Lack of swing from Australian bowlers ‘is a real concern’, admits Craig McDermott

Image courtesy of: The Guardian

McDermott is extremely worried about Australia’s lack of swing

Former Australia pace bowler Craig McDermott, who was recently re-appointed as the national team’s bowling coach for Test matches, has admitted that the lack of swing Australia’s pace bowlers are getting in India “is a real concern” ahead of their Ashes series at home next month.

In the second ODI in Jaipur, the baggy greens failed to defend a mammoth total of 359 against the Indians, who chased down the target with 39 balls to spare.

“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,” told The Times of India. “The fact that India got those runs with six-and-a-half overs to spare underlined the supremacy of the bat over ball.”

However, McDermott conceded that the conditions in Jaipur were clearly in favour of the batsmen.

“Look, in cricket, as in life, you can always look back and feel that certain things could have been done differently,” he said. “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.”

Australia’s inability to swing the new ball during that match was also a worrying sign for McDermott, who has just over a month to whip the pace bowlers into shape before the Ashes gets underway in Brisbane.

“It is a real concern because that is the only chance pacers have on flat surfaces when the ball is new,” he said. “It would be interesting to see how they respond to the challenge in the remaining games.”

The former Australian seamer noted that he had begun training Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood for the time being since Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile are still in India.

“Fortunately we only have Mitchell Johnson and Nathan Coulter-Nile out there who are in reckoning for Test berths,” he said. “I have Ryan Harris, Peter Siddle, Josh Hazlewood and the rest here to work with, and I am already on the job.”

McDermott admitted that he has been impressed with Johnson’s bowling as of late and believes he will be a force to be reckoned with during the Ashes.

“Yes. He is bowling at full tilt and looks close to his best,” McDermott said. “With a little bit of work, he should be ready for the return Ashes series.”

McDermott also stated that he felt the pace bowlers were not too shabby during the recent Ashes series in England.

“Our bowlers hadn’t done too badly in England,” he said. “They kept us in the game in spite of our batsmen failing to put enough runs on the board. James Pattinson and Mitchell Starc bowled well initially, Harris excelled in the last two matches. Siddle was not as effective but was good in patches.”

The 48-year-old also has plans to work closely with the young pace duo of Pat Cummins and James Pattinson, both of whom have constantly fallen victim to serious injuries.

“It is a concern and we are working on it,” McDermott said. “[Their] 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.”

Regarded as the mastermind behind Australia’s 4-0 whitewashing of India in 2012, McDermott revealed that the national team began preparing two months prior to the start of the series.

“We started our preparations two months back when Australia were touring Sri Lanka,” McDermott added. “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.”

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