POSTED BY greatshinwari on | January 29, 2013, 16:55 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY Winsome 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.

  • POSTED BY kohomban on | January 29, 2013, 12:25 GMT

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

  • POSTED BY ham1990 on | January 29, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha, I'm not sure saying Mahela has a low emotional intelligence is an apt description. Yes Bailey looked the bigger man yesterday, but Mahela has been in the business for a long time. He has consistently been a good sporting captain overall. Sure he got fired up yesterday, but the guy is passionate about his side. To insinuate that he is the reason for the team, media and supporters having a bad attitude is a fallacy. This SL team doesn't play up much (I know there are a few isolated incidents over the years that have let them down), and the supporters are an interesting bunch whose attitudes don't take after the side at all.

    There have been many times when Mahela has been a good example as a captain. He has to deal with plenty of pressures and stress from his national board that none other can rival. In my view SL need leaders like Mahela and Sangakarra who are gentleman with strong personalities, who will display passion for their side now and again.

  • POSTED BY hirsthirst on | January 29, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Yes, TheBigBoodha, you're right. Especially in ODIs, let alone Twenty20s, you can't afford a captain who isn't "bloody-minded". Not a mistake (or misfortune, maybe) that Oz selectors usually fall into.

  • POSTED BY redbacksman on | January 29, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    Kane Richardson, best death bowler in Aus cricket by a mile, outstanding in BBL, just needs to sort out his follow through and he'll be back.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | January 29, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    It really isn't rocket science. Vary your pace deceptively. Land the full ones outside off not too wide so that they are called wide, and not too close to the batsmen, so he can pounce on it. Get the yorkers on the spot (Laughlin bowls full-tosses and half-vollies at the same pace every time, which is why he is so easy to hit, and so very, very bad at the death). Actually Laughlin - or almost any bowler who bowls 120+ - can do it if they take the time to practice. SL's bowlers are hardly gifted, mostly medium paced trundlers. I'm amazed AUS are not practicing it. They should start now.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | January 29, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    Bailey is a great guy (a great role model, unlike certain other unmentionable captains), and shown he is good enough to be in the team as a bat. But making the same mistake two games in a row with Laughlin was just dumb. Take away Laughlin and put someone decent there, and Australia would either have either drawn the series, or won 2-0. So still undecided on his captaincy. You need a bloody minded approach, and Bailey seems a little too "nice" for the role to me. Still, he really did make Mahela (the effective captain) look awful last night, just the difference in the attitude and emotional maturity, and those are qualities that can't be overlooked. Can't believe that national boards would allow someone with a low emotional intelligence to control the national cricket team.The rot is setting in throughout the team, media and supporters, who are adopting the same bad-tempered, victim-centred attitudes. Australia got rid of Ponting for that very reason.

  • POSTED BY Dangertroy on | January 29, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    As Laughlin took the ball for the last over, I said to my fiance that he's going to go for 20 odd this over. It was a shame those last few overs let down what had seemed to be a good bowling display. I think another issue was a lack of geniune big hitters in the lower order. We didn't have a big solid guy like perera who can come in and monster those last few runs. All our lower order batsmen are clean strikers, but we need someone who can really muscle a few. I second the call for Hastings, who could fill both these roles.

  • POSTED BY maverick0208 on | January 29, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    Dirk Nannes is the best 20/20 bowler in OZ and both his record and BBL form proved it. A couple of years ago he was in the side and performing well and then disappeared off the selectors radar. If Bailey wants a death bowler then he should look no further.

  • POSTED BY mmadhankumar on | January 29, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    yes australia definitely needs good death bowlers.....

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 29, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    Ali Mac is the death bowler we need in T20s. In saying that I really would prefer he be kept for Tests & ODIs. So therefor I think they should look at Bollinger & Feldman for T20 duties. I think Hastings would bring something to the side if he was selected too.

  • POSTED BY bobagorof on | January 29, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    60 runs from 5 overs sounds bad (and it is), but if you take out the 20 from the last over it equates to 10 an over in the penultimate 4. Still not great, but a lot more manageable. Still, when Faulkner bowls his first 2 overs for 3 runs with a mixture of canny slower balls and mixing it up, Australia's gushing of runs at the end looks a little ridiculous.

  • POSTED BY bobagorof on | January 29, 2013, 6:50 GMT

    60 runs from 5 overs sounds bad (and it is), but if you take out the 20 from the last over it equates to 10 an over in the penultimate 4. Still not great, but a lot more manageable. Still, when Faulkner bowls his first 2 overs for 3 runs with a mixture of canny slower balls and mixing it up, Australia's gushing of runs at the end looks a little ridiculous.

  • POSTED BY Meety on | January 29, 2013, 6:58 GMT

    Ali Mac is the death bowler we need in T20s. In saying that I really would prefer he be kept for Tests & ODIs. So therefor I think they should look at Bollinger & Feldman for T20 duties. I think Hastings would bring something to the side if he was selected too.

  • POSTED BY mmadhankumar on | January 29, 2013, 7:10 GMT

    yes australia definitely needs good death bowlers.....

  • POSTED BY maverick0208 on | January 29, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    Dirk Nannes is the best 20/20 bowler in OZ and both his record and BBL form proved it. A couple of years ago he was in the side and performing well and then disappeared off the selectors radar. If Bailey wants a death bowler then he should look no further.

  • POSTED BY Dangertroy on | January 29, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    As Laughlin took the ball for the last over, I said to my fiance that he's going to go for 20 odd this over. It was a shame those last few overs let down what had seemed to be a good bowling display. I think another issue was a lack of geniune big hitters in the lower order. We didn't have a big solid guy like perera who can come in and monster those last few runs. All our lower order batsmen are clean strikers, but we need someone who can really muscle a few. I second the call for Hastings, who could fill both these roles.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | January 29, 2013, 8:35 GMT

    Bailey is a great guy (a great role model, unlike certain other unmentionable captains), and shown he is good enough to be in the team as a bat. But making the same mistake two games in a row with Laughlin was just dumb. Take away Laughlin and put someone decent there, and Australia would either have either drawn the series, or won 2-0. So still undecided on his captaincy. You need a bloody minded approach, and Bailey seems a little too "nice" for the role to me. Still, he really did make Mahela (the effective captain) look awful last night, just the difference in the attitude and emotional maturity, and those are qualities that can't be overlooked. Can't believe that national boards would allow someone with a low emotional intelligence to control the national cricket team.The rot is setting in throughout the team, media and supporters, who are adopting the same bad-tempered, victim-centred attitudes. Australia got rid of Ponting for that very reason.

  • POSTED BY TheBigBoodha on | January 29, 2013, 8:43 GMT

    It really isn't rocket science. Vary your pace deceptively. Land the full ones outside off not too wide so that they are called wide, and not too close to the batsmen, so he can pounce on it. Get the yorkers on the spot (Laughlin bowls full-tosses and half-vollies at the same pace every time, which is why he is so easy to hit, and so very, very bad at the death). Actually Laughlin - or almost any bowler who bowls 120+ - can do it if they take the time to practice. SL's bowlers are hardly gifted, mostly medium paced trundlers. I'm amazed AUS are not practicing it. They should start now.

  • POSTED BY redbacksman on | January 29, 2013, 8:49 GMT

    Kane Richardson, best death bowler in Aus cricket by a mile, outstanding in BBL, just needs to sort out his follow through and he'll be back.

  • POSTED BY hirsthirst on | January 29, 2013, 10:43 GMT

    Yes, TheBigBoodha, you're right. Especially in ODIs, let alone Twenty20s, you can't afford a captain who isn't "bloody-minded". Not a mistake (or misfortune, maybe) that Oz selectors usually fall into.

  • POSTED BY ham1990 on | January 29, 2013, 11:12 GMT

    @TheBigBoodha, I'm not sure saying Mahela has a low emotional intelligence is an apt description. Yes Bailey looked the bigger man yesterday, but Mahela has been in the business for a long time. He has consistently been a good sporting captain overall. Sure he got fired up yesterday, but the guy is passionate about his side. To insinuate that he is the reason for the team, media and supporters having a bad attitude is a fallacy. This SL team doesn't play up much (I know there are a few isolated incidents over the years that have let them down), and the supporters are an interesting bunch whose attitudes don't take after the side at all.

    There have been many times when Mahela has been a good example as a captain. He has to deal with plenty of pressures and stress from his national board that none other can rival. In my view SL need leaders like Mahela and Sangakarra who are gentleman with strong personalities, who will display passion for their side now and again.