As an emotional, passionate and Australian cricket team supporter (and player) for the best part of 20 years (a proud one too) I, like many others am frustrated on many levels at present. The next 12 months is the biggest 12 months of cricket for the Australian cricket team in a long, long time. If we do nothing now, we will be where we were 30 years ago. There needs to be urgent action and a new strategy / plan put in place.
The current set up is not working, as the results are showing! What are our world rankings in all forms?
Selecting of teams
This is a vey tough gig as everyone in Australia thinks they can pick the best team, it’s a subject that’s discussed in boardrooms, pubs, schools and so on…
In my view, selecting a player is not based solely on statistics and averages, it can be used as a guide sure, but the objective of a Selector is to look at when players get their runs and wickets, which shows character and a good temperament when under pressure, along with their talent. Then they can trust themselves when making the next step into international cricket. There are many other ingredients that go into selecting a player, but this should be the basis of being selected.
A simple criteria is pick your best team and stick with it in all forms, then the players get used playing together and being with one another on tour, you get to know the person, too much chopping and changing leads to insecurity, players then start to look out for themselves and over their shoulder, this breeds selfishness. It’s also why rotation and resting players will never work. I believe the players should be united, take ownership of this, it’s a very powerful and strong message to send to CA if the players message is “I do not want to be rested or rotated I want to play every game, if I don’t perform drop me”. If this decision comes from the players then CA have to respect that and follow suit on selection accordingly, this will then mean someone is accountable. In any sport once you have proven to yourself that you are good enough to play at the top level, you know if you perform you will be picked for the next game, that’s when you play at your best as you have confidence and are more relaxed. The team should be selected first, not the captain, the captain will be chosen from the team selected.
We have the best batsmen / captain in world cricket at the moment in Michael Clarke and the spine of a good team with Warner, Watson, Wade, Siddle and Lyon, the rest of the spots are up for grabs in my opinion. Opportunities for players now are there for the taking.
The coach should not be a selector as he should be a confidante for the players, the captain should be though. I could go on here for a while….
So, to my dream team, I could be completely wrong and barking up the wrong tree, but in my opinion if the following people were to fill these roles, then Australian cricket would be in good hands and a great chance of getting back to number 1, as I believe the talent is there in domestic cricket – to have a great Australian team for now and for the future.
Rod Marsh (Chairman)
Damian Martyn; and
The people who I would put in charge of cricket if available and willing, along with the above selectors (you can give them any title you want) would be:
CEO of cricket or GM: Mark Taylor
Boss man, cricket supremo. The coach, captain and support staff are answerable to Tub. Tub is in charge of all things cricket. The reason why I would choose Mark is that he has an understanding from both sides and is a wonderful communicator as well as being very approachable and respected.
Coach: Stephen Fleming:
In my time Stephen was the best opposition Captain we played against and seeing what Stephen has done first hand re his coaching roles along with knowing him well personally, I believe he brings alot to the table, a calmness, an intelligent understanding of the game and a very good cricket brain. He’s a good communicator too as well as a good leader of men.
Assistant Coach: Darren “ Boof “ Lehmann:
Boof understands the game as good as anyone and has a great outlook on the game, he’s a good balance of old school and what the needs are of the current day player.
Batting Coach’s: Mike Hussey / Michael Bevan:
Both respected players and grasp all forms of the game. These guys would be around the team when needed, depending on which form of the game is being played. The coach would liaise with both and give them clarity on when they are required and to be around the group.
Bowling Coaches: Merv Hughes / Bruce Reid:
Both have been wonderful players and understand what works and what doesn’t, they also were very clever bowlers and have experience, both have a great attitude and a passion for the game too.
Consultant: Ian Chappell:
Be on call as a sounding board for any player to talk to at anytime and be around the group when needed. Chaps has been the biggest influence on my cricketing career and understands the game and people. He’s understanding of the game is second to none. He was a great all-round cricketer and also the best Captain to have ever played the game from any country.
All the above people are cricket people, not rugby, tennis or from any other sporting code. They all understand the game of cricket, they have lived and breathed the game for a long time and most importantly have the best interests of Australian cricket at heart, along with being super passionate and above all, they just love the game.
Cricket is a simple game; sure it has room and a place for scientific research and current technology, which can help learn about an opponent, but not instead of using your cricket brain, together they can work hand in hand. Technology can help in recovery, but so can sleep and a common sense approach to recovery.
You cannot re-invent the wheel in cricket, if a player wants to become a better slip fielder, catch more balls, want to get better at bowling a Yorker – practice bowling and hitting a target (Malinga and a shoe) and so on.
It’s time to go back to basics. Too many people are justifying their existence.
I will be discussing these points and Part 2 with James Sutherland in the next week.
I hope this piece opens the floodgates for discussion and a positive outcome. I’m no guru, just a concerned ex cricketer who loves Australian cricket and is passionate about the white floppy hat!
This is only part 1 of my article, in part 2 I will select my teams for all forms of the game, my vision, future of one day cricket, 20/20 and the impact on domestic cricket, grass roots cricket, spin bowling and more, so stay tuned…