Australia’s fast bowling future looks bright

Date: December 20, 2014 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
Josh Hazlewood on debut v IND at the Gabba

Josh Hazlewood on debut v IND at the Gabba

Josh Hazlewood, James Pattinson and Pat Cummins have a lot in common.

They are all quick with the ability to bowl consistently above 140km/h.

They are all young – Hazlewood is 23-years-old, Pattinson 24 and Cummins 21.

They have all had their unwanted share of injuries.

They also each claimed a five-wicket haul in their first Test match.

Hazlewood was the latest of the trio to bag a five-for on debut with an impressive first innings return of 23.2-6-68-5 yesterday at the Gabba.

He bowled with control and showed the ability to swing the ball both ways at pace.

He may have carried nerves into his first two days at the bowling crease in Test cricket but it did not show.

In the modern cricket vernacular, he consistently ‘hit the right areas’ and as such reaped a healthy reward.

He was on the cusp of a Test debut a few years back before injury put a halt to things.

Cummins burst onto the scene at Johannesburg in November 2011.

The previous Test at Cape Town saw Australia totally humiliated having been bowled out for a staggering 41 in its second innings to be beaten by eight wickets.

Largely due to Cummins efforts on debut at Wanderers the Australians levelled the two match series at 1-all.

He followed his first innings 1-38 with a searing 6-79 as he spearheaded the Aussies to a two-wicket win, winning the man-of-the-match award in the process.

Shortly after that performance he suffered the first of many stress fractures in his back.

His run with injury has been so great that he has hardly bowled a ball in a first-class match since his Test debut three years ago.

His last first-class outing was for Australia A against South Africa A in Rustenburg 13 months ago.

He is being eased back into the fold at present and has tasted the international arena again with some T20 and ODI appearances against South Africa last month.

He will soon be back in first-class ranks with New South Wales.

Whether he can return to the 150km/h pace of his late teens remains questionable but he will still bowl at a fair click and he has the ability to bowl outswing with good control.

Pattinson is another who burst onto the Test scene and like Cummins claimed the man-of-the-match award in his maiden appearance with 1-64 and 5-27 against New Zealand at the Gabba in December 2011.

His outswingers delivered at pace proved a handful for the Kiwi batsmen.

Remarkably he was man-of-the-match next start against the Black Caps at Bellerive Oval, claiming 5-51 and 3-54.

He made it three awards from his first three Tests when he snared 2-55 and 4-53 against India at the MCG during the 2011 Boxing Day Test.

It was an incredible start to his career with his first three matches producing an astonishing 20 wickets at 15.2.

It was the stuff that young boys could seemingly only dream of.

But alas the momentum would be stunted by persistent injury yet he still managed to claim 51 wickets at 27.1 from 13 Tests between lay-offs.

Like Cummins he is currently being nursed back into full bowling.

As Ryan Harris (35yo) and Mitchell Johnson (33yo) are heading towards retirement, the trio of Hazlewood, Pattinson and Cummins will be looked at to cover their void and assume the mantle as the team’s primary strike bowlers.

Each has the goods and pedigree to ably assume the mantle.

Keeping them all fit has proven to be the biggest concern recently.

If that can be achieved Australia will continue to boast one of the most potent pace attacks in the world.

Aside from the above triumvirate there are other quicks in Australia with considerable credentials.

James Faulkner’s 45-match first-class career has produced 147 wickets at 24.1 with many garnered on the traditionally batting friendly Bellerive Oval pitch.

In his one taste of Test cricket – the fifth match of the 2013 Ashes series at The Oval – he produced figures of 4-51 and 2-47 with his victims including Ian Bell, Alastair Cook and Ian Trott.

Whilst seen primarily at present as a limited-overs specialist at international level, at 24 his first-class record shows he could still offer a lot in the Test arena and being a left-armer he can offer a good counter-balance.

Jackson Bird is another who has had injury as a regular companion.

In his first Sheffield Shield match this season for Tasmania against South Australia at Hobart he captured 6-50 in the first innings.

Older than the others that have been mentioned, the 28-year-old boasts 118 wickets at 20.9 at first-class level with his three Tests producing 13 wickets at 23.3.

Like Hazlewood, he is blessed with height and claims many of his wickets with lateral movement off the pitch.

Sean Abbott continues to improve with his recent 6-14 in an innings against Queensland testament to his rapid development.

At 22 he has already represented his country at T20 and ODI level.

Mitchell Starc is currently playing his 14th Test however like his previous four he seems destined to be omitted immediately with Harris expected to be fit for Boxing Day.

Remarkably he has been recalled to the test team seven times and has never been able to nail down a spot although at 24 he still has time on his side although he runs the risk of being overtaken in the pecking order in the near future.

All of these bowlers have the ingredient that coach Darren Lehmann is wanting – pace.

One man who continues to throw up good numbers is South Australia’s Chadd Sayers.

The 27-year-old has had a couple of fine seasons with the Redbacks.

He kicked off the current Shield season with a nine-wicket haul against the Bulls at Adelaide.

He may lack the out-and-out pace which Lehmann is so enamoured by but his figures at first-class level make compelling reading – 129 wickets at 24.7 from 34 matches with seven five-wicket hauls.

Australia has a tradition of producing outstanding strike bowlers and going on those currently in the wings there is nothing to suggest that will not continue in the immediate future.

That is, of course, if we can keep the bulk of them on the paddock.

First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 19 December 2014