David Saker backs England bowlers to make splash at Twenty20 World Cup
David Saker likes what he has seen from England’s bowling attack in Pakistan and has backed them to make a splash at the Twenty20 World Cup.
Saker crossed the Ashes divide to mentor England’s seamers between 2010 and 2015 and has rejoined the white-ball team as a short-term consultant ahead of this month’s tournament in his native Australia.
He has been working closely with the team over the course of an entertaining back-and-forth series in Karachi and Lahore, with the score locked at 3-3 heading into Sunday’s decider, and believes they are well placed.
Saker, who most recently worked under Mickey Arthur with Sri Lanka, nodded at wider scepticism over the depth of the England unit but is enthusiastic about the players at his disposal.
“There was a little bit of talk that the options weren’t as broad as some other teams, but I’m pretty confident we’re in a really good space with our bowlers,” he told Sky Sports.
“I think they’re in really good health. We’ve got left and right-arm options, we’ve got Mark Wood with a bit of pace and we’ve got spin options. At World Cups you need as many options as you can have and I’ve been really impressed by the guys out here.
“I think, number one, you are looking for wickets as many times as you can. If you are attacking the top of the stumps you’ll get some movement at different times.
“We’ve used our bouncer really well here and got some wickets with it. In Australia you can use your bouncer a bit more, get a lot more pace out of it. At times you might get hit further but it’s a good wicket option for us.”
England would love to get another game out of Wood as they look for a winning conclusion to their first series on Pakistani turf in 17 years, but are managing his return to action cautiously.
He spent six months on the sidelines recovering from elbow surgery but in two appearances on the trip he has been electric, hitting 97mph in his first game and 96mph in the second. Saker has long been an advocate of express pace Down Under but never had anyone as rapid as the Durham quick during his previous stint with England.
“Mark is going to be pretty special, he’s been bowling some seriously quick overs for us,” he said.
“Obviously he is going to be a pretty important weapon for us throughout the World Cup, with his pace. But he’s been out all summer back home so we have to make sure we’re looking after him.”
The 56-year-old Victorian, reflecting on his return to England colours, added: “It’s good to be back, it brings back some good memories of my first time around. It was a fantastic experience.
“I was sitting on my bum back home, not doing much, (head coach Matthew Mott) just rang me up and said ‘what do you think?’. I said it would be great. I loved my first time with England, it was a great experience.”
Mott has already used 17 players in the past six matches, including three debutants, but with a series on the line he may see it as an unnecessary gamble to blood the untried Jordan Cox or Tom Helm.
Captain Jos Buttler also looks likely to continue watching on from the sidelines rather than rush his comeback from a calf injury. That leaves Moeen Ali to finish the job as stand-in captain.
“We’re hoping for another great game. The series is tied at 3-3, it’s been brilliant so far and we’ve learned a lot about each other,” said the all-rounder.
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