Australian bowlers in race for pace spots

Associated Press

London, July 19:

Australia’s fast bowling cartel is a close bunch. It’s just as well. On Thursday when the first Ashes Test gets underway against England, someone’s going to be left out. With Glenn McGrath in excellent form and Brett Lee poised to return to Test cricket for the first time in 18 months, Jason Gillespie and Michael Kasprowicz are competing for the remaining place. Lee took five wickets in the last tour match and believes Australia is in a strong position as it looks to retain the Ashes against the strongest England side for years. “The FBC — the fast bowling cartel — as the boys call it, we’re a very tight knit unit and it’s sometimes tough when you read in the paper that we’re competing for that one spot,” Lee said. The 28-year-old knows just how hard a bowler has to work to break into the Australian team. He looked set to make a comeback in New Zealand this year but was overlooked for Kasprowicz.

Gillespie and Kasprowicz struggled early on tour, but have come into form. Kasprowicz has an advantage in terms of his ability to bowl with the old ball, but Gillespie’s impressive Test record against England — 62 wickets at 25.59 in 15 matches — could help him hold his spot.

Gillespie, who took just four wickets in seven one-dayers against England this summer compared to Kasprowicz’s five from three matches, feels that if he is the one to be dumped, he can turn to his pace rivals for support. “Whoever gets a berth out of any of us is going to do a great job, and whoever misses out will get the support and will be supporting the guys that are there, and that’s the beauty of the Australian side,” Gillespie said. A demonstration of that support came from McGrath as the team settled into its London base and prepared to defend the Ashes it has held since 1989. “I’ve had a few chats with Dizz (Gillespie) and he’s kept reassuring me that he’s feeling good, he’s coming up well, the body’s great, so it’s just a matter of getting enough balls in the right area,” McGrath said.