Ponting wants wickets from spinners

Ricky Ponting wants more from his spinners after they again failed to take a wicket during the 60-run win over Kenya in Bangalore on Sunday

Steven Smith bowls during Australia's training session, Colombo, March 4, 2011

Steven Smith has taken only one wicket in 24 overs so far in this World Cup  •  Getty Images

Ricky Ponting wants more from his spinners after they again failed to take a wicket during the 60-run win over Kenya in Bangalore on Sunday. Jason Krejza has not taken a wicket since Australia's first match of the World Cup, against Zimbabwe, while Steven Smith has managed only one for the tournament, on pitches that have generally provided some turn.
Coming in to their title defence, Australia knew their pace attack was their strength, and were relying on Shaun Tait, Brett Lee and Mitchell Johnson to do the bulk of the damage. But after three victories and a washout, the pace bowlers have combined for 21 wickets at an average of 21.76, while Australia's slow bowlers have only four wickets at 74.75.
Against Kenya, Krejza and Smith were easily chipped around for runs during the middle overs, and it was a familiar trend after Sri Lanka and New Zealand also had little trouble handling the spin. That could become an issue in the knockout stages of the tournament, especially if the Australians find themselves up against quality handlers of spin, like India.
"I still would have liked to see them making some breakthroughs for us," Ponting said of the slow bowlers after the Kenya game. "Through those middle overs in this tournament when the ball gets old, and the wicket starts to spin, we are going to need our spinners to strike for us, and that didn't happen."
However, Ponting was keen to point out that there was a certain amount of experimentation in his use of the slow men in a match that Australia were never in real danger of losing. Krejza bowled mostly around the wicket, Michael Clarke had a trundle for the first time in the tournament, and Smith was brought in to the attack much earlier than usual.
"I tried a few different things with the spinners," Ponting said. "Bowling Smith early in the Powerplays was just to give him some experience there and see how he would cope with the situation. It's probably the first time he's done that, so that should be good for him.
"Jason tried a couple of different things tonight, bowled the majority around the wicket on a wicket that was spinning, just to get a bit of a feel for the conditions and what he can do in these conditions. There was a bit of experimentation from the spinners."
Australia entered the World Cup without their two preferred limited-overs spinners, with Nathan Hauritz ruled out due to a shoulder injury and Xavier Doherty suffering back soreness. The New South Wales left-armer Steve O'Keefe, who was in the 30-man preliminary squad, was also unavailable due to a calf problem.
Australia qualified for the quarter-finals with their win over Kenya, but they haven't faced a serious challenge yet after the match against Sri Lanka was rained out. Their final two matches of the group stage are against Canada in Bangalore on Wednesday and against Pakistan in Colombo on Saturday.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo