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Ponting confident pacemen can dominate

Brydon Coverdale

February 22, 2011

Comments: 10 | Text size: A | A

Mitchell Johnson is congratulated on dismissing Tatenda Taibu, Australia v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad, February 21, 2011
Australia's pacemen had the Zimbabwe batsmen hopping in their game on Monday © Associated Press
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Ricky Ponting is confident Australia's pace attack can threaten every team in the World Cup, after they proved too good for Zimbabwe in the 91-run win at Motera on Monday. Australia have gambled on a bowling unit full of speed for this tournament and Mitchell Johnson took 4 for 19 in the opening victory, while Shaun Tait and Brett Lee also fired.

The Zimbabwe top-order batsmen were jumpy against Tait and Lee in particular, but the captain was most pleased by the accuracy of Johnson, who he believes can be one of the stars of the tournament. Although it's difficult to draw from that performance how Australia will fare against the stronger teams, Ponting is confident that no batsman will enjoy facing the trio.

"If we get those three up and running and bowling as well as they can, then I don't care what team we're playing against or what conditions we're playing in, that intimidation is going to be there," Ponting said. "Those three guys are pushing 150kph and with the conditions that we've seen, the ball's going to reverse at different times here as well.

"If we've got those three guys bowling well in reverse-swinging conditions, then it's going to be difficult. They can intimidate because they can use their short balls well. They generally don't give too much away either. If they're all bowling well, we'll go a long way in the tournament."

Ponting described Johnson's effort against Zimbabwe as one of the best spells he had seen from the left-armer in one-day cricket, and his two wickets in two overs early in the innings helped halt Zimbabwe's fight. Johnson has taken 32 ODI wickets at 21.25 in India and he is set to overtake Nathan Bracken as Australia's most successful bowler in the country.

Ponting believes that Johnson will succeed in the subcontinental conditions again, after an Australian summer in which it seemed like the bad old Mitchell Johnson was back to stay. But having been axed for the Adelaide Ashes Test, Johnson began to regain his form, and even before the Zimbabwe outing, the captain was confident he could be one of the key men in the World Cup.

"With the skill set he's got, he could be one of the players of the tournament, there's no doubt about that," Ponting said in the lead-up to the opening match. "We saw in the last couple of games in Australia how dangerous he can be with the bat. He went in as a pinch hitter in Sydney and got 50-odd for us there and changed the way the game was going.

"He went to Perth then, and probably bowled as well as he bowled for the whole summer, got 3 for 18 or something and got a few runs as well. He's in pretty good shape at the moment. He's got the chance to be one of the outstanding players in this tournament."

Australia left Doug Bollinger and John Hastings out of their series opener, and after the success of the attack it is unlikely there will be any changes for their second match against New Zealand. Jason Krejza also showed some promising signs against Zimbabwe, collecting 2 for 28, and should hold his place for Friday's game.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Rajeev on (February 23, 2011, 7:28 GMT)

After another couple of matches Punter will highlight the importance of Spinner here in India, I am pretty sure that Kreja will contribute a lot better than couple of their pacemen.

Anyhow my prediction is that by the end of group stage Oz will re-unite and fully balanced like previous WC's.

Posted by Dummy4 on (February 23, 2011, 2:49 GMT)

@stormy 16: I agree to a certain extent, ideally the best approach in bowling in ODI's or even in any form of cricket is to have a a balance of attacking and defensive type bowlers. I see it as the "I hold 'em you hit 'em" approach. In previous years we had the bracken and tait opening combination and the McGrath and Lee where one bowler is extremely accurate and builds scoring pressure and the other one intimidates through speed and bounce. At the moment the Australian attack is slightly overbalanced with attacking bowlers which Is why I wouldnt mind seeing the inclusion of someone like Hastings(maybe at the expense of white as an alrounder) who can take the pace of the ball and build scoring pressure if the attacking bowlers go for too many runs. Watson is pretty accurate though I feel we may need one more bowler of his type.

Posted by kieran on (February 23, 2011, 0:00 GMT)

Geez Punter, who gives away more runs at time than Lee Tait or Johnson? They will take wickets but in some games they are going to get hammered. All the talk of spinners is rubbish, who else could we pick? Would they be better than Hussey/Smith/Clarke? You pick your 4 best bowlers, if 3 of them are quicks so be it. The concern is the batting: Ferguson needs to come in at 5 and steady the ship cause at the moment White/Huss/Smith are not strong enough to recover from the loss of early wickets.

Posted by Amar on (February 22, 2011, 22:34 GMT)

"They generally don't give too much away either"...........I just have to laugh at that comment by Ricky....really, Ricky? Between Tait and Johnson, they have probably bowled more wides in the last few matches than McGrath and Gillespie bowled in their careers....I am exaggerating ofcourse, but the point remains........They will take wickets, sure, but they will also be "generally" expensive. With such wayward bowlers and no spin options to speak of, you'd better hope that Lee comes to the party.

Posted by Abhimanyu on (February 22, 2011, 20:08 GMT)

Australian pacemen are the most penetrating alongwith South Africa's. Punter is on the money with his comments.

Posted by Craig on (February 22, 2011, 19:16 GMT)

Both stormy16 and jonesy2 have it spot on. White's form has made a mockery of claims during the Ashes that he should be brought into the test team as captain. Please! Did you see his pathetic attempt at taking a catch in the outfield in the game against Zimbabwe? No ticker, just gave up. No runs either. And the Aussies didn't gamble on choosing a pace attack, our spinners are just not very good at the moment. Our best attack is made up of pacemen, it's a simple fact. Not the best situation but one we have to work with. That said (and even though India is spin friendly) Johnson has much better stats in India than even Swann who is a spinner and is apparently the best ODI bowler going around at the moment. Go figure. Australia probably won't win the world cup but they will do better than most people wish.

Posted by sidharth on (February 22, 2011, 18:11 GMT)

well if he wants to win the cup he should hope that only

Posted by Andrew on (February 22, 2011, 17:47 GMT)

@jonesy2 - yeah White is NOT looking too flash. I think had Pup been playing like him the criticism would of been worse. That said - with a bit of time (like Pup got), he SHOULD come good. Ferguson needs a big score when/if he gets a chance!

Posted by Dru on (February 22, 2011, 13:12 GMT)

Yes if the three fast bowlers fire they will test most batsman no matter what the conditions are but if they are not spot on they will go for plenty on these wickets - the margin for error for someone like Taite is very little against quality batsman. Somehow I feel Australia have to a gun fight with a knife and the shallow spinning options will eventually catch up with them. Having said that its not like there is a list of spinners in Aus so dont think they had too many options.

Posted by Bryn on (February 22, 2011, 11:37 GMT)

ponting mate batting is more the thing that needs to improve. cam white seems like hes taking the mickey...

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
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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