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May 5, 2014
Twenty-three years since he took part in the failed 1992 campaign, Craig McDermott will mentor Australia's fast bowlers at the 2015 World Cup after re-signing with Cricket Australia as assistant coach with the national team for two years.
Recognising the success of the Test bowling battery against England and South Africa, CA have upgraded McDermott's contract and increased his remit to cover major tours across all formats, rather than the Test-only position he took up at the start of the 2013-14 Ashes summer. He will now be the right hand man of the coach Darren Lehmann.
"I've already had a couple of meetings with Darren mapping out the next two years," McDermott told ESPNcricinfo. "Once we go to Dubai for Pakistan it's pretty much full-on until the end of the 2015-16 season really.
"After we get back from Dubai we've got the one-dayers at home to South Africa, and that's pretty important leading not only into the Test series against India where we'd like to reverse the 4-0 the other way like we did previously in Australia, but also the tri-series with India and England and then the World Cup.
"I feel like we've got a really good group at the moment. While all the guys are playing well, it's really been great to build this close bond with them all - the boys call it the fast bowling cartel, but we also let Nathan Lyon in - and we're all really motivated to keep that going. I'm also looking forward to taking on more responsibility and to work closely with Darren to broaden my coaching skills and alongside Michael Di Venuto to ensure we're a well-oiled coaching unit."
Ali de Winter, who had replaced McDermott as pace bowling coach when he temporarily left the job in April 2012, had been commissioned to look after the bowlers in ODI and Twenty20 matches, but will now work alongside McDermott, mainly at the National Cricket Centre while touring occasionally.
"Craig has built a really strong rapport with the bowling group," the team performance manager Pat Howard said. "Combine that with the international experience and technical expertise that Craig brings and it has proved a successful combination in recent times and we're keen to see that continue and for Craig to continue to grow and develop as a coach.
"Craig will also do a bit more work with the limited overs players, along with Ali de Winter, as we head towards the World Cup early next year and will be closely connected to the work being done at the National Cricket Centre."
The prospect of working at the World Cup is something McDermott is particularly eager for, given his own unhappy experience of the 1992 campaign when Allan Border's team did not reach the semi-finals in their attempt to defend the title won in 1987. A pair of unexpected defeats at the hands of New Zealand and South Africa meant the hosts were always chasing from behind.
"We got beaten by New Zealand in that first game, I can remember we then had a barbecue at Steve Waugh's house and the talk was all 'oh we'll just win the next one'," McDermott said. "But we didn't win the next one and were playing catch-up all through the tournament. It was disappointing because we'd all wanted to win a World Cup in our home country.
"New Zealand opening the bowling with spin was a shock to everyone, the wicket was low, slow and the New Zealand attack really suited that with guys like Dipak Patel and Chris Harris. That first loss was a major psychological issue for us - we expected to beat New Zealand because at that stage we were always beating them, so that took a while to recover from. Then South Africa beat us as well in Sydney, and we never really recovered from those two games.
"Hopefully our boys can do it this time, we've got a good one-day side, we're ranked up the top, we've just got to make sure that we stay there."
Central to the 2015 campaign will be the pace and aggression of Mitchell Johnson, currently turning out in the IPL following the twin peaks of an Ashes sweep then a stirring 2-1 defeat of South Africa away from home. Though Johnson claimed a staggering 59 wickets from those eight Tests, McDermott said there was still room for improvement.
"I don't think Mitchell bowled as well in South Africa as he did in Australia," he said. "It was always going to be hard to improve on what he did against England ... if I wanted to work on something with Mitchell it would be to make sure we get his swing back that he had in Australia. He didn't quite get the same shape he had in Australia, so that's something he has to work on going forward.
"His aggression and pace and everything else was exceptional in South Africa on two very docile wickets in Port Elizabeth and Cape Town. He bowled well at Centurion, so we've just got to make sure he gets some rest and then we'll see if he is selected for Zimbabwe or gets some extra time to groove some things to get ready for Dubai."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettigFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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