In the 90’s and 2000’s Australia’s batting depth ensured the current top 6 batting for Australia were always on their toes. Now as we begin a new decade, Australia’s fast bowling stocks appears to be on the way up and in time may rival the depth in the batting of yesteryear.
This time last year Australia’s bowling stocks hit a low point with many asking where the 20 wickets would coming from. Two months ago, Shane Watson was regarded as the second best quick after his brilliant 5-17 in the 1st Test against South Africa.While brilliant for Watson, it was no compliment to the men being picked as bowlers. Johnson was doing what he did best and Siddle had just returned and following a relatively solid showing in his only test in Sri Lanka, he left South Africa with 4 wickets at 51. Fans were once again worried that Siddle had not improved and it appeared we had the inconsistent duo (Johnson and Siddle) back in full force. What did not help either bowler was the fact a bowler who had only played 3 First Class matches with a less than impressive average in the 40s, well and truly out bowled them with 7 wickets in the match including a match winning 6-79.
Pat Cummins started the rise in stock for the pacemen however it appeared the pace bowling stock would rival the stock market crash of 1929. In the space of a month Mitchell Johnson would be ruled out for the summer, Ryan Harris and Pat Cummins would soon follow suit being ruled out for the rest of the year and the Australian A bowlers of Pattinson, Cutting, Starc and Hilfenhaus had just been taken around the park in the tour game against NZ. Siddle had suddenly become a certainty to play in the Test against New Zealand and he would have two new partners. The selectors decided against the steady Copeland and gave two new seamers their Baggy Green in James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc.
Then New Zealand came and went as we had another silly two match series. The Kiwis had just pulled out a famous win however the fast bowling stocks were on the rise again. Pattinson continued the awesome debuts by fast bowlers in 2011 and backed it up with another 5-fer in his second test. At this point Pattinson had become a certainty for the Boxing Day Test. Siddle appeared to thrive as the leader of the attack but we had all seen this from Siddle before.
Mitchell Starc’s less than impressive debut series meant either Harris or Hilfenhaus would play on Boxing Day. The selectors ended up playing cautiously with Harris and so two-thirds of the flayed Ashes attack was back on display.
The Indian batting lineup would provide the first real test for Pattinson and it would also present a chance for Siddle to show he has changed. This would also be Hilfenhaus first test match since the Ashes.
Four days on from Boxing Day, the Australia bowling trio of Siddle, Pattinson and Hilfenhaus had just taken 20 Indian wickets in one of the best team bowling display by the team in sometime. Each of the pacemen produced a fearsome spell of bowling. Rahul the Wall Dravid was breached three times, once by each of the pacemen which sums up how well each of the pacemen bowled especially considering the talk in the lead up to the match regarding adding a 5th bowling option.
So as we head into the New Year, the selectors will have a very tough task getting Ryan Harris back into the side and further along Pat Cummins. Question marks obviously still remain whether they can keep this going however the signs so far are very promising. By the end of this four match series against India, we should have a very good idea of where Siddle, Pattinson and Hilfenhaus are at assuming they remain as the first choice trio.