The pre-Ashes build up
Coaching capers, menus and George Bailey
Me: Steve, how’s it going in Brisbane? How are the preparations for the Ashes?
Steve Rixon: Ah it’s you. Well thinks are going well in Brisbane. It’s good to catch up with all the coaches . Boof and I had some quality Esky time on Saturday night and I filled him in on all the goings on in India. We were a little bit worse for wear to be honest when all the Test boys flew in on Sunday.
Me: Talking of coaching are you worried your role is being reduced with Mike Young and John Davison joining the coaching ranks.
Steve Rixon: Look here you little runt I’m still a very important coach in the Australian set up. I was head coach in India, and don’t you bloody well forget it. Mike Young, the baseball guy, is back as a fielding consultant and as much as I love the guy, his background is baseball – his forte is outfielding and throwing, he knows nothing about wicket keeping. So I’m still the wicket keeping and close in catching coach, he’s just the out fielding and throwing coach. Our roles are clearly defined, I’m not threatened. Mainly though we will be taking him up on his offer to run water.
Davo’s been working with the spinners at the Centre of Excellence for a while but now he’s going to be travelling with the team because Craig McDermott can’t. Davo is the travelling bowling coach. I’m not sure how much help he’ll be for Sids, Mitchy J and co but he’ll be working primarily with my protege, Nathan Lyon, and most of their time their focus will be on awareness. It’s been good working with Nathan, he’s come along way with his awareness but’s theres still scope for impovement and it would probably help if we didn’t drop him every series but that is Invers and Patsy’ Howard’s way. I’m still the spin coach though, remember that I’ll still be called upon to come up with the phrases like “rotation policy” and similar.
Me: Why is Craig McDermott not travelling with the team for the Ashes?
It’s been great to get Craig McDermott back as bowling coach, he’s been welcomed back to the set up and jumped straight into his job telling Sids and Mitchy J to “Pitch it up” and “Don’t bowl short shit.” It’s amazing how simple but effective those instructions are. There’s only one snag, when McDermott quit the Aussie coaching gig due to family commitments, he moved to the Gold Coast and took up an occupation with more family friendly hours – yeah he bought a nightclub. Anyway he hasn’t been able to sell the night club yet so he won’t be traveling with the team during the Ashes. Thursday through to Sunday are the busiest days on Cavill Avenue you know. McDermott won’t even be at the Gabba after 4pm each day because he’s got to open up the night club.
Me: The Australian team’s preparation seems a little rushed.
You know if Australia had only played a 5 game one day seris in India instead of 7 all the players could have been back in Australia for the first Shield match of the summer. But I’ve already gone over why it was 7 game series previously so we move on. I wouldn’t call the preparation rushed if anything it’s been relaxing, every bloody fast bowler in the country who might play in one of the five Tests had their feet up last week. Yep even Ben Hilfenhaus had a break for Tasmania and he wasn’t even named in the Ashes squad.
I did have a chat the other day to Invers about what the hell they were doing with the Invitational XI they fielded against England in the tour match last week, first the kowtowed to England’d desire to have stronger opposition than the NSW 2nd XI so Invers named Ussie, Hughesy and Adam Voges and then replaced them all. It turns out Invers thought the Invitational XI was the test team – apparently that was all the rage back in the 1890’s when Invitational XIs were in their hey day according to Invers. Anyway Patsy Howard had to come in and fix up the mess Invers had created. Invers also stuffed up with the Australia A team, he was meant to ring all the players to let them know they were selected but he got half way through and fell asleep talking to Usssie about his forward defense. I’m surpirsed it wasn’t Ussie who fell asleep. Anyway half the blokes found out about their selection on Twitter.
Me: Have you been doing any special training since the squad assembled in Brisbane?
Funny you should ask that. With Mitchy J in the team we’ve pulled out the crash mats for Hadds. Yeah Hadds has spent most of the past week horizontal practicing his diving technique down the legside and also infront of second slip. There is awareness that Mitchy J will serve up a lot of leg side filth so we’ve had Sidds and Ryan Harris, the usual fine leg fieldsman, doing sprint training so they should be able to cut off anything that flies past Hadds down the leg side and stop it running away for four byes. Also I’ve introduced a new feidleing program we use to do a three point drill based on a right angle triangle but I’ve mixed things up big time – we now do our fielding drills based on an isosceles triangle. I believe this will revolutionise cricket fielding training – it;s all about trigonometry, I won’t bore you with the details as you may not understand.
Me: I see, what did you make of Englands food requirement’s document that was floating around?
Englands food requirements. You know we share the eating areas with WEngland at all the test venues except Sydney. We won’t be standing for any of this superfoods marketing bullshit quinoa and goji berries stuffed with quail, we’ll just be eating normal nutritious fare that we’ve been served for a few years now. Back in my day the Gabba had the best lunches – quarter chicken and chips with gravy – Merv would go back for thirds. But those days are long gone, these guys are professional atheltes and eat accordingly that doesn’t mean you have to be sucked in by pseudo science marketing nonsense around superfoods. Anyway I guess Englands’ travelling team nutrionist has to justify his position. The caterers have even said they’re not going to bother doing all the dishes so stick that up your quinoa England.
Me: What about the two teams how do you see them lining up?
The Australian squad is a lot better than the squad we took to England because we’ve got less openers. This time we’ve only got two – Rogers and Warner. I don’t classify Watto as an opener he’s a number 7 whose now slotted a t number three somehow. I expect that to change if the last Ashes is anything to go buy he was up and down the batting order more than a carrot on a cheese grater – he was lucky to bat in the same position twice in one test mat let alone from one test match to another.
Weaknesses in England team. Well I had a look at their batting, essentially they’ve got three Michael Clarke’s Cook, Peitersen and Bell and we’ve only got 1 – Pup. I really hope George Bailey outplays his first class record as much as he’s outplayed his domestic one day record in ODIs. It’s what Invers and Patsy are banking on I think.
Bowling wise well, people talk up James Anderson but really his figures are on par with Peter Siddle. The only bloke with elite stats in either team is Ryan Harris and we’re jsut hoping we can keep him fit for at least 3 of the 5 tests. We’ve got to be wary of Sturat Broad he will do nothing all series then produce an unplayable spell and take 5-fer in an hour. Englands third seamer is their wekaness witout Timmy Bresnan, I’ve never rated Finn, he’s tall that’s about it really. Tremlett’s in terrible form and he’s not the bowler that toured here 3 years ago. Boyd Rankin doesn’t phase us, so we’ll wait and see who they pick. David Saker can talk about England knowing their bowling line up as much he likes but I can’t take him seriously as an international cricket coach – he still looks like a bogan brickie with a goatee to me. What he need is a moustache and some slicked back hair, that’sw hat real coaches look like.
Me: Any tips mate?
Steve Rixon: Yeah I’ve got a few actually. You reckon Alistair Cook looks silly dressed as a chef, wait to you see Michael Carberry’s space age helmet. But here’s the serious stuff, George Bailey to be involved in a runout he’s already been involved in 49 in first class cricket. If he bats with Watto it’s almost a guarantee there will be a runout – put $10 on that. Here’s the clincher though, put $100 on KP to make a ton. It’s his 100th test match and i’I’ve got a sneaking suspicion he may just be the kind of character who is very very motivated by personal milestones. Just a hunch really but he does have a 90 here at the Gabba. Generally he only makes runs in Adeliae but I reckon the extra motivation will spur him on. Also it’s a bit wet up here, chuck a sly $20 on the match being a draw.
Me: Can do see ya mate.