Dilley urges England to stick to basics
Former England pace bowler and Ashes winner Graham Dilley is confident that the current seam attack will prosper in Australian conditions.
A veteran of three tours Down Under and a member of the last England side to win the Ashes, Dilley speaks with no little authority on the team’s prospects this winter.
Dilley filled the role of strike bowler during the memorable 1986-87 Ashes campaign, and his haul of 16 wickets - a tally bettered only by John Emburey - was central to England’s 2-1 triumph.
Much is made of the challenges posed by the climate and pitches in Australia, which traditionally offer much less assistance to the seamers than those in England, and the difficulties of using the largely unresponsive Kookaburra ball.
Dilley, however, has no concerns that England’s pace attack - consisting of James Anderson, Stuart Broad and Steven Finn, and augmented by Chris Tremlett - will be able to make the necessary adjustments.
“People talk about there being more bounce, but there isn’t as much as you’d think,” Dilley told ecb.co.uk.
“The Kookaburra is different and it might take a bit of getting used to - the way it feels in your hand. There is less seam movement; sometimes it’s non-existent.
“But the basis principles still apply: you just try to hit the top of off stump. They are all quality bowlers so they should be able to do that.”
According to Dilley, England’s preparation is key, and the scheduling of 10 days’ first-class cricket before the opening Test at the Gabba, which starts on November 25, suggests team director Andy Flower concurs.
Four years ago England played a one-day match and two three-day warm-up encounters, an aspect of the tour for which the management received much criticism even before the team’s 5-0 defeat was confirmed.
“It will be different out there but they will have time to adjust. Three tour matches will be fine,” said Dilley, who also echoed Flower’s sentiments by urging the England players to embrace rather than be cowed by the alien environment.
“In 1986-87 we had a month to prepare for the first Test. We had time to get used to it - you find a way to adjust.
“It’s different in Australia in that it is not home and you’re in unfamiliar circumstances and places.
“But it just a great place to be: it’s a lot hotter, the crowds are more hostile, the atmosphere is great.”
Dilley, who had a spell as England bowling coach in 2001-02 and now coaches Loughborough MCCE, has watched from afar as Andrew Strauss’ side have swept all before them this summer.
Indeed, their performances against Pakistan towards the end of the summer - amidst the furore surrounding spot-fixing allegations - provide a particular source of optimism this winter.
“They say you learn more from adversity than from anything else,” Dilley said. “The players have come through a lot this summer. They will have learned from that and they are a different group of people.
“They have also put together some terrific results, and they know where they are going.
“The impression I get from watching England is that they know what they are trying to achieve; they know their jobs.
“Australia are not as strong as they have been in the past, so I think England will do well. I’ve got very high hopes.”