MELBOURNE: Australia have employed former India all-rounder Sridharan Sriram as a coaching consultant to help with their troubles playing spin bowling in the lead-up to their tour of Bangladesh.
A left-hand batsman and left-arm spinner, 39-year-old Sriram played eight One-day Internationals from 2000-04 but made his biggest mark in domestic cricket as a prolific run-maker for Maharashtra and Tamil Nadu.
An assistant coach in India’s domestic Twenty20 competition, Sriram worked with Australia ‘A’ during their recent tour of India and will be retained to help Steven Smith’s side prepare for next month’s two-Test series against Bangladesh, Cricket Australia said on their website.
“Working with the Australian Test team is a great honour,” Sriram told the website. “I’ve played international cricket for India and I’m looking forward to sharing my experience and knowledge of sub-continental conditions with the squad.
“The Australian cricket team talks about ‘one-percenters’ and my role will be to contribute that one percent to help the team adapt to the conditions and opponents quickly.
“In the long run, I see myself as someone who can help the Australian batsmen become better players of spin bowling and also help spinners understand the psyche and technique of different batsmen and adapt to different conditions.”
Virtually unbeatable on home soil, Australia have been woeful on foreign pitches and lost the recent Ashes 3-2 in England despite entering the series as firm favourites.
Their batsmen have long struggled against spin, but especially so on the flat wickets of the subcontinent, and the team was swept 4-0 in their last tour of India in 2013.
Sriram has already worked with a number of Smith’s squad, with uncapped opener Cameron Bancroft, Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja all prospering on India’s pitches during the recent Australia ‘A’ tour.
“He’s been awesome, just to get comfortable playing in defence and being able to be comfortable with the ball spinning past the bat,” Bancroft said after scoring 150 during that tour.
Sriram’s hire is not the first time Australia have used a foreign coaching consultant to try to help them exorcise their spin demons.
Sri Lanka’s record wicket-taking spinner Muttiah Muralitharan was hired to much hoopla last year to help Australia prepare for a two-Test series against Pakistan in the United Arab Emirates.
But Australia were routed 2-0.
Chittagong hosts the first Test from Oct 9 before the teams move to Dhaka for the final match starting on Oct 17.