De Winter to maintain McDermott method
Ali de Winter has said he will encourage Australia's fast bowlers to continue following the Craig McDermott method when he takes over as stand-in bowling coach for the tour of England. The Australians fly out on Thursday and for the first time in more than a year, the bowling group will not have McDermott to advise them after his decision to step down last month.
The Tasmania assistant coach de Winter, who narrowly missed out on the job last year when McDermott was appointed, has been asked to fill in for this trip. It will serve as a valuable audition for de Winter, who has applied to become McDermott's full-time replacement, and he said he would be doing his best to keep the bowlers heading in the same direction they were steered by McDermott.
"There's no rocket science to what we do," de Winter told ESPNcricinfo. "It's about keeping things as simple as possible, mechanically as well as tactically. At that level it's purely about executing the plans that we put in place. That's what it boils down to. In the past at Test level they sometimes haven't been able to maintain their plan for long enough periods of time, particularly against the better sides like England and South Africa.
"I share similar views to Craig, certainly about attacking the top of off stump a lot more in Test cricket. One-day cricket will be a little different, but keeping it simple as Craig has in the past 12 months has paid dividends and I think we'd be mad to move too far away from that sort of philosophy."
Despite the short nature of the trip, which includes five ODIs against England and one against Ireland, there will be challenges for de Winter. The bowling group has nine names and includes a legspinner, Steven Smith, and a finger-spinner, Xavier Doherty, as well as seven fast and medium bowlers at varying stages of their careers.
Pat Cummins, 19, will require some extra attention to ensure he is ready for international cricket having not played since his remarkable Test debut in Johannesburg in November, and it is a similar scenario for Mitchell Johnson. That South Africa tour was the last time Johnson played for Australia before a long lay-off due to a foot injury, although poor form meant he had a chance of being dropped in any case.
While Johnson remains some way down the list of Australia's preferred Test bowlers, he has found himself back in the one-day squad for this tour. England does not hold happy memories for Johnson, and de Winter knows it will be up to him to ensure that Johnson is ready to take to the field again whenever the selectors choose him.
"I think it's largely [confidence] with him," de Winter said. "He's got plenty of experience and he knows how to compete. I'll be talking to him and finding out the work he's done with Dennis Lillee, to make sure we stay on the same page. If that stuff has been working for him it's a matter of picking up on what's been done and not getting our wires crossed.
"I think we'd be wise to keep it as simple as we can for Mitch. It's about building confidence and making sure that when he gets his next opportunity, whenever that is, he's got confidence and he knows he can trust his own game. That looked like something he may have lost when he was going through his rough patch."
Johnson won't be the only one who must keep his mind on the job. de Winter knows that plenty of eyes will be on him as the tour unfolds, analysing the way he interacts with the bowlers, assessing his results and determining whether he would be a good fit for a full-time role within the squad.
McDermott had 291 Test wickets to point to; de Winter must impress in other ways. And while he is keen to prove his worth, he is also aware that a clouded mind is as dangerous to coaches as it is to bowlers and batsmen.
"I've thrown my hat into the ring," he said. "I've expressed my interest and I believe I'm through to the next stage. It sounds like they will start doing formal interviews in the third week of July. I have no idea what the rest of the field is like apart from Waqar Younis, who people are talking about.
"I'm looking at the trip at the moment as purely an opportunity to professionally develop rather than feel the pressure of being on trial. That's the way I'm going about it. I've had a chat with Mickey Arthur about a few things, so I have a few things to work on prior to the tour. I'm just trying not to put too much pressure on myself."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here