Australian news October 27, 2010

Cricket Australia prepares to axe a selector

Cricket Australia will decide which of Merv Hughes, Jamie Cox or David Boon will be sacked as a national selector at a board meeting on Friday. Greg Chappell has recently joined the group in his new role as Cricket Australia's national talent manager, and he has become the first full-time selector on the panel headed by Andrew Hilditch.

The board is keen to keep the national selection panel to four members and as chairman, Hilditch is contracted until the end of the World Cup and will retain his job. He said while it was a shame one of his colleagues would miss out, he understood that a five-man group was not ideal.

"That will be a pity," Hilditch told reporters in Adelaide. "I think all the selectors have performed really well. I have been a selector with a panel of three, and a panel of four, and a panel of five - four seems, I'd have to accept, it's the right number."

The selectors have not had an easy time over the past few seasons, as retirements and injuries have forced them to try out plenty of new faces. Since the start of 2008, they have handed baggy greens to 18 new players, compared to the eight Test debutants who were picked in the previous three years, and Australia have slipped to fifth on the ICC Test rankings.

If a "last-in first-out" policy is used, it will mean trouble for Cox, the former Tasmanian batsman who replaced Allan Border on the selection panel in 2006. Cox was the selector on duty when Australia lost the Ashes at The Oval last year, and he later took responsibility for not picking Nathan Hauritz on the spin-friendly pitch.

There have also been concerns over a potential conflict of interest for Cox, who is employed as South Australia's director of cricket, and a similar issue surrounds Boon, who works for Cricket Tasmania. Questions were raised over Hughes when it emerged he did not have pay television connected at his home, which meant he could not watch overseas tours or domestic games unless he was at the ground.

Hughes has also been in the firing line for juggling his job as a selector with his role in leading supporter tours to watch the Australians play. Hilditch has not escaped criticism either, and in early 2009 he was photographed walking his dog on the beach instead of watching the Test team, which was struggling against India at the SCG.

Hilditch will address the board before it makes its decision, but he insisted the call would be solely in the hands of the directors. The other major discussion expected at Friday's board meeting concerns the potential for privately owned teams in the new domestic Twenty20 tournament Australia are hoping to launch next summer.

It is likely that eight city-based teams will replace the existing state sides for the Twenty20 competition, and the locations for the new teams should be decided early next year. There has been interest from private investors keen to own a side, but the board is yet to decide whether such franchising will be introduced.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at Cricinfo

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