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McDermott named Australia's bowling coach

Daniel Brettig

May 12, 2011

Comments: 11 | Text size: A | A

Craig McDermott in the Australian dressing room, April 23, 1993
Craig McDermott will be back in the Australian dressing room, this time as bowling coach © Getty Images
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Craig McDermott pipped his old pace rival Allan Donald to be the man charged with shepherding Australia's pace bowlers after they slipped to innocuous depths during the Ashes. The appointment of Troy Cooley's replacement was announced in Brisbane on Thursday after Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's head of cricket operations, had completed his final round of interviews.

"It's great to be back as part of the Australian team set-up again and I can't wait to get started working with the bowlers and the rest of the team," McDermott said. "We've got some challenging tours ahead in the coming months but I'm excited at the opportunity to be part of the group that helps get Australia back to number one in all forms of cricket."

McDermott wasted little time identifying the potentially explosive but more often wayward Mitchell Johnson as a key to the Australian team's fortunes. Johnson maintained a very close relationship with Cooley, but the countless hours they spent together did not always result in fruitful spells on the field.

"I thought Mitchell had his head in a really good space in Bangladesh," McDermott said. "If he can get it together he's like no other bowler we've got in the country. His arm speed is phenomenal and when he gets it right, he's unplayable. He was working on a couple of things in Bangladesh and if he gets it right he will bowl well and he'll be around for a long time."

In the 15 years since his retirement from international cricket in 1996, McDermott has tried various pursuits, not all of them successful. But in recent times he had worked as a pace bowling coach at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, and was taken to Bangladesh as interim pace bowling coach for Australia's short tour in April, where he gelled successfully with the players.

"Not everything is a quick fix. It's a long-term thing. Certainly I'd like to put an emphasis on that part of our bowling," McDermott said of encouraging Australia's bowlers to pursue a fuller length. "If you pitch it up you're a much better chance of getting lbws, caught behinds and clean bowleds.

"We've got more than enough (bowling) depth for Australia to be top in all three forms of the game. It's a challenging time but I enjoy a challenge."

McDermott was chosen out of an initial field that included Jason Gillespie and Andy Bichel in addition to Donald and the little-known Allister de Winter, with his previous involvement in the Australian system a major selling point. A long and successful Test career, in which he took 291 wickets across 71 matches and excelled in a wide variety of conditions, also helped.

"His impressive record as an international player, during which he successfully overcame a number of setbacks, combined with his recent record at the Cricket Australia Centre of Excellence and with the Australia team in Bangladesh, all impressed us that he was the outstanding candidate for this role," said Brown. "He will provide valuable support to the new Test Captain, Michael Clarke, coach Tim Nielsen, and the playing group."

Justin Langer, retained as batting coach the same day McDermott was appointed, quantified the Queenslander's value.

"He had an unbelievable work ethic when he played," Langer told ESPNcricinfo. "He played in an era with some great players and also a tough era. He went through the AB times and the Bobby Simpson times. That experience will be invaluable.

"I think he'll also bring quite a worldliness to the group, because he obviously went away from the cricket scene for some time and had varying degrees of fortune in his business life. He'll bring that worldliness to the group, which I think is pretty invaluable in this day and age.

"Often young professionals now, they gain this change-room existence where they come in and they become professional cricketers and all they really get to know is the change-room and their team-mates. I think any outside sources or influences who can talk to them about life after cricket and about being a good person off the field, or the different challenges that come with being a professional cricketer and the rewards that come with that, will be valuable."

Donald is now likely to remain with New Zealand where he had begun a fruitful relationship with the national side during the World Cup, while de Winter will go back to preparing the Tasmanian pace attack for their tilt at defending the Sheffield Shield title.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (May 13, 2011, 2:59 GMT)

Best of Luck Aussies...Cuz Johnson has become rather useless as a pace bowler since he rarely clocks 140kms and his wicket taking skills hav depleted.. Loved watching M.J bowl when he started, still love watching him bowl but for Australia to return to the Extreme Dominants where they won every single game the pace bowling must improve...in terms of breaking the speed barrier and wickets. Brett Lee was the Aussies last hope but he's getting old and retired from Tests and Aus need to come up with someone maintainent...

Posted by   on (May 12, 2011, 17:22 GMT)

Aussies need to change a lot, there should be more pace bowling talent than what we see in the current team...

Posted by PeteB on (May 12, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

Vijayendra, Shane Warne already has some role with Cricket Australia re helpoing our spin stocks, and that has proved remarkably successful over the last few years. He was the one that talked up the walking trivia question, Michael Beer. I doubt he has any interest in being a coach, except in India maybe. I agree with Trapper439. Waqar Younis lived in Sydney after retiring. He probably still maintains a house here. He would have been a pick worth considering, but he was no doubt not available.

Posted by fazald on (May 12, 2011, 15:18 GMT)

It is heartning to note that some of our Indian cricket fans like Vijayendra are more passionate about aussie cricket & make very good comments about improving our dwindling standards . Whatever the outcry the ACB doesn't seem to care & goes about it's business as usual & have been very slow to react despite two consecutive ashes losses, an early exit from the cricket world cup & a decline in world cricket rankings. For some reason or the other the ACB doesn't seem to have the courage to take any action to cleanup the mess. There is no excuse why aussie cricket should hit a new low despite the immense talent we have in this country.Now that we have a new fast bowling coach in Craig McDermott what about a spin bowling coach like Shane Warne? Our spin bowling attack is pretty ordinary & below test standard.

Posted by Gizza on (May 12, 2011, 13:56 GMT)

You have to remember being a good player and a good coach are too different things. Dav Whatmore would generally be regarded as a good coach but not very successful batsman himself for instance. Also remember Shane Warne is a big fan of Steve Smith's bowling unless that was just a publicity stunt.

Posted by Trapper439 on (May 12, 2011, 12:16 GMT)

I'm a bit torn about this. McDermott was one of our best bowlers during the dark times of the '80s, and he knows what it takes to lead a struggling attack, but what Australia really needs now is a fast bowling coach who understands reverse swing. We're rubbish at that. A Pakistani coach would have probably been a better choice, because those guys know reverse swing like no others. Best of luck to him though.

Posted by perl57 on (May 12, 2011, 12:09 GMT)

Craig and allan are not contemporaries. Allan started at the fag end of craig's careeer. I guess Oz have again blew it off on Craig who was only average bowler outside australia. I have seen how Indians dismantled him outside Oz. But he is a good bowler. Perhaps he will prepare some good bowlers for future. I guess Oz should have actually selected an Indian like Venky who teaches the art of swing bowling. He has given new lease of life to Zaheer and look at him now. Oz are sure for a hell hole again.

Posted by Oldbowler on (May 12, 2011, 11:22 GMT)

Lets hope the varying degrees of fortune experienced in his time away from cricket don't repeat themselves in his new role. Perhaps better to be "little known" and respected in cricket like Allister De Winter - than well known for being on the front page of The Courier Mail or on A Current Affair for the wrong reasons.

Posted by Vijayendra on (May 12, 2011, 10:31 GMT)

The ACB should get Shane Warne on board as quickly as possible for the following reasons: 1) Make him a 'Spin Coach' considering that the Aussies have dwindling spin attack. 2) Ask him to work as scout to spot spin talent in Australia. 3) Ask him to talk to the Aussie leadership group who don't know how to handle a spinner. 4) For the India series, chalk out plans in advance for the spinners and fine tune them.

Posted by Winsome on (May 12, 2011, 9:18 GMT)

We might as well chuck in the towel now if we are depending on Johnson. His 'head' will never be up to his talent.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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