McDermott returns as Test bowling coach
Craig McDermott has been recalled to mentor Australia's Test match bowlers on the eve of the home Ashes series, as part of a new split configuration that leaves his successor Ali de Winter in charge of the ODI and Twenty20 formats. Personal reasons had ended McDermott's highly successful first stint as bowling coach in 2011-12, but he is now back in position to guide the pace attack sharing the heavy touring load with de Winter.
Following McDermott's instructions to keep the ball up to the bat and tempt the drive, Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus all enjoyed significant success during his earlier tenure. During that time Australia won series in Sri Lanka, the West India and at home to India while also taking 20 wickets regularly in drawn series against South Africa and New Zealand.
The team's results have fallen away since, though the pace bowling attack has remained Australia's strongest suit, performing capably in England despite a 3-0 series margin. McDermott took on a range of roles after his departure, coaching Ireland's bowlers at the World T20 in Sri Lanka later in 2012 and resuming work at the Centre of Excellence, where he had first shown promise as a mentor to the crop of young bowlers passing through Brisbane. He also started his own network of coaching academies, but had been eager to return to the national team for some time.
The appointment of McDermott and de Winter to oversee separate formats may not be the last such decision, as the team performance manager Pat Howard seeks to specialise coaches to seek better results but also more chance for support staff to avoid the not-so-merry-go-round of constant touring.
"Appointing coaches to specific roles is something the Team Performance Department has been considering for some time," Howard said. "Given the amount of cricket played now in all three forms of the game, we've been considering our coaching structure to get the best out of the players across the various formats.
"We also feel that with the amount of touring now it is extremely difficult for every member of the support staff to be on every tour. As we've seen in more recent times we've swapped our support staff at particular moments to ensure everyone is fresh and energised and the feedback on that has been very positive."
For his part, de Winter warmed to the greater focus of his new role, particularly with next year's World T20 and the 2015 World Cup creeping closer by the month. "I enjoy both forms of the limited overs game and welcome the challenge of working with the bowlers on specific preparation and tactical awareness for each of these formats," de Winter said. "We have some work to do between now and each of the world events and I'm looking forward to focussing on contributing to returning Australia to the number 1 ranking in T20 and ODI cricket."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here