'I'm looking for an Australian Ashes win'


Inner sanctum: Troy Cooley with Duncan Fletcher and Michael Vaughan © Getty Images
He's the man who turned England's speed men into world beaters, but in November Troy Cooley will be plotting his former team's demise from Australia's dressing room. Cooley is in no doubt about his allegiance for the re-match and in the second part of an interview with Peter English he speaks about the Ashes and coaching fast bowlers.
What's your tip for the Ashes?
I'm looking forward to an Australia win. There's going to be a lot of hype but there was a lot of hype leading up to the previous series. That served to get the interest back in cricket, which is fantastic. If you've got two teams competing then anyone will watch it. Everyone thought that Test cricket was waning, but when two teams played with that sort of passion, aggression and skill it's hard to turn the tv off.
Are you missing England?
I miss my friends, but when I was over there I missed my friends back here. It's going to be an interesting Ashes series. I've got some English friends coming over and they'll be living in my house - I've told them if they come through the front door they have to put the three lions to rest and take up with the kangaroos.
Are you still watching England and emailing the guys?
It would be silly not to keep abreast of what's happening in world cricket. That's another thing I learned in England - it wasn't just the Australian backyard I had to watch. From Sri Lanka to South Africa to everywhere, you always keep an eye out, but I do have a special relationship with some England players.
Simon Jones said when you left it was like losing a best mate.
We have a good relationship and it was pretty hard not to get wound up. He went through a pretty traumatic experience with his knee. He never thought he was going to play again. When a bloke doesn't look like he's going to make it back and you're thinking he can get back, then you get pretty close.
It must be strange that the first series is against England?
We've got some ICC games first so it's loads different (he laughs loudly). I don't tire of answering questions about it.
Everybody is raving about you as a bowling coach. Is the reputation justified?
I've learnt one thing and it's that nobody is irreplaceable. There'll always be someone who comes on and does a job. I just try and do the best job I can. I get involved, I get my sleeves rolled up, I have a great passion for the player. A lot of people were asking why I was going, but I think people understood. I had a young family and an opportunity to come home and I went with the best wishes of all my friends. It was my ideal time to move on.
Coaching is now global, but do you still keep secrets?
You don't have secrets. My job is to come in and deal with the athletes and help them get to where they want to go. My skills are making sure of the right environment for that to happen. There's no secret in that. Any coach knows what bowlers do. If you didn't pick up what the bowlers did during the Ashes last year then you wouldn't be a coach. This series will be a different war, fought on different grounds, and the competition will be different. Let's hope it's the same level of intensity.

Troy Cooley was a crucial figure in Simon Jones' development, which surged during the first four Tests of the 2005 Ashes © Getty Images
As a bowling coach, can you coach batting?
I'll coach anything if you let me. I chose to specialise but we all go through batting when we start. There are a lot of good bowlers who are good batsmen, too. I enjoy being around cricket. If there are throwdowns to be had I'll do them or if I can talk to batsmen and help then I'll get a buzz. As a bowling coach you are trying to work batsmen out - if I can help them out then great.
Do you bowl much these days?
Occasionally, but it takes too long to get over. I played in a good era. I don't think I could put up with the ice baths they have these days. Our hot and cold contrast was a hot shower and a cold beer. I was playing for about $250 for a Sheffield Shield game. Basically I got hurt too many times and got frustrated.
What is your role now at the Australia Centre of Excellence?
It's a big development role. This place is geared up now, working with the states and the territories to make sure we are bringing the best players to the peak. It's working very well. It's a big area from under-15s, 17s, 19s and women, making sure we've got a long conveyor belt of bowlers for a long time. We're looking to target some bowlers to look after and to back up the senior group.
What do you look for in a bowler?
Whether they've got the skills to take wickets at the next level. With young bowlers you are looking at different things: how they go about their job; their action; attitude; emotions; how they survive in the middle. It's a big mix.
Where does the pace come from?
You can't buy natural pace - that's given. It's in the make up of your body - the ability to rotate your arm fast. You can't turn a long distance runner into a sprinter. Some things can be moved, but you've either got good fast twitch or slow twitch fibres. Most people have a mixture of both. Then it's putting the package together, making sure they get the best out of their action and can produce repeated efforts at that speed. There is four or five times their body weight going through the back leg and seven or eight through the front leg. If the house ain't right it's going to fall over. With top-end speed this is where I come into play.
Are you doing much remodeling with Australia's bowlers?
Australia has had a good fast-bowling program and across the board they are pretty good. There's some slight remodeling but nothing like tear them down and build them back up. All good bowlers are tinkering all the time to make sure they are staying ahead of everybody else. The further up the scale the less you have to do with actions, but the more you have to do with deliveries they want to add to their armoury. It could be slower balls, offcutters, legcutters, swinging, using the crease, going around the wicket. They have a good skill set but you have to add to that skill set, just like batters add to their shots.

Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo