New Delhi: India's new bowling coach has worked as a plainclothes policeman for more than eight years. He has dealt with armed robberies, child abuse, and been part of special undercover drug squads. He is better known in cricketing circles as Wallops or Walloper, a term of endearment for a policeman in Australia.
Joe Dawes, a 41-year-old Queenslander, joined the force well before he had taken a wicket for his state, handling situations far more important than getting bowlers to bowl lengths that suit their style of bowling. He was a policeman by 21, a first-class cricketer only after 27, and both for about four years.
"Armed robberies. Drugs squad. Child abuse. Worked in a lot of areas where we were able to sort of help a lot of people, and it was a good job," Dawes says. "Very rewarding. I enjoyed it. You learn a lot about life. You learn how to communicate with people, and deal with the good and bad of society. It was a great life experience, I suppose."
Being a policeman, Dawes says, brought perspective to life, and cricket was a bit of an escape. "It allowed me to have balance in my life," he says. "It allowed me to enjoy my cricket. I enjoyed being a policeman, but I loved being a cricketer, and I enjoyed the balance between the two. You have a bad day at cricket, you got to work, and cricket was my escape from the police job."
His team-mates knew of his other life. "Sometimes I'd turn up straight from work," Dawes says. "And I'd be late turning up because I had been involved in an arrest or something like that. They all knew that. Well and truly. They were very supportive for it.
"They enjoyed jokes at my expense, I suppose. And I was also the one that had to give out advice on speeding tickets and everything else. Good fun."
His team-mates had to be careful too. Not only was Dawes a cop, he is a huge unit. "Probably not so much ribbing," Dawes says. "I was bigger than most of them. So they didn't take a lot of mickey out of me. It was just a source of amusement."
Dawes took 285 first-class wickets, most of them for Queensland, and is considered by many to be unlucky that his best form coincided with the best form of Michael Kasprowicz and Andy Bichel. A knee injury cut his career short, after which he got into coaching. His first job was with Queensland, where his assistant was Trevor Penney, who is now India's fielding coach. Dawes is currently South Australia's bowling coach.
His new appointment came about during India's tour of Australia, because the incumbent, Eric Simons, was not interested in extending his contract. Dawes has worked with Penney, and has met Duncan Fletcher a few times. He also met the captain, MS Dhoni, once for a brief chat, when he was working towards finalising details of the job.
The details aren't final yet. All that is clear is that the contract is for two years. Dawes doesn't quite know when he starts - with the Asia Cup or after the IPL. He considers it "a great honour" to be involved with India. He is optimistic about India's bowling resources.
"It's a bit of an untapped resource, for me," he says. "I have been at the MRF a number of times and seen a lot of great talent there. The young Indian bowlers. Ishant Sharma and Umesh Yadav coming through. Looking forward to working with them."
Dawes hasn't been able to follow India closely during this series, though. "It's a busy season working with South Australia," he says. "I try to keep an eye on them."
Like his predecessor Simons, Dawes doesn't have any Test experience, but he feels that doesn't matter much. "I think if you look at that Indian side, there is a lot of experience there," he says. I'll be able to bring out my areas of, I guess, knowledge about bowling. Will be great if I can add to whatever is already there in the group. There is a lot of Test matches in that group. Hopefully I can add to it in my way. I'll bring my thoughts and my expertise to the Indian team, and add that to the experienced group."
Dawes has been to India four times, at the MRF Pace Academy in Chennai and with South Australia for the Champions League. The pressures of coaching India, though, will be completely different. "Coaching is a pressure-filled job," Dawes says. "Coaching at the highest level will bring the highest level of pressure.
"[India is a] unique place. Great place. Thoroughly enjoyed my trips to India. To be part of the Indian cricket team is an excellent opportunity. I know the great expectations that come with it. If I didn't think I could not only cope with that but also add and excel in that, I wouldn't have taken the job."