Australia batting coach Michael Di Venuto urges fans, critics to be patient with young batsmen

Michael Di Venuto (left) with Chris Rogers during an Australian training session © Getty Images

Aug 16, 2013

Australia’s batting coach Michael Di Venuto has urged fans and critics to be patient with the current lot of batsmen, saying that the youngsters do not have much to fall back on during tough times.

Australia’s young batsmen faced heavy criticism after their side lost the Ashes series for the third consecutive time with a 74-run loss to England at Durham.

Australia collapsed from 109 for one to 224 all-out — losing as many as nine wickets in a session and conceding the series 3-0 to a comparatively strong England side.

Di Venuto told the Sydney Morning Herald, “We need to be patient. Imagine if we weren’t patient with Steve Waugh early in his career. We would have lost one of the legends of the game, if they’d given him six or seven Tests and then said, ‘Oh no, he’s no good, spit him back out’. That’s what a lot of people are saying about the current crop.”

The former Australian cricketer finds it frustrating to hear calls of sacking of the young batsmen, and says they should be given time to settle.

He said, “These kids are learning on the big stage, in an Ashes series in England. They haven’t got a lot  behind them to fall back on, they haven’t got a lot of Test experience or domestic experience to fall back on. Chris Rogers, even though he hasn’t got a lot of Test experience, he’s got years of playing first-class cricket, so he’s been in similar situations where the ball is darting around like that [in Durham] and he can draw on his experiences that he’s lived and learnt.”

Di Venuto finished his 20-year career with a stint with Durham that ended last year so, knowing the Riverside and its quirks and behavioural patterns, he was not entirely shocked at what he witnessed after tea on Monday.

Di Venuto, who ended his 20-year-career with a stint with Durham last year admitted that wickets are expected to fall in a heap at the Riverside ground.

“When wickets fall they fall in clumps,” he said, adding “… maybe not nine.”

Talking about the advice being given to the young Australian batsman, Di Venuto said, “Our message is pretty basic: play the ball late, play it straight. Wait for the ball to come into your area and pick it off, especially when you’re playing on wickets that are darting around or getting through a spell from a good fast bowler. Their skills are outstanding. But their games have got to adapt to Test cricket and situations that demand their game does adapt.”

Di Venuto added, “You don’t learn in a classroom — you learn by playing and making mistakes. In this game you don’t make one mistake and that’s the last time you do it. You make the same mistakes over and over. It’s about getting into match situations knowing what they can and can’t do and getting through good spells of bowling … making the bowlers come back for their fourth and fifth spells.”

He realises that the current state of Australian cricket is nowhere near to the days of winning 16 Test matches in a row, and adds that it is frustrating for the Australian fans.

“That’s the frustrating thing, especially for the public. They’re used to the Australian team being the dominant side over the last 20 years, and all of a sudden we’re not the dominant side any more. When we’re good we’re good, but when we’re bad we’re bad,” he said.

“We’ve got to find that middle ground where we’re not quite at our best but we can still guts our way through situations and scratch out a win. We can’t continue to play the way we’re playing. But ideally you’d like to stick with a pretty similar group to what we’ve got. We have to be patient,” Di Venuto said.