Monday, 7 November 2016

Do the Aussies have a seam problem?

The Aussies may be talking up Holly Ferling, and playing down Ellyse Perry's "niggling knee injury", but with the World Cup in England, where seam and swing bowling plays a vital role, just seven months away, Australia's seam attack looks rather forelorn.

Perry has not bowled in this season's WNCL - in fact she has only played one game out of NSW's four played to date. She last bowled competitively in Sri Lanka on 27th September. She only bowled 19 overs in five games in Sri Lanka, taking just four wickets. This followed a poor return in the inaugural Kia Super League in England - again just four wickets, this time in six games. Bowling is not now Perry's main suit it seems. She has always been an elegant bat and she has developed into a top quality top order batsman. But her days of leading the bowling attack seem to be behind her, injured or not.

So the mantle has been passed to Ferling, whom the Aussies have been nurturing for some considerable time. Despite only being 20 she already has 32 appearances for Australia under her belt, having debuted for her country back in 2013 at just 17. But in 20 ODIs she has taken just 24 wickets, having taken one or no wickets in 13 of those games. Initially she could be forgiven for spraying the ball in all directions, but having now remodelled her action, apparently, she still seems to lack control and appears to do little with the ball. Cricket Australia have invested a lot of time (and money) into Ferling and they will be hoping to reap the rewards from that investment now that she is really needed. So far in four games in the WNCL she has taken just four wickets (three of those in one game).

Taking the new ball with Ferling recently has been Megan Schutt, with back-up seam bowling from the long-serving Rene Farrell. Schutt bowls nagging in-swing and gives away very little, but she too has only taken a few wickets in the WNCL so far this season (three in five games). She pulled out of the KSL due to injury and managed only three wickets in four games in Sri Lanka. Farrell has been in and out of the Australia team for the last nine years. Of all the seamers she has made the best start to the WNCL with six wickets in her opening four games. However in England last year she only took two wickets in five KSL games for the Surrey Stars.

So where is the back-up to these regulars? Well the answer seems to be left arm seamer Lauren Cheatle. The 18 year old (yesterday in fact) burst onto the international scene last summer after impressing with the Sydney Thunder in the WBBL01. But so far she has only been tried in the 20 over format of the game at international level. In two games for NSW this season she is yet to take a wicket. She was not selected for the recent Sri Lanka tour as she was completing her final year at senior secondary school. It is very early days in her career.

There are a few other names emerging from the WNCL - Brooke Hepburn, Tahlia McGrath and Alex Price for example, and no doubt WBBL02 will throw a few more names into the pot. But time is running out for Australia if they are to strengthen their seam attack before landing on English soil in June next year.


1 comment:

  1. I can see what you mean. The Aussie bowling attack is not at its best right now. But, there are a few caveats. Perry has bowled very well in English conditions before (she blew England away in the Canterbury test in 2015) and can always chip in with a strong over of consistent yorkers. Although I agree she does seem to be shifting towards very much a batting all-rounder these days. Personally I think Ferling, Schutt and Farrell are all good bowlers who can quite often find a way to take wickets in big matches. We should bear in mind that the WNCL has been a bit unusual for women's cricket in that the scores achieved have been pretty high. There have been quite a few 250+ scores. Meg Lanning's side often win only losing a few wickets and have made over 300. Therefore any wickets taken are a bit more valuable than normal.

    What sides can claim to have loads of great seam bowlers? England only have 2-3, (Shrubsole, Brunt and Farrant when she plays, most people don't seem to rate Cross or Sciver that highly) and on good pitches most sides are reliant on spin and pressure in the middle overs to take wickets anyway. Australia have very good spin bowlers in Beams, Jonassen and Harris (and the latter 2 are fine batsmen as well). I was a bit surprised that Osborne had been left out of the latest ODI squad - does this show their strength in depth? If so I'd actually be pretty worried about facing their bowling attack. Hopefully England when they next face them, will play with some freedom though, as the best way to get on top of any bowler is to score runs off them quickly.