JLT Sheffield Shield 2018-19
Reviewing the best Shield bowlers to date
We take a look at the standout performers with ball in hand after two rounds of first-class domestic action
29 October 2018, 04:15 PM AEST
While the performances of Australia's domestic batters have been heavily scrutinised over the past fortnight, the efforts of the bowlers in the Sheffield Shield have perhaps been overlooked.
As Australia's well-documented batting issues continue to give the national selectors sleepless nights, the bowling stocks remain strong and dependable.
When all fit, the NSW Blues quartet of Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Pat Cummins and Nathan Lyon remains Australia's first-choice Test attack. That same unit played in seven of the nine Tests last summer (five home Ashes Tests, four away to South Africa).
But as we know, bowling is hazardous occupation. Fast bowling in particular is quite literally a back-breaking vocation. Just ask Hazlewood and Cummins, the duo who missed the Test tour of the UAE due to back injuries.
Fortunately, a handful of bowlers have excelled in the opening rounds of this season's JLT Sheffield Shield should a Test spot become available.
Starting with a pair of Victorians, pacemen Scott Boland and Chris Tremain lead the wicket-takers tally after two rounds with 15 scalps apiece.
Boland claimed 7-129 against Western Australia last week and backed that effort up with 6-49 in Victoria's comprehensive innings victory over NSW at the MCG.
Slingy right-armer Tremain starred at the WACA Ground with 9-137 and followed that feat with 5-47 against the Blues. The pair has each had a taste of international cricket in the 50-over format and have been on the fringes of Test selection.
While the Victorian new-ball tandem are yet to don the Baggy Green, Tasmania's Jackson Bird has nine Test caps to his name.
The lithe quick picked up 10-77 in the first-round win over Queensland at the Gabba, which included his 300th first-class victim.
But just as Bird was flying, a tight hamstring grounded the paceman in Perth on Saturday and frustratingly forced him from the field. The 31-year-old will be monitored closely and the Tigers will be hoping their spearhead is available for their next Shield clash against the Blues at the SCG from November 5.
From a full-fledged career to one that's fledgling, boom WA seamer Cameron Green has made a big splash to start the summer.
In two outings he's collected 10 wickets, of which nine came against Bird's Tigers. His match figures of 9-42 were recorded from 25.4 overs, including 3-12 from 14.3 overs in Tasmania's second innings.
The 19-year-old's strike rate of 23.2 and economy rate of 2.06 is the lowest in the competition.
Another miserly fast bowler has been South Australia's Joe Mennie, the one-Test quick who is conceding just 2.13 runs per over.
Mennie has 11 wickets to boot, with a best of 5-39 in his first innings of the season against the Blues on home turf.
Two other swing specialists with Test experience are among the summer's best bowlers; NSW's Trent Copeland with 12 wickets and South Australia's Chadd Sayers with 10.
Those have been the standout quicks with double-digit wickets. No spinner is yet to claim 10 victims, but Redbacks red-headed leggie Lloyd Pope has nine and has made quite an impression.
In just his second game, the 18-year-old captured 7-87 against the Bulls at Adelaide Oval, the youngest bowler to take a seven-wicket haul in Shield history.
But his rapid rise was followed by a quick reality check when he went wicketless, 0-101 from 34 overs, as Queensland batted 138 overs in the second innings to secure a draw.
Pope's captain Travis Head was impressed by the youngster but has warned against expecting too much from his new recruit.
"He's a young guy, he's continuing to work on his craft," Head said. "In the first innings he bowled exceptionally well.
"And in the second innings I think he bowled well, he bowled some good balls, but he just needs to do it for a long period of time.
"That will come with age ... he will become more consistent with his leg-breaks.
"He bowled well in periods but you don't expect the world from an 18-year-old."