Chris Gayle can expect plenty of short balls from the Australian bowlers.
Chris Gayle can expect plenty of short balls from the Australian bowlers.

Aussies plan bouncer blitz to rock Windies

AUSTRALIAN will target Chris Gayle and Andre Russell with a barrage of short balls, giving the West Indies a taste of their own spicy medicine in Nottingham on Thursday night.

Fiery quicks Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins unloaded plenty of bumpers against Afghanistan yesterday with bodyline-type bowling fast emerging as the deadliest weapon at the World Cup.

Short balls accounted for 20 of the first 26 wickets taken by pace bowlers and Australia has received a data pack that shows Russell's weakness against those deliveries.

While the sample size is small, Russell has been knocked over by plenty of bumpers whereas he usually middles anything pitched full.

"You've got to give it to the Windies, otherwise they just get on the front foot and (hammer) you everywhere," third seamer Nathan Coulter-Nile said.

"We'll definitely give it to them, but we'll give it to every team. The grounds are so small (in England) and the wickets are generally flat so you've got to use your bumpers when you can."

Gayle, 39, is averaging a career-best 94.8 in 2019 and is playing his fifth and final World Cup.

But excluding the minnows that Gayle has rarely faced, Australia is the only country the self-proclaimed "Universe Boss" has never scored an ODI century against.

Pat Cummins appears assured a place in the Australian line-up for the first Test. Picture: AP
Pat Cummins appears assured a place in the Australian line-up for the first Test. Picture: AP

He has four tons against both England and India but just 70 runs from his past nine innings against the Aussies.

The veteran barely bothers running between the wickets anymore, with 244 out of his past 289 runs coming from fours and sixes.

"He's still smacking them but he is getting older," Coulter-Nile said.

"I don't know if he's faced too much of Starcy and Patty recently but they're bowling quick so we'll see if he handles that early," Coulter-Nile said.

"If Starcy can just knock his off pole out that'll be easy. It's just building pressure - you know he's going to hit your good balls for four and your bad balls for six.

"Just keep bowling as many good balls as you can and we'll stick a few up them, definitely."

Australia's last visit to Trent Bridge saw them concede a world-record 481 against England last year.

But Thursday's clash shapes as one of the tournament's most mouth-watering, given the West Indies' explosive firepower at a tiny venue.

The Windies skittled Pakistan for just 105 on Friday as Russell claimed 2/4 from three overs. His first 16 deliveries were bouncers, pitching further than 8m from the stumps.

But Starc might have a touch more sizzle than the West Indies attack. Starc has easily hit 150km and, so far, he is the fastest bowler in the World Cup.

Nathan Coulter-Nile has issued a warning to the West Indies on behalf of Australia’s quicks. Picture: Getty
Nathan Coulter-Nile has issued a warning to the West Indies on behalf of Australia’s quicks. Picture: Getty

Coulter-Nile warned Gayle that the Aussies would be "aggressive" at Gayle and try to "dot him up".

"If he gets through that … Zamps has got a few big scalps recently so hopefully he can keep going for us."

Cummins - who has never played an ODI against Gayle - predicted last week that the bouncer would be a crucial wicket-taking delivery given the lack of swing in England.

Captain Aaron Finch said it was no surprise teams were loading up with bouncers.

"If people keep pitching it up, you are asking for trouble," he said.

While Australia's data also showed England had produced the least swing out of all ODI countries this century, Marcus Stoinis said he found some in the middle overs against Afghanistan.

"There was still a little bit of swing, which is unusual apparently it hasn't been swinging here," he said.