If you were a keen follower of Australian domestic cricket in the mid-90s, Joseph Dawes was an interesting member of the Queensland setup that won two Sheffield Shield titles, enough to be considered a “fast bowling great” by the Brisbane faithful. For someone who started his first-class cricket career at the age of 27 and not exactly blessed with the natural ability of his peers, it took a great deal of meticulousness and a hard work ethic to emerge as the state’s eighth leading wicket-taker of all time.
Many believe he never got his due as a player outside his state, particularly among the selector’s guild as it were, but today, his work as bowling mentor/coach with a couple of Australian state teams has propelled him to bag the Indian bowling coach’s position.
Terry Oliver, former Queensland coach and current High Performance Manager at Queensland cricket had this to say about Dawes, “I would be accurate to say that Joey was not blessed with natural ability or athleticism but everything he has achieved is through learnt/acquired skills and hard work.” He added, “During his career, he was never an automatic selection due to the amount of fast bowlers Queensland had at the time (Bichel, Kasprowicz, Noffke, Dale etc). The fact was, that even though Joey’s performances and statistics were always of the highest quality, he would always fight for his spot, especially when the Australian players came back.”
People who know Dawes say rather confidently, that Joey’s appointment to the Indian support staff is a rather astute one, considering his impressive CV with both Queensland and South Australia. The reasons vary from a work ethic both on and off the field that sort of set him apart, and lent into his approach as far as his coaching was concerned. Outside cricket, Dawes worked in federal politics as a political advisor to MP Peter Dutton, was a plainclothes policeman for eight years or so, specialising in undercover drug squads.
He and his fellow Queensland quick, Ashley Noffke came together to set up a small cricket boot business under Dawes’ house, which became a very successful niche business. And interestingly, Dawes ran a news agency (newspaper distribution services) and for a man who believed in the merits of the Australian hard yakka, did the before dawn home delivery of newspapers himself. These attributes by themselves set Dawes apart as a professional, for he believed in a work ethic that not just believed in doing the hard yards by himself, but also enabled him to broaden his horizons and seek newer, fresher challenges. Those who know him say that his stint as a policeman played a rather enabling role in developing the other important coaching attributes like communication, understanding people through empathy and discipline.
Rather interestingly, Dawes, during the floods in Australia last year, along with Oliver, helped getting working groups organized with players and staff to be part of the clean-up. During the peak of the flood, Dawes was a part of a group that helped one of the younger Queensland bowlers, Scott Walter evacuate his family house at West End.
STEPPING INTO COACHING
As a coach, Dawes has been instrumental in not just spotting but mentoring the young quicks coming out of Queensland and South Australia. Oliver says, “During Joey’s last season, he sustained a knee injury that saw him sidelined for most of the time. He remained with the group during his rehabilitation and assumed a proxy mentor role.”
The next season, he was employed by Queensland Cricket as a player development manager, and pace bowling coach to the Queensland Bulls bowlers. During his stint as pace bowling coach, he worked effectively with the High Performance Department to set up coaching structures to prepare players physically, technically, tactically and mentally specific to fast bowling.
His influence on players like Ben Cutting stands testament to his mentoring abilities. In 2008, Cutting bowled as many as 20 no-balls in eight overs for the Queensland Second XI against Victoria at the Allan Border Field and immediately, a Queensland cricket official sent an SOS to Dawes to help Cutting sort out his woes. The next two days and several tutorials with Dawes, Cutting today is regarded as a fine Australian pace bowling prospect for the future. He’s also considered to be the man behind Ryan Harris’ gradual development into a Test bowler for Australia.
A BIG CHALLENGE
But, the Indian job would pretty much mean a giant leap forward for Joey Dawes and his appointment comes at a time when Indian pace bowling is going through a churn, quite literally. The number one priority for Dawes upon his formal takeover as India’s next bowling coach would be to put together a bowling unit of 15-20 young fast bowlers and subsequently mentor them over his tenure.
That would mean working effectively with whatever scouting structures there are in place and identifying pace bowlers with the requisite skills for international cricket. Post-identification, work on something that has somewhere been missing with their make-up - the tactical upgrade, which includes the fine art of bowling relentless spells, working the batsmen over and picking wickets. Critically, if called upon by the BCCI, he could also spell them the benefits of the exposure through not just A team tours but also the
county system for the quick bowlers, having played for Middlesex in the 2003 season himself.
From a tactical point of view, Dawes’ priorities must begin with a wider, critical discussion on the kind of bowling attack India’s Test side wants to put forward - one which revolves around sheer pace, or a work-horse like attack which relies on consistency, discipline and relentless pressure as its wicket-taking tactic.
But, whatever be the design, Dawes’ must take to what David Saker and Craig McDermott have focused on during their stints with England and Australia respectively - a simple mantra or the very basic need to pitch it up, a simple mantra that has pretty much been the single most factor in their quicks’ emergence as a bowling unit. His work might also include sessions with bowlers like Ishant Sharma, whose initial promise has somewhere failed to realize full potential, almost being reduced to a spell-a-series type bowler. With the likes of Ishant, Dawes could do well to work closely and help these blokes identify their lengths before focusing on pace.
More importantly, in the larger scheme of things, the BCCI would do well to utilize Dawes’ expertise in setting up structures that enable the development and growth of young pacers coming through. For example, let Dawes work closely with a fast bowling programme during the off-season at the NCA (if it exists, or if it doesn’t, set one up), where access for the younger under-22 or under-19 bowlers is not a problem and even they benefit from Dawes’ expertise.
From a player’s perspective, there’s no doubt that Dawes, from whatever his colleagues and friends say, is a guy the Indian lads might love to have around for he typifies the arm around the shoulder type coaching philosophy that Indian cricket needs to regain post the Gary Kirsten era.
However, Dawes could well be the tough taskmaster that some of India’s cricketers might not like. There will be specific emphasis on an exhaustive work ethic that these guys might not be used to, the real hard yards as they say, excuses like lack of luck might well be a thing of the past (hopefully!). Equally, India’s pacers can expect better empathy when it comes to injury problems and loss of form etc, but Dawes’ success will more or less hinge on how well he can get them to respond.
To assume that Dawes might indeed have an instant impact on the group would be a little premature and nothing short of a guesswork, but purely going by what he might be bringing to the dressing room, his appointment looks fairly promising and interesting. Going by his personality trait and character, he does have a challenge as far as the Indian bowling group is concerned, for there is enough talent and skill to work with. His challenge however, mincing no words, is to make this attack a stronger one, a fitter one, and a consistent one. Only time and performances would come to testify how much of a gain he would be for Indian cricket. But for now, it’s back to the drawing board for Dawes and Co.
Welcome to India!
(With inputs from Stephen Gray, Media Manager, Queensland Cricket)
A tough challenge awaits India's new bowling coach
The Indian job is a giant leap forward for Joey Dawes and his appointment comes at a time when Indian pace bowling is going through a churn.By Venkat Ananth | Yahoo! Cricket – Wed 22 Feb, 2012 4:14 PM IST
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