Sriram: 'Aussies listen to me because I talk sense'

Australia’s spin consultant Sridharan Sriram, who has been credited for Steeve O’Keefe’s sensational performance in the first Test against India, feels it’s not the name of a coach but his inputs that earn him respect from players.

Sridharan Sriram, who played 8 ODIs for India during early part of the last decade, is considered the guiding force behind left-arm spinner O’Keefe's match-winning figures of 12 for 70 in Australia’s 333-run win in the first Test against India.   -  Photo: AFP

Sridharan Sriram turned up in Maharashtra’s colours at the Maharashtra Cricket Association stadium in December 2011 in what turned out to be his maiden first-class match at the picturesque stadium and the last of a prolonged career of the former Tamil Nadu stalwart.

No wonder that when Sriram – the only Indian in the Australian touring entourage – touched down in Pune a week ago for the first Test match at the stadium, he would have had a sense of déjà vu.

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Little would the Australia spin bowling consultant have imagined that he would be in the limelight even 48 hours after Australia completed a 333-run rout of India in the series-opener against India. After all, Stephen O’Keefe – the left-arm spinner who ran through India’s batsmen on a rank turner with a rich 12-wicket haul – had credited Sriram for helping him turn the tables.

Sriram admitted his drudgery in domestic cricket has been instrumental in shaping him up as a coach. “I know what it is to fail as a spinner as well," Sriram, who started off as a left-arm spinner but excelled as a batsman as his career progressed, told reporters ahead of Australia’s optional training session at Gahunje on Monday.

"So I think that's really more important than to really know what you did to succeed. Until the age of 19, I went through the grind of domestic cricket as a spinner. So I pretty much know what it feels like to bowl spin in India and do well and not do well."

Sriram has had a love-affair with Australia. He was the first recipient of the Border-Gavaskar Scholarship, then played domestic cricket for Australia’s National Cricket Academy and even featured in a tour game against the visiting team in 2001, just after he made his ODI debut for India. Even his big break as coach was when he worked with O’Keefe and others during Australia A’s tour to India in 2015.

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It doesn’t come as a surprise when he talks about the Australian attitude just like an Aussie. "If I talk sense they listen to me, if I talk bullshit they don't. They've really been open. That's the best thing about this Australian team,” he said. They've been open to listen first and then obviously I made sense a little bit and they started listening and they started trying out things in the nets and saw that it worked for them and I think that's how it has gone."

Despite the ideal start to the series, as Australia travels to Bengaluru – closest of the four venues to Sriram’s hometown Chennai – Sriram, with his vast experience of Indian conditions, stressed that the opening win will not necessarily have a bearing on the remaining three matches.

"India is such a big country, there's no one-stop solution. If you say 'this will work', it is not going to work. So you have just got to adapt on the go. You have got to see what works for you on that day,” he said. “I think that's where Stephen O'Keefe really scored because he was well prepared. He was prepared to experiment; he was prepared to sort of try different things in the nets, which goes back to our time in Chennai in 2015. So I think he knew that he had to come with an open mind for every day of a Test Match. What works on day one may not work on day three. He knows that. I think that's his biggest strength."

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