ICC Cricket World Cup 2011 / Features
Australia v Canada, Group A, World Cup 2011, Bangalore
Krejza ready to meet his mentor
Throwdowns from the coach are a common part of practice, but what about bowling to the coach? And not in the nets - in the heat of battle in a World Cup match
March 15, 2011
Throwdowns from the coach are a common part of practice, but what about bowling to the coach? And not in the nets - in the heat of battle in a World Cup match. That's the prospect facing Jason Krejza on Wednesday, when he tries to outsmart John Davison, part-time Canada cricketer and full-time coach at Australia's Centre of Excellence.
"I'm looking forward to that," Krejza says. "He's coaching you and all of a sudden he's playing against you in a World Cup. He's one of the better spin coaches I've had just because he thinks of things a little differently. He'll probably bring out something that doesn't make me think very well, but that's all right. It'll be a good challenge."
Krejza doesn't have a full-time spin mentor, but has done plenty of work at the Centre of Excellence. He says one session with a man like Davison is worth half a dozen with a team-mate or non-specialist coach, so the chance to bowl to him in a match should be invaluable - even if he is trying to belt Krejza out of the park.
"I'm in a really fortunate position where I can be a coach and play against some guys that I've trained and then give them feedback," Davison says of facing Krejza. "I'm really looking forward to that experience, and Steve Smith is the same, I've had a fair bit to do with him. If I can manage to stay out in the middle for a while and face some balls from them, I can't imagine a better place for a coach to give feedback from."
For Krejza, that advice will be important as he continues to rebuild his career. Few men have had as up-and-down an introduction to the international scene as Krejza, who took 12 wickets on Test debut in Nagpur, and was then axed after only one more match, when the South Africans feasted on his offbreaks at the WACA and he took match figures of 1 for 204.
That was the start of two years spent in and out of the Tasmania team, where he was competing for a place with Xavier Doherty. Commentators and fans alike couldn't work out how Krejza, who was generally regarded as the biggest turner of the ball in Australia, certainly among finger-spinners, could fail to be in the national team.
There was even an internet campaign to get him back in the side, led by the Concerned Tasmanians for Jason Krejza page on Facebook. And when Nathan Hauritz was dropped on the eve of the Ashes, and Doherty and Michael Beer were used during the series, it seemed that Krejza's chance for another go at international cricket had passed.
But sometimes, being the last man standing is enough for Australian spinners to be given an opportunity, and when Hauritz, Doherty and Steve O'Keefe were all unavailable for the World Cup due to injuries, the selectors called on Krejza, who hadn't been named in the preliminary 30-man squad. It was the second chance that slow men like Bryce McGain, Beau Casson and Dan Cullen have never received.
"I was dropped for that reason of leaking too many runs," Krejza says. "That's what I went back and worked on. I thought I did that. I've worked on that and created a different side to my bowling, which I always had but I always felt that need to attack. I still do now, but if I'm called upon to try and bowl a few tight overs then I've worked on that for the last couple of years."
The wickets haven't exactly been flowing for Krejza in this World Cup, although Ricky Ponting says he has improved with every game. Having not taken a wicket since the tournament opener against Zimbabwe, he'll be desperate for a big collection in the next couple of games against Canada and Pakistan, and hopes for some assistance from the surfaces in Bangalore and Colombo.
"The wickets can differ quite a lot here, as we've seen already," Krejza says. "Some can turn a lot, like the game against Sri Lanka, and some haven't turned a hell of a lot. Some are a bit slower, which is good because the spinners can take the pace off the ball. If they're going hard you can try to reel it back in by taking the pace off it and setting good fields. It does suit spin bowling, obviously. They do throw up a mixed bag of wickets."
Krejza knows that if he can find his touch at this World Cup, a Test recall is not out of the equation. Australia's next Test tour is not until August, in Sri Lanka, and while Beer is the incumbent after debuting in the Sydney Ashes Test, Krejza could yet find himself back in the mix.
"I don't look too far ahead these days, but that's something people have spoken to me about," he says. "That's a long way off. I've got this World Cup to think about, and if I do bowl well and things happen at the end, that's great for me. I've just got to keep working hard here and then those things will follow."
A strong performance against Canada would be a good start. And when he heads home for the winter, a few sessions with Davison might help as well.
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