Jason Gillespie has revealed how a refreshed bowling plan against a starry batting line-up helped Australia win the 2004 Test series in India, avenging the 2-1 loss on their 2001 tour.
Three years after their 2001 series defeat, a tour that was dubbed the “final frontier” by skipper Steve Waugh, Australia returned to India under Adam Gilchrist and Ricky Ponting’s captaincy, winning the four-match series 2-1, their first series win on Indian soil since 1969/70.
“As a bowling group, we sat down and worked out how we’re going to [make an] impact for the team in India, in Indian conditions,” Jason Gillespie, part of Australia’s bowling attack on that tour, said on the Instagram Live show Homerun with AV.
“If we stuck to bowling the Australian line and length, which is that fourth-stump line, encourage the Indian batsmen to hit through the off side, which is what we were trying to do in 2001, we’re taking bowled and lbws out of play. But we are also conscious that by attacking the stumps more, we were playing to the Indian batsmen’s strengths.
“A lot of Indian batsmen are very wristy and play really well through the leg side. So, you think [of] guys like [VVS] Laxman, [Rahul] Dravid, [Sachin] Tendulkar, [Virender] Sehwag.
“When the ball is on the stumps, they can hit the ball anywhere from straight past the bowler to square leg just by the use of their hands, very skillful players.”
Earlier that year, the Australian bowlers had faced the might of the “fab four” on their home soil, with each of Laxman, Dravid, Tendulkar and Sehwag scoring at least a century each on the 2003/04 tour.
“So, we felt if you put an extra fielder or two on the leg side in catching positions and another defensive position on the fence and encourage the Indian batsmen to run more between the wickets rather than get those easy boundaries.
“We wanted to test their fitness and we just felt that if we kept charging in and attacking the stumps, eventually the Indian batters might miss one or two of those, and we can get an lbw or a bowled and that’s what happened.”
The change in tactic worked wonders, as none of the Indian batsmen, barring Sehwag, managed to score a single hundred in the four Tests, against the bowling unit featuring Gillespie, Glenn McGrath, Shane Warne, Michael Kasprowicz, Michael Clarke and Nathan Hauritz.