Australia news May 17, 2012

McDermott's legacy must be maintained

The major requirement of Craig McDermott's successor will be to ensure that his predecessor's basic tenets are kept close to the minds of Australia's bowlers

Among the more succinct lines uttered by John Buchanan in his time as Australia's head coach was a stated desire to ultimately make himself redundant. Buchanan argued that if he was doing his job successfully, then the players under him would soon learn to make their own decisions, leaving the coach to concentrate on more strategic matters.

In less than 12 months as Australia's bowling coach, Craig McDermott has gone close to achieving this goal. He adopted a mantra simple enough to be quickly taken in by the bowlers in Australia's pace battery. It read a little something like this: be as fit as you can possibly be, pitch the ball up to allow it to swing, tempt batsmen into driving, and so open up the possibility of catches in the slips, or bowled and LBW dismissals. At the same time McDermott counselled the captain Michael Clarke to not be afraid of a few cover drives whizzing through the field, for in those runs came the promise of wickets should a batsman miscalculate.

Now that McDermott has left the job, far more quickly than many in Cricket Australia would have liked though they understand his family-oriented reasoning, his message is simple enough for it to be carried on by those same bowlers in his absence. Likewise Clarke should not need too many reminders that the drive is far from a dirty word in the field.

McDermott's exit is unfortunately timed in some respects. Most of the other outstanding candidates for such a role are now safely locked away by other national teams, England's David Saker and New Zealand's Damien Wright among them. Allan Donald is at home with South Africa, and another past applicant, Andy Bichel, is happily employed part-time as a selector with little inclination to take on the punishing schedule dictated by the job of bowling mentor.

Of the next tier, Jason Gillespie is in his first season as the coach of Yorkshire, Shane Jurgensen is coaching Bangladesh, and Joe Dawes has gone from Queensland to India via South Australia. Allister de Winter, Tasmania's bowling coach and a rival candidate to McDermott last time, has been promoted in his state to coach the Hurricanes Big Bash League team. Damien Fleming, another with the right kind of experience and approach, has carved out a career juggling media, coaching and all-round joviality that would be somewhat curtailed by full-time touring duty.

Australian newspapers will today carry an advertisement for the position of bowling coach, emphasising the role's importance and the characteristics required by anyone wishing to apply. If there is anything the new man can add to the mix it is a more varied approach to the challenges of bowling in limited-overs matches: McDermott's methods proved to be just the thing Australia needed in Test matches, but in ODIs and Twenty20s a certain inconsistency remains. That task will likely be handled by staff rotated through the Centre of Excellence on Australia's next tour, to Ireland and England for six one-day matches.

The major requirement of McDermott's successor will be to ensure that his predecessor's basic tenets are kept close to the minds and training patterns of the bowlers. Peter Siddle and James Pattinson must be reminded of the success they enjoyed by bowling full and swinging it, Ben Hilfenhaus kept committed to the strong body action and subtle variations at the crease that make his outswinger doubly dangerous, Ryan Harris reminded that it is just fine to be pushed down the ground every now and then. Younger bucks like Mitchell Starc and Pat Cummins will need a mentor to take them through the butterflies and doubts of their early steps in the international game, and in this area another coach with a Test match past would help.

McDermott, of course, will not be lost entirely to the Australian set-up. He will still work as a consultant at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane, giving him the chance to influence the development of Australia's younger quicks, much as he did before assuming the more senior role. In this he will be able to continue imbuing the young with the same simple lessons he brought with refreshing directness to the national team. Even though McDermott will no longer be able to perch himself watchfully at the long on fence, as he commonly did during the past year, his influence will remain.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Andrew on May 20, 2012, 23:20 GMT

    @hyclass- just like to point out that it was under Buchannan that Hodges/Rogers & DHussey were first shunned. As per the Chris Rogers article that appeared on this site recently, golf professionals require coaches, they also require caddies advising them how to play a hole/course. I agree that superficially speaking, bowling is not rocket science, (at least for Thommo who used to just let it go "whang"), but players in all sports need some form of 3rd party analysis. I think some of what has been written about Craig Mac varies between simplistic & folklore, however, there are some fundamentals that he did re-introduce. For example, it has been well documented that the "Victorian way" is to bang it in short of a length. Both Pattinson & Siddle have acknowledged that CMac, implored them to change their lengths & it has appeared to bear fruit. Hilfy can be said to have recived a lot of coaching after the Ashes at Tassie, so how much can be accredited to CMac is debatable-point is coached!

  • Ramesh on May 19, 2012, 8:11 GMT

    Prasad has more test wickets than many of the other candidates mentioned in this article..He has already beeen the bowling coach of India and was responsible for moulding Ishant Sharma... If Mushtaq Ahmed can coach England Team why cant Prasad be the coach Aus..

  • Mark on May 19, 2012, 7:22 GMT

    McDermott did an absolutely fantastic job to revitalise the Aus bowling attack, assisted ably with good captaincy by Clarke. Pity he is not going to be around for the huge series coming up against SA & Eng, because it's bowlers that win matches.

  • Wicky on May 19, 2012, 5:48 GMT

    Yes venkatesh would b gd only if aussies want to b thrashd apart home n away in all formats

  • Christopher on May 19, 2012, 4:15 GMT

    Imagine having to tell a professional that when he bowls, he's supposed to..wait for it-think about where he bowls it! How many options does he really have?Buchanan's legacy is the that of intelligence,not technique,that continues to go unheeded.Under the old system,players were selected on long term performance.No other theories were necessary because all that mattered was results in 1st class cricket.It created an atmosphere of certainty and competition that has ceased to exist. Only in the last 5 years has the observation of this timeless tenet been ignored. To do so,it has required those in charge to develop policies that twist facts to fit theories instead of the reverse. It co-incides with the hurried introduction of BBL in Australia. It includes,the technique,fitness and age myths and has seen those at CA publicly villifying the Shield,curators,players,Institutes,Test cricket & has seen the Argus Review.Make 1st class performance over time the metier & all else falls into place

  • khadeer on May 19, 2012, 3:26 GMT

    tearawayquick must surely be joking mate.

  • Dummy4 on May 19, 2012, 2:12 GMT

    Pick a West Indian, Australia. We have Andy Roberts, Wesley Hall, Colin Croft, Michael Holding, and of course Otis Gibson, who most likely will be available soon. You know Aussies, the West Indies perfected the art of fast bowling. Just ask Kim Hughes.

  • Ramesh on May 18, 2012, 23:21 GMT

    Venkatesh Prasad should be available after the IPL season...

  • Subba on May 18, 2012, 13:30 GMT

    In a situation of plenty what's the fuss about? 1. Ryan Harris 2. Pattinson 3. Peter Siddle 4. Pat Cummins 5. Starc 6. Mitchell JOhnson 7. Brett Lee. That's 7 quickies who can break down any over. But the Oz need three at a time.That should be manageable.But Pattinson has already slowed down after return and Cummins most probably should be slower too.Management for Mcdermott is all about injury management rather than any skill improvement.

  • Rajaram on May 18, 2012, 11:14 GMT

    John Buchanan was the BEST Coach EVER in Cricket History. To see that Crag McDermott is followed his footsteps in builfding the Fast Bowling Stocks is heartening.Yes,we need a good bowling coach - maybe two - one for fast bowling, the other for spin.How about David Saker or Ali deWinter for fast bowling and Sturat Macgill or Brad Hogg for spin?

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