PERTH, Australia – Fast bowling great Dennis Lillee has questioned the workrate of Australia's current crop of quicks after injury and fatigue sidelined several pacemen ahead of the final South Africa Test.
Speaking to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation during the third and deciding Test in Perth, Lillee said the home team's fast bowling injury woes could be traced to their inadequate preparation.
Australia were forced to change all three of their frontline bowlers for Perth, with Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus both ruled out due to fatigue after the gruelling second Test in Adelaide.
James Pattinson has been sidelined for the rest of the summer with a side injury suffered in Adelaide – his fourth breakdown this year – with fellow young quick Pat Cummins also out with a back injury.
And all-rounder and Australian vice-captain Shane Watson missed the first two Tests of the series due to injury.
Lillee, who recovered from potentially career-ending back injuries to claim a then-record 355 Test wickets in 70 Tests for Australia, said current fast bowlers were not getting enough miles in their legs on the training track.
“If I had a squad of fast bowlers myself at the moment you can bet they would be doing a hell of a lot more running and pushing themselves into the deck a bit more,” Lillee said.
“You don't stop running, running is your game, running is fast bowling. Obviously you've got to be able to bowl, but running is what gets you there.
“If you've got a good base there that's terrific, but you've got to keep that motor going and keep that fitness up during the season. I think that's where a lot probably do fall away.”
Lillee, famously coached in his running style by sprinter and Australian Rules footballer Austin Robertson, said he never missed an opportunity to do extra work.
“I'd put the runners on and go for a run while guys were batting,” he said.
“I'd have to bowl the next day but I'd still go for a five or six-kilometre run. I didn't do that once every 10 or 15 days, I did it regularly.”
Lillee said he had been shocked by the absence of Siddle and Hilfenhaus for the third Test.
“I would've thought as a professional sportsman knowing what's coming up and what events you have, you'd prepare accordingly. You set yourself for a number of Tests in a period of time.” – Sapa-AFP