As we head into another Ashes week, there is a question that I think needs answering.
Is Troy Cooley all he’s cracked up to be?
I ask because all the perceived wisdom is that he was instrumental in turning England’s fast bowlers from also-rans to world-beaters, almost in the space of one series: England v Australia in 2005
Then, he went back to Australia and while it is not suggested that he had much input into the Australia attack – Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne weren’t ones to take to coaching too easily – it is thought he had a part in convincing Brett Lee to shorten his run-up in the 2006-7 series. That it seemed, brought some immediate success in that Lee continued to pick up useful wickets but stopped leaking the enormous volume of runs that his spells tended to.
It was, though, thought that England missed him. Harmison went off the radar (literally and figuratively) and James Anderson failed to pitch anything further up than halfway.
Funnily enough, it has recently been suggested that Jimmy ‘in the form of his life’ Anderson has only rediscovered his form since coaches, and by implication Cooley, left him alone to do what comes naturally (even if that means staring somewhere between your boot and mid-wicket as you deliver the ball).
Now it has been suggested that his advice might be behind Mitchell Johnson’s loss of form, perhaps putting too much emphasis on his ability to bowl the inswinger. The inswinger might in theory complete the armoury, give the batsman more to think about but even if he could only bowl outswingers,-so long as he bowled them consistently well, he would be more than a handful.-
No one should believe that those who have not done well at the highest level cannot make good coaches. The ability to know what you are doing wrong is no guarantee that you can put it right in yourself. But I was quite shocked when I looked up Cooley’s statistics.
In 33 first-class matches for Tasmania, he took only 54 wickets at an average of 61.35 and never took five wickets in an innings. Maybe the ECB were playing a blinder when they let him escape back to the land of his birth.
Fact of the matter is that England would almost certainly have lost that series anyway – the brilliance of McGrath and Warne with the ball ensured that – but now Cooley has been given time to work with the new generation, maybe his true abilities are becoming apparent.