McDermott relishing Irish role
IF Boyd Rankin is going to break into the England team he is going to have to start bowling a fuller length.
That's the advice to the soon-to-be ex-Ireland international from Craig McDermott, the former Australia fast bowler who has joined the Ireland coaching set up for the World Twenty20 here in Colombo.
Coming from someone who took 291 wickets in 71 Tests and another 203 victims in 138 ODIs, it is advice worth listening to and already Trent Johnston, still learning new tricks at the age of 38, and Kevin O'Brien have been persuaded to change their bowling grips by McDermott, with noticeable improvements.
"I know that Rankin has declared himself for England but personally I'd like to see him pitch the ball up a bit more. He bowls back of a length, that's what his county wants him to do," says the Queenslander.
"I've talked to him about that and something we will be working on during this World Cup about getting it up a bit more. If he does that he will learn how to swing the ball more consistently and get more wickets.
"And if he does that he has a better chance of playing for England in my opinion. So that would be my influence over him, not just in this World Cup but going forward."
As for Johnston, still playing eight years after McDermott retired, the Aussie "can only take my hat off to him".
He went on: "Trent's a very skilful bowler, very fit for his age. He does everything all the young boys do and continues to do so. I have enjoyed working with him as I have all the other boys."
McDermott (47), known to everyone as Billy (The Kid), a name given to him when he became the youngest player to play for Australia for nearly 20 years when he came in aged 19, seems genuinely happy with his new, albeit temporary role, which he took up at just 10 days' notice, having quit his coaching post with Cricket Australia.
"I was contacted through ICC by Ireland to come here as assistant coach/bowling coach. I had just finished with Cricket Australia and was available and looking round for other things and experiences.
"It's a different experience to work with a different coach with different players at different levels. I'd like to be a head coach at some stage, maybe get involved with the IPL (Indian Premier League) or BPL (Bangladesh Premier League). Now I have chance to explore other avenues. I had some personal things to take care off over a couple of months, got them sorted out and it's now back on the road," he said.
It is probably not coincidence that McDermott has been appointed, with Australia being Ireland's first opponents in the World Twenty20 next Wednesday, but he was not making public any secrets about his former charges.
"I can give an insight into the Aussie squad but it still comes down to how our players handle their bowlers, or our bowlers being able to execute against the Aussie batters," he added. "Australia haven't set the world on fire in T20 cricket over the last 12 months but they are working hard and it's for them to worry about their form and I'll worry about our boys and we'll meet on the 19th.
"But I'm not thinking about that game at this stage, Zimbabwe is next (today) and by the time we get to the first match of the World Cup we will be ready, nice and sharp.
"I'm well aware we are bad starters. But we have started that process. Sri Lanka A are not a shabby side, some of their guys have played a lot of one day cricket for SL. We beat them very convincingly (on Monday) under their conditions so we can take heart from that.
The team everyone is talking up to win the whole tournament is West Indies, Ireland's other group opponents on Monday week. McDermott can only concur.
"West Indies are very talented in T20 cricket. They played very good T20 cricket against us (Australia) at the start of the year and they too have a lot of all-rounders and will be the team to beat in this World Cup. They gel well together and that's good for a team in these conditions.
But McDermott isn't ruling out a shock.
"We have a really well balanced side, full of all-rounders. We've a chance of a making a bit of a shake up," and then this temporary appointment could be extended into a fourth week.