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Australia's young fast bowlers used the help available from a spicy pitch better than their England counterparts
August 11, 2012
They did not break stumps in half, like Reece Topley did, nor were any of them the quickest - Jamie Overton was - but the Australia Under-19 fast bowlers won the day against England in Townsville. Given first use of a spicy pitch at the Tony Ireland Stadium, Joel Paris, Mark Steketee and Gurinder Sandhu made intelligent use of it: bowling with impressive pace and accuracy, which they were able to sustain through long spells.
There was a nippy wind blowing across the open ground; Paris was bowling with it, while Steketee ran into it. They both had success in their first overs and built on it by denying England easy scoring opportunities. Sandhu's parents had been among the first to find seats in the grandstand before the start of play but they had to wait until the end of the first hour to watch him bowl. Paris and Steketee carried on for seven overs each, taking three wickets and applying pressure from both ends.
And when Sandhu came on in the 15th over, he bowled unchanged until the 29th, taking 2 for 24 in his first eight overs. In the final over of that spell, Sandhu got a ball to rise quickly from short of a length and smack into Overton's shoulder. The unyielding hostility at one end also helped the offspinner Ashton Turner at the other and his three wickets were instrumental in ensuring England failed to score enough.
"Not really," said Sandhu, when asked if the eight-over spell had tired him. "It wasn't too hot. There was a fair breeze so I didn't really get a sweat up that much to be honest. It wasn't too tough."
It wasn't tough because Sandhu, Paris and Steketee, are extremely fit young athletes. Former Australia fast-bowling coach Craig McDermott, who's assisting the Under-19 coach Stuart Law in Townsville, worked with Sandhu for last 10 weeks, with Paris over the last two years, and with Steketee since he was 14. He places a premium on fitness.
"I think all young bowlers need to be able to bowl seven or eight or nine-over spells, if needed," McDermott said. "If you are bowling well, and you are on top of the batsmen, the captain has to have the ability to be able to keep bowling you. The fitter they are, the more regularly they can execute the ball in the right spot and hold their actions."
What the Australian pace trio did especially well today was to not get carried away on a pitch that was pacier and bouncier than McDermott thought it would be. They bowled a full length, got the ball to move - Paris and Steketee's first wickets were with inswingers - and used the bouncer primarily to mix things up.
Sandhu, more than the other two, has the tall, strapping physique to try and intimidate at an age when muscular strength makes a bigger difference than it does a few years later. He didn't fall prey to the temptation, though, and finished with 3 for 27 in 9.3 overs.
"I think if you stick to the line and length that you have, fourth-stump line, good length as well, I reckon it's pretty tough to play no matter what sort of conditions. Batsmen don't really know if they have to go hard at it or leave it alone," Sandhu said. "[The bouncer is] just a variation. Not too many short balls in a row. Your stock ball has to be a good-length ball on fourth stump, and then the odd one at the nose."
McDermott called Sandhu an "exciting prospect" for the future. "He has got some good skills - slower-ball bouncers and good finishing skills … he is a good death bowler, there's not a lot of those around in Australia."
The plan Australia bowled to today is from McDermott's coaching manual, for he had drilled the full-length discipline into the senior Australian bowlers with success as well.
"Keep it simple, keep the ball up. The fuller you can bowl the more chance you have of getting the ball to swing or nip back off the seam," McDermott said. "It's a big focus of ours, mixed in with some bouncers. I think we bowled well on a wicket that you could get carried away and try and bowl too short.
"I think, towards the end, England actually bowled a bit too short. I think if they had kept the ball up more, they would have troubled our batsmen more and possibly won the game. It's not an age problem. It's just something that the pace bowlers who don't know how to bowl on those sort of wickets get carried away with."
McDermott said he'd been led to believe the pitch for the next game against Nepal could be faster and bouncier than today's was. And apart from Paris, Steketee and Sandhu, Australia have another well-built fast bowler in their squad, who did not play today - Harry Conway.
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