Steve Smith Feels the Current Australian Pace Trio Might Be Even More Dangerous than Johnson
Aussie skipper Steve Smith has warned the English batting up Australia’s pace trio of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins could be tougher for the Englishmen to face than Mitchell Johnson in 2013-14 when he bagged a record 37 wickets in 5 Tests to help his team thrash England by a 5-0 margin.
For the first time, Australia will enter the field with the pace attack consisting of Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins which will be an exciting state of affairs for Smith given the amount of promise the trio has shown in the recent past.
“It has been exciting watching them bowl in the nets,” Smith said on Wednesday. “I think back to 2013-14 when Mitchell was bowling in the nets – these guys are just as nasty, if not more nasty, to be perfectly honest. A couple of the net sessions I have had against Cummins and Starc have been quite scary, so that is really exciting for us.”
Cummins is all set to play his maiden Test on home soil, and the question mark ahead of the series will be how his body holds up for the rest of the series. He burst onto the Test scene as a teenager in South Africa way back in 2011. Persistent injuries have restricted his international appearances and have still played only 15 first-class matches despite being one of the spearheads in the Australian team.
The lack of all-rounder will put that much pressure more on both the batters and the bowlers. The workload will be divided among the pace trio and Nathan Lyon while Steve Smith and David Warner can be the only two options which can be used as part-time and that too quite occasionally.
Smith will be looking to use his quicks in short burst just what Michael Clarke did four years ago which ensured Australia finished with a 5-0 series triumph.
“In an ideal world, yeah, that would be how I would like to use them as much as I could,” he said. “I think back to 2013-14, we had the luxury of someone like Shane Watson there, who bowled 15 overs an innings, kept things really tight and gave those guys that little bit of extra rest so Johnson could come on and do what he did.”
“We have only got four frontline bowlers here at the moment. At times, I will try to use them in shorter spells, but they are also comfortable bowling a little bit longer. I know that some of them, when they get into a rhythm, they like to keep on going and they bowl a bit quicker at the back end of their spells.”
The lack of the 5th bowling option will increase the importance of the off-spinner Nathan Lyon who has bagged double the wickets than any other Australian bowler in the past couple of years, and for the first time in his career, he won’t have to deal with the prospect of Australia fielding an all-pace attack.
“I think with England, a lot of left-handers, Nathan Lyon is going to be an important bowler for us,” Smith said. “He has been bowling particularly well, he is probably bowling as well as I have seen him bowl. I think he has grown in confidence a lot over the last year, even in the way he talks to me out in the field, he is willing to throw out suggestions, come over the wicket to a left-hander – things that he probably wasn’t comfortable doing just over a year ago.
“I think he has grown in confidence a lot in his place around the team, in his ability, the way he is bowling. And the consistency he is bowling with is really good for us. I am excited; I think he bowls really well on wickets that bounce a bit, something like out there at the Gabba. I think he had a lot of success last time against England in the game out here.”
Quite rightly, Cricket Australia scheduled the opening Test in Gabba after last year’s experiment of starting the opening Test against South Africa at the WACA went miserably as the visitors finished with a 177 runs victory. The Aussies have never lost a Test at Gabba since the heydays of the legendary West Indies team who last defeated the Aussies in the venue way back in 1988.
“We know these grounds like the back of our hands,” Smith said. “The Gabba has been a fortress for Australia cricket for a long period of time, and no doubt it is important that we start really well in this first Test match here.”
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