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Pace and precision the key to fightback

Shortfall … James Pattinson at the Gabba.

Shortfall … James Pattinson at the Gabba. Photo: Reuters

FORMER bowling coach Craig McDermott has urged Australia's pacemen to revert to the simple plan that served them so well against India last summer.

The Australians on Friday endured their worst bowling performance on the first day of a Gabba Test as South Africa compiled 2-255 on a lacklustre pitch. The second day on Saturday was a washout.

McDermott, the mentor behind last season's pace resurgence, stood down from the job in May and has recently started up his own pace school. He said Peter Siddle, Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson deviated from the plan behind the 4-0 demolition of India, which was to bowl full, fast and consistently.

''I'm sure the three of them would have been disappointed with the outcome [on day one],'' McDermott said. ''The ball didn't swing a lot so they were probably a bit short and a bit straight in that first session.

''The formula last summer worked really well. We didn't tire of being boring and bowling a good line and trying to get it to swing. On the other hand, we bowled some good bouncers, too, and that's really important, so they can't just plod on the front foot every ball. Some guys don't like that so it comes down to the game plan set out by Mickey [Arthur] and Michael [Clarke] for each one of their batters.''

Arthur, Australia's head coach, admitted the fast bowlers had not performed to plan on day one of the series. ''I thought we got our lengths wrong, I think we probably needed to be a little bit fuller,'' Arthur said. ''We weren't bad by any stretch of the imagination but we weren't as clinical as we had been and probably not as clinical as we hoped to be.

''I don't think we were able to build pressure for a long enough period. On our report card, probably 'disappointing'. But we've still got that second new ball up our sleeve, that's the one trump we've got. We have to make that second new ball work for us.''

McDermott said that getting carried away with short balls was ''not something you want to do at the Gabba''. The infamous dossier for South Africa's batsmen included tips to attack Jacques Kallis and Hashim Amla with well-aimed short-pitched bowling. ''It was a pretty good wicket so you've got to be patient and maintain your lines.''

McDermott visited the Brisbane nets before the Test. ''Their pace seemed to be OK, they were swinging the ball in the nets, but that's not always a great indication of what you get in the middle.''

It will be up to McDermott's replacement, Ali de Winter, to ensure the quicks bounce back, a job he has performed admirably with Hilfenhaus in the past. McDermott said he was not concerned the leaner physique of Siddle, who has given up meat and dropped five kilograms in the off-season, would affect his endurance. ''As long as it doesn't affect [his work-rate] I don't think you can complain when someone turns up in good condition.''

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