Australian fitness

Theoretically, Australia have bowling ‘in depth’. Which is good for them, because they are having a terrible time keeping any of their first choice quicks fit. In a best case scenario, they will have to choose three (usually) of James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Peter Siddle, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus. The problem for them is that it does not look like it will ever be a best case scenario. Cummins played one Test before injuring himself and has now missed the next eight. Pattinson played four Tests before being injured and missing the next three. Harris is so fragile that he has been omitted from the current Test purely as a precaution. With respect to Peter Siddle, there has been a lot of suggestion that Cummins, Pattinson and Harris are Australia’s three best bowlers. (Though I would dispute Cummins, and to a lesser extent Pattinson, on the ground that they have not played in enough Tests to properly establish their credentials.) They have to improve their fitness if they are to compete against the best sides again.

Compare the Australian situation to that of England: Jimmy Anderson has missed one Test (for any reason) since being rested for the tour of Bangladesh two years ago. There is no current consensus about the identity of the third seamer, but Steven Finn is yet to be ruled out through injury and Tim Bresnan has only been unavailable for three Tests out of the 17 since the start of the last Ashes. Only Stuart Broad has had notable injury problems, but even he has only missed four of the aforementioned 17 Tests.

The question of why Australia have such injury concerns is certainly an interesting one. I partly suspect that, slightly counter-intuitively, they play too little cricket, or at least too little first class and Test cricket. They played only three Tests in the ten months between the Ashes and the series in South Africa and their domestic teams play only ten matches in a season. It may be that when they do play they are simply not prepared for the more densely packed Tests seen in modern schedules. Cricket Australia need to find out the reason though. Australia already only have an average, or ever so slightly above, bowling attack. They can get by with playing their reserve bowlers against teams as prone to self destruction as India and the West Indies, they will not be able to do so against the better sides.

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