Australia news September 27, 2011

Cooley wants Johnson 'up and firing'


Australia's acting head coach, Troy Cooley, hopes the conditions in South Africa will help Mitchell Johnson regain his best form after a disappointing year. Cooley will be in charge for Australia's upcoming trip to South Africa after being named as the temporary replacement for Tim Nielsen, who stepped down after the Test series win in Sri Lanka.

During that trip, Johnson continued to struggle, collecting just two wickets in each of the three Test matches, on his first Test tour working with the new bowling coach Craig McDermott. It capped off a below-par 12 months for Johnson, who since the start of the short tour of India in October last year has taken 29 Test wickets at 38.89.

Cooley watched the Sri Lankan series from Australia and said that Johnson looked consistent but he needed to keep working on his wrist position. The upcoming series will be crucial for Johnson, who faces competition from Ryan Harris, Trent Copeland and Peter Siddle for a place in the side, not only in South Africa but for the home Tests against New Zealand and India.

In Johnson's favour is his strong record in South Africa, where in 2009 he picked up 16 wickets at 25, and he was especially venomous in the Johannesburg Test. Australia's two Tests in November will be played at Newlands in Cape Town and the Wanderers in Johannesburg, where Johnson was Man of the Match last time he played there.

"I think the conditions definitely suit the quick bowlers over there and the places we're going to play will definitely give them an advantage," Cooley said. "It will be up to all of us now to pull together and make sure that not only Mitch but the rest of the team are up and firing and building on what we've started in Sri Lanka.

"Mitch has been working closely with Craig McDermott now for a little while. We have a relationship with Mitch over the years and we've seen some ups and downs along the way but fully aware Mitchell is still responsible to go out there and perform.

"From what I saw on TV he looked like he was bowling consistently. He probably needs to make sure things are working out of his wrist as best as they can. I'm sure Craig McDermott has been working on that and I'll pick up with Craig on that as soon as I hit the deck on Monday."

Cooley has spent most of the past five years working closely with Australia's attack as the team's bowling coach, but he stepped away earlier this year to become head coach at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane. His appointment as Australia's interim coach came after he told Cricket Australia he wouldn't be applying for the full-time role.

Instead, he is happy working with the developing players at the Centre of Excellence and taking on roles such as coaching Australia A, which he did on the tour of Zimbabwe in July. On that trip, the offspinner Nathan Lyon did enough to impress the selectors and earn himself a Test debut in Sri Lanka, and Cooley said Lyon was good enough to succeed in South Africa as well.

"Nathan is relatively new in the team but he acquitted himself very well in Zimbabwe and obviously started his career with the Australian team quite nicely," Cooley said. "It's a tough area to bowl finger spin over there [in South Africa], it's a little bit like the Australian conditions, but he's got some great control and has grown with every game so I see him acquitting himself quite nicely if selected."

Cooley will rejoin the Australians at a time of great change, but also of great promise, after their 1-0 series win over Sri Lanka. Tackling South Africa in their own conditions will be a different challenge, but despite being ranked second on the ICC Test table, South Africa have not won a Test series at home since beating Bangladesh in 2008.

"South Africa are always a formidable line-up," Cooley said. "They've got a great bowling line-up and their batsmen, even though they're a little bit older, they're still producing the runs. They sit well above us on the Test table and we'll be working very hard to chase them down."

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Christopher on September 30, 2011, 0:17 GMT

    @5wombats...its a very reasonable assumption,that off field factors mitigated the non-selection of Hauritz.Im sure everyone remembers the Hauritz garage sale and his sentiment clearly publicly reflected by Katich.Certainly,the New South Welshmen have banded together throughout this and I dont blame them.There was Clarke,who with Hughes,went to the pre-match charity breakfast.Sutherland made bold statements about them,but no significant action was taken,his bluff being called.That incident was very instructive on a number of levels and when you consider,that on Nielsens passing,both Hughes and Clarke played with the freedom of old,it puts it in its true light.Watson has publicly criticised the selectors in his new book.O'Keefe and Copeland couldnt get a fair go,despite being streets ahead of the next best.One could almost be convinced,that the Tasmanian clique in selection,set out with the purpose of increasing Tasmanian representation in the Test side,rather than picking the best XI.

  • David on September 29, 2011, 20:34 GMT

    So Cooley wants him up and firing? Well - I want him up and fired.

  • Martin on September 29, 2011, 18:33 GMT

    So @hyclass - looks like Hauritz has red blood in his veins! Maybe that's why he fell foul of Ponting. The loss of Hauritz has been disastrous for Aus. After the way he's been treated - no wonder he wanted to break someones face.

  • Christopher on September 29, 2011, 1:06 GMT

    @Sriram Gr...Asif,Kumar and McGrath,later in his career,all made a huge success from bowling like Copeland.His record is outstanding and whether people subscribe to his type of bowling or not,unlike so many players selected these day,he has EARNED his place in the Test team.Pattinson hasnt and until his record supports his selection,he should remain a Shield player.Hilfenhaus,who had a long and relatively unproductive run in the Australian side,needs to demonstrate wicket taking ability,to be considered again.Hauritz,was dropped after the tour of India,dislocated his shoulder and has only started playing again recently.He was also recently at fault in a fight at a night club,in which he was struck in the face.This may influence his immediate future,as is usually the case in such incidents.The real hard luck stories are David Hussey,McDonald and O'Keefe,who keeps getting selected in T20I and List A,his weakest formats.Lyon and Beer should never have been selected ahead of him for Test

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2011, 23:26 GMT

    Adrian: "he is a bit up and down". He's down a lot more than he is up, and when he's down, he's downright terrible. We will give him another go in SA and he'll bowl the same nonsense and might take a couple of wickets. But that will be it. He can be terribly erratic, and there is no consistency. In my opinion, he should have been dropped after Lord's in 2009.

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2011, 11:40 GMT

    Man this is ridiculous dropping clark and taking copeland .He's the worst bowler ive seen in the aussie finding.Get back Hilfy and work pattinson instead of Jhonson and copeland .I was stunned about the story of a bowler named Hauritz.What happened to him?can anyone tell that?

  • Dummy4 on September 28, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    @gzawilliam---thats one of the most funny statements i have ever read...MJ doesnt swing the ball..the ball swings for him once in a blue moon..!!!!lol...i had to read the sentence twice to get what you meant..but i couldnt stop laughing for quite some time after that.....btw nice to note that you actually support MJ....let us see if he beomes the next Clarke as i had earilier commented..(villain after Ashes,hero after SL)....

  • Christopher on September 28, 2011, 6:11 GMT

    Averages exist for a reason.They are a measure of quality,endurance and adaptability in a variety of conditions against a variety of opponents.A mediocre average suggests a failing in of these areas.For a professional selector,records should be the only measure of inclusion.Johnsons current Test record is almost identical to his 1st class record,meaning that this IS the authentic Johnson.As a batsman in Tests,since SA 2009,he has made 492 runs in 37 innings at an average of 13.29,with 3 x 50s,leaving his Test and 1st class batting averages around 20 apiece.His average only rises into the realms of a batsman against SA,against whom he has 401 runs from 6 Tests at 57.28. In the same period,he has claimed 93 Test wickets at an average of 32.88,5 times claiming 5 wickets in an innings and once,10 wickets in a match.Only against SA,WI and NZ,does his average fall below this.This leaves his Test and 1st class bowling averages around 30 apiece.History suggests that SA had better watch out.

  • Mike on September 28, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    I hear all these comments about consistency and how johnson doesn't perform and then the same comment about how can he be picjked for south africa?

    Well johnson is a horses for courses style player. he plays well in places that suit him.. Like SOUTH AFRICA..

    3 test matches in south 16wickets at 25 , 255runs at 85.. That seems to say he plays his best in south africa.. If i remember rightly he destroyed graeme smith last time over there. Breaking his finger twice in the tour. Also hitting Kallis and leaving him injured. While also getting favourable swing from the conditions.. And we all know he's 100% different when the ball swings.. And please dont say he can't swing the ball. of course HE can't.. But now and then the stars align themselves and the ball just swings for him.. funnily enough it happened regulary in south africa.. If its tour of england then drop him. But south africa you'd be insane to drop him from that tour. The same if england dropped swan for a tour of india

  • Rahul on September 28, 2011, 4:53 GMT

    I was under the impression that Cooley had ample time (Few years) before this to get Johnson up and running...!

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