"No excuses from our end" - McDonald on lack of preparation for Australia pace trio

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28 Nov 2021 | 10:07 AM
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"No excuses from our end" - McDonald on lack of preparation for Australia pace trio

The three pacers haven't played red-ball cricket for close to six months

Australian fast bowlers Josh Hazlewood, Mitchell Starc and new Test captain Pat Cummins haven’t played red-ball cricket for close to six months but assistant coach Andrew McDonald is still expecting them to be at their best from the word go in the upcoming Ashes series, starting in Brisbane on December 8. 

The trio featured in all the games for Australia in the 2021 T20 World Cup and have opted to take some much-needed break rather than playing in the Sheffield Shield.

"I think we've made the best of what we’ve had. It was always going to be a shortened prep, and less than ideal switching formats and quarantine and all that stuff. But I think the art of the modern day cricketer is to be able to adapt to that. There’ll be no excuses from our end and I’m sure there’ll be no excuses from England’s end either,” he said.

The players who featured in the T20 World Cup are currently training from a quarantine hub on the Gold Coast. “We’ve had fantastic facilities up here. The weather’s been challenging at times but we’ve still been able to get out into the centre.

"Also, these guys have got a lot of Test experience to draw upon. So changing formats is something that they’ve been able to deal with across their careers. I think we’ll be really, really, really well-prepared."

Australia have appointed right-arm paceman Cummins as their new Test skipper but McDonald said it won’t impact their relationship. “From a bowlers’ perspective, I’ll be plugging into Patty as I normally do.

"The conversations I’ll be having with Pat, they won’t be too dissimilar to what we normally do from a bowler/tactical point of view. I think the conversations that will probably significantly change will be from (head coach Justin Langer) JL to Pat, there’ll be more engagement there."

McDonald said he has also been impressed with the way Michael Neser and Jhye Richardson have operated in the ongoing Sheffield Shield. “There’s no doubt (Richardson) will be putting some pressure (on the selectors) across the summer, whether it’s in the first Test or later on.

"And you throw in Michael Neser, who’s been on the cusp over the last couple of seasons. Not many people are talking about him at the moment but that’s purely because he’s had a bit of a hamstring strain. He’s returning and he’ll be fit and available. Across those five bowlers, we’ve got great depth, which is exciting.”

Australia will be without wicketkeeper-batter Tim Paine in the Ashes and one of Alex Carey and Josh Inglis is likely to replace the former skipper. Paine has stepped away from cricket indefinitely for a mental health break following the text message scandal which signalled the end of his tenure. 

"I think it's really still up in the air. I think if it was clear then there would have been an announcement, so I'm sure that the selectors will be taking all the information in the last game today, I think, domestically before we switch out our focus into the Test match," said McDonald.

"We've got plenty of time before the first Test match, but I'm sure once they're clear that there'll be an announcement because we've got an Australia game and obviously Australia A game as well. So the preparation will split into sort of two camps from (December 5) onwards, so that'll be something that will become clearer I would say over the next few days for us as coaches and then communicated externally."

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England tour of Australia, 2021/22AustraliaPat CumminsMitchell StarcJosh HazlewoodAndrew McDonald

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