Young quicks mastermind demolition
Although Brad Haddin was named Man of the Match after Sydney Sixers' thrashing of Yorkshire at Newlands on Tuesday afternoon, the demolition was inspired by their gang of young quicks. Mitchell Starc, Pat Cummins and Josh Hazlewood combined to take 6 for 44 in 12 overs, with Hazlewood proving miserly in giving away just nine runs in his spell.
"The beauty with the group we've got at the moment is they're all so different, and if they get it right they're definitely hard to score off in this form of the game," Haddin said. "They all bowl well together. There are no egos with them, they're happy to bowl when they're asked to. We've got a good crop there."
Haddin was particularly effusive in his praise for the 21-year-old Hazlewood, who drew extra lift and carry off the pitch from the start of his spell to keep Yorkshire's batsmen on the back foot. "I thought Josh was outstanding," he said. "The big fella was very hard to play out there today, with the lengths he's hitting."
Yorkshire captain Andrew Gale admitted that Hazlewood had adjusted very quickly to what he thought was a slightly green, spongy wicket. "Hazlewood came on and he adapted straight away, hit the pitch hard back of a length," he said. "I thought the pitch was a bit spongy. It was quite hard to pick up the pace of the pitch early on, and he exploited that."
Haddin, on the other hand, insisted that the pitch had very little to do with his bowlers' success. "It was a very good wicket today. These fast bowlers make the wicket look a lot different to other teams. Everything's got to go to our bowlers, they did a very good job to put us in the position we got into today."
That position hadn't looked too healthy when Starc's radar went awry and he leaked 13 runs from his first over. Yorkshire will have seen a lot of Starc, who was their overseas player this season, and Gale suggested he would have been a welcome addition to their squad for this tournament.
"His first over went for 13 and I thought we were going to take him down," Gale said. "He's a great lad, a great talent and he should've been at the top of his run bowling for us today, not them."
Gale also tipped Starc, who made his Test debut against New Zealand at the Gabba last December but has only nailed down a permanent spot in Australia's limited-overs sides, for major honours in the future. "He's one to look out for in the future. It wouldn't surprise me if he goes all the way to be a world No.1 bowler in the short and the long formats of the game."
Hazlewood played a solitary ODI aged just 19, while Starc and Cummins have shared the new ball for Australia in a handful of Twenty20 Internationals. They're all tall and quick, but ply their trade in subtly different ways and could well form the backbone of a potent Test attack in years to come. That is, if they're all fit at the same time.
"It's very exciting," Hazlewood said. "We had a little joke about it, that we're all fit at the same time. It hadn't happened yet, but it's good now that we're all together and we're all fit and firing. This is only the second game I've played with Cummo [Cummins]. With all three of us in the same team, it was pretty good fun."
Haddin was quick to draw the focus from potential future Test pairings to the task at hand in this tournament. He was happy enough that the order had not come from Cricket Australia to rest any of his young quicks or, even worse, to get on a plane back to Australia as Shane Watson has been told to do.
"I hadn't even thought about that. We might have to turn our phones off," Haddin joked. "I think we'd know by now. But I'm not resting the quicks. They can rest tomorrow.
"It's obviously a very good attack, and they all complement each other very well. What we've got to remember with these guys is that they're still very young, and they've got a lot of cricket left in them. At the moment, they just want to learn. They want to keep getting better. These guys are challenging each other at training, and trying to get better and better."
Liam Brickhill is a freelance journalist based in Cape Town