Australia has raised the bar for specialist coaching

Published: Wednesday, June 1, 2005, 23:53 [IST]
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Sydney:Not only is Australia ruling Test and One-day cricket but its cricketing culture is spreading throughout the world through its coaches.

Greg Chappell and Tom Moody have recently taken to four the number of Australians coaching international teams.

Former Australian captain Chappell was last month given the onerous role as India's new cricket coach and entrusted with masterminding the country's campaign through to the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies.

Moody, who was interviewed and rejected by India, subsequently replaced another Australian John Dyson as the Sri Lankan coach.

They join other Australian incumbents, Bennett King in charge of the once-mighty West Indies and Dav Whatmore, who guided Sri Lanka to the 1996 World Cup title, with Test strugglers Bangladesh.

The successful structures in Australian cricket have ensured a rich conveyor-belt of cricket coaches, who with limited opportunities at home are looking overseas for their chance.

"The thing about Australian cricket is we keep everyone in the game," said former Australian and Zimbabwe coach Geoff Marsh this week.

"There's a lot of guys who enjoy coaching - Greg Chappell wanted to get into it and Tom Moody has been coaching (English County side) Worcestershire for five or six years and coaching an international side is something they aspire to because people see it as a challenge."

Marsh said just as it was setting the benchmark on the field, Australia had also raised the bar for specialist cricket coaching - such as issues focused on team management, practice and opposition analysis.

Australia has a strong pedigree in cricket coaching with Bob Simpson revolutionising the coach's role at Test level and taking Australia from an easybeat in the mid-1980s to the champion side at the 1987 World Cup.

Simpson instilled discipline into Allan Border's struggling team and pushed them relentlessly in fitness and fielding drills and batting technique in a decade at the helm.

When English cricket finally established a much-needed cricket academy to nurture their future Test cricketers in 2001 they turned to another Australian taskmaster Rod Marsh.

"You look at Bob Simpson and Rodney Marsh at the (Australian) cricket academy and then the English one - those guys set the standard," Geoff Marsh said.

"Rodney was in charge of academy sides that were regularly beating touring sides."

India and Sri Lanka are now looking to Chappell and Moody to instil that Australian regimen into their cricketers and challenge for the top.

"I am honoured because this is the most exciting job in cricket," one of Australia's greatest batsmen Chappell said of his Indian appointment.

"I want to make India the best team in the world. That's my job and I pledge to work towards that."

Chappell has some wonderful talent to work with: Sourav Ganguly, Sachin Tendulkar, Rahul Dravid, Virender Sehwag, Venkatsai Laxman, Anil Kumble and Harbhajan Singh.

Moody is similarly ambitious and has the 2007 World Cup in the West Indies as his primary target with Sri Lanka.

"Our main focus obviously will be on the World Cup," said the 39-year-old all-rounder who played in two successful Australian World Cup campaigns in 1987 and 1999.

"I would like to think that the journey between now and 2007 is a process towards a successful campaign in the West Indies.

"We as a team should achieve one of the top three positions in Test standings and in order to get there we need to improve on our form at home and away from home. That will be one of my main areas of concern."

But it isn't all plain sailing in the international cricket arena as Whatmore can attest to.

Whatmore is fending off calls for Bangladesh to lose their Test status after his team was pounded by an innings and 261 runs inside three days in the first Test against England at Lord's last week.

Bangladesh endured the tenth largest Test innings defeat and have won just one of their 37 Tests.

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