McDonald the perfect coach for Ashes battle; McGain
Former Australian spinner Bryce McGain believes his former state teammate Andrew McDonald is the perfect coach for the current Australian side.
The World Test Championship final win over India last week was the first major title with McDonald, who replaced Justin Langer at the helm in April 2022, in charge.
McGain told Sports Breakfast the combination of McDonald with selectors George Bailey and Tony Dodemaide was producing good results.
“There’s certainly been a growth in the team,” McGain said.
“Justin Langer has played a part in that, there’s no question, getting the culture right in the way they go about it.
“What Andrew McDonald does is he gets the best out of the players and supports them.
“The players have a big say and a big input, he’s able to control that. He’s a coach that’s comfortable without being hands-on all the time.”
England’s revolution of aggressive cricket under coach Brendon McCullum and captain Ben Stokes that has won them ten of their last 12 games will face its sternest test in cricket’s biggest series, with McGain saying the pressure would be on the hosts.
“I can’t see them changing. I think they’ll just say ‘it’s worked, we’re going to go with it’,” he said.
“There’ll be some dismissals that we’ll look at and say ‘that’s dreadful for Test cricket’, but I’m certain they’ve already prepared themselves mentally for that.
“It’s not an overnight success, they’ve been doing this for 12 months now … can they do it against a primed Australian attack that’s in pretty good form? We just don’t know, and that’s what’s so exciting about it.”
The England camp suffered an injury blow on the eve of the series with spinner Jack Leach ruled out for the summer due back issues, with 35-year-old all-rounder Moeen Ali, who has not played Test cricket since 2021, recalled to replace him.
Ali has an unimpressive record against Australia with the red ball, taking his wickets at an average of 64.65 apiece, with McGain saying Leach was critical in the hosts’ plans.
“It’s a question mark, no doubt,” McGain said.
“He does strengthen their batting down the order a bit, so there is a bit of a balance there.
“What he does in one-day cricket and white ball cricket, he is able to tie things up pretty well, so they’re looking for someone to play that role, not necessarily take bags of wickets with attacking spin bowling.”
The first Test of the Ashes kicks off at Edgbaston at 6pm on Friday WA time.