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Alarming new statistics show Australia had the second-worst death bowlers in world cricket during the past year.

Don't snigger. The most expensive award officially goes to: New Zealand.

Courier-Mail cricket writer Robert Craddock unveiled the statistics under the headline: "Last overs are the death of us." They clearly show which area needs the most attention for the Chappell-Hadlee series combatants as they depart for the World Cup in the Caribbean.

In one-day international matches played since the start of 2006, New Zealand bowlers conceded an average of 6.68 runs per over in the last 10 overs of the innings. Australia, who played 10 more one-day internationals in that period, just avoided the wooden spoon with an economy rate of 6.64. The winners were the West Indies, who conceded 5.85 runs per over at the death.

Clearly the 300-plus runfests in the second and third Chappell-Hadlee matches this month boosted New Zealand and Australia's numbers but there was still concern among the world champions who depart for the World Cup tomorrow.

"It is a matter of making sure we do all the homework and do specific training for the team we are about to play," said Australian coach John Buchanan.

"That is a major area for us to concentrate on. If you are getting belted around the park all the time you have lost confidence. It comes back to being very clear on our opposition."

Sri Lanka's Chaminda Vaas is rated the worst death bowler since the start of 2006, conceding 8.05 runs per over while bowling in the last 10.

Australia had three bowlers in the worst six, with Stuart Clark second on 7.90, Nathan Bracken fifth on 7.08 and the now-injured Brett Lee sixth on 7.07.

Said Buchanan of his current bowlers: "There is a bit of ego battered more than anything else. At the moment it highlights our defence - it's something we have to get right."

At the other end, New Zealand had two entries in the top-10 leading death bowlers, and Australia none.

Spinner Daniel Vettori was seventh with 5.92 runs per over and paceman Shane Bond 10th at 6.46.

Interestingly, two spinners topped the list, with Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan and India's Harbhajan Singh both conceding 4.76 per over.
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