Kasprowicz mantra: Adapt & conquer

Michael Kasprowicz (41) has experienced both ends of the spectrum when it comes to touring India. He was part of Mark Taylor’s squad in 1998 and helped Australia to a solace win in the third and final Test at Bangalore after experiencing losses in Chennai and Kolkata.

In 2001, he was one of the Australian bowlers who VVS Laxman (281) and Rahul Dravid (180) demolished to bring about arguably the biggest miracle in India’s sporting history.

Australian players celebrate the wicket of India skipper MS Dhoni in Melbourne on December 28, 2011. Pic/Getty Images

Kasprowicz earned a place for his third India tour in 2004 when Adam Gilchrist led Australia (until the third Test at Nagpur) to their first Test series win here since Bill Lawry’s side outclassed Mansur Ali Khan Pataudi’s Indians in 1969-70. The Queensland fast bowler’s eight Tests in India fetched him 19 wickets. After his Australia stint, Kasprowicz played for Indian Cricket League team Mumbai Champs. He is also a television commentator.

Excerpts from an interview:

India have a lot to prove to their disappointed fans after losing the home series to England. How do you see Australia faring against them in such a scenario?
I am impressed with the Australian fast bowling unit. There are some really talented guys there. Managing the workload will be a tough exercise in India especially in those conditions. The key is how quickly you adapt your skills to the lower, slower wickets and that is going to be interesting to watch. I think that will play a big part in how Australia fare in the series.

I remember you telling us about a little chat you had with Dennis Lillee before the Bangalore Test of 1998 when you played a part in Australia’s win. Would the advice which Lillee gave you then hold true now?
That piece of advice was related to Sachin Tendulkar’s batting in that series. My question to Dennis was: ‘What do you suggest we do to get him out?’ And Dennis just shook his head and said, ‘make sure you walk off with pride.’

The best fast bowling resource in Dennis Lillee did not have an answer for Sachin Tendulkar. His wry smile indicated the challenge on hand. I think India has always offered a lot of challenges for touring teams and maybe from watching from afar, the way England played, teams are now travelling a lot better. India is not the mystical, hard tour that it used to be regarded as.

Australia in a way demystified India during that series in 2004-05 when they won for the first time since 1969-70…
Well, the biggest part for me was executing the plans we had charted. It was not a typical plan for us fast bowlers. We had been there in 1998 and 2001 and we bowled good lines — just outside off-stump. But in 2004, we decided to bowl straighter which was a containing method, but with attacking field placings.

It was weird to successfully execute a plan which was to bowl the batsmen’s strength. That made things more enjoyable with regards to the end result (2-1).

So you see this Australian team in with a good chance of beating India?
The key is, as I mentioned, with the bowlers. The batsmen too have to adjust their game to the conditions. You have four Tests to play and you are straight into them.

The success of the Australian depends on adaptation. I am very excited with the talent in this team and having seen Indian cricket for many years now, I am excited by the talent coming through there too. This series is going to be a great showcase of young stars.

The Aussie pace attack has an impressive look to it...
Yeah, there is some experience with Mitchel Johnson for sure and Peter Siddle as well. We have seen a good group of fast bowlers coming through this summer and there are some high expectations from them. It’s good to see someone like Jackson Bird coming into the side after taking a lot of wickets in our Sheffield Shield competition.

This is India’s first series against Australia without Rahul Dravid and VVS Laxman. How do you view Cheteshwar Pujara and Virat Kohli faring?
I think they are very impressive and have got some good exposure to international cricket. I can’t imagine (and I don’t think anyone can) the pressure of playing cricket in India given the amount of support and the amount of experts of the game in India (laughs).

It is always a challenge. I’m particularly impressed by the way Kohli has shown maturity.

What should be their attitude if they encounter spinning minefields?
Look, it is about making the adjustments and understanding how the ball reverse swings. It’s also about dealing with the heat and conditions. You also want to be doing something with the ball at different stages of the match. You look for wickets at certain times and at containment in other phases.

Sports science comes into it too. The knowledge of how to deal with the conditions is so much better now. That’s a definite plus for the players today.

There’s a certain DK Lillee helping the Aussie fast bowlers this time. This has to be an advantage...
Absolutely. But Glenn McGrath is helping Indian bowlers at the MRF Pace Foundation so that may even out (laughs). 

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