England's fast bowlers will start practising with the Kookaburra balls that will be used during the Ashes as soon as the Test campaign with Pakistan is over. David Saker, the England bowling coach, comes from Victoria and understands the differences between the countries and the conditions.
"His knowledge not only about the Kookaburra ball but also about Australia and their venues and players is very important to us," said England's coach, Andy Flower, following the team's first-Test victory over Pakistan. "We are not practising with Kookaburras at the moment because we are focussing on this series but we will have our preparation time in this country before we leave. The guys have quite a lot of experience with the Kookaburra ball and we will deal with one challenge at a time."
The Australians struggled with swing in the drawn series with Pakistan last month and Saker said his fast men would be working on shaping the Kookaburra balls before the trip Down Under. ''It definitely still swings," Saker told the Sunday Age. "It obviously doesn't swing as much as the Duke ball, but some of that's got to do with the English conditions."
Saker believes swing is the best way to bring down a batting order and wants his bowlers to achieve the movement when they attempt to retain the Ashes they won at The Oval last year. ''We'll be endeavouring to try to move the ball in the air for sure, but also we've got two pretty tall, strong pace bowlers [Stuart Broad and Steven Finn] who can get the ball through," he said. "There'll be different ways we'll attack the Australians, for sure.''
Finn, 21, was rested before the England-Pakistan series to build up his strength ahead of a busy period. ''We've done that with Stuart Broad and he's come back bigger, stronger and bowling faster than he's ever bowled," Saker said.
"There was a lot of criticism from a lot of people outside the English set-up, but the people that were involved in pulling him out of that and getting him stronger were all pretty adamant that he needed that. You mightn't see the improvement straight up but there's no doubt we, as a group, think it's going to be beneficial down the track."