The Ashes 2013-14 December 30, 2013

McDermott preaches bowlers' durability


Not only does Australia's bowling coach Craig McDermott expect Ryan Harris to be fit for the final Ashes Test as part of an attack unchanged all series, he is equally adamant a rich next generation of pace bowlers must be raised with the expectation to do the same.

Despite valid concerns about Harris's creaking joints, there is a strong sense of pride among Australia's Ashes winning team about going through the five Tests without requiring extra assistance.

To lose one or two players from the final hurdle to a 5-0 sweep of England is not a possibility anyone wishes to countenance, even as a nod to the demanding South Africa tour that follows in February.

Looking further into the future, McDermott wants the likes of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc, Jackson Bird, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins to be schooled in the art of playing through pain. As Brett Lee once pointed out, bowling is seldom painless, and it takes some years of experience to differentiate between "good" pain and "bad".

Though he developed a somewhat unkind reputation for missing matches due to outlandish injuries in his own career, McDermott still pushed through no fewer than five series of five Tests or more over the course of 71 matches, also playing every Test of the Australian summer on six occasions. His view of preventative resting is dim.

"It has been around a long time where players can actually play five Test matches in a row. That's not a new thing," McDermott said. "We have to work hard with our younger bowlers to make sure they can play full series as well when they get the chance. That's something we need to be mindful of with our younger bowlers. I'm looking forward to the same three guys playing all three Tests in South Africa once this one's done.

"Sidds has done it before so it hasn't been a problem for him through New Zealand and India series. Mitchell is as strong as an ox. Ryano was probably the only person who we had to try to manage. The medical staff have done a great job with managing Ryano, and Lyano is going to get through isn't he?

"It has been great to have all four bowlers involved and bowling in great partnerships, just like our batters. Sometimes Mitchell has got a lot of wickets but the other guys have created the pressure at the other end and picked up vital wickets."

The Australian selectors are open to the possibility of making up to three changes to the Melbourne team, with Alex Doolan, James Faulkner and Nathan Coulter-Nile all waiting in the wings. But McDermott was unperturbed by Harris's chronic knee trouble nor Shane Watson's groin strain, feeling both had pulled up well enough from the MCG match to carry on.

"There's a number of scenarios we can talk about," McDermott said. "My first and foremost scenario is to have those three guys ready to go. I think Watto will be fine because his running between the wickets yesterday suggests so, he bowled in our second innings and although he wasn't super quick, nor was Tim Bresnan.

"I'm more concerned about our guys obviously, but I don't think there's going to be any dramas with Watto coming up whatsoever. Ryano's a bit sore I suppose. But I don't think anybody's played too many Test matches as a fast bowler without pulling up sore at some stage. I'm confident they'll all be involved in the next Test match."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Peter on December 31, 2013, 6:49 GMT

    Zenboomerang - I'm quoting the Aus team doctor specialising in sports medicine - you seem to think you know more.

  • The on December 31, 2013, 5:39 GMT

    @Aspraso, I think you've nailed it there. ENG was a success if they got near 300 in this series. Had the bowlers copped it for 500 on a hot day it would be a different discussion. Sure, it's easy to back up and not break down when you're rolling sides for 170 and then getting a long rest while the batsmen score big totals. I wouldn't draw any conclusions from it though.

  • Roo on December 31, 2013, 4:13 GMT

    @Batmanian @cccrider - Billy didn't really come good as a bowler until the 90's (age 25y.o.+) when he did become the spearhead bowler. Before that he was fairly injury prone & ended his career early at 31y.o. which is an indication of his early injuries, plus he started his Test career at 19y.o. not 18.

    Think you will also find that many of our better fast bowlers all started around 22y.o. - Lillee, Thommo, McGrath, Gillespie, etc...

  • Simon on December 31, 2013, 3:40 GMT

    Ahhh...what a relief that we have returned to the common sense approach to winning cricket matches at the top level. Batsmen enjoying batting producing 100's, bowlers showing stamina, endurance and 'won't back down fire' taking bags of wickets and fieldsmen trained ( nice to see Mike Young back) to back themselves and 'have a shy' producing game changing run outs.

    Can only hope the 'process' is sent back to the training ground and academy where it belongs and this breathe of fresh air continues.

  • Patrick on December 31, 2013, 2:30 GMT

    Great to hear that level of confidence in an unchanged squad. 5-0 with an unchanged line up has to be history making surely???

  • Peter on December 30, 2013, 23:22 GMT

    Great coach, a huge element in success. On durability, the SA attack is outstanding. Their player management is second to none! There is no way Watto would be anything like 100% for Sydney.

    On Batmanian, the Australian team doctor said on ABC radio the other day that fast bowlers literally can't face a test workload until age 24! Interestingly he said the only Australian bowler to disprove that over last 40 years was McDermott, picked at 18!

  • Mashuq on December 30, 2013, 23:04 GMT

    Whether the same quartet plays in SA or not, just ensure that Pattinson and Bird are fit and firing if needed, Billy.

  • Channan on December 30, 2013, 21:58 GMT

    Love to see someone like James Pattinson (Australia) bowl to SA on pitches just like these. I have not played cricket for quite a while now, but he looks like an intimidating sort of bowler. (Played against blokes like R. Gilchrist)

  • Izmi on December 30, 2013, 13:02 GMT

    Australian bowling coach Craig McDermott knows what he is talking about as he was the spearhead of the aussie bowling attack in the 80's. I don't think we need sports scientists to manage the Australian Cricket team as I reckon everything is not rocket science. Unlike other test cricketers around the world our cricketers seem to breakdown quite easily and are very much prone to injury. We have never been able to field our best bowling attack especially during the last three years due to constant injuries to our bowlers. Cummins has not played a single test since he made his debut against South Africa in 2011 and Pattinson, Starc, Bird, Hazlewood and even Harris have been in and out of the team many times due to injury. I am sure McDermott would be able to better manage our fast bowlers and put a stop to this menace.

  • Prasanna on December 30, 2013, 12:59 GMT

    Billy is just awesome !! Hope he tours SA along with the boys !! Respect !!

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