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Selector forecasts 'specialist' squads

Daniel Brettig

May 12, 2011

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Ricky Ponting and Greg Chappell discuss a point at Australia's training session, December 25, 2010
"There'll be different challenges on each tour; much like 1969-70 there will be very different conditions on the two parts of the tour" © Getty Images
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Greg Chappell, the Australian selector, has forecast the selection of distinct "specialist" squads for tours of Sri Lanka and South Africa. The size of the task confronting Australia and its new captain Michael Clarke is placed into context by the fact that this is the first time since 1969-70 that the national side has been asked to make back-to-back overseas Test tours without a significant break or home summer in between.

To alleviate the difficulties, Chappell expected a substantial variation in the squads picked for the two series, to help Clarke best adapt his resources to contrasting conditions. As in 1969-70, when the team led by Bill Lawry travelled through India and enjoyed a series victory before venturing to South Africa and being crushed 4-0 in as many Tests, the Australians must make the sharp adjustments from slow subcontinental pitches to fast African tracks. That tour sowed the seeds for Lawry's eventual sacking as captain, a fate Clarke will be keen to avoid.

"If you want to look at it in that light it is [daunting], yes, but if you want to look at it as an opportunity for us to get better, I think it's a great opportunity," Chappell told ESPNcricinfo. "There'll be different challenges on each tour; much like 1969-70 there will be very different conditions on the two parts of the tour so it will be a challenge."

The success of the last Australian tour to South Africa in 2009 may result in a recall for a role-player like the Victorian allrounder Andrew McDonald, who bowled thriftily in partnership with the pace attack during those matches, while in Sri Lanka the spin of Michael Beer, Steve Smith and perhaps Jason Krejza will be employed.

"The good news for this generation is they won't have to go back-to-back from one set of conditions to the other; the Champions League will intervene, so the opportunity will be there to pick specialist groups for the two tours," said Chappell. "Sri Lanka's likely to suit spin bowling, South Africa's likely to suit fast bowling, so the balance of the two groups is likely to be different. It's an opportunity for experienced players and for budding players to gain some great experience and some great learning about what international cricket is about."

Chappell admitted there were few great players immediately available to the Australian team, and suggested the national selectors would have to make the best of it until a new generation, spearheaded by the likes of the teenaged fast bowler Pat Cummins, was ready for national duty.

"If you can find some outstanding matchwinning players, that's great, but if you haven't got them available you do the best you can with the combinations you can put together and that's the challenge for us over the next few years," said Chappell. "We can see we've got some potential champions on the horizon, but it's going to take time for them to get to the point where they're going to be ready to play for Australia, so in the meantime you're looking for the best combinations you can get."

Casting his eye across to India and the coaching role he once held, Chappell said Gary Kirsten's replacement, the former England coach Duncan Fletcher, was as prepared as anyone could be for the role.

"I think it's an interesting appointment; he's a very experienced coach, I think he'll bring a lot to the job," said Chappell. "Coaching at that level is a challenge in any environment, we know how fanatical India is about the game of cricket with the population and the media population, that brings with it different challenges. Duncan's been a proven coach and has experienced India from the other side, so if anyone can be ready for it he'll be as ready as anyone."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by   on (May 14, 2011, 13:27 GMT)

Ponting is gonna be a burden for the team sooner !!

Posted by Dashgar on (May 14, 2011, 11:15 GMT)

There's some great fast bowlers in the Australian first class scene. Guys like Butterworth, Coulter-Nile, Copeland, Feldman, George and Swan are all top quality. Why are we always looking at the NSW under 20s to find talent when we've got proven professionals at every state.

Posted by jonesy2 on (May 14, 2011, 4:14 GMT)

what? there are plenty of great players to pick youre just picking the wrong ones!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! pick marsh, pick white, pick hauritz! fools!

Posted by duralsumo on (May 14, 2011, 3:20 GMT)

Last season it was every spinner the Australian Selectors could think of except Nathan Hauritz.

Posted by rafe01 on (May 13, 2011, 22:23 GMT)

The selection of spinners for the last summer was bizarre. The selectors are trying to be too clever. Challengers should prove themselves worthy of deposing the incumbents in shield cricket, rather than being fast tracked because they're tall or lefties. The latter tactic failed miserably against the poms, and now chappell still thinks he knows best and can choose "specialist" squads, rather than squads based on merit . Australian cricket is in the doldrums. Remember when we said it was boring because we won all the time? Its boring watching these guys trying to survive a morning against a good attack.

Posted by Saad_Parekh on (May 13, 2011, 14:09 GMT)

Changing 2 or 3 players between squad doesn't make em specialist squads. The backbone of Australian lineup cant be changed as Chapel himself noted that good enough replacement is not available.

Posted by Wozza-CY on (May 13, 2011, 12:15 GMT)

@Niraj Vashi- you're spot on there mate. The only changes to the squads they select will be at most three bowlers. It hardly then becomes a 'specialist squad', simply more like picking players suited for the conditions (which they failed to do for India WC). But it if this means we don't play four express seamers when the rest of the world is opening with spinners, then call it what you will. It's fair to say we don't currently have match winners like Warne, McGrath, Hayden & Gilchrist. But I don't think we should pressure on young players coming through looking for the 'next' one of these. If the RIGHT Australian side is selected, keeps its discipline & plays to its strengths, we could win in SL & SA.

Posted by   on (May 13, 2011, 11:32 GMT)

I have a bad feeling about this. Why not just pick a core group of players that you're going to keep the faith with for a couple of years and help them to grow, instead of "specializing" and picking two different squads for two tours. I guess it just goes to show, for all the work the selectors have supposedly done.. in the end they still have no clue about what they're paid to do- decide, and select.

Posted by Hoggy_1989 on (May 13, 2011, 10:58 GMT)

I liked Michael Beer, I think he showed a lot of potential. However, I'd give him a few more regular seasons of first class cricket before blooding him in the Tests again. Smith and Krezja are hopeless, get rid of them. Hauritz and O'Keefe are the future of Australian spin...with Beer in the wings.

Posted by Sutty101 on (May 13, 2011, 10:28 GMT)

The incompetence of our selection committee and head administrators is just phenomenal. A bloke like Beer, with 27 first class wickets at an average of 50 gets selected ahead of a truly world class player like Steve O'Keefe - It is just hilarious to watch.

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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