England’s bowling consultant Allan Donald has clearly been dissatisfied with his young bowlers’ performance in the second Test, but he prefers to look at the big picture.
Donald insists that his eye is on the future, at the possibilities the young bowlers at his disposal present, even though his own future with England is not completely secure.
Originally handed a contract for just five weeks — which would have made him exit after the one-day series against the West Indies — Donald will now stay on to assist bowling coach Kevin Shine until the end of the Twenty20 World Championship in September.
The 40-year-old South African legend said that though it has been a hard grind for the England pacemen at Trent Bridge, they need to be congratulated for their work, especially for their work in the first Test.
“I won’t say that I am unhappy with our bowlers,” he says of their performance at Trent Bridge. “If you take from the lead-up to the first Test and the inexperience of English bowling attack, I believe what they achieved at Lord’s was really fantastic.”
Donald says by reducing India to a state when only rain could have saved them — which it did — at Lord’s, Ryan Sidebottom, James Anderson and Chris Tremlett displayed the beginnings of greatness. “They showed real courage and responsibility at Lord’s, and they are building on that.”
The three premier England pacemen had just 20-odd Tests before Lord’s, Tremlett was making his debut there. The first-choice England pacemen, Steve Harmison and Matthew Hoggard, had been grounded by injuries — as was Andrew Flintoff, the man whose absence has altered the equation in the England line-up.
That, says Donald, fired up the three pacemen doing duty. “It is an opportunity for these three youngsters to grab the opportunity when three senior bowlers are injured,” he says. “It is an opportunity for them to show their skills.”
Donald, clearly, has long-term hopes for England — he speaks of grooming the younger bowlers here. “When I came to England, I said they have a very good young crop of fast bowlers and competition will get harder. These guys can really take it to the next level,” says Donald.
He himself would be delighted to have a role to play there, it’s clear. But wasn’t he a bit disappointed with the way they bowled, especially in comparison to how the Indians bowled?
Donald is a bit unsure on how to answer that one — he couldn’t have been happy with how the Indians got away from England, but he remains an optimist. “I won’t say I’m disappointed, I thought India bowled a brilliant length,” he says. “They were on the money right from the word go, the ball did swing and a fuller length is the going to be the length on this pitch. But they mixed it up really well.”
“They tested some England guys halfway down, they did not waste it when it counts and they bowled in a great channel,” he adds.
“But our bowlers too showed hell of a lot of responsibility, they stuck it out,” he says.
They did, but the wickets eluded them and Indians have run away with the game. Donald, a man who believes the cup is half full, thinks that past is to be buried and hopes for a better Monday.