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International Cricket: Looking at options to solve Australia’s spinning issues for this Summer and the 2019 50-Over World Cup

Following their World Cup win in 2015, Australia’s spinning options looked a lot limited.

They only chose to nurture Adam Zampa more often as their lone frontline spinner.

Sometimes, Nathan Lyon added a bit more workload in the ODI setup.

And of course, continuing their substantial use of spinning all-rounders through the likes of four players:

  • Glenn Maxwell
  • Travis Head
  • Ashton Agar
  • D’Arcy Short

I know these three all have batting prowess which is essential especially if the top order gets out early.

And either of these four can bowl for a couple of overs maximum when fielding.

I am not saying that either of those four deserved to drop as the essential part to their batting firepower.

Unfortunately, their ODI record as a whole team hasn’t been that great.

And it’s getting worse without the significant help of Smith & Warner for a while until April.

What is happening with the talent within frontline spinners?

That’s what Kerry O’Keeffe and Shane Warne asked the same question.

The talent is waiting for Cricket Australia to nurture and give them a chance.

Yes, you do need some experienced players to help out the best squad.

But they’re not bothered and scared to build for the long-haul when nurturing the best of young talent that Australia has ever produced.

Any young spinners they have right now apart from Adam Zampa?

Mitchell Swepson is one example at the age of 24.

He regularly plays for Queensland & the Brisbane Heat.

And look at his performance the other day v South Africa A for Australia A.

He took three wickets for 40 runs conceded out of a ten-over stint with his leg spin.

The economy rate is five.

Don’t forget he’s in contention for a 2nd spinners spot to help Nathan Lyon in October when Australia v Pakistan in UAE.

So Swepson has to produce more of the best bowling he carries not just the Quad List A Series.

But also the two-game Four game first-class matches v India A in a few weeks time.

Head Coach Justin Langer is keeping an eye on this Australia A squad for further opportunities with the senior set-up.

And it’s up to Swepson to put raise his hand as he has plenty of years ahead of him.

If he gets his test call-up in the UAE, expect to see more of Swepson both red & white ball cricket for Australia this Summer.

What happens if Swepson doesn’t get a call-up?

However, if that option doesn’t happen, there are alternatives.

I like Shane Warne’s suggestion of bringing a quick short-term fix where this Summer & next year’s 50-Over World Cup are top priorities.

He said it’s not too late to re-call Fawad Ahmed.

Even though at the age of 36, he’d be a useful emergency option to strengthen the dedicated spinners line-up.

Ahmed might not have a state contract with Victoria right now.

But he’s happy to play for them if needed possibly when the 50-Over Cup starts in three weeks time.

Look at his performances in the Caribbean Premier League right now for Trinidad & Tobago Knight Riders.

Eight wickets so far in this tourney including two earlier today v the Barbados Tridents.

Ahmed can replicate in the similarity of South Africa has with Imran Tahir at the late 30-ish age of his for Australia.

He has all the spinning tools in place as their leading frontline spinner for this Summer & the 2019 World Cup.

If Nathan Lyon can be the best out of the test spinners, Ahmed can complement him as the best too in the white-ball circuit.

A lifeline with Victoria in state cricket & a comeback to the national side is Ahmed’s significant turning point late in his career.

2018/19 could be his biggest season yet as a late bloomer since migrating from Pakistan to Australia a few years ago.

Who else if Ahmed doesn’t secure his recall for Australia?

Lloyd Pope is one great example at the age of 18 playing for South Australia in state level.

Not sure if he has a Big Bash contract with the Adelaide Strikers.

He took out 8 for 35 against England during the U19 World Cup Quarter Final & 11 throughout the whole tournament.

We’ll have to wait and see if this season would be his most significant breakthrough yet.

If he’s able to replicate what he did with the U19s to the professional set-up, then this trend will carry on in the news all day.

Although, they don’t want to rush him too high above his standard just yet.

Maybe Pope needs a bit more time playing for South Australia within the first-team for the season and see what happens next.

For now, this 2018/19 year will be his introduction as U-19, and senior cricket is a lot different.

Once he’s able to pick up wickets in all three formats, Justin Langer can call-up Pope in the national team.

He will eventually break through and be the leading Australian spinner in all three formats within 3-5 years time.

But he’s not there just yet if you want Pope playing in next year’s World Cup.

The same goes for Daniel Fallins who plays for New South Wales.

He did play only three first-class games with 13 wickets in hand which is a great start.

Especially on his debut First-Class game with Cricket Australia XI v England back in November at Adelaide Oval.

He exposed five out the best batsman out of his 5fer there for 73 during the 1st innings:

  • Mark Stoneman, Jake Carder Catch for 61
  • Bowled James Vince out for 33
  • Joe Root, Ryan Gibson Catch for 58
  • Jonny Bairstow, Tim Paine Catch for 9
  • LBW’ed James Anderson for 4

He has that Stuart MacGill like style and action into his follow-through to devastate such batsmen.

Fortunately, New South Wales did give him an extended opportunity towards the end of last season at Shield level.

And hopefully, the rewards will come within the upcoming 50-Over Cup if selected.

Like Pope, Fallins needs a full season of state & Big Bash level before he can play International Cricket.

What can Australia do to improve their production of spinners after the World Cup?

I know the four players I mentioned earlier like Head, Maxwell, etc. has excellent talent as spinning all-rounders.

And they would be a useful contribution to both bat and ball.

But it’s best to look towards the future and nurture the spinners wisely.

There’s plenty of cash invested in helping out the next generation for many years.

Only one frontline spinner in Zampa came through and nothing else in the last three to four years.

Cricket Australia need to give more than just Adam Zampa a chance.

Don’t be afraid to give youth a first-hand experience and learn from the experienced players.

Mistakes can go over the place, and it does represent an issue.

But it’s part of the learning experience and will benefit within the senior squad in the long-run.

Apart from that, the spinning options highlighted right now are massive.

Lloyd Pope and Daniel Fallins may not be ready just yet.

Either keep and nurture both Adam Zampa and Mitchell Swepson for an extended period in the ODI squad.

Or if they feel need a bit more experience, then Fawad Ahmed is an option.

As long as he plays well in the 50-Over Cup for Victoria, it’s still possible.

Either way, once Warner & Smith comes back, Australia will be ready with so much talent involved for the World Cup.

It’s one of the priorites Australia always wanted in their hands.

Justin Langer would love to guide his troops & bring the trophy back home plus the Ashes by late 2019.

References

  • Feature Image: ICC

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