Sport Cricket The man who holds the key to Aussie success on the sub-continent

The man who holds the key to Aussie success on the sub-continent

Sridharan Sriram also played in the Indian Premier League. Photo: Getty
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He played eight one-day internationals for India between 2000 and 2004 but Sridharan Sriram is now a key member of Australia’s coaching staff.

Sriram, a highly regarded domestic cricketer in India, is the man Australia turns to when facing its biggest challenge − trying to win on the sub-continent.

He first joined the Australian set-up in 2015, helping the ‘Australia A’ team as a spin consultant, and immediately struck a chord with the players, with his experience as an all-rounder proving beneficial to both batsmen and bowlers.

From that moment, Sriram has continued to be the man for Australia, even if his first tour ended in disaster.

“I had a chat with Boof [coach Darren Lehmann] and told him we can’t do what we are doing,” Sriram told The New Daily about his first impressions of a 2016 Test tour of Sri Lanka that ended in an embarrassing 3-0 series defeat.

“In the past, Australia has always sent squads to India for sub-continent exposure but the preparation was not specific enough.

“Small specifics like practising the sweep shot, adopting different pace while bowling spin or batting against particular fields … awareness around that was not prevalent.”

Australia begins a two-Test series in Bangladesh on Sunday and once again, Sriram is central to Lehmann’s plans.

Sriram was credited by the likes of skipper Steve Smith for Australia’s improved performance in India earlier this year, when they lost a nail-biting Test series 2-1.

And it was his suggestion – to stage a pre-series training camp in Dubai – that kicked things off.

“I was not surprised by the improvement in India,” he said.

“The players and staff were very committed and desperate to change it [a very bad record] around.

“It was just more pleasing to see that they could put in place what they practiced into the scenario of a Test match under pressure so quickly.”

While many casual cricket fans will take the challenge of Bangladesh lightly, the series will be far from easy for the Australians.

Australia has not won a Test series on the sub-continent since 2011. Photo: Getty

Again, they will be tested in a spin-friendly environment, and they won’t be helped by a distinct lack of match practice.

A two-day tour match in Bangladesh – Australia’s only official hit-out before the series – was cancelled due to wet weather this week.

It is far from ideal and in this series, as opposed to the clashes in India, Australia has to deal with the burden of expectation, Sriram said.

“In India, we were expected to lose badly and nobody gave us a chance, which I think, worked in our favour big time,” he said.

“Now the expectations are that Australia has taken a giant stride and are expected to win.”

Both sides are very different, he added.

“If you look at the Bangladesh batsmen, they tend to play spin in more of an unorthodox way … they will sweep more or run down the wicket more and be that extra [bit] aggressive,” he said.

“In terms of the bowlers I think Bangladesh are more defensive [than India] – they will have more boundary riders, they expect batsmen to commit mistakes and play on their mind with the odd ball turning or the one skidding in.

“They will wait for things to happen where Indian spinners were more proactive – that is a different challenge for the Australian batsmen, so you need to adjust to a different tempo and bat for longer.”

Sriram acknowledges he is not a name who many cricket fans will recognise – but that it doesn’t bother him.

“Why does a name matter? I mean, I come in and if I talk sense, they [players] listen to me,” he said.

“If I talk rubbish, they don’t.”

It is very clear the players are listening.

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