Spy games as Aussies bank on defector for Ashes edge

ESPIONAGE is not one of the more orthodox tactics employed by Ashes combatants but Australia are hoping to gain a decisive edge from their man with inside knowledge of the England camp.

Tasmanian Dene Hills, who until three months ago was England’s lead batting coach,
joined the Australia squad as performance analyst ahead of the second Test, which started in Adelaide this morning.

Hills, who amassed expert knowledge of the entire England set-up during two years with the national set-up, defected in September but was prevented from starting his new role by a 90-day clause in his contract.

That clause expired last week, allowing the 40—year-old to team up with his fellow Australians and plot the downfall of his former paymasters.

“We think he will bring some local knowledge of England in the short-term, but long-term he’s a fantastic fit for the Australian cricket team,” said Michael Brown, general manager at Cricket Australia.

“An opportunity has come up now as performance analyst, where he can combine his technical skills in and around the IT part of the game with his coaching. He brings a wealth of experience and credibility.

“I’ve become an undercover agent I suppose. But, seriously, Dene was keen and it was all above board. We knew he’d have a termination period, which we respectfully allowed him to complete.”

Hills, rated the best Australian batsman never to have played for his country, is the second former member of England’s back-room team to have switched allegiances in recent years.

Bowling coach Troy Cooley, a former team-mate of Hills with Tasmania state, quit England for a job with his native country after helping Andrew Flintoff and friends win the iconic 2005 Ashes series.

The arrival of Hills was not the only change made by Australia ahead of the second Test, with selectors, as expected, dropping bowler Mitchell Johnson following his woeful show in the drawn first Test.

Johnson finished with figures of none for 170 as the hosts’ attack failed to make a dent in England’s heroic second innings, and was replaced in the side this morning by Doug Bollinger. Paceman Ryan Harris was also included at the expense of Ben Hilfenhaus.


The surface looks greener than most Adelaide tracks and the rain could liven things up early on. Winning the toss and batting first would still be the preferred scenario from an England point of view though, considering our upper hand in the spin department.

Despite the euphoria that accompanied England’s fightback in Brisbane, it cannot be overlooked that we were let off the hook after a below par first innings total. They can’t afford to make the same mistake here – the average first innings total in the last 10 Tests is 416. Even the West Indies have passed 400 on their last two visits.

“The fact is the Poms are more disciplined, their bowlers are better. I believe their bowlers bowl tighter than our blokes and we don’t have the patience that they do. They’re just better organised than we are. To me, we look like we’re a shambles. I knew we’d struggle to take 20 wickets.” Former Aussie paceman, Jeff Thomson who, along with Dennis Lillee, terrorised England in the 1970s, isn’t overly impressed by the state of Australia’s current bowling attacking.