Ashes Diary: Cooley suffers reverse-swing of fortunes

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The Independent Online

Remember Troy Cooley? He was the reverse-swing whizz who played such a key role in England's victory in 2005.

Shortly afterwards, though, there was much gnashing of teeth when he decided to return to Australia after the ECB failed to offer him a sufficiently lengthy contract. It was seen as a typically English blunder: why wouldn't you offer the man who had put together – albeit briefly – the world's best fast-bowling attack the contract he wanted?

Well, now the gnashing of teeth is coming from Down Under. The fact that Australia's bowlers – marshalled by Cooley – have taken 6 for1,137 in England's past two innings has turned the focus on what the Tasmanian is actually doing with the Aussie attack. Why can't Mitchell Johnson, potentially Australia's most destructive bowler, land the ball on the square? Why can't any of them keep a tidy line, in the way that Glenn McGrath did so magnificently?

A whispering campaign of sorts has begun against Cooley. According to the Melbourne Age – probably Australia's most, ahem, upstanding journal – Cricket Australia board members have privately questioned Cooley's performance in the past year. "It can be a case of smoke and mirrors sometimes with coaches,'' the Age's source said last night.

Cooley's moment of truth is approaching. If Australia do not get it right at Perth – the only ground where they might have a bowling advantage, given how alien the conditions there are for English bowlers – it won't look good for the man who was an English national hero in 2005.

Not that he has too much to worry about, given that he has already agreed to become the new head coach at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane after the World Cup next year.

Aussies select like it's 1989

Proof, were it needed, that the Australian selectors are operating on panic alone. Merv Hughes, a former selector – and thus a man who knows the process pretty well – says he was "blown away" by the selection of Michael Beer. Hughes, who was demoted from the selection panel seven weeks ago, said: "Having been in the selection system for the last five years, you know the process that they watch the games, and obviously he's impressed the selectors at the games he's played this year." The intimation, of course, is that Beer wasn't on the radar seven weeks ago. It's like 1989, but the other way round. But who will be Australia's Alan Igglesden?

Load of old rubbish

Stories that Nathan Hauritz held a garage sale at the weekend, selling off his Test gear and telling shoppers he "didn't play for [Australia] any more", are off the mark, according to selector Greg Chappell. "It was a very innocent action and it was made to look like something sinister," he said.