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Hilfenhaus not done - Chappell

Daniel Brettig

May 23, 2011

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Ben Hilfenhaus toiled hard without luck as Alastair Cook ploughed on, Australia v England, 4th Test, Melbourne, December 26, 2010
The Australian selectors believe Ben Hilfenhaus can rise off the mat. © Getty Images
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Australia's selectors are not yet prepared to give up on Ben Hilfenhaus following an inglorious Ashes summer and still regard him as a senior member of the Test attack, Greg Chappell has said.

Hilfenhaus was chosen for the Australia A tour of Zimbabwe to take place in June, with the dual intentions of giving him some work ahead of Test tours to Sri Lanka and South Africa and also using him as a mentor for young quicks including Mitchell Starc, James Faulkner and Trent Copeland.

The presence of swing and seam merchants like Copeland, Faulkner and Luke Butterworth can also be viewed as a reminder that others may yet be called on to do Hilfenhaus' job with the new ball.

"I think everyone, including Ben, was disappointed with his form in the summer, but we're pretty confident he's still got a lot to offer," Chappell, a national selector, told ESPNcricinfo. "And the fact that he's a senior player [helps]. I was with the Australia A team up in Townsville and Ben was there, and the work he did with Mitchell Starc and some of the other young pace bowlers was excellent, so the opportunity is there to have him get some bowling and spend some time with two or three young bowlers.

"He's a pretty solid citizen to have around the group and it helps him continue his build-up towards the various tours and series we've got coming up in the next few months. As we know pace bowling is fraught with danger and you need a handful of them up and about. You can't afford just to rely on two or three or four to get you through the domestic season, let alone a couple of the toughest tours we could envisage at the moment."

In 2009 Hilfenhaus was one of the selectors' few genuine success stories of recent times, forming a key part of the pace ensemble in South Africa before emerging as the most incisive and reliable member of the attack during the Ashes tour of England. However a subsequent serious knee injury, after he was unwisely taken on a limited-overs tour of India despite complaining of soreness, robbed Hilfenhaus of a follow-up home summer, and he could not recapture his earlier form when fit again.

He was guilty of rum luck during two Tests against India when he posed numerous problems for the home batsmen in unhelpful conditions, but against England could gain neither swing nor sustained rhythm. Andrew Strauss was a victim in the first over of the series, but Hilfenhaus could only claim six more in four matches. With each Test he became less of a threat as Alistair Cook and Strauss ground him into submission on hard pitches.

Recalling the threat posed by Hilfenhaus during the 2009 Ashes, Chappell argued he could yet return to that level.

"We believe he's still got that capability and the more cricket we can give him at the moment the better it will be for him to get back to where we'd all like to see him," Chappell said.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by hyclass on (May 24, 2011, 11:45 GMT)

There has never been more support staff,more coaching,more instantly available information.How could our bowlers be so badly misled?Hilfenhaus is a likeable player who can bowl outswing at good pace and seems to fail when that doesnt work.His strike rate is closer to 70 than 50.Hardly good enough.Englands openers worked to a well prepared plan to leave the ball that goes across or is outside off and wait for the ball to swing in or be short.It wasnt just Hilfenhaus at fault either.The evidence suggests that all the bowlers were down on pace and form and seemed to lack fitness and ideas.Siddle spoke of training with Carlton Football Club and being surprised by the level of fitness that he required to play professional sport.Johnston talked about needing greater upper leg strength to stay balanced.Id be interested to know what the physios,trainers and bowling coaches were doing for their money.The entire debacle is an instructive indictment on the management and coaching of our players.

Posted by fazald on (May 24, 2011, 1:10 GMT)

The problem with Ben Hilfenhaus & the rest of our fast bowlers in recent times has been that they repeatedly keep bowling outside the stumps & rarely worry the batsmen hoping that the batsmen would make a mistake and give away his wicket.They hardly bowled any balls at the stumps or bowled any yorkers or bouncers to rattle the barsman. It was all very friendly stuff time & again & looked very mediocre to say the least despite all our fast bowlers bowling at nearly 150kmph. Lasith Malinga is a dangerous bowler because he always bowled straight at the stumps & the occassional yorker was his main weapon.No doubt the new coach Craig McDermott has a tough task ahead of putting right the wrongs of his predecessor Troy Cooley.

Posted by Meety on (May 24, 2011, 1:08 GMT)

@ Something_Witty - I sort of agree, although as much as I am trying to forget about the Ashes, I tend to recall that Hilfy was bowling too straight & was getting picked off thru the onside. I disagree with the article saying he didn't have swing, he swung the ball more than Harris did in Perth & got nothing, I also thought he bowled well at the Gabba & luck was against him. I do believe he was poor in the last 2 Tests though. @Vinit_Sharma_Singh - LMFAO! Not sure whether you are serious or taking the pizz! Either way very funny! -- -- -- For what its worth - I'd take him to England & Sth Africa. Whilst I rate his wholeheartedness as highly as Siddle, Oz can't afford 2 lion heart non-wicket takers in the bowling line up. I can handle Hilfy not taking wickets as long as he keeps things VERY tight (less then 2 rpo) - otherwise he needs to be getting wickets.

Posted by smudgeon on (May 23, 2011, 22:02 GMT)

Hilfenstud is a good international bowler, he adds real variety to the attack, but remember it was said many times before the Ashes he would probably struggle with home conditions - and I think his main problem during the Ashes was after he had a bit of bad luck on some awful pitches, his confidence went and he really got pasted. He's got the talent, I don't think anyone doubts that. His main problem now is there's a whole bunch of domestic bowlers younger than he is who also have talent - Faulkner & Copeland had brilliant seasons, and a few experienced domestic performers must also feel they have earned a chance. I want to see him succeed, but he's going to have to work awful hard in Zimbabwe to win a spot for SL...

Posted by Vinit_Sharma_Singh on (May 23, 2011, 16:14 GMT)

Yes I believe they should stick with Hilfenhaus as I believe with a bit of luck he could be the next L Balaji

Posted by Barnesy4444 on (May 23, 2011, 13:15 GMT)

Keep giving him chances of course. He works hard. I would like to see some more blokes step up and force their way into the side.

Posted by dsig3 on (May 23, 2011, 12:21 GMT)

If he would only adjust his gameplan he would be our number one bowler. I still think he is the most talented bowler in Australia. He has everything but he tries to bore batsman and doesnt attack enough. If I could bowl at 145km and consistently swing the ball and had amazing control, I wouldnt be bowling 2 feet outside off stump. For christ sake Ben figure it out Australia need you!

Posted by MinusZero on (May 23, 2011, 12:02 GMT)

Butterworth absolutely deserves a go, he was awesome last year in the shield. Hilfy has had enough chances

Posted by Dashgar on (May 23, 2011, 11:25 GMT)

He's got an uphill struggle if Harris, Siddle, Johnson and Bollinger are fit. If a younger player like Butterworth or Copeland make an impression then Hilfy will be in big trouble. He is an international class bowler and adds to our depth, we just have better ones than him.

Posted by popcorn on (May 23, 2011, 11:15 GMT)

One of the enduring qualities of Australian Cricket Selection is that they do not dump a cricketer like a hot potato.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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