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Australia's bowling woes ahead of Ashes

Last updated on: July 8, 2009 

Australia face bowling woes

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Australia start their Ashes defence on Wednesday without a single frontline bowler who has previous Test experience in England.

On Monday their most experienced bowler Brett Lee pulled out of the first Test with a muscle tear.

Lee has taken 310 wickets in 76 Tests.

Australia's attack will be led by Mitchell Johnson.


Image: Australia's Mitchell Johnson (left) and Brett Lee during practice before the first Ashes Test
Photographs: Reuters
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A cause of concern

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Johnson, who played an important role with bat and ball in their series win over South Africa this year, a result which captain Ricky Ponting said was one of the most satisfying of his career.

"It's almost 50 test matches since the 2005 series," Ponting told a news conference on Tuesday.

"There's no doubt that there's a lot of hunger around the group, there's a lot of desire to build on things I think we started in South Africa. Our level of play over there was exceptionally high and our standards were very high."

But the left-arm seamer has never played Test cricket in England before and now faces the task of leading the Australian bowling attack in the absence of Lee.


Image: Australia's selection chairman Andrew Hilditch (left) and captain Ricky Ponting look pensive during a practice before the first Ashes Test match against England at Cardiff
Photographs: Reuters
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Clarke can be a handy spinner

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The Australians were forced on Tuesday to face life without fast bowler Brett Lee who was a certainty to return to the side following an injury break after ripping through the England Lions last week.

Lee pulled out of the first Test after a scan revealed a slight tear in his rib area.

"Brett obviously bowled beautifully last week and I think that everybody that saw him was impresssed with what he did," captain Ricky Ponting told a news conference on Tuesday.

"It's a relatively minor injury and we haven't written him out of playing in the second test. We are all keeping our fingers crossed and hopefully he will back sooner rather than later."


Image: Australia's Michael Clarke attends a training session
Photographs: Reuters
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Forget bowling, let's bat England out

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A moist atmosphere and heavy cloud cover will encourage conventional swing and may persuade Australia to play their four remaining pace bowlers Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Stuart Clark and Ben Hilfenhaus and omit the specialist spinner Nathan Hauritz.

Off-spinner Hauritz has taken just two wickets in two warmup matches at a cost of 260 runs.

The Australians took swift revenge after losing the Ashes 2-1 in England four years ago by winning the return series in Australia 5-0.

But they have lost Matthew Hayden, Justin Langer, Adam Gilchrist, Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath since.


Image: Australia's coach Tim Nielsen during practice before the first Ashes Test against England at Cardiff
Photographs: Reuters
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