Australia give Lee extra time
Australia have given Brett Lee until the day before the team leaves for the World Cup to prove his fitness as they desperately search for answers to their bowling woes. Lee will have scans on his ankle on Friday and they will be reviewed by team medical staff over the weekend before the selectors make a decision next week.
Australia's bowlers leaked runs in large doses at the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy in New Zealand, where they conceded the second- and third-highest run-chases in ODI history. Mitchell Johnson, Shane Watson and Brad Hogg each went for more than seven an over through the series and only Glenn McGrath managed an economy rate of less than five.
Geoff Lawson, who was commentating in New Zealand for all three games, said Stuart Clark was the man who could make all the difference if he was included in the World Cup squad. "If Stuart Clark had played in New Zealand the chances are we would have won all three games," Lawson said in The Age.
"He knows where every ball is going, he is a guy who understands his tactics and he is a leader in that side. He's a mature guy, he's over 30, he's got a great cricket brain. He's the kind of guy they need out on the park to help in a crisis. It's not just his bowling that is beneficial, it's his cricket knowledge."
Lawson said in The Australian the attack did not bowl meticulously enough to defend their big scores. "There was not enough focus on each delivery when it went down and where it had to go," he said. "As a bowler you've got 60 balls to bowl and every one deserves your utmost attention. I just didn't think that was happening."
He said it would have been useful to have Troy Cooley, the bowling coach, on the tour to help with tactical decisions. "There were lots of bouncers and slower balls but not enough yorkers," Lawson said. "You bowl four more yorkers in the second game and three more in the third game and you win both games.
"There wasn't enough thought about when to go around the wicket. Mitchell Johnson didn't go around the wicket until his last couple of overs, when he was told to by Nathan Bracken."
Bob Simpson, who coached Australia to their first World Cup triumph in 1987, said the key in the Caribbean would be bowling out opposition teams. "It's a matter of getting some smarter team plans," Simpson said. "We've gone away from the simple philosophies of the game and made it too complicated."