Australian Cricket

Wow… Ponting has managed to lose three Ashes Series as Australian Captain.  That’s just something I never thought was possible.  When you go around the fields and parks on weekends here in the summer it is just loaded with kids playing cricket.  Cricket Australia used to be a machine, turning out cricketers at a rate of knots.  A few years back Australia and Australia ‘A’ were the two best cricket teams in the world.  Now they’ve lost they’ve failed to win back the Ashes from England at home.

Enough wallowing in pity, time to fix this mess.

Ponting must obviously go.  His Captaincy and on-field strategies have been suspect all along, but now that his batting form has left him, there really is no reason to keep him in that role.  I still think he may have runs in him, but I think cleaning house is the order of the day – I say that with a caveat now, for something I will write later.

The entire panel of selectors must go.  The selection policy over the last two years has basically has the foul odour of desperation about it.  The number of spinners who’ve come in since Warne retired is embarrassing and none have been really given a fair go.  What they did to Nathan Hauritz is shameful.  Young Smith could be the go in a year or two, but he needs to be taught the art of spin bowling by people like Warne and Jenner.  

In fact the whole process of how the team is run now needs to be explored.  You had the selectors picking Shane Watson because he’s an all-rounder.  He has no credentials as an opener and his run calling is far too suspect to be at the top of the order – as young Hughes learned in the second innings of the fourth test.  Yet at the same time, Ponting refuses to bowl him.  The whole thing is discombobulated.  The side should be selected according to ability, form and the game plan.  The Captain and the coach should then follow through with that game plan.  So, by no means is this making Watson the scapegoat, but either it was poor selection or poor execution of the game plan.

Something needs to be done about the whole Cricket Australia contracting model.  Take Brad Haddin for example, he’s now 34 years old.  His batting form is good and his wicketkeeping has improved.  However, it won’t be long, later this season or next when age starts to catch up with him.  That said, he will hang on because those big fat CA contracts make it impossible for him to want to quit.  Again, maybe this is part selection policy, but someone is going to have to be ruthless within Cricket Australia to make sure the next wicketkeeper/batsman is ready to step into international competition straight away at some point.

Here are my suggestions, some of which may seem counterintuitive to what I’ve written earlier, but so what…  First of all, I’d do whatever is necessary to bring Warne back for two more seasons as Captain.  Captaining Australia is the one accolade he never achieved and let’s face it, he’s still probably the best leg spinner in the world.  Make him Captain/Coach so that he can set his schedule with training and things to his liking.  Sorry Michael Clarke, your form doesn’t warrant you being Australian Captain just yet, wait your turn and try to retain your place in the side.

Let every State team know that the Australian side will be younger and picked on merit and form.  I think you bring players like Usman Khawaja and Moises Henriques in and start getting them some time in the Test arena.  Focus on building a stable core of young players and have people nipping at their heels urging them on.  Australians like competition!

For the next two years you’ll probably lose a fair few tests, but eventually you’ll have a stable core to build on.  A guy like Warne along with some good pace bowling is probably going to steal you a few test matches and teach these young players how to win.  That was the great missed opportunity with the last amazing generation of Australian cricketers – they didn’t do enough to bring in young players in important matches and teach them how to win.  Winning is a habit and you learn how to spot your opportunities and take advantage. 

Either way, it will be an interesting review when the dust settles from this most recent disasterous result to England.

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