Finch ponders tactics to counter World Cup run-fests

Australia

Aaron Finch is ready to get creative with his bowling tactics in an attempt to the counter the large totals which are expected to dominate the 2019 World Cup.

The second ODI between England and Pakistan in Southampton over the weekend gave another taste of what could be to come, with 734 runs plundered in 100 overs. England made hay with wickets in hand in the closing over as Jos Buttler smashed a 50-ball century before Pakistan threatened to chase it down until the home side’s death bowling held its nerve.

While conditions won’t always be as pristine for batting as they were on Saturday on the south coast, it is expected to be a heavily bat-dominated tournament with the use of two new balls negating the chances of reverse swing and the Kookaburra hardly moving for the quicks when it’s new.

That poses a tough set of challenges for fielding captains as they try and conjure plans to keep batting line-ups in check. One of the key areas will be taking wickets in the middle overs – it is why most sides now have a legspinner in their ranks, as do Australia with Adam Zampa.

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However, it could be that Australia’s two premier quicks – Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins – are left with plenty of overs available for the middle period of an innings instead of sharing the new ball or being given extended spells with it.

Australia used their matches against New Zealand in Brisbane to try various combinations with Jason Behrendorff sharing the new ball with Starc in the final match, and Cummins used as first change.

“All the trends and all the stats in one-day cricket show the last couple of years the teams that have taken the most wickets in the middle overs have been successful,” Finch said. “That’s something that we’ve identified as an area we really want to try and nail so there is talk about all those kind of things. Whether you have a burst with Starc or Cummins through those middle overs. That will come down to the day, if someone gets off to a flyer you have to keep rolling out your big guns and make sure you are looking to take wickets in the Powerplay.”

Away from Starc and Cummins, who are certain starters, there remains jostling to support them among Behrendorff, Nathan Coulter-Nile and Kane Richardson. The trio all had two outings against New Zealand but only managed a combined 6 for 223 compared to Starc and Cummins taking 10 for 117.

“That will be dictated over the next couple of weeks, it’s not something we’ve sat down and planned,” Finch said on bowling combinations. “There are a lot of questions still to be answered but we are in a great place to do that.”

However, Finch did confirm that Zampa was the No. 1 spinner, although did not rule out pairing him up with Nathan Lyon again, as they did successful during the series in India and the UAE.

“[Zampa’s] performances in India and the UAE were outstanding on wickets that didn’t turn a huge amount but also against world-class players of spin he played exceptionally well. The reputation of Bristol [where Australia start against Afghanistan] is that it spins, but all reports say it didn’t spin a huge amount in the latest one-day competition in England, so it’s just going to be wait and see what the wickets produce.”

The training camp in Brisbane brought good and bad news as far as Australia’s attack is concerned, with Jhye Richardson being ruled out. “It’s a huge loss,” Finch said. “The energy he brings, his raw pace, ability to swing the ball and get good players out on good wickets is something that will be missed. That’s not to say the others don’t, but we saw that real x-factor with the ball. I know he was really down, but he’ll pick himself up, he’s only 22. He has a long career ahead.”

The form of Starc, though, provided plenty of encouragement on his return from the pectoral injury he picked up against Sri Lanka in early February. His pace did not go unnoticed by the New Zealand batsmen and, when any modicum of movement with the white ball will be priceless, he found some swing.

“He’s proved it in big moments that he can get the job done, so really encouraging. He’s been swinging the ball the last few days which is such a valuable assest,” Finch said.

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