Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, Perth, 2nd day

Lillee questions Australia's pace core

Brydon Coverdale at the WACA

December 17, 2009

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Dennis Lillee gets a lap of honour at the WACA, Australia v West Indies, 2nd Test, Perth, 17 December, 2009
Dennis Lillee, who got a lap of honour at the WACA, has a few questions about Australia's current crop of fast men © Getty Images
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Australia's fast-bowling great Dennis Lillee has questioned whether the current batch of fast men are more interested in looking good than looking after themselves properly, as Australia's injury list keeps growing. Peter Siddle was the latest member of the pace attack to be sidelined by injury when a hamstring problem ruled him out of the Perth Test.

Siddle has joined Ben Hilfenhaus (knee tendonitis), Brett Lee (elbow), Stuart Clark (back) and Nathan Bracken (knee) on the casualty list, which has left Doug Bollinger and Mitchell Johnson as the only Cricket Australia fast bowlers fit and available for Test cricket. Lillee, who was inducted into the ICC Hall of Fame at the WACA on Thursday, said his observations led him to wonder if the bowlers were training appropriately.

"I think there's more soft-tissue injuries now," Lillee said. "You're getting groins and elbows and I think a lot of it is the amount of cricket that's played, and I'm not sure that fast bowlers in particular do enough training distance-running and real heavy sprinting work. I'm not sure they do enough of that.

"That's only a gut feel - I'm not that involved in the game and I'm not a scientist and I'm not a doctor. My gut feel is that maybe a lot of the training is more about maybe looking good rather than looking after the core, which is more essential than having a nice beach look."

For the older members of the attack like Lee and Clark, the injuries have raised the serious possibility that they may not play Test cricket again. There have been questions over whether Lee could still be an effective weapon if he cut back his speed in an effort to prolong his career and Lillee, who did that himself in his later years, gave Lee hope that it might be an option.

"As you get a bit older you can't actually bowl it as quick," Lillee said. "If you're going to cut your speed you've got to have other tricks, and the other tricks are learning about the trade of fast bowling. It is an art-form.

"Anyone can do that, as long as they're prepared to work on the trade itself. You can have an extended career and not just be an outright fast bowler by moving into the next phase."

Brydon Coverdale is a staff writer at Cricinfo

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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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