Doug Bollinger sets sights on Andrew Strauss
Doug Bollinger is going to take it upon himself to target England captain Andrew Strauss in the forthcoming one-day series because Australia know how important he will be to the Ashes campaign which starts in November. Bollinger has enjoyed considerable success since reclaiming his Test spot last December with 37 wickets in seven matches and is eager to make an important mark on this tour.
Glenn McGrath used to make it one of his prime roles to home in on the opposition captain - and he had a vice-like grip on Mike Atherton who he dismissed a world-record 19 times - with Australia believing that if you can make the leader struggle the rest of the team will soon follow.
In the 2009 series that was meant to be Mitchell Johnson's role, but the plans went array when the left-armer dramatically lost his form and Strauss cashed in with a dominant 161 at Lord's which set up England's 115-run victory. Even though the first Ashes Test is still five months away, Bollinger feels there is no time like the present to make a few statements.
"Obviously you have to start well against the openers and he's the type of player that can get you down if you are bowling badly to him," he said. "I think if I get him out that's a pretty solid way to show that we are here to go well and knock the captain over."
In the absence of the injured Johnson - along with Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle from the previous Ashes series - Bollinger, who couldn't make Australia's World Twenty20 squad despite taking 12 wickets for Chennai Super Kings with an economy rate of 6.67 in the IPL, has now been elevated to the team's No. 1 strike bowler in an inexperienced attack.
"It's a good name to have, but doesn't really bother me," he said. "I just enjoy playing for Australia and if I get called the spearhead that's probably a bonus for me but I just go out and do my things and get as many wickets as I can.
"There's no extra pressure, it's enjoyment really at having the extra responsibility while playing for my country. We'd love to have Mitch here but it means an opportunity for some else like Clint McKay or Josh Hazelwood."
One factor in Bollinger's favour going into the one-day series is that England have yet to face him at international level. Although all teams spend hours watching footage of opposition attacks it can never quite match facing the real thing and Bollinger may just be able to catch a few batsmen off guard.
"I'd like to think so," he said, "but you can't worry about things like that. We are just going to worry about our own games and concentrate on their batsmen, just as their bowlers will study our bowlers. We are just going to be as fresh as we can and keep it simple because if we complicate things we just end up sideways."
Simplicity is one of the main ingredients to Bollinger's game. "If I worry about too many things I end up not doing as well," he said. "I just try to figure out the conditions I'm in and adjust my game to it. Patience is the key because eventually things will figure themselves out."
The Bollinger now on show in Australian colours is a different vintage to the one who represented Worcestershire during the 2007 season and finished with an unflattering 16 first-class wickets at 44.56. However, it's an experience he looks back on as having played a vital role in his development.
"It was good but it seemed to rain non-stop while I was here," he said. "It did help with the different conditions it certainly made me a better bowler."
Andrew McGlashan is assistant editor of Cricinfo