Transition phase can't last forever - Warne
"What is our future?" That's Shane Warne's question for Australia's decision makers as they plot a way up from their current Test ranking of No. 4.
"You have to say the Australian side has been in a transition phase," Warne said. "But there has to be a line - when does that transition phase stop? This side has been together probably for 18 months, so it's played three or four Test series, with the players clocking up 12 to 15 to nearly 20 Tests.
"I wouldn't say Australia is the fourth best side in the world, but the way the side has played of recent times - it lost in Australia, beat South Africa, lost in England - you are going to have to be patient. But there comes a time when you say okay, are these guys in the side going to see us through in the long term or is there an opportunity to get some new blood in the side?"
Warne was speaking after the Australian Cricketers' Association XI he captained had been over-run by an Australia XI containing the game's future. He would like some more new faces in the Test side so they can develop in the lead-up to next year's home Ashes series.
"If we're going to stay in a transition side and stay patient with them, we need these guys to get the opportunity to play some Test cricket," he said. "We need to identify two or three young guys to come in and say these guys have got it. Is that Steve Smith, [Moises] Henriques, Phillip Hughes, or whoever they are. Pick them at the right time."
Australia's current drop in the rankings is due to the core of great players who left the team since the 2006-07 Ashes series. Warne, Glenn McGrath, Adam Gilchrist and Matthew Hayden were retirees who were part of the Twenty20 exhibition on Sunday while Justin Langer was watching in his role as Australia's new batting consultant.
Another change has occurred over the past year due to Brett Lee's injury troubles and Stuart Clark has been left out of the side for Thursday's opening Test against West Indies. However, the Australian selectors have missed a chance to bring in the youth of Hughes and will have the allrounder Shane Watson opening at the Gabba, with the inconsistent Michael Hussey retaining his spot at No. 4.
"Yes, be patient and we're going to be a bit inconsistent," Warne said. "But there comes a time when we say we've had enough time, we know enough about ourselves, we've played enough Test cricket, it's time to start performing."
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo