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October 13, 2012
The club versus country debate is usually associated with football, where the former often takes precedence over the latter. In cricket, this issue is fairly new but already there are signs that it could become a talking point.
The Sydney Sixers have lit the flames after captain Brad Haddin spoke about the role of the three young quick bowlers in his team. Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood the men in question and all three are no doubt of what they have to do. "Their job is to go out and bowl fast," Haddin said.
"The work rate side of things is (Sixers coach) Corey [Richards] and the physiotherapists department. My job is to manage the team in the field and my job is to tell them to go out there and bowl fast."
Richards is more sensitive to the potential dangers of asking the trio to leave it all out there. With injury concerns a real risk, especially among bowlers under the age of 23, according to South African team doctor Mohammed Moosajee, Richards will have to combine motivating them to perform to their best with monitoring so that they do not over-exert themselves.
"It's a fine line. They've obviously got a big workload, both prior to this tournament and afterwards with the Test matches. It is a juggling act," he said. "Managing them is important but from our point of view we are here to win a competition and to get them performing as best as they can over the next couple of weeks."
Cummins is the main worry, having been injured soon after he made his debut in South Africa. At that stage, Cummins had sustained a heel injury, common in young bowlers whose bodies are still developing. His recovery period took longer than expected because he also picked up a stress fracture. When he eventually made his comeback to the national team in a one-day series against England in June, he was forced to exit it early after straining his side.
He is unlikely to play international cricket until the third Test against South Africa in Perth late November which gives him plenty of time - time that the Australian administration hopes can be used to play Shield cricket. With niggles in his history, the national management will be anxious that he does not pick up another one to interrupt their plans for his preparation.
To that end, bowling coach Ali de Winter will be in South Africa to keep an eye on the bowlers and make sure they are not overstretching themselves. Richards does not think they will be. "The workloads are not something new; they've been going on for a long time. Injuries happen, with the amount of cricket they play it could happen at any time. And we feel we've got the quicks in a pretty good position," he said.
Sydney do not hide that they will rely on the fast men in this tournament, especially given the bouncy tracks in South Africa and that Cummins will be their spearhead. "We've got three guys who can really push that rate and go up high into the mid-140s. And one of them, Pat, can push it into the 150s, and it's a different ball game there," Haddin said. "We're actually lucky that in Australian cricket at the moment, we've got a crop of quicks that are pushing the speed gun up to where we like it."
Although the pace bowlers will in the spotlight, there are two other important components to their bowling attack that Haddin is careful to make mention of: the role of spin and the form of Shane Watson. "If you look at the way T20 has gone, no matter what conditions, spinners have played a big part in successful T20 sides," he said.
"And Watto, well in the last month he has played a different brand of cricket to anyone else really." Watson was named Man of the Series at the World T20 for his all-round role for Australia and is thought to be one of the players to watch at this event.
Haddin does not want to focus too much on the Watson, though. "If we are going to do well as a team, we can't have the focus on one individual." That sharing of responsibility could ensure that the likes of Cummins are not made to do so much that they hurt themselves.
Firdose Moonda is ESPNcricinfo's South Africa correspondentFeeds: Firdose Moonda
© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.
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