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Aus’ traditional strength now a liability

You have all heard me say that cricket is a very simple game if you keep it simple. To garner further proof of that, look no further than Cricket Australia right now and how they complicated things dramatically recently.

Their entire season, along with their third test selection really has been an extreme case of too much thinking. What concerns me and should be a serious wake-up call for many, is that I believe much of the decision-making and consternation surrounding their mistakes was based on job justification. That is always a dangerous dynamic that confuses and elevates issues.

The stark reality that so many of their seriously talented young fast bowlers are continually failing to maintain fitness tells a sorry tale. The fact that so many of these young guns repeatedly break down screams loud and clear that something is seriously wrong with their fast bowling process. Their best and most promising young charge, James Pattinson, who is only 22, has just pulled up lame for the fourth time this year and is out for the summer, while 21-year-old Josh Hazlewood is the latest to join the list of crocks this week. Add to that list Pat Cummins, who is still incapacitated and now sensibly seeking remedial help from Dennis Lillee. Alarm bells must be ringing on deaf ears.

Down Under they have this absurd belief that once an Australian ranked bowler bowls more than 80 overs in a month, he is considered a substantial injury risk and his workload must be dramatically reduced if not temporarily ceased altogether. Peter Siddle, for example, was rocking up 140 overs in November but the question needs to be asked: “How demanding is that work load?” Their perplexing rotation policy is muddled.

Siddle’s effort was sensational in Adelaide, leaving all on the track as Faf du Plessis superbly blunted everything Australia could muster, but although circumstances were different, Siddle and Morne Morkel were both averaging around 28 overs per innings during the test series until Siddle’s omission in Perth. Morkel, with the benefit of a longer break between workloads, forged on superbly.

The following fact illustrated by Brydon Coverdale from ESPNcricinfo is quite startling. Siddle actually bowled 383 deliveries in Adelaide and failed to front up in Perth after a three-day break. Similar also applied to Ben Hilfenhaus after he bowled 321 balls in the same test. To put that in perspective, Lillee bowled 535 balls in a single test against Pakistan in 1976 and played the next test after a two-day break.

In that very next test Lillee destroyed Pakistan, capturing match figures of 10 wickets for 135 runs.

Cricket Australia and their young crop of crocked fast bowlers have their work cut out to correct current wrongs.

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