There's good reason to believe that the Indian cricket board has made the right choice in appointing Australian Joe Dawes, the former Queensland pacer as the new bowling coach
Joey Who? India's new bowling coach may be a relative unknown but the legacy he will leave behind him will be a lasting one. His coaching ethos and strong discipline may well be just what Indian cricket needs, especially away from home.
Those days... Joe Dawes of Queensland bowling against South Australia
during a 2000 Pura Cup match in Brisbane. Pic/Getty Images
I've known Joey Dawes for 20 years now, having played extensively alongside him in Queensland and worked with him on various projects. At his best, he was a fast bowler in the true sense of the word. Hostile and extremely pacy, he bowled the sort of length that wicketkeepers loved. They stood a long way back to him and caught the ball at chest height, often still on the way up.
In an era of a fast bowling dynasty to die for, Dawes was often the most feared of the Queensland attack; that's saying something at a time when Michael Kasprowicz, Andy Bichel, Adam Dale and Ashley Noffke were also in the mix.
I think what India can expect is total honesty and accountability from a man who had to fight his way to the top. He was never given an armchair ride and that makes him a very valuable asset to Duncan Fletcher and this Indian team. He is unlikely to ignore players on the fringes, players very much like himself who had to earn their success through performance rather than reputation. India needs that sort of depth in its bowling arsenal.
The other thing that I expect someone like Joey to bring to the Indian fast bowling attack is an improved level of fitness and intensity. I fielded at first slip to him for many years and one thing that always stood out was that his last spell was just as quick as his first one. It is that sort of core strength emphasis that he will bring to a young Indian attack, in marked contrast to some of the spells we saw during the recent Test series in Australia.
With due respect for the canny Zaheer Khan, who is showing the signs of age, expect to see a new crop of Indian fast bowlers who maintain their pace throughout the day.
Challenges? Joey's going to have to learn to read Indian pitches. It will clearly be a different set of skills to his natural instincts from years of bowling at the Gabba where it was natural to hit the deck hard. Indian conditions might require a different mindset but a man of his intelligence and street smarts will catch on quick smart.
You see, unlike someone who has been a cricketer and only a cricketer, Dawes has experienced a life outside cricket. He was a burly policeman who trod the beat and scared would-be criminals as much as he scared us in the nets!
He came into professional cricket relatively late, did it the hard way and then set about creating a coaching career that was as much about commonsense as it was about technique. He is unlikely to fill anyone's head with theories, but he will fill them with self-belief and aggression. That's exactly how he managed to find his niche - it was based on bloody hard work and consistency. He asked no favours and got none.
For him to be successful, management and senior players will need to give him freedom to set plans for his bowlers and allow them to execute those plans. There would be little sense in appointing a good, true man like Dawes if he is to be a mere puppet. India has talent to burn; the fire just needs oxygen. Joey Dawes can be that breath of fresh air.
His time at the MRF Academy with Dennis Lillee will stand him in good stead. Speaking to him many years ago, I remember his eyes glowing with excitement at some of the raw talent he saw in India. Then, he was merely a spectator. Now, he's driving the bus. He will command respect through actions not words. And that's pretty much what Team India needs today!
* Sri Lanka-born Michael Jeh is a former MCC and Oxford player, who has also played senior club cricket in Australia
Born: August 29, 1970, Queensland
Played for: Middlesex and Queensland
Dawes was a right arm fast bowler who played 76 first-class games and claimed 285 wickets at 25.38. He made his first-class debut in 1997-98 and ended his playing career in the 2005-06 season. According to ESPN Cricinfo, Dawes was an, "unfortunate victim of the extraordinary strength and depth of Queensland's pace bowling division and spent most of his early career watching Michael Kasprowicz, Andy Bichel and Adam Dale decimate the opposition.
An injury to Kasprowicz and a Test return for Bichel gave Dawes a long-awaited opportunity to grasp a regular starting berth in 2001-02, which he did until struck down by a serious knee injury in 2005."