South Australia season preview October 12, 2007

Redbacks want their backyard in order

South Australia have a new on-field leader with Nathan Adcock taking over from Darren Lehmann as the captain © Getty Images

South Australia should be feeling positive about the approaching season and at least things can't go much worse than last summer. The Redbacks have a new coach and a new captain and it's hardly surprising they are looking forward rather than back. Sensibly, they are also making no wild predictions about 2007-08.

"I'm not focusing too much on outcomes and results at this stage," the new captain Nathan Adcock said. "We need to get our backyard in order and then let the outcomes take care of themselves."

Getting their backyard in shape has been such a lengthy and ongoing process that not even Jamie Durie could make it an overnight job. South Australia were on the bottom of the Pura Cup table throughout last season and their only win came in the final game. They fared a bit better in the one-day competition where their five victories placed them fourth.

Off-field problems were equally worrying in 2006-07. There was concern from within the South Australia camp that a partying culture existed when the players were on the road and questions were raised over the squad's leadership. Jason Gillespie was upset the team's administrators mentioned the problems in the media and while all this was happening the Redbacks kept losing.

This year they have expanded their squad to 29 including rookies and Adcock expects that to help the team's drive. "The boys have been immaculate in their pre-season preparation," he said. "With the competition that's on for places, people know that they can't let themselves down on or off the field."

Mark Sorell has taken over as the head coach and Kym Harris is overseeing the batting department. Harris' role presents a particular challenge as only three Redbacks scored Pura Cup centuries last season. Adcock said the coaching changes had already had an impact with more individual attention fore each player.

"We've been doing a great deal of batting volume work with real purpose," he said. "The other thing we've tried to implement after that is a very intense competition scenario. So whether it's in the nets or centre-wicket, it's a really competitive situation between the batsmen and bowlers. We've tried to make it as close to a match situation as we can."

Bowling has been less of a concern in recent years, with Shaun Tait and Gillespie carrying the pace burden and Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey making a handy spin duo. Tait could see more national action in 2007-08 and there is also a chance Bailey or Cullen will be called up, but Adcock is confident with the attack's depth.

"It's fair to say our bowling record in the previous years has been a strong point for us," he said. "I couldn't be more excited if we have to delve deeper into our bowling stocks because guys are playing for Australia."

The Redbacks are dangerous when Shaun Tait leads the attack but he is likely to have more national responsibilities this summer © Getty Images

The newly-retired Greg Blewett and the fast bowler Trent Kelly, who transferred to Western Australia, were the only departures from last year's senior list. Peter George has been added to the fast-bowling group while Tom Plant and Jason Borgas will boost the top order.

The major on-field change is the captaincy handover after nine years of Darren Lehmann's leadership. Adcock has no intention of copying Lehmann's style but is pleased his predecessor will be on hand to bounce ideas off. He also knows that after such a lean 2006-07 the Redbacks cannot expect things to turn around immediately.

"I'd really like to measure [our success] on two things," Adcock said. "If we can be seen to have improved, individually and as a group, that's a step forward. And if we're really competitive and neck-deep in four-day games on the last day, then we can hopefully get things going our way."

Captain Nathan Adcock
Coach Mark Sorell

Squad Nathan Adcock, Cullen Bailey, Cameron Borgas, Jason Borgas, Ben Cameron, Mark Cleary, Mark Cosgrove, Dan Cullen, Shane Deitz, Matthew Elliott, Callum Ferguson, Peter George, Jason Gillespie, Daniel Harris, Ryan Harris, Darren Lehmann, Graham Manou, Tom Plant, Gary Putland, Paul Rofe, Shaun Tait. Rookies Jake Brown, Andy Delmont, Jason Donnelly, Jake Haberfield, Simon Roberts, Chadd Sayers, Ken Skewes, Jamie Smith.

2006-07 results Pura Cup 6th, FR Cup 4th, Twenty20 4th.

Brydon Coverdale is an editorial assistant on Cricinfo