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

Brydon Coverdale in Bangalore

March 15, 2011

Comments: 21 | Text size: A | A

Jason Krejza appeals successfully for an lbw, Australia v Zimbabwe, Group A, World Cup 2011, Ahmedabad, February 21, 2011
Jason Krejza will face his spin-bowling mentor John Davison during Australia's match against Canada © AFP
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Players/Officials: John Davison | Jason Krejza
Series/Tournaments: ICC Cricket World Cup
Teams: Canada

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.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Comments: 21 
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Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 13:42 GMT)

It is sad for Australia that Warne's dominance in the team killed aspirations for lots of young spinners to get in the team, now, they are short on that talent. I can't imagine who will fill Tendulkar's shoes once he is gone. :(

Posted by Christopher on (March 16, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

For some reason,there is a belief that australia should have a plethora of high quality spinners and that their lack is a comment on australian cricket in general.Since the introduction of covered wickets,australia has had very few great spinners.Benaud in the 50s and early 60s.Warne from 92 onwards and McGill when the wicket was bouncing enough to make his viscous sidespin dangerous.The intervening periods have always been carried by players of the calibre of Hauritz who are studious and workmanlike rather than threatening.Internationally,the pattern has been the same for most countries.Even with the best of intentions and the most skillful of coaches,great spinners,like great batsman,fast bowlers and all rounders, are generational and tend to 'arrive' rather than being created.The energy would be better spent in giving due credit to those who ARE currently performing well and not being selected.It must be hard to maintain their purpose.When players are chosen on merit,everyone wins

Posted by Rajaram on (March 16, 2011, 7:16 GMT)

Jason Krejza should be dropped,. He has not performed at all in this World Cup. David Hussey, bowls useful offspin and bats too.He should replace Krejza.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 16, 2011, 6:58 GMT)

I hope Krejza doesn't let down his mentor. All the very best.

Posted by Andrew on (March 16, 2011, 4:18 GMT)

@Legster - I think jonesy was commenting on a couple of things, 1) Davison is still playing International cricket for one country & coaching for another, & 2) Davison was never a great bowler & so what was is his credentials for the job?

Correction: I'll re-do my 'pecking order' for Test spinners - 1. O'Keefe 2. Hauritz, 3. Lyon, 4. Krezja, 5.O'Brien, 6. Doherty, 7. Bailey 8. Casson, 9. Holland, 10. Boyce, 11. Beer

I'll throw it out there - with NSW having plenty of bowlers coming back from injury (Starc, Hazlewood & Clark), & already have Cummins, Copeland, Henriques & others coming thru, & so many reasonable spinners, (with development potential), not getting a go. I think the Cric Oz needs to bite the bullet & create a side operating out of Darwin. Pitch that has hosted International cricket & will favour spinners. I believe the biggest problem facing Oz spinners (inc overseas), is that Oz batsmen play spin very well in Oz. Lets give them a spinning deck????

Posted by Bill on (March 16, 2011, 3:10 GMT)

if Australia beat Pakistan they will top the group ... if Pakistan win Australia will finish third.

Posted by Abhimanyu on (March 16, 2011, 2:19 GMT)

Jason Krejza is a good guy. I wish him all the luck as he definitely needs it.

Posted by wayne on (March 16, 2011, 1:35 GMT)

I think what Meety has hit on is that for spinners in Tests, Australia's cupboard is kind of bare. O'Keefe is there next to the condiments, Hauritz is lurking at the back behind the dried peas, and there's that whiff of Krejza's debut Test still lingering. And then there's a whole lot of others who are good enough at shield level, but maybe not for tests (sorry, no more pantry metaphors). And part of the problem is we're still living in the Warne-Macgill hangover period - the selectors are determined to have that next once-in-a-lifetime spinner in the side right now, when they should realise that Hauritz is probably as good as it's going to get right now. Smith is coming along, but he's still developing, and O'Keefe I think may be worth a shot. But whoever they do decide to go with next (if they stick with three quicks & one spinner), they need to commit to giving them a good run - the current revolving door policy seems both desperate and to be undervaluing the role of a spinner

Posted by Peter on (March 15, 2011, 22:36 GMT)

There was a time that Kerry O'Keefe rated John Davison the best offie in Australia. Considering the number of spinners we've tried in the post-Warne era, would have been interesting to see how JD would have gone at Test level. Granted, he would have been 36 or so at the time of Warne's retirement...but how old was McGain when he debuted in SAf? Plus, how many 40-year-olds do you know who look in as good as shape as JD currently? I agree with posts that Beer surely can't be retained as the current Test spinner. Hopefully Krazy will get a run now - and given at least a series or two to settle in this time, not the two Tests he got last time.

Posted by Dummy4 on (March 15, 2011, 21:49 GMT)

Both Doherty and Kreza have been excellent onew day bowlers for tasmania, interestingly there best economy and wicket taking figures have been opening the bowling and not bowling in the middle overs. I admire Ricky Ponting as a captain but wonder if he isn't adventurous enough, surely its an option to try something different against Canada

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.

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