Melbourne: Fast bowler Pat Cummins says Australia will continue to bowl bouncers at England's tail-enders during the last two tests of the Ashes cricket series despite concerns the tactic is intimidating and potentially dangerous.
Australia has already won the five-test series 3-0 and the fourth Test begins at the Melbourne Cricket Ground on Tuesday.
Cummins struck England No. 11 James Anderson on the side of the head shortly before the end of the third test at Perth, leaving a bruise on the Englishman's ear. He said on Saturday that the tactic of short-pitched bowling at tail-enders is legitimate and that he has faced more than 50 bouncers from England's pacemen in the series so far.
In a newspaper column this week, former England captain Mike Atherton called on the umpires of the fourth and fifth tests to more stringently enforce rules around intimidatory bowling.
Cummins said Australia had deliberately targeted the England tail-enders with bouncers and would continue to do so. "We think that's our best chance of getting them out," he said.
"They're all pretty competent batters. Stuart Broad's got a test match hundred and Anderson's got an 80-odd. We know we're going to cop it as well so we spend lots of time in the nets working on it. I've copped about 50 so far this series so we get back as much as we dish out."
Cummins said he was alarmed when the bouncer he bowled at Anderson in Perth struck the Englishman flush on the side of the helmet, dazing him.
"You're always concerned when someone gets hit in the head but once you find out they're OK, I think it's part of cricket," Cummins said.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland has defended Cummins and his fellow fast bowlers Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood.
"I don't think there's anything new about fast bowlers attacking tail-enders where they show an area of vulnerability," Sutherland said. "That's up to the umpires to (enforce intimidatory bowling laws). I certainly don't have any problem with fast bowlers attacking batsmen and trying to get them out."
Team officials said today that Starc will miss the Melbourne test with a bruised right heel and will be replaced by Jackson Bird, who played his most-recent test in Melbourneon Boxing Day last year.
Bird, who has 34 wickets in eight tests, is not as fast as Starc but uses the bouncer effectively.
"Being tall I don't find it a hard delivery to bowl," Bird said. "I don't think in any game of cricket we go out to intentionally hurt the opposition.
"It's something we use to get the tail-enders out as quickly and efficiently as possible. As a tai-lender I know I'm going to cop it. I do cop that in first-class cricket and I've got no worries about it."
Hazlewood will now lead the Australian attack at the MCG. "He's very disappointed," Hazlewood said of Starc.
"You do feel that extra responsibility I guess, but I've played quite a few tests without Mitch now. It feels a bit normal."