Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Will England learn from the Mad Professor?

England are once again utilising an Australian expert in order to gain insider knowledge on the opposition ahead of this winter's Ashes aeries. For Troy Cooley in 2005 read John Buchanan in 2010.

Five years ago it worked with devastating effect with Cooley forging the four-man pace attack that ripped through the Australian top order during that thrilling summer.
Now Andy Flower's side have employed another man from down under, controversial former Australian team coach Buchanan, who is nicknamed the Mad Professor.

His slightly off-the-wall methods when in charge of the all-conquering Aussie team of the late 90s and early 2000s were often derided in the media and sometimes by his own players as being the ideas of a crackpot. Whatever the reason, Australia dominated the cricket odds during his time in charge.

A forward thinker, Buchanan sought to keep his team of winners motivated by methods such as poetry, the teachings of fifth century Chinese warlord Sun Tzu, lectures on a range of bizarre subjects including Hulk Hogan and the Bee Gees and even a military-style bush boot camp.

I would be surprised of any such methods filtered through to the England side, even though Buchanan is set to take on a major role. But his knowledge of the Australian players and perhaps crucially the Australian pitches could be, as former England batsman Mike Gatting said, "that extra one per cent that might help them win a match or two". The Ashes cricket betting make the home side firm favourites, so England need to try something to swing things in their favour.

Matches nowadays are won off the field as well as on it and I think it is encouraging that the ECB are seeking to gain every possible advantage ahead of the series.
On the other hand it could be more like what Shane Warne called it: "a load of verbal diarrhoea".

I guess we will find out at the Gabba in November.

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