Spinners, form or experience? First test bowling options.

Only a couple of days until the first test in Sri Lanka, and while most of the talk is around who will/won’t make the batting lineup, the bowling lineup too is far from set in stone. Very far.

At this point you would have to say that Mitchell Johnson is the only one assured of his place in the final 11, the other three bowling spots are (or at least were) up for grabs. Fighting it out for these spots are Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Trent Copeland, Michael Beer and Nathan Lyon.

One spinner or two?

Neither Beer nor Lyon showed a huge amount of impact in the just-completed tour match, but based on their stats (because I couldn’t watch) neither performed badly either. Beer perhaps slightly ahead due to better economy rate. But with just 19 first class matches between them it just looks (on the surface) too risky to go into the first test with a two-pronged spin attack – it would be a lot of pressure on them, and the other bowlers should they not perform.

I’d be going with one full-time spinner and Beer deserves first crack at that spot – at least based on the squad that we have to pick from. Remember Michael Clarke can chip in with a bit of spin if needed, and there’s always Mr Cricket’s medium pacers if you need another ‘slower’ option for a couple of overs.

The pace options.

Assuming Johnson is a certainty, and the Aussie play one spinner, that leaves two pace spots. Pattinson’s omission from the tour match would indicate (to me at least) that he’s not being considered for the first test, this leaves Siddle, Harris and Copeland in a battle for two spots.

Assuming, again, that Johnson will opening the bowling, he needs a partner. Siddle, unfortunately, was both wicketless and the most expensive of the Australian bowlers in last weeks tour match. Harris only picked up 2 wickets himself, but was much more economical in doing so. For me, Harris gets the chance with the new ball for the first test.

Prior to the tour match I wouldn’t have had Trent Copeland in the team, but his super-economical 6/61 off 28 overs makes him very hard to ignore. His medium pacers have been criticised by many, I can’t really judge that because I’m not sure I’ve ever seen him bowl, but they’re clearly effective – he’s take 93 wicket in only 18 matches. Despite his relative inexperience compared Siddle, I’d be giving Copeland the third pace spot, he’s in form and that’s always important.

So, excluding ‘part-timers’, something like this for the first test then?

  • Mitchell Johnson
  • Ryan Harris
  • Shane Watson
  • Trent Copeland
  • Michael Beer