There’s a lot of talk about Virat Kohli missing three Tests. How important does that make the first Test knowing India don’t have much experience of playing day-night Tests?
The first Test is going to be interesting. India haven’t played day-night Tests in Australia. It is quite unique. It’s more about timing when you are bowling or batting. If Virat is going to have an impact, he has to do it in that Test match. Last time, they won the first Test match by 31 runs. That set the tone.
Which other Indian batsman do you think the Aussies need to think about once Virat leaves?
Rohit Sharma is a quality batsman. He hasn’t achieved at the Test level what he should be achieving. When Virat goes home, he might just step up. He is a quality player.
There’s been a lot of talk about Australian pitches turning flat…
There is not going to be the fear factor like Aussies pitches had in terms of pace and bounce. The pitches now are not as quick and bouncy but they are still quicker than India. We used to hear from the Indian camp that they used to worry about the bounce. Now the batsmen don’t tend to play with fear anymore with T20 cricket coming in. When I started in ’93, each pitch in Australia had a character. WACA was quick and bouncy. Sydney took turn. Adelaide went up and down on day 4 and 5.
You got reverse swing at Gabba. MCG had its character. That made the Australian team so strong because we could adapt. By the end of my career, every pitch in Australia was identical. That made an impact on the next generation of cricketers. I was disappointed.
What works for Indian cricketers now?
Now that they have got to play in Australian conditions, they had success in the last series. They have played a lot of cricket with the Australians in the IPL. They have been teammates. That breaks down barriers. You realize opposition is also normal people.
Australian cricket has become very wary about how the game is played. How important are mind games?
Mind games are very important. Test cricket is also about mental strength. If you are going to suffer from a bit of chatter and banter, you are going to be found out quickly. Sledging is the wrong term. It’s not abuse and attacking personally. It’s about getting into the mind, make someone question his technique and mess their routine.
I prefer the word ‘banter’ to sledging. Players are not going to take a backward step. Kohli is a prime example. I enjoy that he plays hard and has a bit of chat. Umpires are there to regulate it.
You don’t find the classical line-and-length pacers. Have pacers become impatient?
It comes down to execution. It comes down to bowl the ball he wants to and land the ball where he wants to. If he wants to bowl six identical balls bouncing on the same spot, then that’s a challenge. But bowling six different balls and landing them exactly where you want is as much a challenge.
I hate to see bowlers with raw pace slowing down to get control. I want to see them work harder off the field. You can’t really teach anyone raw pace. You can improve someone’s pace. Mitchell Johnson combined raw pace with control. He became a lethal bowler. The bowlers we have on show here-Cummins, Bumrah, Hazlewood, Shami-all of them have good control.
Workload management is the in-thing. What do you make of it?
If someone asked me to rest for a Test match, I wouldn’t have considered that. But it’s different mindset these days. There’s a lot of cricket coming up. Bowlers have had a few injuries. Sometimes you can overthink things a little bit. It’s been fancy to give a bowler a game off when he is going well. Two weeks between two matches can have an impact. I like to see bowlers bowling well to keep bowling and playing. If they take a rest, it can impact their form. I tend to disagree with sharing workload just for the sake of it. Last Ashes Test at the Oval, Australia went with the wrong bowling attack.
Are we going to see more pacers specific to formats?
You will see specialist bowlers. You will see T20 bowlers and Test bowlers. The greats and best bowlers are going to play in all three formats. If I had an option I would have played all formats. Bumrah can adapt like Starc, Cummins and Hazlewood. Then you come across someone like Jimmy Anderson. The amount of balls he has bowled is amazing.