Pat Cummins, Jofra Archer and Mohammed Shami among top Test quicks in action this week
Some of the best fast bowlers in the world will be hunting for wickets
This is without doubt the golden age of fast bowling. Wickets in Test cricket are giving more help to the bowlers as teams push for results while batting techniques have regressed sufficiently to allow bowlers to succeed after applying just enough pressure.
Even so, fans are getting to enjoy world-class fast bowling in Test cricket and this week promises to be an absolute bonanza for connoisseurs of quicks.
Australia host Pakistan in a two-match Test series starting in Brisbane on Thursday while England play New Zealand in the first of two Test matches at Mount Maunganui the same day.
A day later, India and Bangladesh feature in their first pink ball Test in Kolkata. All three matches will have a majority of the world’s top pacers in action. Here’s what we can expect this weekend.
The England quick made life miserable for New Zealand A batsmen in their warm-up game with batsman Glenn Phillips, who has played international cricket, calling it the quickest bowling he has ever seen. It’s the first overseas Test assignment for Archer and if the wicket is even half-way decent, expect the 24-year-old to show the Kiwis no mercy.
The No1 Test bowler in the world. Cummins is streets ahead of Kagiso Rabada and Jasprit Bumrah in the bowling charts, which is a testament to Cummins’ workload and consistency. He is fast, accurate and at the batsmen all the time, even if he may not elicit the same reactions like when Archer or Bumrah are bowling. Pakistan batsmen should remember that if there is bowler who will get something out of any pitch, it’s Cummins. And also, he is a proper, Test-level batsman. Good luck.
The India fast bowler is arguably more incisive than Bumrah in five-day cricket. His lines, late movement, pace and ability to generate reverse swing make him hard to survive against. He picked up seven wickets in the innings win over Bangladesh in Indore and the pink-ball match in Kolkata could see him finish with another rich haul as there should be more help for him under lights. Plus, he will be playing at his home ground. The Tigers should be ready for a thorough workout.
Pakistan have sent a largely young pace attack to Australia. Left-arm quick Afridi is 19 as is Musa Khan. Another rookie, Naseem Shah, is only 16. The latter two have been picked more on promise. Shah has been labelled the next big superstar of Pakistan pace bowling but in reality, it’s the performance of Afridi that will determine how competitive the visitors are against Steve Smith and co. Afridi has one full season of international cricket across all formats under his belt. His pace, angle and height make him the top weapon in captain Azhar Ali’s arsenal.
Which Mitch will turn up at the Gabba? While Australia are confident Starc has overcome his tendency to try too much with the red ball, it can’t be said with certainty whether he will bring his white-ball precision to the Pakistan Test series. But if he does, there is precious little even the world's best batsmen can do. On his day, Starc can bowl faster, for longer, swing the ball more, and get more bounce than any other bowler. If the left-arm quick gets his radar right, then it spells bad news for Pakistan’s batsmen.
Updated: November 19, 2019 03:42 PM