Craig McDermott shows Troy Cooley up

Ryan O'Connell Columnist

By Ryan O'Connell, Ryan O'Connell is a Roar Expert

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23 Have your say

    With a series win already achieved heading into the Fourth Test at the Adelaide Oval, the Australian cricket team is currently on a high.

    Despite the fact that India has never won a series on Australian soil, to defeat a team still laden with world class batsmen and dangerous bowlers is a wonderful accomplishment for a team presently going through a rebuilding phase.

    There have been numerous performances that are worthy of note, headlined by Michael Clarke’s stunning 329 not out in Sydney, David Warner’s whirlwind 180 in Perth, and Ricky Ponting’s long awaited 40th Test century.

    Yet, as magnificent as all of those batting innings, and others, have been, you need to take 20 wickets to win a Test match. And with that in mind, much of the credit must go to the bowlers for ensuring that Australia will take home the Border-Gavaskar Trophy.

    The bowling unit, in particular the quicks, have been sensational.

    Statistics can sometimes paint an inaccurate story, but the series numbers so far give an indication of how good the Australian bowling has been.

    Ben Hilfenhaus, in an amazing return to Test cricket, has taken 23 wickets at an average of 16. Peter Siddle has looked extremely comfortable in his role as the leader of the attack, and claimed 17 wickets at 19.59.

    James Pattison has been a revelation, following up his strong debut series against New Zealand by capturing 11 Indian scalps at 23.36. And Ryan Harris and Mitchell Starc, despite playing just one game each, ensured Australia didn’t miss a beat when Pattison went down injured and Australia selected four frontline quicks for the WACA Test.

    However statistics only tell half of the story. The attack has worked brilliantly as a team, maintaining pressure from both ends, bowling very few loose balls, and utilising the conditions to their advantage.

    The bowlers give every impression of a cohesive unit, and that togetherness and ability to hunt as a pack has been a key to their success.

    Though perhaps the most impressive aspect of the fast bowlers’ performance has been their propensity to swing the ball.

    During the Ashes series last season, one of the biggest differences between the two sides was the ability of the English bowlers to move the ball in the air. Whilst James Anderson and company were swinging the ball in and away from Australia’s batsmen, the local bowlers were more often than not gun barrel straight.

    Previously, many English bowlers had been found wanting when the ball was not moving around for them, and the English hierarchy identified that if the Ashes were to be won on Australian soil, their bowlers were going to have to find a way to make the ball talk in Australian conditions.

    England subsequently appointed Australian David Saker as their bowling coach. Having played for Victoria, Tasmania and Australia A during a long and successful first class career, Saker had the knowledge, skill and mindset that England required.

    Saker immediately went about teaching the England fast bowling unit how to swing the ball on Australian wickets. Hundreds of Kookaburra balls were purchased, and the England team practiced with them for months leading into the Ashes series, instead of the usual English Duke ball.

    The hiring of Saker and his influence on the English fast bowlers paid large dividends, with England crushing Australia and winning the Ashes, primarily behind some quality swing bowling.

    At the time I asked the question of what the hell Australian bowling coach Troy Cooley was doing. It was embarrassing that a touring side was making better use of the conditions, and the ball, than the home side.

    How could it come to be that the tourists were swinging the ball, yet Australia weren’t?

    Well, it’s pretty hard to swing the ball when you ball short and simply bang it into the pitch, but that seemed to be Australia’s tactics against England. No wonder that Alistair Cook, who predominantly cuts and pulls, was made to look like Don Bradman. Rarely did the Australian bowlers pitch it up and make him drive.

    Post-Ashes, there was a need for accountability across the board in Australian cricket. This should have included the out-coached Troy Cooley, who ought to have taken a large percentage of the blame for the bowler’s poor performance, especially their lack of swing.

    Instead of being fired, Cooley was promoted to the role of head coach at Cricket Australia’s Centre of Excellence. Go figure.

    Twelve months on, and the fortunes and performances of our fast bowlers couldn’t be more diametrically opposed.

    The bowlers are pitching the ball up, swinging it, and claiming lots of wickets behind the stumps.

    Whilst the players are deservedly receiving plaudits, kudos must also go to Australia’s current bowling coach Craig McDermott.

    McDermott was a fantastic fast bowler for Australia, claiming 291 Test wickets, and his impact on Australia’s quicks so far has been every bit as impressive as his own international career. Gone is the mentality of ‘hitting the deck hard’, and ushered in is the approach of giving the ball every chance to swing.

    If accountability was required after the Ashes series, then equally, praise is called for following the performance of Australia’s fast bowlers against India. Cricket has always been about results, and McDermott is currently achieving very positive ones.

    All credit to him.

    You can follow Ryan on Twitter @RyanOak

    Ryan O
    Ryan O'Connell

    Ryan is an ex-representative basketballer who shot too much, and a (very) medium pace bowler. He's been with The Roar as an expert since February 2011, has written for the Seven Network, and been a regular on ABC radio. Ryan tweets from @RyanOak.

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    The Crowd Says (23)

    • January 24th 2012 @ 8:37am
      Chris said | January 24th 2012 @ 8:37am | ! Report

      Yep. And if we can only find the batting equivalent then we’ll be able to ditch the appalling Justin Langer and have a team more than capable of getting to No. 1 in the world.

      • Roar Guru

        January 24th 2012 @ 10:14am
        The_Wookie said | January 24th 2012 @ 10:14am | ! Report

        Id be thinking of getting matty hayden out there with the openers for a start. No one came back from a longer test dumping than haydos, and he had to completely rejig his batting and then went on to become one of the top scoring opening batsmen ever, second only to Sunil GavaskarI if i recall correctly.

        • January 24th 2012 @ 5:51pm
          rl said | January 24th 2012 @ 5:51pm | ! Report

          You’d need an interpreter – while Haydos was a great player he’s absolutely fluent in gibberish!

    • Roar Guru

      January 24th 2012 @ 8:38am
      Redb said | January 24th 2012 @ 8:38am | ! Report

      “Gone is the mentality of ‘hitting the deck hard’, and ushered in is the approach of giving the ball every chance to swing.”

      And that is precisely what we need to do next year to win back the Ashes. Pattinson, Cummins, Harris, Starc backed up by Siddle and the Hilf. Formidable team right there.

    • Roar Pro

      January 24th 2012 @ 9:36am
      Purple Shag said | January 24th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      It’s lucky for the latest crop that when McDermott was cutting his chops he had Terry Alderman to observe. Never was there a greater exponent of swing bowling to don the baggy green. But Billy really deserves plenty of the credit for the direction the bowling unit is headed in. We can just about forget the bankruptcy & sex tape fiascoes now.

    • January 24th 2012 @ 9:36am
      Howdog said | January 24th 2012 @ 9:36am | ! Report

      Oak, please tell me we have put an order in for hundreds of Duke balls? If not, can you please get on to that ASAP Champion?

      • Columnist

        January 24th 2012 @ 9:44am
        Ryan O'Connell said | January 24th 2012 @ 9:44am | ! Report

        You would seriously hope they are doing that, Howdog.

        Perhaps all Roarers can buy a Duke ball and have them sent to Cricket Australia?

        • January 24th 2012 @ 4:43pm
          Howdog said | January 24th 2012 @ 4:43pm | ! Report

          Good shout. And a horses head to Troy’s house.

    • January 24th 2012 @ 10:18am
      ns1815 said | January 24th 2012 @ 10:18am | ! Report

      Chris, I strongly agree. It appears Langer has done very little, and should be accountable for his performance. He has presided over the collapses in South Africa, Hobart and others in this series. He must take some blame for Phillip Hughes’s woeful efforts against Chris Martin. The big innings mentioned above have glossed over some pretty ordinary batting collapses. In addition the method of dismissal of some batsmen, Hughes, Ponting Haddin getting out the same way over and over suggests there is little critical analysis or coaching happening.

    • January 24th 2012 @ 10:50am
      Bearfax said | January 24th 2012 @ 10:50am | ! Report

      Have already given Craig the thumbs up in another forum. Granted he has some very talented bowlers available at present and the rebirth of Hilfenhaus and Siddle has been remarkable. Add to that the performances of Cummings, Pattinson and Stark, with others waiting their turn in the wings and of course the return of Harris and the emergence of Lyon as spinner, Oz’s stocks seem the best in years in the bowling department. But it took a good coach to meld these guys, develop swing bowling and a consistent line and dscipline in each of the bowlers who are operating like a well oiled machine. The Indian bowlers by comparison are talented but a rabble, some excellent brief efforts but no consistency. For that we owe Craig a great deal because its Oz bowling, and a couple of outstanding batting performances from Clarke and Warner and some good support from Ponting and Hussey, that has Oz in such a great position.

      But will that batting line up cope with the Brits…at present I’d say no.

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