JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
The race to support the Big Three
We take a look at which seam bowler is next in line behind Australia's Big Three of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins
15 November 2018, 04:23 PM AEST
The coming round of JLT Sheffield Shield could provide some clarity around which fast bowler is the next in line behind Australia’s Big Three fast bowlers ahead of a long summer of cricket that will include six Tests in just two months.
Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins will all play for New South Wales against Queensland at Manuka Oval during the round of Shield cricket that commences on Friday and the trio are all likely to feature in the Australia XI that takes on India in the first Domain Test that starts in Adelaide on December 6.
But Australia would be likely to name a fourth fast bowler in their first-Test squad as cover, which would give an indication as to which player is next in line should one of the Big Three suffer an injury during a gruelling summer.
Jackson Bird (13 Shield wickets at an average of 18.23)
Bird has often been included in Australia’s squads as cover for his fellow paceman and can always be relied upon to bowl at an excellent line and length. And his form this season shows he is more than ready to return to the top level, with his 13 wickets at an average of 18 placing him fifth in the list of Shield wicket-takers this campaign. The Tasmanian has done the job for his country previously, too, having picked up 34 wickets at an average of 30 from nine Tests for Australia.
Scott Boland (24 Shield wickets at an average of 13.12)
No player has more scalps at Sheffield Shield level this season, with the Victorian having already picked up an impressive 24 wickets at an average of 13 through three games for his state. Boland has played 14 ODI's and three Twenty20's for his country, but has never featured for Australia with the red ball, but teammate Marcus Harris says the right-armer is ready for more higher honours. “This is the best I’ve ever seen him bowl,” Harris said on Thursday. “He’s definitely hitting the bat harder and making the ball talk. He’s one to look out for. I think if something ever happened to one of the Big Three in the Aussie set-up, he’d be a bloke to look out for.”
Trent Copeland (16 Shield wickets at an average of 16.31)
The NSW veteran hasn't played a Test for Australia in more than seven years, but he appears to be in career best form this Shield season. The 32-year-old has 16 Shield scalps at a miserly average of 16 and importantly has a low economy rate of just 2.25 runs per over. The Test landscape has changed a lot since Copeland last played Test cricket for Australia against Sri Lanka in Colombo in 2011, but you can be assured Copeland won't hold anything back if given another chance.
Joe Mennie (17 Shield wickets at an average of 15.58)
It's been just over two years since Mennie played his one and only Test and, on form this Shield season, he deserves to be right in the mix for an Australia call-up again. Mennie has 17 scalps through three games for South Australia - only Boland has more wickets - and his economy rate of 2.44 is less than many of his more fancied bowling rivals.
Peter Siddle (two Shield wickets at an average of 40)
With Hazlewood and Cummins recovering from injury, Siddle played for Australia during their most recent Test series against Pakistan in the UAE and performed admirably in unfavourable conditions. Siddle only picked up three wickets during the two-Test series, but his economy rate of 2.60 at least provided Australia captain Tim Paine the option of having a bowler keeping things tight at one end. Siddle picked up two wickets for Victoria during their most recent Sheffield Shield clash against South Australia and will take on Tasmania this weekend.
Chris Tremain (17 Shield wickets at an average of 21.17)
Not many quicks can boast the consistency that Tremain has found in recent years and the tall Victorian has the stats to back it up. Tremain has 17 Shield wickets at an average of 21 this season, including five-wicket hauls against New South Wales and Western Australia. Tremain has played four ODIs previously for Australia, but never any red-ball cricket for his country.