ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Quicks pitching up in battle of the big bats
A specialised training drill has Australia's pace bowlers primed to deliver at the death
Louis Cameron in Southampton
21 May 2019, 09:36 PM AEST
Amidst all the hype that the upcoming World Cup could see one-day international cricket's first ever score of 500, Australia are quietly strategising to ensure it's not their bowling attack that concedes it.
Flat pitches, small grounds and an increasingly gung-ho approach to batting have all contributed to bigger and bigger totals in limited-overs cricket, with many tipping this year's tournament to finally see a once unthinkable barrier broken.
England came mightily close to hitting the 500-mark against a second-string Australian attack last year, finishing on a world record 6-481 after 50 overs of carnage at Trent Bridge.
It comes as no surprise then that Australia's major fast-bowling focus in the opening days of their World Cup campaign has been death bowling.
And, specifically, hitting their yorkers.
The reigning champions’ pace unit has been fine-tuning their radar for the blockhole with a simple training drill under the watchful eye of new fast-bowling coach Adam Griffith.
Bowlers are awarded points for hitting different targets, and on occasion must change the target they’re aiming for at the very last moment, to simulate a batter’s late movement in the crease.
Kane Richardson, who has made a name for himself as a death-bowling specialist in the Big Bash, was the standout in Saturday's session in London, while Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins shared the honours on Monday after Australia's relocation to Southampton, where they will play three practice games over the coming week.
"It was a bit of target bowling for the bowling group - we’ve got certain cones put up for wide yorkers either side of the stumps and trying to hit that zone," Starc explained.
"There’s a competition around with a points system that we’ll carry on during the World Cup.
"It’s something we’re working hard on because death bowling is something where you can win or lose a game or defend a total."
In what could be a preview for this year's World Cup, England's recently-concluded 50-over series against Pakistan saw either team fail to reach 300 only once (Pakistan were bowled out for 297 chasing 352 with 19 balls left on Sunday) as the hosts successfully reeled in scores of 341, 359 and 362.
Starc expects to shoulder at least some of the death-bowling duties for Australia at the World Cup, but he'll need help from his fellow quicks if his side hopes to keep opposing sides to chaseable totals.
"That's always been a role of mine in white-ball cricket, definitely over the last few years and going back to the last World Cup as well," said Starc, the player of the tournament at the 2015 World Cup.
"We've got a number of guys in the group at the moment who can bowl really well at the death.
"Stoin (Marcus Stoinis) has taken on that role really well in recent times, Patty Cummins does a great job of it as well. And Coults (Nathan Coulter-Nile) has had to call on his death bowling as well.
"We've got a group of guys who can bowl at different stages of a game … I guess it's up to JL (coach Justin Langer) and Finchy (captain Aaron Finch) to think about tactically how he wants to see the bowlers used and where we're called upon."
2019 World Cup
Australia's squad: Aaron Finch (c), Jason Behrendorff, Alex Carey (wk), Nathan Coulter-Nile, Pat Cummins, Usman Khawaja, Nathan Lyon, Shaun Marsh, Glenn Maxwell, Kane Richardson, Steve Smith, Mitchell Starc, Marcus Stoinis, David Warner, Adam Zampa
May 22: (warm-up) Australia v West Indies, Southampton
May 25: (warm-up) England v Australia, Southampton
May 27: (warm-up) Australia v Sri Lanka, Southampton
June 9: India v Australia, The Oval
June 12: Australia v Pakistan, Taunton
June 15: Sri Lanka v Australia, The Oval
June 20: Australia v Bangladesh, Trent Bridge
June 25: England v Australia, Lord's
July 9: Semi-Final 1, Old Trafford
July 11: Semi-Final 2, Edgbaston
July 14: Final, Lord's
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE