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September 10, 2012
As he prepares to coach against the Australia team he played a large part in rejuvenating over the past year, Craig McDermott is adamant Ireland will be capable of challenging his former pupils when they meet in the opening round of the World Twenty20 in Sri Lanka.
Speaking for the first time since he quit the post of Australian bowling coach for personal reasons, McDermott told ESPNcricinfo he had no qualms about helping Ireland to foil Australia's T20 side. The match will provide a measure of whether George Bailey's team has truly slipped below Ireland's team of amateurs and English county professionals, as the ICC's T20 rankings now suggest.
"It'll be a good game, Ireland have got a well balanced side," McDermott said, having arrived in Colombo to work with the Irish squad. "If they play to their ability, which they have in the past in T20s and qualified, they'll give Australia and the West Indies a good run for their money.
"They're here to win and my job is to help them win, along with the other coaches. We'll just see who comes out on top on the 19th - we'll be working hard as a coaching staff and a playing staff to produce a cracker of a match.
"To work with all the bowling line-up here is going to be a challenge for me I suppose, it is a short-term stint, I've got to try to do the best I can to produce the best they can over the next two to three weeks. We're looking forward to some proper training leading into some practice matches."
McDermott's departure from the CA job was met with sadness on both sides, after a summer in which his simple philosophy of getting fit and pitching the ball up met with considerable success in Test matches. Having "dealt with" the personal issues that drew him away from the job, McDermott is now ready to work full-time again, and will be keeping his options open after his stint with Ireland ends at the conclusion of the World T20. Though Ali de Winter is ensconced as Australia's bowling coach, a return to CA remains a possibility.
"I said when I stepped down that I had some things I wanted to deal with personally, and I went away and did that," McDermott said. "While I was doing that I worked at the CoE and worked with the AIS intake this year, and also with the Under 19s leading into the World Cup. That came to an end, then I had a couple of weeks off and the opportunity came up to work with Ireland here.
"I'm keeping my options open, if something becomes available with CA that's fine, I look forward to that. I loved working with the team, the players I worked with both from a bowling and batting point of view were fantastic. I'm open to anything, I wanted some flexibility at the time, and that's just the way I decided to go."
Long tracts of time away from home are necessary evils of international coaching, and McDermott said he was again happy to contemplate the travelling lifestyle, not limiting himself to short-term jobs or consulting roles. He also indicated a desire to widen his knowledge of coaching around the world, having previously worked only within the Australian system.
"The time on the road is part of the job, so I'm not saying I want to be a consultant or that I don't want to be with a team," McDermott said. "It's where I see my best fit with an organisation to be able to develop their bowlers or their players. I just want to be a better coach, I want to experience other staff, even with the Irish team, different guys to work with from a strength and conditioning point of view, a physio point of view, Phil Simmons as a head coach.
"Everybody here thinks differently about how to mould a team, how to keep a team on the park, all those things are part of an ongoing learning process as a coach. One of the best things I've done as a coach over the last four or five years is coaching at junior level, away from the elite game. Coaching young kids whether they be 12, 13, 14, 15, has actually helped my coaching at a higher level more than anyone will ever know."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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