Cricket Australia director and former pacer Michael Kasprowicz waxed eloquent on the pace attack comprising of Jasprit Bumrah, Ishant Sharma and Mohammed Shami, who played a key part in India winning their first-ever Test series win Down Under.
Bumrah, Sharma and Shami accounted for 48 wickets between them in the series and Kasprowicz was impressed by the manner in which the Indian pace battery adapted to to the conditions.
“It was great to watch as a former fast bowler because what they did was adjust to the Australian conditions very quickly,” Kasprowicz told Scroll.in during a visit to Mumbai. “Normally, it takes a bit of time for club and country to adjust to the bounce. The Indian players, were right on – both the with the bat and ball. That’s what was most impressive.”
Kasprowicz, who played 38 Tests during a decade-long international career, was himself a part of an all-conquering bowling unit that dominated the longest format in the late 90s and early 2000s. A subcontinent specialist of sorts, ‘Kasper’, as he was called by his teammates, played a key role in Australia’s twin Asian conquests of Sri Lanka and India in 2004.
He observed that the key to India’s success with the ball in recent times is the way they compliment each other
“As much they talk about batting in partnerships, bowling in partnerships is equally important. It’s the game sense that comes into play here,” the 47-year-old said. “If you are building pressure from one end, the one at the other end recognises that you are getting a couple of maidens and making life difficult for the batsmen.
“The best bowling lineups – they share ideas, concepts and you see that with the Australian players. [Mitch] Starc, [Josh] Hazlewood and [Pat] Cummins for that matter are from New South Wales. Seeing them in Tests...they have been exceptional for a long period of time.”
The stand-out performer from the series was India’s Cheteshwar Pujara, who finished with a whopping 521 runs in the Border-Gavaskar series. Kasprowicz pointed out that it was the series that was, ultimately, won and lost with the bat.
“Pujara was patient with the way he approached his batting,” he said. “That is part of the adjustment [to Australian conditions] as well. They looked like a good Test team.
“I think the talent is there, it has always been here in India. I think in some ways, with [Virat] Kohli he showed a lot of restraint. We thought he was going to score much more. The [Australian] bowlers have to be commended for that [but] India’s batsmen were just better.”
Post sandpaper-gate and the World Cup
Suspended duo Steve Smith and David Warner will be eligible for selection from March 29 and Kasprowicz – who has been an administrator with CA for the last seven years – is optimistic about them being reinstated in the team smoothly. The five-time world champions have sorely missed Smith and Warner over the past year.
“Within the team, the coach and selectors are all talking about the process of integrating them back in,” Kasprowicz said.
Australia endured a torrid 2018, especially in ODI cricket. Getting back to winning ways, the Brisbane-born said, can serve as an antidote. Tim Paine’s side bounced back from the India setback with a comprehensive 2-0 rout over Sri Lanka recently.
“The challenge is that people like their sides to win. That seems to solve the problem in both countries [Australia and India].”
“That’s where the Australian team have put a charter to demonstrate the way they want to play their cricket. They are still going to be competitive – that’s never going off the table. The way to win trust is through action....through behaviour.”
The infamous sandpaper-gate scandal last year became the biggest talking point in world cricket. There were suspensions, resignations, a supposed new philosophy, and change in leadership. Kasprowicz, though, is optimistic about the future.
“It was difficult to see that but we were thorough with what we were doing,” he said, recalling the events that unfolded from Cape Town last year. “However, this is the best time to be involved in the game. Our vision to be Australia’s no 1 sport and the sport for all Australians.”
Despite being the reigning champions, expectations are muted going into the World Cup in June. The former Ashes winner pointed out that history suggests Australia peak at the right time for the showpiece event.
He said, “They have a lot of experience in their squad and I am looking forward to it. Going into it, there are big expectations. I have been hearing a lot of people say that they are not as strong as they used to be. That, I think, is the opportunity for the current lot to change. A lot of them have been exposed to fifty over cricket. I think Australia will be running hot, come the right time.”