Australian fast bowler Brett Lee took 11 wickets in six matches in his comeback series against England and impressed most observers; more importantly the national selectors and captain Ricky Ponting.
He also had decent results in the two warm-up games against India and South Africa. The 34-year-old will be the fulcrum of Australia’s bowling attack that’s dominated by fast bowlers and their ilk like Shaun Tait, Mitchell Johnson, Doug Bollinger, John Hastings and Shane Watson.
Before going into his team’s home stretch preparation against Zimbabwe at the Gujarat Cricket Academy facility here on Friday, Lee conceded that his team is packed with pacemen, but said that it’s also equipped with adequate men to run the spin department.
“I do agree with that (packed with fast bowlers) to a certain extent. But we have a good spinner in Jason Krejza. David Hussey can chip in and vice-captain Michael Clarke can also play a spinner’s role. Yes, we have Tait, Johnson and Bollinger making us a strong pace unit. So we have a good mix for the World Cup.’’
Lee also said that a pace bowler bowling at 150 kmph and on the right spots can be effective even on slow wickets. “That’s what New South Wales (NSW) had done when it came to India for the Champions League. We had a lot of pace bowlers and we won the competition even after playing a lot on a slow wicket in Delhi. I don’t really see any problem with the pace set we have got. At the end of the day, it’s still 150 kmph through the air,’’ said Lee.
Giving his nod to the format of the competition he said: “It’s all about peaking at the right time and doing what one can to get through to quarterfinals and semifinals and take it from there. Come Monday there will be a few anxious players in the squad. How I wish tomorrow was Monday. Hopefully two practice sessions will take us to the right areas.’’
Excerpts from a media session here on Friday:
Likely poor turn out for non-India games: Obviously, as every team, we too would like to play in front of a big crowd. But we can’t control that; hopefully a lot of fans are going to come down and watch the match (here on Monday).
On his return to competitive cricket at international-level: When I came back, I made it clear to myself that I am going to enjoy my cricket. It’s been a long road back, some 15 months away from the game. I might have surprised a few people by coming back into the game after a lengthy gap, but I am proud that I have survived (the injury). Now, I hope to lead from the front in the World Cup.
I am very happy with the way I bowled in the two practice games, especially against India where the ball was coming on nicely. In the second practice match, I bowled four overs and had to come off the pitch; that was a bit funny to bowl four overs and rest for the rest of the match. But I am really happy with the way I bowled, swung the ball quite early, cranked up a bit of pace, did well with the older ball when I came back (for a new spell). Yes, there are really good signs, and hopefully I will get a few wickets in the matches to come.
Competition among fast bowlers in the Australian team: It’s very important. It's great that Australia has got the depth. I would rather be in a situation where we can have some good options than having only 10 or 11 players to pick from. So, it’s great to have a very good squad. If we play the right kind of cricket and with a bit of luck as well, there is no reason why can’t go and win the tournament.
Toss factor: Well, it was very crucial in the practice tie against India, when the ball was spinning really square. In such conditions, toss could prove decisive. But we have to deal with it. We have to adapt and we have to learn to play spin bowling. We can also learn a lot of things from those matches and against India we were totally outclassed. Irrespective of the results in the first two warm-up games we have taken a lot of positives from them and hopefully that will stand in good stead for us on Monday (against Zimbabwe) as well as in the remainder of the tournament.
Pitch factor: Obviously the pitch would be a massive factor. But if you have a guy like Shaun Tait bowling at 160 km at batsmen’s toes, it will be still tough to negotiate even on a slow wicket.
Keywords: 2011 cricket World Cup