One worrying aspect to come out of the Australia A game against New Zealand was the performance of the young trio of paceman all vying for a spot in the walk on eleven in Brisbane on Thursday. The first innings was played in overcast conditions, conducive to fast bowling, but Guptil, Taylor and McCullum all feasted on what was offered up by the young paceman. McCullum was particularly savage in scoring 146 off just 115 deliveries; his opinion was that the Australia A attack was too short and he felt that the New Zealand batsman had won an early battle against a number of potential debutants.
Many opposition sides have come to Australia, and on the first morning in Brisbane, got carried away with the seam and bounce on offer and banged the ball in back of a length; overexcited with the deliveries going past the edge on numerous occasions but downhearted when faced with a lunchtime score of one or two down and 100 runs on the scoreboard. The problem is that excess movement, coupled with short bowling, allows the batsman to play the line; the ball either holds its length and a defensive shot is completed or the ball jags too much and it is a simple play and miss.
The key for Australia’s attack is to get the ball up to the batsmen, half a bat worth of movement with the full ball ensures that the batsman is committed to playing the ball. Glenn McGrath and Richard Hadlee are prime examples of bowlers who have got the ball up to the bat and had success in the 1st innings in Brisbane, the New Zealand great with nine in Australia’s first innings in 1985 and McGrath demolishing the West Indies with six in 2000. Peter Siddle will shoulder a ton of responsibility in an attack decimated by injury, but he will do well to remember last season’s Gabba test, his 1st innings 6/54 included 3 LBWs and 3 catches from batsman driving and finding the edge, it will be vital that the Victorian does not get carried away with leading a test attack for the first time and remember what has worked for him at the Gabba previously.
And this will also be the big test for any of the debutants; both Ben Cutting and Mitchell Starc are ‘bang the ball into the pitch’ type bowlers their natural length will be back of a length, and it will be key that they get enough deliveries into the front quarter of the pitch. I have a feeling that Cutting may have the edge over Starc when it comes to the final 11, purely based on the fact that the game will be played at his home venue. James Pattinson’s ability to move the ball both ways in the air should ensure a spot in Thursdays lineup; the swinging ball seems to confound many lineups around the world these days and accounted for many batsmen in the recent South Africa series; a New Zealand side with just the 1 test against Zimbabwe in recent times may find genuine swing bowling hard to deal with
So I think that the message is clear, get the ball full, draw batsman forward and look for the edge. New Zealand’s strength lays in their batting with the likes of McCullum, Taylor and Ryder all aggressive natured and capable of scoring quickly, the Australians must use their tendency to go hard at the ball by getting full and inducing edges. If the Black Caps do not get contributions from any of these three then I cannot see them coming away from the series with anything other than a 2-0 series defeat.