Australia selection news August 26, 2009

Hilditch's Cricket Australia future uncertain

Andrew Hilditch's future with Cricket Australia (CA) could be determined next month, with moves afoot to create a position for a full-time selector on the national panel. Hilditch, who runs a law firm in Adelaide in addition to his role as chairman of selectors, is tipped to relinquish his cricketing duties if his role is upgraded to full-time. However, CA is also considering the possibility of employing one of the remaining three selectors in a permanent capacity; a move that would allow Hilditch to continue to chair the panel part-time.

The uncertainty surrounding Hilditch's future comes as part of a planned overhaul of Australia's selection process recommended by an internal Player Pathway Review Committee, as revealed by Cricinfo in May. The committee has recommended a five-point plan to professionalise the selection process, including the appointment of a "talent manager/selector" in each state to report to the four-man national panel. The recommendations pre-date Australia's Ashes defeat, however given the current zeitgeist, and with a meeting of the CA board and an annual general meeting scheduled for September, it is anticipated the proposed changes will be in effect before the next Australian summer.

Calls for a selection overhaul in the wake of Australia's defeat at The Oval have been vociferous. But CA sources insist that changes, if they are made, will not be in response to the underwhelming performances of the national team. Rumours are already circulating that Hilditch and one other selector will stand down from their posts in the coming months, although a CA spokesman last night insisted no decision had been made.

James Sutherland this week spoke out in defence of Hilditch and his panel, despite the general acknowledgment that their decision to omit Nathan Hauritz for the Ashes decider on a turning pitch was flawed. Hilditch admitted the error in a press conference immediately after Australia's 2-1 defeat, but gave no indication he would step down from his position with the national panel.

Speaking to Cricinfo prior to the first Test, Hilditch hinted that his future with CA would be determined by whether his view is determined to be full-time in the future. Should one of the remaining three selectors be upgraded to full-time status, Hilditch is likely to continue chairing the panel.

"There are lots of recommendations, all of which I'm fully in support of," Hilditch said of the pathways document. "The one that seems to be highlighted is are we going to have a full-time selector or a full-time chairman, but the more important part of the review was what we should be doing at state level, Australia A and future tours. I'll be interested to see where it goes.

"I've done most of my time voluntarily and I enjoyed that process. It's wonderful to be able to do those sort of things. If it continues that's great, because I'm very fortunate, but I'll see what happens. Unfortunately there's some perception at the moment that I should have been at the first (Ashes warm-up) game, but that's got nothing to do with whether I'm a full-time chairman. If there's a fulltime selector he's not going to be at every game."

CA's directors have already endorsed the recommendations of the Player Pathway Review Committee "subject to the CA Board approving the 2009-10 budget." The review also recommended a refocussing of "state cricket to produce Australian players" and a restructuring of both men's and women's pathway programmes.

Alex Brown is deputy editor of Cricinfo