Sri Lanka in SA

AD 'big brother' to SA bowlers

2011-12-19 13:04
Allan Donald (File)
Cape Town - Allan Donald is like the big, elder brother for the South African bowlers, whether he's on Vernon Philander's shoulder or stepping into Morne Morkel's sizeable shoes.

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South Africa's bowlers might have got stuck into Sri Lanka, sweeping them away en route to an innings victory, but for bowling coach Donald, there is always progress to be made.

As one of the greatest fast bowlers the game has seen - he took 330 wickets in 72 Tests at 22.25 - there is no doubting Donald's standing and his views are highly respected in the team. But it is his method as much as his reputation that achieves this.

"I'm not here to teach them how to bowl. It's all about the attitude towards the skill, I'm not doing anything technical. It all starts at training and the culture we're building as an attack," Donald said.

Philander, going through a purple patch, and Morkel, in the midst of a slump, have been the two major beneficiaries of Donald's friendly advice in recent days.

Donald said Philander's incredible success - he is just the second bowler in over a century to take four five-wicket hauls in his first three Tests (Australia's Rodney Hogg being the last to do it in 1978/79) - did not surprise him because the 26-year-old worked extremely hard on his game in the three years he was outside the national squad.

"I'm not surprised, he went away and really learnt his game. He understands his role and Vernon's a wonderful, classy bowler. Conditions have played their part, but he still had to execute those skills," Donald said.

The bowling coach said his most important work with Philander going forward will be outside the field of play.

"I'm constantly on Vern's shoulder. He's going through a golden spell and the danger is him not caring about why it's happening. He needs to understand why things are going so well, why the ball is swinging. So when Mr Bad Form arrives, he doesn't have to come and ask me what's going on.

"Vernon needs to feel why things are going well. You don't ever take it for granted when you're in good form. He will be tested on flatter pitches," Donald said.

Morkel's performance at Centurion was probably the most disappointing aspect of the innings win, but Donald said the lanky fast bowler just needed more game time.

"I put myself in Morne's shoes and I was also a rhythm and confidence bowler, I needed to bowl a lot. Morne's the same, he just needs to get some confidence and then he'll be back all the way.

"I think he's just one spell away. The last day at Centurion was really good, we wanted him to have a long spell after lunch after we tinkered on a few things after the first innings," Donald said.

The South African attack, as a whole, was much improved in the Sri Lankan second innings, after a first-innings display in which they only really hit their straps in the last hour.

"The bowling performance in the first innings was probably a 6/10," Donald said. "We need to get off the blocks in a really good way, and we did that on the last day.

"We tend to start sessions not so well and then play catch-up and pull it back. Sometimes we get too loose, maybe too arrogant, but even if we're not bowling well, we manage to pull it back. The second innings was what we wanted."

The danger on such well-grassed pitches as the Centurion one is that the bowlers can become over-excited and forget the basics.

"That typifies the 6/10 effort. On a responsive pitch, instead of just bowling into your area, you feel as a unit that you need to get into the hot zone more often. It can be difficult on pitches like that because of the expectation, but it's no excuse," Donald said.

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