Australian Academy aim to match senior success
Over the past decade Australians have got used to winning. The national side has led the way in dominating style but the almost perfect success rate has not been matched by the next tiers. The under-19 team has not won the Youth World Cup since 2002 and the Academy has not been successful in the Emerging Players Tournament it has hosted since 2005.
The third version of the event begins in Queensland on Monday when the Academy's Centre of Excellence squad meets New Zealand A, South Africa Emerging Players and India's Karnataka State Cricket Association XI in two weeks of next-generation competition. With the young brigades on show it is fitting that the proceedings begin with two days of frenetic Twenty20 action at Caloundra on the Sunshine Coast followed by seven 50-over matches, finishing with the finals in Brisbane on July 28.
While the current Australian scholarship intake is not as high profile as the class of 2006, the squad boasts a strong roster ranging from the international Mark Cosgrove to the highly successful under-19 batsman Phillip Hughes, and a coaching staff that would satisfy most Test line-ups. Troy Cooley, Mike Young and Dene Hills have worked successfully with the Australian team while Darren Lehmann has been called on to help the side, which is guided by the head coach Brian McFadyen.
McFadyen knows a lot about his players after spending three months with most of them at the Centre of Excellence, but his understanding of the three opponents is limited to any previous encounters and the players with international experience. New Zealand's squad contains James Marshall, Andre Adams, Michael Papps and Jamie How, who are Test and ODI representatives, while the bowler Iain O'Brien appeared in two Tests in 2005.
The South African squad, which was announced in March, is led by the offspinner Johan Botha and he has another seven players with international caps to call on, including Vernon Philander and Justin Ontong. Karnataka have chosen a 15-man development outfit.
"We haven't taken a lot of notice of the other squads," McFadyen said. "Last year there were more international players in the tournament. This time it looks like it will be more development players."
The 17-man home team has an intriguing mix of players from the Centre of Excellence intake that was picked by the national selectors. Previously the Academy structure had focused on young men, but with the Australian team experiencing some serious alterations through retirements and aging more first-class players were invited to the facility.
McFadyen is excited to have Cosgrove and the New South Wales batsman Ed Cowan available while Tasmania's Brendan Drew and the exciting wicketkeeper-batsman Luke Ronchi have been named in the 30-man national squad for the Twenty20 World Championship. "We all know Luke is a big hitter and we expect Brendan to have an impact in this series," he said. "Luke Pomersbach from Western Australia is the whole package while Moises Henriques and Cullen Bailey, who has a Cricket Australia contract, have short-term contracts with the Academy and are in the team."
The itinerary is crammed and McFadyen said his squad would be challenged by the format. "The schedule is almost as full as Ford Ranger Cup domestic tournament," he said. "We play three Twenty20 games and seven one-dayers in two weeks, so it will be a good experience."
New Zealand A James Marshall (capt), Andre Adams, Hamish Bennett, Neil Broom, Grant Elliott, Gareth Hopkins (wk), Jamie How, Nathan McCullum, James McMillan, Warren McSkimming, Rob Nicol, Iain O'Brien, Michael Papps, Aaron Redmond, Bradley Scott.
South Africa Emerging Players Johan Botha (capt), Thami Tsolekile, Morne Morkel, Vernon Philander, Thandi Tshabalala, Alviro Petersen, Jean-Paul Duminy, Heino Kuhn (wk), Francois du Plessis, Friedel de Wet, Gulam Bodi, Yusuf Abdullah, Justin Ontong, Lennox Lonwabo Tsotsobe.
Australian Academy Craig Philipson, Matthew Wade, Ben Cutting, Brendan Drew, Aaron Finch, Shawn Gillies, Aaron Heal, Luke Pomersbach, Luke Ronchi (wk), Grant Sullivan, David Warner, Ed Cowan, Moises Henriques, Cullen Bailey, Mark Cosgrove, Michael Hill, Phillip Hughes.
Karnataka State Cricket Association XI Yere Goud (capt), C Raghu, CM Gautam, Deepak Chougle, Devraj Patil (wk), Amit Verma, C Raghavendra, Bharat Chipli, R Vinay Kumar, Raju Bhatkal, S Dhananjaya, V Cheluvaraj (wk), S Aravind, Sunil Raju, KB Pawan.
Peter English is the Australasian editor of Cricinfo