Negotiations continue to extend legend's role
Cricket Australia wants Dennis Lillee to continue to build his "era of the fast bowler" for Australia as the governing body seeks to extend its recent trend of employing the game's former greats to extract the best out of the country's cricketing talent.
CA is in negotiations to renew the contract of Lillee as a fast bowling consultant and join the likes of Shane Warne and Michael Hussey on the list of consultant coaches.
Spin legend Warne will link up with the Australian squad in Cape Town next week where he will work with the team for the Twenty20 series that follows the third Test and ahead of the World T20 tournament in Bangladesh.
Earlier this month, Hussey was hired as a consultant batting coach to work at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane.
A CA spokesman said the body was keen for Lillee to continue his work as mentor for some of Australia's top fast bowling youth. Lillee has been working particularly closely with 20-year-old tearaway Pat Cummins, after the fast bowling legend revealed on national radio his dissatisfaction with protracted negotiations.
"They (Australia's bowling stocks) are good and they do need direction. But at the moment I'm out of contract and as again with Cricket Australia, they're quibbling over an increase, so I don't know if I've got a contract," Lillee said on SEN Radio.
"Out of the goodness of my heart I am still in touch with him (Cummins), he's a good lad and he's got a big future, but I'm over that, I've got other work to do. Not particularly Pat but then everyone comes on board and Cricket Australia think 'here he is, he'll just continue to do it anyway'. So I'm taking a stance."
A CA spokesman responded: "A number of our consultants come out of contract outside the Australian summer, including Dennis Lillee. We are currently working through that recontracting process. Dennis is clearly a great asset to Australian cricket and we want to ensure he stays involved with the game."
Lillee, who took 355 wickets in 70 Tests, is credited for the stunning return to form of Mitchell Johnson. Johnson worked with Lillee at MRF Pace Academy in India but most of the rehabilitation took place in Perth where National Selection Panel chairman John Inverarity was a regular spectator.
"If I was a young fast bowler who got injured and lost his way and technique was all over the shop and the chairman was there, wouldn't that give you a fillip?" said Lillee.
"That gave him confidence that he was wanted, then he worked bloody hard at all the technical issues and all the fitness issues – he had to go through a very rigorous regime before I'd even touch him with the technical side. We showed him what to do, he did the work, so it's over to him and look at the result."
Lillee is also working with James Faulkner, hero of the stunning Gabba ODI win against England in January, but work has halted as Faulkner recovers from a knee injury that kept him out of the current South Africa tour and while Lillee's contract is finalised.
"(Faulkner) is working on improving his technique slightly, which will give him more pace and actually give him that one that comes back into the right-hander regularly at will," Lillee said.
"He's close to it, but when you're playing a lot it's hard to put the time in that you need. But he's working on it, he's really convinced it's going to help, he's made some improvements and he will continue to.
"I just think it's fantastic at the moment that we've built up this battery of quicks, then also we've got so many reserves around at the moment that I think it's great for Australian cricket.
"It's no mistake that we're doing well because the quicks have really set the scene and bowled so well that the batsmen don't have to make that big a score, the quicks are doing the job. It's certainly the era of the fast bowlers at the moment in Australian cricket."
The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of Cricket Australia
First Posted 21 February, 2014 10:57PM AEST