Friday, March 26, 2010
Having a look at the Australian side
As expected, the Kiwis were steamrolled by the Aussies in the first test and it seems like the Black Caps poor record of not winning a test match in the last 17 years against the OZ team would continue. So, what can the Black Caps do to stop the marauding Aussies? I don't see too much of hope for the inexperienced Kiwis against a fine team like Australia, but I just thought of having a look at some of their players to see whether they do have any flaws.
So here are my views
Shane Watson- Has improved his technique as he doesn't move too far across like he used to and plays with a straighter bat. He still has a tendency to play with a bit of angled bat early in his innings, so a swing bowler like Southee can look to bowl full and attack the stumps. I don't think one should be afraid of Watson driving the swing bowlers for a few boundaries as he can be vulnerable to the swinging ball. He has also become a decent swing bowler and has really lent the balance to the Australian side.
Katich- His main strength is that he knows his off stump and plays within his limitations. As he moves so much across the stumps, the bowlers will have to adjust their line a bit and also look out for occasionally going around the wicket to target his leg stump as he sometimes does expose his leg stump. The Kiwis did try that tactic of going around the wicket and finally Katich missed one as Arnel got him lbw. It can again be tried though, the Kiwis should try it as a surprise weapon as Katich is strong on the leg side. He is also ok against spin, but can be a nervous starter against spinners. If the seamers don't get it right, Vettori can come in early and look to bowl that arm ball. Vettori doesn't seem to get bothered by a relatively newish ball either.
Ponting- He is very strong on the onside, but early on in his innings can be vulnerable to the inswinger. The Kiwi bowlers can really bowl full and look to get him lbw. Once he gets in, it is very tough to get him out, but the bowlers can look to bowl good length and bowl it a touch wider, as Punter has the habit of going hard at the ball. A few times he has inside edged onto his stumps and has been caught in the gully with Punter looking to force it off the back foot. I still don't understand, why aren't the captains hesitant to use the gully against Punter. Martin can be tried as he does hit that good length spot consistently.
Clarke- He has really tightened his technique against swing and as a result has got better, but occasionally can flirt at deliveries outside the off stump. He is a very good player of spin, but in recent times the spinners have troubled him a bit more. He is no doubt in very good touch and doesn't seem to get bothered by his problems in personal life either.
Hussey- Has looked vulnerable outside the off stump as he seems to go searching for the ball. After a relatively disappointing series in South Africa and in England, he has found his form back yet, seems to be vulnerable to deliveries that goes across him. The Kiwis did trouble him in the first test and got him out by bowling a touch fuller and angling it across him. He has also shown a weakness to sharp bouncers, but the Kiwis don't have any express pace bowler to try it.
North- North scored a century in the last match and seems to have got his form back.He is a good player on the off side, but can get his front foot too much across. If there is some swing on offer, Southee can look to bowl his natural variation of swinging it into the lefthander and get him lbw as he moves his front foot too much across. If there is no sideways movement on offer, they may have to bowl a touch shorter and continue to angle it away from him as he does like to go for his shots on the off side and can play away from the body. For instance, Jimmy Anderson kept pushing it away from him at Edgbaston and North finally obliged by playing away from the body to get the edge.
Haddin- Does not like being kept quiet by spinners, so one can test his ego by bringing the long off and maybe even the long on up in the circle against Vettori and Vettori does have a good arm ball. The seamers have also got him out by hitting that good length and bowling it a touch wide of off stump to get the edge. Th fact is, he doesn't like being kept quiet.
Johnson- He generates lots of pace through a quick arm action and gets awkward bounce. I think the Kiwis would play him better than the swing bowlers in the opposition ranks as they like it to come onto the bat and Johnson's pace may just be ideal for strokemakers like Taylor, or McCullum as they all like pace on the ball. The left arm swing bowlers have troubled the Kiwi batsmen in the past, but Johnson isn't a swing bowler. He can also be a dangerous lower order batsman and can really hit sixes through the mid-wicket region, but in England, the seamers deliberately banged it into the pitch and didn't give him the chance to come well forward. Can any of the Kiwi bowlers do it is the question? maybe Arnel or even Martin can bang a few into the pitch. He also looks to go after the spinners, so Vettori's arm ball can come in handy.
Hauritz- He has improved as a bowler as he does flight it a bit and gets a bit of turn. The pitch at Hamilton sometimes tend to help the spinners as well. Actually, he is a typical Australian off spinner, who would look to bowl a touch outside the off stump. The Kiwis should be careful of playing across the line against Hauritz as his tendency to bowl outside the off stump would likely lead to batsmen getting leading edges.
Bollinger- I had said it in my article of previewing the Australia v Black caps one-day series that Kiwis have usually been vulnerable against left arm swing bowlers like Siders, Vaas and of course the great Akram himself as most their batsmen lack footwork. It didn't maerialise in the one-day series, but in the first test Bollinger got seven wickets. I don't think the management can do much as it is very difficult to change the way a batsman plays as he would have played with that technique for a longtime. It would be good if they show better shot selection and maybe they can open their stance to play the left armer's angle better.
Harris- He is yet another swing bowler though, thankfully for the Kiwi batsmen he isn't a left armer, yet even right arm swing bowlers have troubled the Kiwis in the past. The best one can expect again would be better shot selection.
I do hope the Kiwis show some fight in the second test. Yes, the Aussies are definitely the better team, but it would be good to see Kiwis atleast giving them a run for their money.w