Former champion Australian fast bowler Jason Gillespie has turned up the pressure ahead of the upcoming tour of India, declaring it could be “career-defining” for the current crop of national players.
Gillespie was part of the last successful tour of India in late 2004 when Australia won the Test series 2-1 and was the Aussies’ leading wicket-taker on that tour with 20 scalps at 16.15.
It remains the only tour of India in which Australia has triumphed in 10 attempts since the summer of 1969-70, but Gillespie believes Pat Cummins’ men have a great chance of creating history in the next couple of months.
“I think all us cricket tragics and fans should be pretty excited about this group of players; I know I’m excited as a cricket fan to see what this group can achieve in India,” Gillespie said.
But Gillespie warned one of the keys to success for the Aussies will be the bowling attack keeping their egos in check.
“Back in 2004 we, as a bowling group, put our egos away,” said Gillespie, who is Australia’s ninth-greatest Test wicket-taker.
“I remember in 2001, we still went over there thinking we could bowl the Australian line and length and get away with that and we’d just roll them over.
“In ‘04 we thought about it long and hard and reflected on it and decided we needed to just put our egos away and play subcontinent-style cricket and we did that. We had a bit of success with three quicks and ‘The King’ (Shane Warne) bowing, with some help from ‘Pup’ (Michael) Clarke and ‘Boof’ (Darren) Lehmann.
“So whichever way the Australian team goes, I think adaptability and situation awareness is going to be absolutely crucial. Backing your skills and backing your fitness is also key on the subcontinent because it’s hot, it’s humid, it’s uncomfortable, they’re foreign conditions – you’ve got to bank on your fitness and strength taking you deep into games.
“I love what Australia did in Pakistan (last year); their goal was to win on day 15 of the (three-match) Test series and I thought the way they went about it was fantastic, and there’s no reason why they can’t do it India. I think they’ve got the cattle, they’ve got the fuel, they’ve got the ammo, they’re ready to go, I reckon.”
But Gillespie stressed it was important Australia didn’t lapse into a false sense of security just because they beat Pakistan 1-0 on their home soil last year in similar conditions to what they’ll confront in India.
“It’s subcontinental conditions, but they are different, and Pakistan players use the conditions slightly different to India players,” Gillespie said.
“Speaking to Nathan Lyon … he talked about the difference between bowling to Pakistan batsmen and Indian batsmen. Indian batsmen don’t tend to sweep, whereas Pakistan batsmen will just pull out the broom – so that’s a challenge for him as a spin bowler.
“But I think the quicks will get a little more assistance off the surface in India. Pakistan is a really tough place to bowl for a fast bowler.
“India is a challenge, but you’ve got to have a really positive attitude and believe you can have an impact and more often than not, quicks can have a real impact in India; they’ve just got to believe it up here (in the mind).”
Gillespie, who coaches the Adelaide Strikers, believes a couple of his players in Alex Carey and Travis Head will have a big say in Australia’s chances against India.
“I think he’s in a wonderful sweet spot of his career,” Gillespie said of Carey.
“He’s playing some great cricket with the bat, he’s keeping very well.
“We’ve got Alex and Trav hoping they can be part of history. I think we have an opportunity to do just that and I think ‘Kez’ (Carey) is going to be a central figure in that and I think Travis will play a huge role as well.”