Life is about grabbing opportunities. When S. Sriram joined the Australian team in 2015, his role was that of a spin bowling consultant.
Over the years, so impressed the hard-to-please Australians have been with Sriram’s commitment and knowledge that he is now an assistant coach with the side.
Australia’s resurgence after the sandpaper scandal where the emphasis has been on good hard cricket and player behaviour has been remarkable.
There was much introspection and the process was gradual. Then, in the Ashes, Australia’s famous never-say-die attitude came to the fore.
Sriram vividly remembers the Headingley Test. “When last man Jack Leach joined Ben Stokes, England needed 73 more. We thought we had won the match but coach Justin Langer was pensive. He reminded us about Stokes and what he could do.”
That was a day when things went horribly wrong for Australia. Nathan Lyon missed collecting a throw that could have decided the Ashes and the side wasted a review though Sriram believed it was the right call given the situation.
The devastated Australians did not speak to each other after the setback and left the ground quickly. “The next morning, we replayed the entire last wicket partnership during our meeting and discussed how we could have been different in our strategy,” Sriram revealed.
He added, “Our next game was against Derbyshire and coach Langer was keen that we win the match to get into the habit of picking 20 wickets again.”
Australia crushed Derbyshire and displayed remarkable resilience, defeated England in Manchester to retain the Ashes.
Marcus Labuschagne emerged the hero of the series. Sriram said, “His relationship with Smith was that of a teacher and disciple. They would go for breakfast together, practise together and hang out together.”
Dwelling on India’s tour of Australia later this year, Sriram said: “There has been very little Australian rules football played this season. So the drop in pitches in Melbourne and other places would be unspoilt, the grass would be fresh and the pitches could be lively.”
Sriram conceded the defeat against India the last time around at home was a big blow. “We were getting bowled out in 70 odd overs and our pacemen did not get enough rest,” he said.
And cricket without saliva? Sriram does not have an answer yet, although he believes the kookaburra ball, in any case does not seam much, after 25 overs.
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