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Australia's fast eight for Ashes

Daniel Brettig

October 10, 2013

Comments: 61 | Text size: A | A

Ryan Harris exults after castling Ian Bell, England v Australia, 3rd Investec Test, Old Trafford, 3rd day, August 3, 2013
Ryan Harris is likely to be at the top of the list of eight fast bowlers Australia have identified for the summer © Getty Images
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Australia's selectors have identified eight fast bowlers in line for Ashes duty during the summer and told their states to prepare them accordingly. The bowlers themselves, however, have not been made aware of their status as the men most likely to share the new ball against England in the five Tests, starting in Brisbane on November 19.

The team performance manager Pat Howard outlined the preparation of a rolling barrage of fast men for the series as he mapped out plans for the home Ashes series, an encounter that may cost him his job should Australia suffer another defeat. The concept of having eight fast bowlers identified, fit and ready for Test matches throughout the series is an upgrade from the five Howard and the former coach Mickey Arthur kept on hand at each Test last summer.

"We'll have eight bowlers available for every Test and these eight bowlers have already been communicated to the states," Howard said. "They know who the watchlist is, they know their bowling loads every single day, it sits on Darren's [Lehmann] desk, they're known. We've said to the states as well that doesn't mean if you have a cracker of a lead-up you won't be considered. There's always that pool for the selectors to call on and make informed decisions."

Given the injury-enforced absence of three Ashes tourists in James Pattinson, Jackson Bird and Mitchell Starc, and Pat Cummins now being on a far less rushed plan to bring him back into the international game after letting his body mature, the pace bowling options available are strong but not limitless.

Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle and Mitchell Johnson are towards the top of the likely list, while Ben Hilfenhaus remains Cricket Australia contracted and Josh Hazlewood is making decent strides for New South Wales and Australia in limited-overs formats.

Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint McKay and Chadd Sayers are the others expected to be under consideration, having all played for Australia or Australia A in recent times. Others around the team include James Faulkner, who is considered an allrounder and more likely to be part of a five-man attack if chosen.

Eight horsemen of the apocalypse?

  • Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Mitchell Johnson, Ben Hilfenhaus, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Coulter-Nile, Clint McKay, Chadd Sayers

Howard stated that the official selection policy for the Ashes would be to choose the best XI at all times, fitness permitting, while striking a balance between rewarding performance and making the occasional selection hunch. The coach Darren Lehmann defended the decision to gamble on the teenage left-arm spinner Ashton Agar ahead of Nathan Lyon in the first two Tests in England, claiming performance had been a factor.

"Where you're playing and who you're playing is the key to that," Lehmann said. "We're still performance based, and the Agar selection was done on a lot of right-handers, and he bowled better than Nathan on the A tour. You can't just go on his performances in the last Test match which was four months before that, it was how he was bowling at the time."

Agar is now setting out on the season with the ambition of growing into an allrounder's commission, and opened the batting for the Perth Scorchers on their recent Twenty20 Champions League expedition to India.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by VillageBlacksmith on (October 12, 2013, 7:17 GMT)

8 eh?? is that all??? that doesn't really say much about the confidence in or the form of or durability of the current crop of aussie bowlers does it... more foot in mouth from CA... im still laughing about patto going to ''do it for his brother'', what did he get 0-100?? and clarko saying ''we're going to have a red hot crack''... and now its EIGHT 'fast' bowlers!! its great stuff...

Posted by landl47 on (October 12, 2013, 6:20 GMT)

8 seam bowlers (we'll leave the debate over 'fast' to another time). Seriously? West Indies in their prime didn't have 8 test caliber seam bowlers. South Africa and England certainly don't and both have beaten Australia recently. If England only needs 5 plus the allrounder Stokes for a tour, why would Australia need 8 plus the allrounder Faulkner for a home series?

Basically I think this sends the wrong message. It says we only have a couple (Harris and Siddle) of seamers we think are real test players, so get the lesser bowlers ready and we'll try to make do with them. Really, Aus only needs 5; one to be the third seamer in a 4 (or 5 if Faulkner is selected) man attack and two to cover for injuries.

If the selectors can't identify their best 5, then putting together a list of 8 isn't likely to make the quality any better.

Posted by cricket_ahan on (October 12, 2013, 5:06 GMT)

Starc is still young and learning. He has immense talent, and has been rated highly by many past greats of the game, including Wasim Akram. He will leak some runs at the moment, but then he will also take wickets. He needs time to mature. Don't think they should bring Hilfy back... had his time. Regardless of all that though, what CA need to do is get these guys used to bowling more and more overs. Why are fast bowlers in other teams not breaking down this much - there must be something they are doing (or not doing) which is yielding this result? Not playing stupid one-day series like the current one in India might be a good start.

Posted by   on (October 12, 2013, 4:03 GMT)

so all the nsw bowlers get a game, when does sandhu get a game, for years dirk nannes one of the best in the world cant get a game, our batting problems are there to see and most of the top order is from nsw what no one else makes runs from anywere else, klinger has been making runs for years cant get game yet hughes rubbish technique gets a game

Posted by Shaggy076 on (October 12, 2013, 3:55 GMT)

There is still plenty of bowling depth, however I would have Cutting, Putland and Bollinger before Mckay.

Posted by   on (October 11, 2013, 22:07 GMT)

This story is exactly what is wrong with Australian Cricket.

It is almost six weeks until the 1st Test and the useless Australian Selectors have already chosen their 8 bowlers for the season.

Over the next six weeks the Ryobi Cup will conclude and many states will have played at least two Sheffield Shield Matches. Some of these matches will have teams that could challenge the Australian Test Team (Tas vs Qld). (From what I have heard Floros [3-wickets], Hauritz [10-2-19-2] and Ben Cutting [7-2-8-2] bowled brilliantly yesterday).

It appears that the efforts of any current or emerging bowler will be totally ignored, which is absolutely ridiculous.

While some commenters ask where is Cutting and McDermott .... I was asking where were they, two mainstay bowlers who almost took Queensland to consecutive Sheffield Shields, when the Australia A Team was selected on the recent Africa Tour. Meanwhile Sayers on took 3-wickets on the tour.

Australian Selectors are fools!!!

Posted by cricketsubh on (October 11, 2013, 13:54 GMT)

no hezalwood he is not ready for test sry to said that pick sandu he is strong and agresive and can bowl fast i think cummis can play this ashes his injury is not that bad .

Posted by cricketsubh on (October 11, 2013, 13:49 GMT)

praspunter .you need to take this series seriousy for the 2 rigins 1st australia as a team not wining any thing for last 7 month 2nd aus need some get their confident go to a series confident in any sports win gives u confident if u only care for the ashes then it will be a big mistake look what happen in ct2013 at that time aus already thinking about ashes every one know what happen after aus lose 3-0.same think happen in india when thet tour in 2010 they lose 2-0 and lose to srilanka in odi series and go to ashes no wins at all and lose the home ashes 3-1.australia need to learn from their mistake to get back to the top of the world.whats your 1st test team

Posted by PutMarshyOn on (October 11, 2013, 9:43 GMT)

Starc bowled well at times in the Ashes. In the last game he regularly hit 145kph + and made good players hop around on a track in the late stages of fossilisation. To lose both him & Pattinson is a kick in the teeth. How many tests are we likely to get out of Harris? It doesn't seem too far-fetched to imagine we end up with a core attack of MJ, Siddle, & BH. Deja vu, all over again.

Posted by   on (October 11, 2013, 9:29 GMT)

I hope that the conjecture is off and Cutting (or Sandhu) is ahead of Hilfenhaus. Hilfy is yesterday's man. And he wasn't that great yesterday either.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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