Greg Chappell returns to selection table
Greg Chappell, Australia's first full-time selector, is in no hurry to discard any of Australia's senior players but is ready to make the tough decisions. Chappell will begin his second term with the panel over the next month after being appointed as the national talent manager on Monday.
Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey and Simon Katich are all 35 and the finish of the Ashes and World Cup will require some significant long-term planning. As India coach, Chappell stood firm to end Sourav Ganguly's captaincy and he knows there will be difficult and unpopular choices.
"It comes with the territory," Chappell said at Australia's camp in Queensland. "Thankfully I'm not chairman of selectors, so maybe the toughest selections come down to the chairman [Andrew Hilditch]. I've been involved in selection on and off for Australia over the years, I've never been in the situation before when we've had to vote."
Chappell, who was interviewed last week, held a similar role until he stepped down in 1988 and became a commentator. Since then he has coached South Australia, India, Australia A and most recently at the Centre of Excellence. He will move from Brisbane, where he has been based since 2008, to Melbourne for the post, which also encompass talent identification and working with the states. As the panel's spokesman, he will also be the public face of the selectors.
The make-up of the rest of the four-man unit will be determined by Cricket Australia's board in October. Hilditch is contracted until next year's World Cup while one of David Boon, Jamie Cox and Merv Hughes is expected to depart to accommodate Chappell.
Michael Brown, Cricket Australia's operations manager, said he had not talked to Hilditch about his post-World Cup plans. "He's really excited about what he's doing and we've got a huge challenge ahead in the next eight months," he said. "We haven't had any discussions about his position beyond that. He's starting a business on his own, so he's a pretty busy person, but he's managed the two roles [previously]."
Hilditch and Chappell, whose playing careers just overlapped, have worked together since Chappell became involved with the Academy. "I have a great deal of respect for Andrew as a person and selector, I don't think there'll be too many issues there," Chappell said.
He enters a panel that has come under a lot of criticism for its choices over the past couple of years as the side has slipped from the No.1 Test ranking. It currently sits fourth and Chappell, 62, brings a youth-centred focus following his time with the Centre of Excellence.
"It gives me a pretty good feel for what's out there and what is required for the next couple of years," he said. "There's no rush to push anyone out the door. You have to earn the right to play for Australia, that's something the whole selection panel is conscious of, and will bear in mind going forward."
After retiring in 1983-84, Chappell was part of the selection panel that appointed Allan Border as captain following Kim Hughes' mid-series resignation, and he was involved in picking the 1987 World Cup-winning squad. He was also a key supporter of Ian Healy's rapid promotion in 1988.
"I enjoyed the role as a selector in the mid-80s to late 80s, I only really gave it away due to family and business commitments," he said. "We were reasonably successful coming out of a pretty lean time at that stage. I'd like to think I played some small part of that."
As a player he was peerless, scoring 7110 runs in 87 Tests, and captained Australia in 48 matches. He found coaching more difficult, especially during his two-year tenure with India, which ended after a first-round exit at the 2007 World Cup.
Peter English is the Australasia editor of Cricinfo