Australia’s quicks have been superb throughout the Ashes
Date: December 16, 2013 / Posted by Glenn Mitchell
Australia’s three pace amigos – Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle – have been nothing short of superb in this series.
They have been all over the England batsmen to the point that they have garnered a significant psychological advantage even before they walk through the gate.
Nowadays we hear constantly about teams ‘executing their game plans’.
Australia’s three quicks have done it superbly, in concert with skipper Michael Clarke’s leadership and wonderfully supportive ground fielding and catching.
The tourists arrived down under with three batsmen who were regarded as potential match winners – Alastair Cook, Kevin Pietersen and Ian Bell.
None have been able to stamp themselves on this series.
Cook was able to graft 72 runs in England’s first innings at the WACA Ground but prior to that he was all at sea against Australia’s fast bowlers – off the front and back foot.
His dismissals in the second Test at Adelaide told a story.
In the first innings he was bowled for three by a magnificent late swinging delivery from Johnson.
He was flat-footed at the crease and undone by sheer pace and late movement playing inside the line of the ball, missing it by several centimetres.
In the second innings he decided to fight with fire, playing a hook shot to the just the fourth ball he faced from Johnson only to be caught by an athletic Ryan Harris at deep backward square leg.
Many of England’s dismissals have come courtesy of catches in the deep backward of square leg.
Such has been the suffocating bowling by the three quicks with respect to persistent line and length the tourists have felt the need to play cross-bat shots in order to put some pressure back on them.
Too many times it has resulted in gifted wickets as their shot selection has been found wanting.
Australia has played up to Pietersen’s ego and has dried up his runs early in his innings to the point where he has simply got himself out.
He has twice been caught at mid-wicket, once in Adelaide when he arrogantly walked down the pitch to Siddle.
He was stifled in his team’s first innings at the WACA Ground before falling to an errant front pull shot off Siddle which was brilliantly caught by Johnson at mid-on.
Bell is a superb cutter of the ball – both square and fine.
He scored a poultice of runs backward of point in his man-of-the-series performance in the mid-year Ashes series in England.
Noticeably in this series he has had few opportunities to play those shots as the Australian quicks have looked to tighten him up with deliveries on or around off-stump.
Numerous times the home side’s pace trio has set up wickets with fine tactical nous.
A classic example of which was Harris’ dismissal of Bell at Perth where he followed up two outswingers with a sharpish off-cutter that trapped him front.
Johnson has been a revelation in this series with his ability to harness in tandem accuracy and intimidating pace.
Many decried his recall to the side at Brisbane but no one could argue now with his inclusion having received back-to-back man-of-the-match awards whilst putting the wind up the opposition.
To date he has captured 19 wickets at 14.6 with a strike rate of 32.
Siddle has been his normal reliable self, charging in and bowling a dry line and length.
He has claimed ten wickets at 17.6 with a strike rate of 45.4.
Harris has shown that he is one of the finest fast bowlers in the world today.
An innocuous looking run-up is followed by a full shouldered delivery action which generates considerable pace.
He is a master of bowling with an upright seam which results in movement both through the air and off the deck.
He has struck on average every 49 balls in this series, collecting his 11 wickets at 19.1.
During his 19-match Test career his nemesis has not been opposition batsmen but injury.
His career has been very reminiscent of Bruce Reid, the tall left-arm beanpole of the 1980s.
When fit and on the paddock both have been devastating.
Harris’ career figures are stellar – 82 wickets at 21.8.
His strike rate of 46.6 is phenomenal.
By comparison Glenn McGrath’s was 51.9 and Wasim Akram’s 54.6.
Together, the host’s three musketeers have gone a long way to returning the Ashes to Australia.
And they show no signs of letting up.
First published on The Roar – theroar.com.au – on 15 December 2013