Swing bowler waits on World Cup prediction March 9, 2007

Mum's the word for Bracken


Nathan Bracken prepares for Australia's warm-up game with England at St Vincent © Getty Images

Nathan Bracken is getting ready for the World Cup knowing his mother-in-law - the left-arm bowler's strong supporter and critic - will be keeping a keen eye on his progress. Lenore Rich, who had noticed Bracken seemed more relaxed during domestic games than internationals, had been predicting for several months beforehand that he would be involved in a record to do with "four runs and bowling."

On the morning of New South Wales' Pura Cup match against South Australia in 2004-05 she told Bracken's wife Haley she ought to go to the ground. Bracken then took 7 for 4 as South Australia fell for 29.

"I'm hoping she rings me up and goes 'you are going to get this and that'. There's nothing as yet," Bracken told reporters during Australia's final net session before Friday's warm-up against England. "She tells me the same thing she always does, to back my ability. It's the same thing [Australia bowling coach] Troy Cooley says to us every day: go out there, back yourself and back the decisions you make.

"When you always hear it from coaches you start taking it for granted. When you hear it from somebody different it tends to sink in."

Bracken has become a regular in Australia's one-day line-up since being recalled in 2005 and he has taken 96 wickets in 57 matches at 22.23. He said support from Ricky Ponting had helped him find his form since his international return.

"Ricky backs me 100% in that and so does the team," he said. "That's the difference when we are on form, the guys are backing their ability and judgments." The bowling outfit has struggled over the past month during a five-match losing streak, which included allowing New Zealand to score 340 and 350 to take the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy.

Australia are without Brett Lee, who has an ankle injury, but Bracken believes Shaun Tait, who has played only four ODIs, can fill the gap. "For South Australia he's bowled tremendously well and taken plenty of wickets," he said. "We are hoping he can slot in here and be a wicket-taker and can take that strike role when needed.

"Sometimes I think 'if that was me I'd break my back in half'. He's unique in what he does and he can change a game. It doesn't matter how many times you've seen him or played him, the first few balls are hard to pick up because the action is slightly different and it does skid through at pace."