Back in November I wrote a piece asking whether the Aussies had a seam problem (click here to read it). I received various comments, including a very polite tweet, I seem to recall, from the esteemed Mel Jones, indicating that this was really a non-issue. However Southern Stars coach, Matthew Mott, did identify pace bowling as an area for improvement, following their series win over the Proteas later that month (see here).
As the Aussies now prepare for a three match T20 series with the Kiwis in Australia, followed by a three match ODI series in New Zealand, it seems that their "problem", if it wasn't a problem before, then it certainly is now.
The last Southern Stars squad selected was for their home series against South Africa. It looked like this :-
Lanning, Blackwell, Beams, Bolton, Farrell, Ferling, Harris, Healy, Jonassen, Mooney, Perry, Schutt, Villani.
Of that 13 it seems certain that Ferling will not be fit to play in the upcoming home T20 series, which starts on 17th February, although it has to be said that she may well not have been picked even if she was fit.
That reduces the pace options (and I use the term loosely) to Farrell, Perry and Schutt (keeping Villani up your sleeve for the odd over of liquorice allsorts). Perry, of course, is herself currently injured, and while she has been batting sublimely, her bowling has been below par. In the WBBL she managed 39 out of a possible 48 overs and took just five wickets at an economy rate or 6.23 (31st best). If the Aussies do not strengthen their seam department this means that they will be relying primarily on Farrell and Schutt. That may be enough for the T20s, but for 50 over games that is light.
So who is out there that they can bring in? Unfortunately Lauren Cheatle, who had such a good WBBL01, which saw her given a chance in the national T20 team in early 2016, has had a forgettable WBBL02, after focussing on schoolwork and recovering from illness. Others with potential from the Shooting Stars are Heather Graham, Tahlia McGrath and Belinda Vakerewa.
Graham is a talented all-rounder, who certainly looks good with a bat in her hand, and can do a reasonable job with the ball. McGrath played most of WBBL02 as a batsman, who bowled if needed. She didn't set the world on fire. And Vakerewa only got six outings for the Thunder and bowled just 11 overs. Neither she, nor the others, looks ready to make the jump to the Southern Stars.
Unfortunately for the Southern Stars the new and exciting bowlers to emerge from WBBL02 were all spinning all-rounders - Ash Gardner, Sophie Molineux (just named Betty Wilson Young Cricketer of the Year) and Molly Strano (second highest wicket-taker in WBBL02).
All of which leaves Matthew Mott in a bit of a pickle. He will be praying that Perry can get herself fit, so that he has three decent seam options to turn to, and he can then include Gardner and Molineux in his squad to replace Ferling and Harris. But with the 50 over World Cup looming on the horizon I am still not convinced that the Aussies have the seam attack that will take them to a seventh WWC win in July.