Josh Hazlewood has moved to explain Australia's divisive tactic of bowling short to tail-enders all throughout the summer of cricket, with damning statistics showing it hasn't worked. We saw Pat Cummins order his fast bowlers to barrage the tail-enders with bouncers on numerous occasions against Pakistan, and it continued in the first Test against the West Indies.
The tactic has paid off a couple of times, but on the whole it has categorically backfired. In the first Test against the West Indies in Adelaide, No.11 batter Shamar Joseph made 36 off 41 in the first innings, and 15 off 12 in the second.
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The 51 runs marked the most an Australian team has conceded to a No.11 batter since Andy Caddick made 55 at Edgbaston in 2001. In the first innings, Joseph and Kemar Roach put on a 55-run partnership for the 10th wicket - which marked the Windies only 50-run stand of the match.
In the second dig they once again hung around and put on 26 - making Australia bat again to win the match. There were similar scenes in the third Test against Pakistan at the SCG earlier this month when Aamir Jamal and Mir Hamza combined for an 86-run partnership at the end of the innings. Jamal took particular liking to the bouncer barrage and deposited Hazlewood for a number of sixes.
Across the whole summer so far, the 10th-wicket partnership has made the highest average score against Australia (24.37). And over the last 12 months, Australia has conceded the highest average score against 10th-wicket partnerships in world cricket (19.71). Second on that list list is the Windies (16.75), followed by England (13.67), New Zealand (12.9) and South Africa (12.57).
The tenth-wicket partnership is now the highest averaging against Australia this summer pic.twitter.com/EOinS7Rheo
— Ethan (@ethanmeldrum_) January 19, 2024
Josh Hazlewood defends bowling short to the tail
A damning graphic on Channel 7 showed that just one ball out of 83 bowled to Joseph and Roach during the first innings partnership would have hit the stumps. Hazlewood tried to explain the rationale on Friday, saying: “I think all the bowlers can just bat these days. They can all hang on to it. They’ve all got good confidence. They’ve got a couple of shots.
“Often the best ball to the top six is probably the easiest ball to slog sometimes. So it’s just maybe mixing it up a bit more. Obviously the bouncer plays a part, so it’s just sequencing those balls, working them out.”
Mitch Marsh defended the tactic after the SCG Test, saying: "You've always got to back in what you're doing, certainly when you're bowling to a tail-ender. He (Jama;) could easily hit one of those straight up and we weren't necessarily waiting for that to happen, but I honestly think he batted unbelievably well. We saw a potential weakness to the short ball last game, the ball got old, slower wicket and he played exceptionally well. It was hard work."
The bouncer barrage might need to be put in the bin if it keeps going the way it has. The Aussies will face the Windies in one more Test (in Brisbane starting on Thursday), before heading to New Zealand for a two-Test series at the end of February.
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