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Australia training on specific skills to counter England's flat pitches

Australia's fast bowlers have been gearing up for the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2019 with a specialised training drill.

The recent one-day international series between England and Pakistan indicated yet again that pitches in England and Wales, the venue for the World Cup, could offer plenty of runs. There were five scores of over 350 in eight completed innings, with 297 being the lowest.

With that in mind, defending champions Australia, under the supervision of bowling coach Adam Griffith, have been practising hard at their training camp in Southampton to master their death-bowling skills.

Bowlers are largely focused on being spot-on with their yorkers and on countering the batsmen's trigger movement. Mitchell Starc, the left-arm pacer, revealed there was a bit of competition, with bowlers awarded points for hitting different areas.

"It was a bit of target bowling for the group. We’ve got certain cones put up for wide yorkers either side of the stumps and trying to hit that zone," Starc told cricket.com.au. "It’s something we’re working hard on because death bowling is something where you can win or lose a game or defend a total."

Starc was the leading wicket-taker at the World Cup 2015, finishing with 22 scalps in eight games
Starc was the leading wicket-taker at the World Cup 2015, finishing with 22 scalps in eight games

Starc, who lit up the ICC Men's Cricket World Cup 2015 with his fast, swinging yorkers, has not been a regular in Australia's limited-overs sides in recent times as the selectors have looked to manage his workload. Having played only four limited-overs internationals since February 2018, he rediscovered his pace and accuracy during Australia's warm-up matches against New Zealand in Brisbane earlier this month.

The 29-year-old came in for criticism for his Test bowling in the Australian home summer, but he is confident that a changed mental approach will help him regain his swing and best form during the mega-event. "Having three months to chat about things and have a little bit of a different approach to how I think about it, and perhaps the change of wording and what my cues are, have really helped me in coming to back to this stage," he said.

The defending champions will play warm-up matches against England and Sri Lanka before their campaign gets underway against Afghanistan in Bristol on 1 June.

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