Murali is set to renew his love hate relationship with Australian cricket. Shunned by many and called for throwing, he remains an enigmatic figure with punters Down Under. He is either the greatest or just a “chucker”.
Tensions run high and take on a religious fervor at the mere mention of the man: Cricket Australia is in the process of finalising a consultancy role for the Sri Lankan at the Cricket Academy in Brisbane; Ian Healy is quoted on the Wide World of Sport website as saying: “If we can find someone who can bowl at 14.7 degrees (off a straight arm) with a flicky wrist, let’s do it”; Greg Chappell, apparently, is the force behind this move.
Considering that Shane Warne is unable to extricate himself from the hurly burly of his life, Murali is the next best thing.
I do not believe he can change the body composition of our spinners. They will not suddenly sprout rubbery arms and wrists. What he will be able to offer is the art of preparation.
Like in cooking, it is the preparation that is the key.
He will also be able to impart knowledge on trajectories and optimum bowling speeds. He was a master at using the crease. He studied batsmen and had an encyclopedic memory. He never forgot a batsman’s weakness.
Sehwag has said that Murali was harder to play than Warne. You could say that Warne had chemistry and Murali mastered physics. Sehwag also said he never felt “in” when facing Murali.
He felt that Murali could get him out anytime.
Jason Krezja, the Stephen Bradbury of Australian spinning, is excited that Murali will be on hand to help him in June. For now “Krazy” will have to fend for himself.Krezja’s selection is a 360 degree turn for the Australian selectors and I feel that the Hilditch era is coming to an end.
And that cannot happen too soon.
Why has it taken so long?
Terry Jenner has been in charge of a group of spinners for a few years now and it seems most have gone backwards. Whatever happened to Cullen? And Callum Bailey?
Jamie Cox is in charge of cricket operations in South Australia and also a National Selector. Perhaps that is one job too many. And this is the problem with Hilditch. When Australia is languishing in a half-way house, we cannot have part-time selectors.
Employing Murali is a good move but it still smacks of band-aids and unless it is a long-term appointment the results will be short-term.
Who coaches the coaches?
The coaching system needs to be standardised. If Australia is to regain its eminence, then our coaches have to start teaching the basics. Cricket batting, bowling and fielding is like reading, writing and arithmetic.
You must know where to put the commas and when to use an adjective.
Some do it naturally, but most have to be taught by rote. Say it 1000 times: “I will not lift my head till two seconds after I have hit the ball” Bobby Simpson was a master at this.
We must teach the grammar of cricket. Otherwise we will have cricketers who mix up their adjectives and adverbs. Bloody Hell!
Australia has a vast reservoir of ex-cricketers like Walters, Redpath, Simpson, Rixon and Lawson that can be employed in mentoring and coaching roles. Jason Gillespie has been shunned by Cricket Australia and has had to go to Zimbabwe to earn a crust.
Our best men are overseas and we are faced with “importing “expertise”.
Whatever happened to the clever country? Cricket in Australia can afford to keep our best talent at home. They just need to cut down on the endless entourage that surrounds our team.
You can have all the virtual reality in the world, but it will not prepare you for the confrontation with your personal demons. The one-on-one contests that are determined by technique and preparation.
Repetition till it becomes part of your cricketing DNA. There is no easy way.