Australia's Test bowling coach Craig McDermott is concerned about the inability of the fast bowlers to extract swing with the two new balls in the sub-continent, as seen during the on-going ODI series between Australia and India. Bowlers of both sides suffered at the hands of the belligerent batsmen in the second ODI in Jaipur on Wednesday (October 16, 2013) as a total of 721 runs were scored at the Sawai Mansingh Stadium. The visitors bore the brunt, failing to defend 359 as India's young brigade Shikhar Dhawan, Rohit Sharma and Virat Kohli romped home with 39 balls to spare.
"It is a real concern because that is the only chance pacers have on flat surfaces, when the ball is new. It would be interesting to see how bowlers from both side respond to the challenge in the remaining games," McDermott told TOI in an interview on Friday.
McDermott, on Thursday, was rehired by Cricket Australia to work with fast bowlers ahead of the Ashes series against England, starting November 21 with the first Test. After a successful stint with Michael Clarke and his team for 12 months, he unexpectedly quit last May, saying the touring commitments were having a big impact on his family. (Read more)
Australia's bowling spearhead from the mid-1980s and early 1990s, McDermott was disappointed to see his ODI bowlers being hit all over the park, although he didn't take anything away from the swashbuckling Indian top-three.
"It was pretty deflating to watch our bowling unit come up against three Indian batsmen who hit form on the same day and played unbelievably well. The fact that India got those runs with six-and-a-half overs to spare underlined the supremacy of the bat over ball.
McDermott says the margin for error of bowling in the sub-continental flat tracks is minimal and the bowlers faced the brunt of it.
"Look, in cricket, as in life, you can always look back and feel that certain things could have been done differently. To be fair to bowlers on either side, the flat deck in Jaipur gave them no chance. There is simply no margin for error when batsmen have the option of hitting through the line," he added.
Before retiring in 1996, McDermott took 291 Test wickets and 203 scalps in ODIs, being the country's second highest wicket-taker then, behind the great Dennis Lillee. He hopes that the battering that the Aussie bowlers get in the sub-continent will not leave behind scars that will affect them going into the all-important home Ashes.
"I hope the bowlers are not demoralized. Fortunately we only have Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile playing here, who are there with a reckoning for Test berths. I have Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood and the rest here to work with, and I am already on the job. Johnson is bowling at full tilt, with a little bit of work, he should be ready for the Ashes," he said.
The 48-year-old Queenslander admits that young pacers like James Pattinson and Pat Cummins' vulnerability to injuries is a cause of concern.
"It is a concern and we are working on it. Work load has to be managed but it has to be done in the formative years, preferably at the U-19 stage. That is the right time to work on bowling techniques - run-up, delivery stride, action etc. That is what I have been doing. I have set up my own cricket academies in six states in Australia and I also run Pace Bowling Australia, a programme endorsed by CA, to unearth pace bowling talents," he added.
Many consider McDermott to be the mastermind behind Australia's fast bowlers' success in the 4-0 whitewash Down Under against India in 2011-12. The aggressive redhead reveals how they prepared to take on the star studded Indian batting line up comprising Virender Sehwag, Gautam Gambhir, Rahul Dravid, Sachin Tendulkar and VVS Laxman.
"We started our preparations two months back when Australia were touring Sri Lanka. The philosophy was simple. I am a believer in getting the ball to swing conventionally. The idea was to pitch the ball up and aim to bowl at least four deliveries in an over in the corridor of uncertainty and get it to move either way. It required discipline and perseverance, and our pacers, despite initial reservations, were prepared to be boring before reaping dividends," he said.