The Aussies count on Sriram for spin

Visiting spinners have found it tough to leave a mark on Indian wickets, but the Aussies could change this trend with the help of S. Sriram.

Ever since his introduction into the side in 2015, he’s worked on fine-tuning the Aussie spinners.   -  G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR

Darren Lehmann faced it in Dhaka; Nathan Lyon in Chittagong. Steven Smith tackled the question on his arrival in Chennai. “How much do you think has S. Sriram helped Australian spinners?”

Interacting with a handful of scribes at a plush hotel last Sunday afternoon, the Aussie skipper replied, “He has been really good.”

Any Aussie cricketer would agree that spin coach Sriram's presence has been a boost. "He has great knowledge about how to play in these conditions. He has helped the players, particularly spinners," Smith said, before adding that the Chennai-based cricketer’s knowledge about Indian wickets have helped the present lot of Australian spinners.

Perhaps that's why before the first ODI at M. A. Chidambaram Stadium on Sunday, the visiting side would depend even more on Sriram. Ever since his introduction into the side in 2015 (he initially worked with Australia A), he’s worked on fine-tuning the Aussie spinners.

After losing to Bangladesh in the first Test, Australia levelled the series in Chittagong in the second. Lyon, who picked up 13 wickets in the match, credited Sriram for his success.

Sriram’s presence was felt when Australia toured India for a Test series in March. Even though it lost the series, it posed a threat to the star-studded Indian batting line-up. Steve O’Keefe claimed six wickets in 24 balls to unsettle the Indians and helped Australia win the first Test in Pune.

Though the Australians failed to keep the momentum going in the series, O’Keefe had said that Sriram’s presence boosted his morale. “He (Sriram) gets it, he understands how to bowl in these conditions. He understands what the batters are thinking.”

Steve O’Keefe (left) credited Sriram's help when he took a six-wicket haul in the first innings of the Pune Test in February.   -  G. P. SAMPATH KUMAR

 

Perhaps, that’s one of the reasons why many Australian cricketers spend a lot of time with Sriram during training sessions.

Things were no different on Thursday. As the Aussie batsmen sweated it out in the nets, Sriram was discussing a thing or two with Adam Zampa and Ashton Agar. Soon, Glenn Maxwell joined in. Zampa and Agar, then, went on to bowl under Sriram’s observation.

Before the side’s Sri Lanka tour last year, Aussie spin great Ashley Mallett, who mentors O’Keefe, visited the National Cricket Academy in Brisbane where he met Sriram. “He is very good. I met him at the National Cricket Academy in Brisbane. He can actually motivate the young guys,” Mallett tells Sportstar.

Mallett recalls an incident that took place before Australia’s Test tour to India. “I remember O’Keefe did not get wickets initially, he talked to him at length, advised a few things on how to keep things simple in Indian conditions. And the result was Steve getting six wickets. He is quite good.”

Marcus Stoinis, who impressed in the warm-up game against Board President’s XI, too, believes that working with Sriram for months has been quite useful. “We’ve got an Indian spin consultant, and I've been working closely with him. So, that all helps,” Stonis says.

Having played for Delhi Daredevils in 2015, where Sriram was a bowling coach, Stoinis has been able to pick up a few things from the Indian, who played nine ODIs and 133 first-class matches. “I’ve been working with him for four months on the trot now. As for what we've been working on – that (2015 Australia 'A' tour) will be different from this ODI series, but for that, it was mostly (perfecting) defence in the sub-continent. Need to (tighten) your defence before you can go on to attack,” Stoinis says.

Visiting spinners have found it tough to leave a mark on Indian wickets, but with an Indian helping the Aussies out, they could change this trend.