‘These are exciting times for Australia’

Clint McKay hit instantaneous fame when in his debut One-Day International against Indian in 2009, he removed Sachin Tendulkar after he had scored 175. This wicket and the two others he picked in this game helped Australia to a memorable three-run victory. This game also marked the beginning of a career which would see McKay identified as an ODI specialist who, despite not having the express pace, would pick up 97 wickets in 59 ODIs simply due to his accuracy and subtle slower deliveries.

In an exclusive interview with PakPassion.net, 32-year-old McKay,s currently representing Leicestershire in the LV county championship and NatWest T20 Blast competitions, spoke on a variety of topics including the qualities bowlers need to have to succeed in limited overs cricket, Australia’s chances in the upcoming Ashes series and the domestic cricket structure in Australia.

Excerpts from an interview:

PakPassion (PP): As a bowler in the modern game, how difficult is it to be effective in all three formats?

Clint McKay (CM): You just need to be consistent in whichever format you play in. Simply put, a good ball is a good ball regardless of what format it’s bowled in. You need to plan the next delivery and know in your mind exactly what you wish to deliver before you run into bowl. You then need to execute your plan to perfection and deliver whatever you planned such as a slow ball or a bouncer. If the batsman is good enough to play away your best ball then good luck to him!

PP: We saw during and after the 2015 World Cup that big scores in ODIs are becoming quite common. What do you feel are the reasons behind this?

CM: It’s simply down to the fact that players are playing with freedom. At times, you will get out doing that but that’s how the game is moving forward. The Australians, Indians and South Africans have been playing in that fashion for a while and we have also seen the New Zealand team adopt the same approach now for a couple of years. Now we are seeing the England team also jump onto the same bandwagon. They’ve shown throughout the one day series against New Zealand that they are a much more attacking team. What we’ve seen in the one-day series between England and New Zealand was almost unheard of in England before this series. It’s exciting and great to watch and also great for the game.

From a bowler’s point of view, I am not sure how happy I would be bowling in such limited-overs games with only four fielders allowed outside the circle, batting power-plays and with the wickets so good and on top of that, the two new balls which means that the ball is hard for most of the innings. The batsmen at the moment are ahead of the game in terms of the advantages they have. It’s now up to the bowlers to somehow fight back and work out a plan to get back on top again.

PP: In the game against Northamptonshire and with Shahid Afridi on strike, you bowled a fantastic final over. What was your planning and surely that was an over young bowlers can learn from?

CM: I possibly got a bit lucky there and also it was a little dark and harder for batsmen to sight the ball. Like I said before, it’s about executing your best ball every time and for me it was the slower delivery which was suited for the situation of the game. Lucky for me, that they missed a few of the deliveries towards the end as well.

PP: Are too many bowlers just running in to bowl without putting too much thought behind the next ball?

CM: It really depends on the situation and where the game stands at that point. As you will see, towards the end of the innings the good bowlers do attempt a lot of change ups and try and execute good yorkers. Unfortunately, we don’t see these too often so it would be great to see good yorkers back in play, being mixed up with other variations and making the batsmen second guess a bit. This, I suppose, is also the tactic which has been successfully employed by the successful bowlers from the last five to eight years.

PP: Surely Australia are favourites for the upcoming Ashes series?

CM: I should think so. They have done very well in the Caribbean where they won the Test series 2-0. England for their part will also be getting a lot of confidence from the ODI series they have won against New Zealand. All in all this will be a wonderful series and one that cricket fans and fraternity will be watching with great interest.

PP: Do you feel the main difference between England and Australia in the Ashes could be Mitchell Johnson and Mitchell Starc?

CM: They have caused batsmen around the world a few problems in the last few years. They are both left-arm, bowl very fast and also swing the ball prodigiously. They will have great conditions here which will suit their bowling. But it’s not just about the two Mitchells, as you also have Ryan Harris who is coming back fresh after a bit of a layoff and he’s as speedy as ever based upon reports from back home. In Ryan and Josh Hazlewood, Australia have a great group of backup bowlers and then you have Peter Siddle on the sidelines as well. He isn’t playing Test cricket at the moment, but we all know how destructive he has been in England in the past few years.  All in all, Australia are in good place at the moment with six to eight world class pace bowlers who can fill in the role. These are exciting times for Australia and there is no doubt that they will put in a good show this summer in the Ashes.

PP: It would appear that the Australian batting seems to revolve around Steven Smith which a few years ago would have been improbable?

CM: It may appear so, but then everyone knew he had talent with the bat and with age he has only become more mature. He’s done well in the last 12 to 18 months and his numbers stack up with the very best around the world. He’s a fantastic batsman and then you have some of the old heads in the shape of Michael Clarke and Chris Rogers who will open the batting. Adam Voges is another one with a lot of experience playing domestic cricket in England, who recently became the oldest Test debutant to make a hundred. These are all great signs for Australian cricket in the way old and young cricketers are coming through for them.

PP: What’s behind Australia’s current domination in the limited-over formats?

CM: I think all we had was a bad patch of a few months, but we always had the talent which has shone though and been showcased to the world. The boys have done brilliantly in recent months with the World Cup win a massive achievement and I am sure when the Ashes are done, they will want to win the ODI series too. This is the kind of side which expects to be victorious every time they walk onto the field and they are very disappointed if they don’t win. This is obviously a great quality to have in an international side.

PP: The Australian domestic system seems to be the envy of the world and also produces some world class cricketers at will. Why is it so good?

CM: It has to do with the number of teams we have in the states system. To be specific, there are just six teams so there is only a small pool of players playing which keeps the standard very high. Then when you go from domestic to international cricket, the gap isn’t that big. This is what you see when Chris Rogers stepped up from domestic to international, as was the case for Michael Hussey or more recently in the way Adam Voges moved up to the international level. These players have honed their skills in domestic cricket for so long that they know their game well and also the step up to the international level isn’t as hard as it would be in other countries.

(Saj Sadiq is Senior Editor at PakPassion.net.He can be followed on Twitter at @Saj_PakPassion. The above article first appeared in PakPassion)

 

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