England's Test match cricket team are looking to channel the spirit of 2005 after the announcement of Troy Cooley's return as a bowling consultant. Cooley, who previously worked as the squad's bowling coach when England secured their iconic 2005 Ashes series win, has been enlisted to work alongside the ECB's Elite Pace Bowling Coach, Jon Lewis.
The first Test against Australia begins on December, with many anticipating a comfortable series win for the Australians. England's bowling attack is one of the main reasons why the pundits and analysts give England such little chance of winning Down Under. Their fast-bowling options are severely depleted due to the absence of Olly Stone and Jofra Archer, with veteran bowlers Jimmy Anderson and Stuart Broad likely to plough lone furrows alongside Ben Stokes.
Mo Babat, performance director at the ECB, said that Cooley's "understanding" of what's required to "be successful in Australian conditions" was one of the main reasons behind his return to the England fold this winter.
ECB looking for Cooley to work his magic for a second time
Back in 2005, Cooley worked in close quarters with the likes of Stephen Harmison, Andrew Flintoff, Simon Jones and Matthew Hoggard, all of whom played key roles in ruffling the feathers of the Australian batters throughout the 2005 Ashes series. England eventually won the series 2-1. 12 months later, Cooley returned Down Under to work with Cricket Australia at their Centre of Excellence. However, having been alerted to his availability this winter, the ECB acted fast to tap into his exceptional knowledge of bowling with the Kookaburra ball and on hard, fast tracks.
Australia's hard and fast batting tracks make it very hard for bowlers to gain the upper hand. They require bowlers to demonstrate nous and consistency in order to bowl to a plan. Bowling successfully in Australia is like playing poker – it takes only five minutes to learn and a lifetime to master. Bowlers and poker players require the cognitive capacity to perform in highly pressurised environments, even if the bar to entry in either profession is minimal.
Cooley was due to commence work with England's senior bowling attack in their warm-up game against the England Lions; however, inclement weather put paid to the contest. Instead, Cooley will remain in Brisbane to work closely with the team ahead of the First Test at the Gabba before spending time with the Lions team against Australia A.
Cooley's England spell only set to be temporary with India role in the offing
Away from the Ashes bubble, Cooley is set for a new and exciting permanent role as the fast-bowling coach of the Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI). Cooley looks set to be appointed alongside former Indian batters Shiv Sunder Das and Hrishikesh Kanitkar, who will work as full-time batting coaches at Bengaluru's National Cricket Academy (NCA). Sairaj Bahutule is also due to be appointed as the BCCI's new spin bowling coach.
If reports are to be believed, Cooley is due to pen a three-year contract with the BCCI. An anonymous BCCI official told ESPN's Cricinfo that "convincing" Cooley to "work with India's next batch of pacers" is undoubtedly the "biggest success" for BCCI president Sourav Ganguly. The same official said that Cooley's remit will be to "closely co-ordinate" with the current head of cricket at the NCA, VVS Laxman.
Laxman and Cooley are due to collaborate on the introduction of a new Exclusive Young Pacers Contract with the NCA. The pair are set to select ten promising young fast bowlers not yet in the India national team reckoning and without central contracts. These prospects will be chosen from first-class and junior levels across India, with Cooley tasked with fast-tracking them into the India A pathway team and, latterly, the senior team – whose fast bowlers have been in scintillating form of late.
With England, Australia and India all clamouring for Cooley's services, there is no doubt that he remains one of the most respected fast-bowling coaches on the planet. England will be desperately hoping for some divine inspiration to breathe life into their Ashes bid.