STARK WARN­ING

Aussies ready to let loose ‘big four’ pace­men

New Straits Times - - Sport -

SYD­NEY

AUS­TRALIA are rel­ish­ing the prospect of unit­ing their “big four” pace at­tack for the first time at the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy — and send­ing a mes­sage to Eng­land ahead of the Ashes.

Pat Cum­mins, Josh Ha­zle­wood, Mitchell Starc and James Pat­tin­son are all fit and poised to bowl to­gether given con­ducive con­di­tions at the tour­na­ment in Eng­land and Wales.

In Aus­tralia they are seen as po­ten­tially the most po­tent pace quar­tet since the mighty West Indies teams of the 1970s, ‘80s and ‘90s.

In­juries have pre­vented the strike bowlers from play­ing to­gether in the same Aus­tralian squad and coach Dar­ren Lehmann is lick­ing his lips at the op­por­tu­nity to let them loose.

“It’s the first time we’ve had the big four avail­able,” Lehmann said.

“It would be great to see them go at it and see how they go. They’re qual­ity play­ers and we’ve got a qual­ity squad.”

In­jury-be­dev­illed Cum­mins is fi­nally fit and play­ing con­sis­tent cricket for the first time in his ca­reer af­ter over­com­ing a se­ries of back stress frac­tures, while Pat­tin­son has re­turned from shin and back in­juries.

Starc, who has re­cov­ered from a foot in­jury that cut short his In­dia Test tour in March, said he was ex­cited by the prospect of com­bin­ing with his fel­low speed­sters at the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy.

“We’ve had our is­sues with in­jury but Patty’s (Cum­mins) only just turned 24 — I’m 27 and I’m the old­est — so we’ve still got plenty of time to wreak havoc on bats­men around the world,” Starc said ahead of his de­par­ture for Eng­land.

“Hope­fully that starts with the Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy and then on­wards to the Ashes (in Aus­tralia) later in the year.”

For­mer Test bats­man Adam Vo­ges said any­thing was pos­si­ble for Aus­tralia if the four­some can stay fit and avail­able.

“If they’ve got all four to choose from then it is go­ing to be in­cred­i­bly ex­cit­ing to watch, maybe not to face,” Vo­ges said. “It’s a lux­ury Aus­tralia hasn’t had for a while.” An­other press­ing is­sue for Lehmann will be where big-hit­ting Chris Lynn fits into the bat­ting line-up, if at all.

Lynn was in dev­as­tat­ing form for Kolkata Knight Riders at the top of the or­der in this year’s In­dian Premier League, scor­ing 295 runs at an av­er­age of 49.16 and a strike rate of 180.98.

“First, he’s got to get se­lected in the eleven and the cap­tain (Steve Smith) will tell him where he’s go­ing to bat,” Lehmann said.

“We’ve had dis­cus­sions. He’s an ex­cite­ment ma­chine.”

The ex­pe­ri­enced David Warner and Aaron Finch open the in­nings at one-day level, but with nei­ther Shaun Marsh nor Us­man Khawaja se­lected in the squad, Lynn looks as close as he ever has to get­ting his chance at an ex­tended op­por­tu­nity.

Aus­tralia, grouped with New Zealand, Eng­land and Bangladesh, get their Cham­pi­ons Tro­phy cam­paign un­der way against the Black Caps at Edg­bas­ton on Fri­day.

The Aus­tralians are bid­ding for an un­prece­dented third Tro­phy af­ter win­ning back-to-back in 2006 and 2009.

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