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Bowling coach 'a tough job to fill' - Damien Fleming

Brydon Coverdale

June 1, 2012

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Peter Siddle tosses the ball to Ben Hilfenhaus, England v Australia, 2nd Test, Lord's, 1st day, July 16, 2009
Australia's bowlers are waiting to find out who their new mentor will be © AFP
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The former fast bowler Damien Fleming believes Australia will struggle to find a bowling coach with international playing experience to replace Craig McDermott. Cricket Australia is on the hunt for a new mentor for the attack after McDermott resigned last month having served only a year in the position, citing the heavy touring demands as a reason for his decision.

It is those travelling requirements - Australia have four overseas series and six home Tests before next year's long Ashes tour - that Fleming believes might dissuade former internationals. Instead, he thinks it could be men with solid first-class credentials such as the Tasmania bowling coach Ali de Winter, who helped rebuild Ben Hilfenhaus' action, and the former Victoria and Tasmania player Damien Wright, now a mentor with New Zealand, who could be the front-runners.

Fleming has a young family and said he was not interested in such a full-time role at this stage, and he is not the only former Test bowler to rule himself out. Andy Bichel was interviewed before McDermott's appointment last year but has already declared himself out of the running this time, preferring to split his time between his part-time roles as an Australia selector and the Chennai Super Kings bowling coach.

"It's a tough one to fill, I think," Fleming told ESPNcricinfo. "The guys being thrown around are more the guys who didn't play international cricket, but guys who have been in the system for a while. Ali de Winter has been in the system for years and what a great job he did with Hilf. Damien Wright gets good reports and he's with New Zealand at the moment. Even what David Saker has done with England.

"The role is probably more attractive for guys who haven't played a lot of international cricket. It would be exciting [for them] to be part of an elite coaching setup. Guys who have played for Australia know what it's like to be away for ten months of the year. The guys from my era probably have young families. When I think of bowling coaching I think of Warne, McGrath, Gillespie, Kasprowicz, Bichel, those types, but they're probably all in the same boat as myself."

Kasprowicz is a Cricket Australia board member and Gillespie has commitments as the head coach of Yorkshire, and while landing Warne or McGrath would be a dream for CA, it is unlikely either would be interested in the role. Fleming said his choice would have been Gillespie, who coached the Rhinos in Zimbabwe's domestic competition before moving to England.

"If you're looking at an ideal candidate who'll tick the boxes you'd want a great fast bowler who played 70 or 80 Tests and was very good in one-day cricket," Fleming said. "Maybe someone who has had some setbacks, maybe they've had to come back from injuries or poor form and had great skills and are able to pass them on. How many people like that are there around? There's not a lot.

"I would have liked Jason Gillespie, but he's signed a three year deal as Yorkshire's coach, so he's not going to turn around on that. Personally I like what Dizzy has done. He's done it the hard way, he's gone and been a head coach in Zimbabwe and now he's doing that in Yorkshire. But he's only young, so maybe after a few years he might be in a position to want to bring the family home and do it."

Whoever wins the job will be tasked with continuing the development of a bowling group with plenty of youth - James Pattinson, Pat Cummins, Mitchell Starc - along with several men with mid-range experience, such as Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle. Despite the inexperience of the younger bowlers, Fleming said the new bowling coach should be less concerned with technique and more focused on the mental and tactical side.

"Generally you don't lose physical skills and you don't lose talent, but you lose confidence," he said. "Those fast-bowling coaches who can get in there and get to know their players, and walk down to fine leg and have a quick chat to get them back on track, that's worth hundreds of thousands of dollars, as opposed to waiting until the game is over, doing an assessment. We want coaching in real time.

"For those elite bowlers at the moment, hopefully their skills and techniques are well and truly up to international cricket. It's more about keeping their confidence up and pushing them tactically and how they change formats, the way you train for Test cricket will be different to T20, so your coaching methods need to be flexible as well."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by whatawicket on (June 4, 2012, 14:39 GMT)

i would go for waqar get those aussie bowlers to reverse the bowl. troy cooley it was said got the poms quicks to do it, but his own countrymen could just could not do it. waqar could just be the man for you.

Posted by te_ak on (June 4, 2012, 13:06 GMT)

whats needed is to teach these new young fast aggressive quicks [cummins, patterson, etc.] accuracy, to land every ball on a penny...

someone like stuart clark would be good...

thats what i see as the biggest improvement in the english quicks... also with vernon philanders rise...

Posted by Meety on (June 4, 2012, 0:22 GMT)

@smudgeon - LOL! Yeah he'd probably be available!!!!

Posted by smudgeon on (June 3, 2012, 15:03 GMT)

anyone got Martin McCague's number? i assume he's not busy...

Posted by popcorn on (June 3, 2012, 14:26 GMT)

Here is one more reason why I think we should have a Spin Coach IN ADDITION TO a Fast Bowling Coach - and my man for that is Brad Hogg.During BOTH times that Rajasthan Royals played Delhi Daredevils in the IPL, Brad Hogg got Virender Sehwag out to his left arm CHINAMAN Spin bowling - and Virender Sehwag s one of the best players of Spin in World Cricket.

Posted by c3vzn on (June 3, 2012, 11:32 GMT)

@Shrii Ram Waqar offered? He'd be perfect then! Doesn't he already live in Australia?

Posted by Wefinishthis on (June 2, 2012, 18:24 GMT)

Coaching isn't our problem. Poor selections and the lack of quality young batsmen in the shield competition are our biggest concern. We definitely don't need a spin coach at all. Lyon currently has a better test average and economy rate than Swann and a better strike rate than Ajmal and whilst the selectors keep inexplicably picking Beer over O'Keefe as his backup, there is some pressure there on Lyon to perform which is excellent and if you compare to the quality of spinners in other teams, our spin department is world class. All our other bowlers require is more consistency and accuracy. We're still failing to heap pressure and rip through top orders like McGrath used to, but Pattinson and Cummins have shown potential, they just need to stay fit. When you see we only have 2 batsmen averaging over 50 and they are both past their prime, it seems a batting coach is what we need. It's just a shame that Cook, Trott, Kallis, Chanderpaul or Sangakkara aren't available to coach us!

Posted by Reverend-Cavalier on (June 2, 2012, 9:19 GMT)

If I was running or leading cricket Australia, I would pay whatever it would cost to get Dennis Lillee and Shane Warne to be with the team as coaches. Both were aggressive in their approach, always on the sniff of a weakness in batsmen, psychologically had it all over their opponents and most importantly, both masters of their craft. Both also knew how to enjoy success and plan through defeat. Seems to fit nicely with Michael Clarke's vision of leadership and how to play the game.

Posted by RyanHarrisGreatCricketer on (June 2, 2012, 5:54 GMT)

A bowling coach is needed only when a bowler is woefully out of form and confidence.Anyway such bowlers should be dropped to work with exxperts. General Strategies can be framed even by the captain and senior bowlers. Just bowl full and on the fourth stump as Billy said. No need to have a vowling COACH for this simple thing.

Posted by Maccanui on (June 2, 2012, 2:11 GMT)

Gavin Larsen's probably available for the right price? He has international experience as an opening fast bowler.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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