Sridharan Sriram reveals how his advice helped Steve O'Keefe demolish India in Pune
Australia's spin consultant sheds light into his chat with a 'disturbed' O'Keefe during lunch on the second day.
What’s the story?
Australia’s spin consultant Sridharan Sriram has opened up on his role in helping left-arm spinner Steve O’Keefe run through India’s batting lineup during the series opener in Pune. The former Indian all-rounder revealed what went on behind the scenes during the lunch break on the second day of the Test.
Sriram said, “I came down from the viewing area and I knew he (O'Keefe) was a little disturbed (during lunch on the 2nd day). He was walking around. I didn't know whether to really speak to him or not. But the conversation happened and he said, 'I think I need to have a bowl with you in the centre.' He told me he was a bit nervous to start off and he was in his comfort zone and trying to bowl as he would do in Australia.”
“But, I said 'Sok, what do you think you need on this wicket?' and he said 'I need to go a little bit rounder and quicker.' And I just said to him 'go for it mate' because you know what you can do and you know what you need to do. Just go for it. And I think he adapted beautifully.”
In case you didn‘t know...
Sriram played eight ODIs for India in a career spanning from 2000 to 2004. Aside from being a solid middle-order batsman, the Chennai-born cricketer was also a handy left-arm spinner.
After working with Australia’s ‘A’ squad during a series in India in 2015, he was named spin consultant for the main Australian team later that year for the Bangladesh tour which eventually got cancelled. The highly-awaited 2017 trip to India is serving as an ideal opportunity for him to use his subcontinental experience in a coaching role.
The heart of the matter
Upon scoring 260 in the first innings on a viciously turning track, Australia rode on their new-ball bowlers to wreck India’s top-order. However, KL Rahul and Ajinkya Rahane ensured that the hosts reached lunch on the second day at 70/3. O’Keefe’s figures in the pre-lunch session read 7-1-23-0.
What transpired in the post-lunch session was scarcely believable. Following a change of ends, the spinner ripped India apart with a sensational spell of six wickets from 37 deliveries.
The left-arm spinner was at it again in the second innings when his straighter ones procured him another six-wicket haul and enabled Australia to complete a 333-run victory. His match haul of 12/70 was the second best by a visiting bowler on Indian soil after Ian Botham’s 13/106 in 1980.
Parallels from history
This was not the first instance of a former Indian cricketer helping a visiting team out spin India. During the 1987 Bangalore Test, the legendary Bishen Singh Bedi advised Pakistan's spin duo of Iqbal Qasim and Tauseef Ahmed to ‘not try too much on the turner’ which in turn helped them eke out a 15-run victory against Kapil Dev’s side.
In the aftermath of the Pune Test, O’Keefe publicly acknowledged Sriram’s influence on his remarkable spell. The 41-year-old’s rise as an impactful spin consultant reiterates why you do not need to be a successful cricketer in order to become a successful coach.