Trent Bridge torment: Aussies back at scene of thrashings
NOTTINGHAM, England (AP) — Walking through the gates at Trent Bridge, Australia's cricketers could be forgiven if they got the shivers.
To say the Nottingham venue has not been a happy hunting ground for the Australians in recent years would be something of an understatement.
In their last two appearances here, they were bowled out for 60 — Australia's seventh-lowest test score ever — in an innings defeat to England in the 2015 Ashes series; then they were smashed for a world-record 481-6 by England in a 242-run loss in a one-day international last year.
"Just before we turned up to training, a few boys talked about their previous experiences here," Australia captain Aaron Finch said Wednesday, "which obviously haven't been overly pleasant."
Australia's players aren't likely to get an easy ride on their latest trip to Trent Bridge, either.
Awaiting them Thursday is a West Indies team which seems intent on rolling back the years at the Cricket World Cup, with an aggressive pace attack looking to rough up opposition batsmen with short-pitch bowling — just like in the glory days of the 1970s and '80s. That tactic proved too much for Pakistan, which was bounced out for 105 at this venue last week with six wickets coming from deliveries short of a length.
Australia can expect more of the same.
"We have prepared for it," Finch said. "We played them in a warm-up game down at Southampton and they bowled very similar. Obviously they had a lot of success with it in the last game and got off to a really good start. I expect they will come with a similar type plan."
Australia's attack, headlined by quicks Pat Cummins and Mitchell Starc, isn't exactly short of pace and aggression so this could yet prove to be a match — played on the same strip that England achieved the world record — where most of the intrigue actually lies in the bowling.
"We tend to formulate our plans to each batter," said West Indies captain Jason Holder, who was giving little away about anything Wednesday. "If the situation is where we feel the batsman might be susceptible to the short ball, then we're going to use it. If there's a situation where that's not the case then we find our other alternatives. It's not just stuck on the short ball."
Both teams are coming off seven-wicket wins to open their World Cup campaigns — Australia's over Afghanistan and West Indies' over Pakistan — and have had a nice break between their first and second outings.
The six-day turnaround allowed West Indies pair Chris Gayle (back) and Andre Russell (left knee) to get over their respective ailments that were aggravated against Pakistan. Holder said he expects both players to start against the Australians, who have won nine of their last 10 official ODI matches against the Windies dating back to 2013, and neither player appeared in obvious discomfort as they batted in the nets Wednesday.
All the suggestions from news conferences held this week is that Australia will be unchanged, so Steve Smith and David Warner will get a second go in front of English crowds likely to throw more boos and jeers their way after their involvement in last year's ball-tampering scandal in South Africa.
Both players already appear to be in decent nick after serving 12-month bans, with Warner hitting an unusually patient 89 not out against Afghanistan. His strike rate was just 78.07 and there was no real attempt to rush to what could have been the first century of the tournament.
"Good sign, isn't it?" Australia coach Justin Langer said. "David Warner gets 89 out and didn't hit many in the middle and his feet weren't moving like they could be. That's a good sign for me.
"You can see the look in his eyes. A lot of people are talking — he looks determined."
Warner and the rest of the batsmen are likely to target the shortest boundary at Trent Bridge that is 65 meters from the strip. That's what England's record breakers did here last year and it proved difficult to defend.
"When teams have left- and right-hand combinations, they have always got somebody able to target that boundary so that's something that will be taken into account no doubt," said Finch, one of the bigger hitters in the Australia side.
One benefit from the have losses the Australians have received in Nottingham is that they at least know a bit more about the wicket and the ground at Trent Bridge.
"We're in the home changing rooms (too)," Finch said with a smile, "which is a first for everyone and which is nice."
Steve Douglas is at www.twitter.com/sdouglas80