Fletcher puts trust in Shine
Duncan Fletcher is backing bowling coach Kevin Shine to solve the problems affecting Steve Harmison and restore him as England’s spearhead for the Ashes.
Harmison’s struggle during the 277-run first-Test defeat in Brisbane has put the spotlight on Shine to find the answers before Friday’s second Test at the Adelaide Oval.
Appointed following the defection of Troy Cooley back to his homeland in Australia, Shine has a tough act to follow.
But Fletcher believes the former Somerset coach can produce similar results to Cooley and allowed him the space on Tuesday to take Harmison to the Adelaide Oval for a one-to-one session while the rest of the squad had a day off.
“I spoke to Kevin and asked him if he wanted me to come down. But I might get a little fidgety there and want to get involved - and you’ve got to be careful,” explained Fletcher.
“He’s very confident he can do something, and I fully support Shiney. He came highly recommended to us from Troy Cooley; he coaches alongside very similar lines to Troy, and that’s why we went for him.
“Troy really thinks a lot of him, because he thinks on very similar lines. I believe Troy did a very good job and I hope Shiney can sort something out.
“I have every confidence in Kevin Shine because I worked with Troy Cooley very closely and I’ve seen how he works - they’re very similar coaches.”
The Durham fast bowler did not have one of his best matches and finished with figures of 1-177 off 42.1 overs.
It prompted Shine’s unprecedented move to take Harmison down the ground and work on technical drills, which England believe can cure his wayward radar.
“From our point of view, Steve bowled well in the nets but just wasn’t able to transfer that bowling and those lines and lengths from the nets into the middle,” said Fletcher.
“If you don’t perform very well you’re going to feel a little bit down whoever you are. They have just got to pick themselves up - which is why we’re working on it - and I hope he can go and sort the problems out.
“He’s a key player, which is why we wanted him to kick off with that first spell. Normally Matthew Hoggard takes the first over. But we thought Harmy could get a good length in straightaway. He didn’t - but it’s not easy. They are not machines.
“He’s got a pretty complex action and he finds it difficult to control at times - and on that occasion he wasn’t able to control it during that spell.”
England are unlikely to take up the offer from Australian great Dennis Lillee to use his expertise from years of working with fast bowlers at his Academy in Madras to cure Harmison.
Fletcher believes having too much advice might just cloud the issue and is instead happy for Shine to take charge of the operation, adding: “We’ve spoken to a lot of people about the best way to get him right.
“We’ve got to be very careful if we’re working in one way and then suddenly all sorts of people come from all different angles.
“It’s not an easy thing to fix fast bowlers - and if we get a whole lot of people coming in now it’s just going to get confusing; then you have even bigger problems.”
Fletcher has also acted to dampen speculation surrounding the possible England comeback of injured captain Michael Vaughan, who has been given the go-ahead to make his competitive return for the Academy side against Western Australia’s 2nd XI in a one-day match in Perth.
It will be Vaughan’s first competitive match since suffering a recurrence of his knee problems playing for Yorkshire during the early stages of last summer.
He progressed well in his rehabilitation alongside the Test squad in Brisbane last week.
Vaughan is hoping he may be able to play again in the next month - putting him in line for a possible return in either the Christmas Test in Melbourne or the final match at Sydney, starting on January 2.
But Fletcher is keen to avoid rushing Vaughan back to action and said: “We’re still planning that he might be ready for the one-dayers - and if anything comes earlier than that then all well and good.
“From my point of view, I don’t think he can play in the Test series at this stage. I’m not going to say when he can play again until he has played a few games and come out of it and feels 100% - because I know that’s what Michael Vaughan wants.”