History shows that the team with the best bowling attack generally wins, says Greg Chappel
Cricket Australia is on the hunt for a fast bowling coach to replace Craig McDermott who was forging a reputation as an elite coach to match the one he earned as a bowler at the highest level.
No doubt a lot of bowling coaches would love to have the job. Who wouldn't, with a crop of youngsters coming through the system to join the likes of Harris, Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Johnson? Unfortunately, most of the good coaches are already taken.
History shows that the team with the best bowling attack generally wins. Batsmen set games up, but it is the bowlers who must win Tests by taking 20 wickets.
Australia is well set to build an attack that will stand it in good stead for a number of years. With a busy international schedule, it will be necessary to have six to seven bowlers on the go at any one time. Injury is an occupational hazard for the heavy-lifters of the game so ‘workload management' is fast becoming the buzzword around fast bowlers.
I have no doubt Cricket Australia will go through an extensive search for McDermott's replacement, for it cannot be complacent about the development of this bowling squad. Harris has long-term injury concerns and the likes of James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and Patrick Cummins have a lot of work to do before they are ready to fly solo.
Michael Clarke has shown real flair as a leader and has demonstrated that he believes that attack is the best form of defence. His reading of the first Test in Barbados against the West Indies showed him to be a leader of mettle and someone who sees victory as the only option worth chasing.
Clarke and Mickey Arthur will want whoever replaces McDermott to carry on his good work with the pace attack. McDermott's mantra was to pitch it up where it could swing and where lbw, bowled and caught behind the wicket were distinct wicket-taking options.
The quickest way to discourage bowlers from this wicket-taking length is to set inappropriate fields or to panic at the first sign of balls being driven to the boundary. The biggest scourge of the modern game, in my opinion, is the deep point fieldsmen being used as run-savers as a matter of course.
No bowler is going to pitch the ball up for long if his protection is square of the wicket. Even without saying a word, the captain is encouraging the bowler to bowl short if he resorts to defensive field settings.
The other negative with this strategy is that it is easy for batsmen to get off strike if there is a big gap square of the wicket on the off-side. Any batsman worth his salt can drop the ball in front of him and scamper to the other end to ease the pressure.
Having said that, there is more to bowling than just pitching the ball up; most elite batsmen can drive half-volleys. One has to be able to challenge the batsman to drive without presenting him with easy runs.
James Anderson has been the best at doing this in recent years.
The success of the Australian attack against India was predicated upon being able to bowl this attacking length with supporting fields for extended periods. Michael Clarke has shown that he prefers this method to boring batsmen out with back-of-a-length bowling.
Ishant Sharma, for instance, would have been more potent on the recent tour of Australia if his default length had been a metre fuller. At the length he bowled, he allowed the Australian batsmen to play off the back foot with minimal risk.
Umesh Yadav, on the other hand, looked more dangerous and was more successful, because he pitched the ball fuller. With guidance, he could become a very good bowler.
It will be much tougher for the Australians in the next 18 months. With series against South Africa in Australia plus England and India away, they will undergo an intense examination of their skills.
Keywords: Greg Chappel column