Australia have adopted a unique tactic to counter the threat of Sri Lanka spinner Rangana Herath ahead of the Test series beginning against Sri Lanka next month. That tactic comes in the form of little-known former India ODI allrounder Sridharan Sriram, a Cricket Australia spin consultant who, as well as helping prepare Australia’s spinners and batsmen for subcontinental conditions, is striving to imitate Herath from the bowling crease.
Close observers of the Australian set-up will be familiar with Sriram, a 40-year-old former spinning allrounder who played eight ODIs for India and has been on board with CA at different times over the past 12 months. Last year he helped fellow left-arm orthodox spinner Steve O’Keefe as well as batsman Usman Khawaja, among others, during Australia’s tour of India, having come to the attention of CA in a roundabout fashion; while coaching Marcus Stoinis at Delhi Daredevils in the Indian Premier League, Stoinis suggested Sriram get in touch with then Australia A coach Troy Cooley.
“Troy knew me for the last 25 years – I know him from Under-19 days when he was playing for Australia,” Sriram told cricket.com.au. “The Australia A series was in Chennai and Troy invited me for a few sessions, and that’s how it all happened.” Herath took 14 wickets in two Tests when Sri Lanka hosted Australia in 2011, and Sriram happens to be of similar height and build to the wily tweaker. O’Keefe, who worked closely with the Indian during ‘Spin Week’ at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane last week, even light-heartedly took to calling him “Rangana” at times during their net sessions. However, Sriram knows that imitating a man of Herath’s quality is no mean feat. “I’m going to try (to bowl like him)” he said. “He does have 300 Test wickets to be fair to him. “The release and the angle may be similar, so it might help them acclimatise and we can talk to them about what he looks to do, give them an idea of what to expect. “He’s got very clever changes of pace. He’s accurate, he bowls the one that comes in (to the right-hander) and the one that goes away, so he threatens your pad as well as your outside edge and that puts the batsman in doubt of where to play, he’s thinking, ‘Where am I going to play?’ “That’s his greatest strength.” (Courtesy cricket.com.au)