There’s a bit been happening with the Australian cricket team in India over the last week or two and people keep asking me, “Why is a former wicket keeper the Australian cricket team’s spin bowling coach?” who better to ask than former Australian wicket keeper and current Australian cricket team fielding coach, that crusty old blighter, Steve Rixon.
Steve Rixon: What do you want?
Me: Steve, how are you? How are you coping with the change of keepers ? You must be flat out as fielding coach.
Steve Rixon: It’s been a vast improvement. Haddin can catch – it makes a big difference you know.
Me: I can’t imagine. I’m hearing you’re also the spin bowling coach now. What would you know about bowling spin, you’re a wicket keeper?
Steve Rixon: Spinners and wicket keepers need to have good synergy so it’s natural for a wicket keeper to coach spinners. Nah that’s just spin mate, I don’t even know what the word ‘synergy’ means. Like most of the media you’ve got the wrong end of the stick. I’m not the spin bowling coach, I’m the spin coach. You don’t think Invers and Mickey came up with the phrase “informed player management” by themselves do you? That was my work. I coach all the staff, coaches and players on how to answer media questions – I coach them in spin. Test me out – ask me another question.
Me: Alright then, why was Nathan Lyon dropped?
Steve Rixon: Well we felt as a team unit we needed to have a left arm spinner and a right arm spinner to make best use of the available conditions in the second test. Doherty and Maxwell had bowled really well in tandem in the nets during the first test and had really built up a good chemistry. We thought it was essential to take in two bowlers who had bowled together, admittedly only in the nets, if we were to play two spinners. That’s why Doherty and Maxwell came into the team – they’d bowled together but neither had bowled with Lyon before so he missed out.
Me: I see. That was convincing, you nearly got me believing that bullshit reason. That’s some good spin.
Steve Rixon: Um…. ah…. that was the truth actually.
Me: Now I’m completely confused. If you’re not the spin bowling coach then who is?
Steve Rixon: Well there isn’t one. You only need a spin bowling coach if you have bowlers who spin the ball – we don’t have any we’ve just got Maxwell, Lyon and ‘variations in flight and pace’ Doherty
Me: And Steve Smith?
Steve Rixon: 90 balls in a Sheffield Shield season a spin bowler does not make. Plus his stock balls are the half tracker and the full toss.
Me: Fair point but where are all the spin bowlers in the Sheffield Shield? Ricky Ponting has been Tasmania’s number 1 spinner in its last 2 shield matches!
Steve Rixon: Yeah Tassie are a joke playing a medium pace trundler like Evan Gulbis at No 10 and not playing a spinner. Look I’ve been working on a plan for spin bowlers that’s going to come into the Sheffield Shield next season. Each team has to play 2 spinners in every game and they have to bat in the bottom 3. These spinners are to bowl their arms off in the nets but never pick up a bat and do a minimum of fielding training. Look a t Stuart MacGill he couldn’t bat to save himself and was a shocking fielder but he focused on bowling and he could really spin the ball. It will put a stop to this nonsense of spin bowlers/batsmen/quasi all rounders – Cam White, Steve O’Keeffe, Glen Maxwell. Spin bowlers need to focus on their craft by bowling heaps of overs not by practicing their batting. Either you’re a bone fide spinner and you bat bottom 3 or you’re a proper batsmen (who may occasionally bowl a few slow doorknobs ala Darren Lehmann).
It will also help develop genuine all rounders as each team will be looking for a third paceman who can bat in the top 7.
Me: It makes a lot of sense to me. Just quickly, who is going to lead the team song if Lyon’s not in the Test team?
Steve Rixon: I don’t think we are going to have to cross that bridge for a while. Can you put $50 on India to win 4-0 for me?
Me: Good point and can do. See you mate