ICC Men's ODI World Cup 2019
Langer puts new spin on Australia’s Cup strategy
Australia’s coach notes pre-tournament predictions of a World Cup dominated by spin have not yet come to fruition
Louis Cameron in Nottingham
19 June 2019, 08:44 AM AEST
Australia could yet return to the dual spin strategy that helped underpin their recent one-day resurgence, but Justin Langer has taken note of surprising statistics that show pace has been king at this World Cup so far.
Nathan Lyon and Adam Zampa played together in all but one of Australia’s eight straight wins leading into the tournament, but both have found themselves on the sidelines for the two most recent games.
That's in part been due to the absence of injured allrounder Marcus Stoinis, and a frontline spinner could well return to the side to take on Bangladesh on Thursday if Stoinis is able to overcome a side problem.
But Langer has also pointed to the fact that spin bowlers have found the going tough in the United Kingdom so far, in defiance of pre-tournament predictions.
"It's been pace that's dominated the tournament … That's been the trend so far and it's worked really well," Langer said.
"Over the last few years, it's been spin that's dominated one-day cricket."
Langer’s second observation had shaped much of Australia's preparation for the tournament.
Shortly after touching down in London, the squad underwent an extended centre-wicket training session where their pace bowlers didn't bowl a single ball.
Indian spin consultant Sridharan Sriram, who has become a regular on subcontinental tours, re-joined the Australian support staff for the tournament while Indian wrist-spinners Pardeep Sahu and KK Jiya have also been embedded with the team as net bowlers.
But while four of the top eight-ranked ODI bowlers are wrist-spinners, the numbers from the tournament so far reveal pacemen have enjoyed far more success than their slow-bowling counterparts.
Halfway through the tournament, fast bowlers have taken 222 wickets at average of 30.34, while spinners have managed just 62 scalps at nearly 50.
The seven individual leading wicket takers are all fast bowlers.
Australia's strategy of playing four specialist quicks, led by ace pair Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins, in recent victories over Pakistan and Sri Lanka has proven effective.
Langer noted wet weather also played a part in their tactics and suggested the Trent Bridge pitch for their game against Bangladesh appeared dry two days out from the match. Manchester’s Old Trafford, the venue for their final group match against South Africa, has a reputation for taking turn.
"That (playing four fast bowlers) might change … That was more brought upon us because Stoin became injured," said Langer.
"It's been wet, it's been overcast, the wickets get a bit drier. This one (at Trent Bridge) looks dry.
"It might change when we get to Old Trafford, for example. We might look at playing two spinners if it's a dry wicket. It's good to have those options. "
Starc, the World Cup's joint leading wicket taker with 13 scalps at 13.07, and Cummins, two spots down the list with 11 wickets at 18.81, have both had terrific tournaments to date.
While they struck with the new ball earlier in the tournament, they've done more damage through the middle overs in recent games, with skipper Aaron Finch using the pair as strike weapons against the middle and lower orders of their opponents.
"They're doing very well, they've very good bowlers," said Langer. "They've done a great job wherever they've had to bowl, (along) with the other (fast bowlers), they've helped pull us out of tight situations actually.
"Pakistan were getting the better of us at one point, we changed it around in the middle overs. Sri Lanka were 0-(87) off 10 overs and we had to pull it back.
"That's what I've been pleased about, the way our boys have been fighting, winning from all sorts of positions. That's the sign of a good team.
"There's not many wickets falling up front in this tournament.
"And the way our quicks pulled it back in the middle overs against Pakistan and Sri Lanka was brilliant. That's something for us to think about as well in these conditions (against Bangladesh)."
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
June 12: Australia beat Pakistan by 41 runs
June 15: Australia beat Sri Lanka by 87 runs
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
Sync Australia's World Cup schedule to your calendar HERE
For a full list of all World Cup fixtures, click HERE