The coaching debate February 6, 2006

Buchanan tells Simpson to stay with the times


Bob Simpson was Australia's first full-time coach © John Dawson

The former Australian coach Bob Simpson should change with the times and understand the role of the modern-day coach, according to John Buchanan. Simpson, 70, who was inducted into Cricket Australia's Hall of Fame on Monday, has criticised contemporary coaches' methods and said they should spend less time behind the laptop analysing statistics and more time developing players' ability.

Simpson was appointed Australia's first full-time coach two decades ago and his ability to transform a struggling cricket nation to a World-Cup winning side within a couple of years was credited as the start of Australia's resurgence as a power. Although a fan of using video analysis for reviewing players' techniques, Simpson questioned the effectiveness of computer analysis.

"We've got all the computers and we've got everything like that and you'd think that you'd get your fielding positions perfect wouldn't you?," Simpson said. "You should know where the ball is. Why do we have two men behind square leg? Why do we have no one at third man for so long when something like 25-30% of all runs are scored at third man?"

But Buchanan, a former university lecturer who guided Australia to a successful World Cup defence in 2003 and kept the side on top of the Test rankings, hit back at Simpson's criticism."I think sometimes people make comments out of ignorance," Buchanan told AAP. "I really just think people don't understand what the role of the coach is now. It's evolving with new technology. It doesn't mean what was done before was wrong.

"For those people who choose to criticise they should spend some time with the team and try to come to terms with what's required." Buchanan, 52, said the Australian Cricket Board (now Cricket Australia) desperately needed a mentor to put Allan Border's young side "back on the right path" in the mid-1980s. "They found in Bobby Simpson the right person to do that," he said. "He was Australia's first coach and basically got Australian cricket back on track and I think that was a major achievement. He should be praised because he established the role."