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Selector forecasts 'specialist' squads

Daniel Brettig

May 12, 2011

Comments: 20 | Text size: A | A

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.

Posted by   on (May 13, 2011, 9:28 GMT)

I agree with 'something witty'. Beer is useless, o'Keefe is the future of Aussie spinning. Interesting article though. I could imagine other sides employing similar tactics. India won't need to care though, cause they never play outside the subcontinent...

Posted by Winsome on (May 13, 2011, 8:35 GMT)

Poor Pat Cummins, he's not going to be given a chance to develop properly. How desperate does it sound that a 17 year old with hardly any first class experience is being talked up this much? The reporters do that kid no favours with all this nonsense.

Posted by   on (May 13, 2011, 8:13 GMT)

Greg Chappel at it again. Coining terms that means nothing. One is bound to take a diff squad for SL with a spinner or two more than SA. Would there be diff batsmen because of their supposed better ability to counter spin or inability to counter pace. I doubt it. Then what does Specialist squad term mean. "Nothing" !!

Posted by Something_Witty on (May 13, 2011, 6:50 GMT)

Just an addition, if Michael Beer plays in SL ahead of O'keefe and Hauritz, I am giving up watching cricket.

Posted by Something_Witty on (May 13, 2011, 6:45 GMT)

Well at least G Chappell is making the right noises. I can't help thinking he'd serve Aus better as a batting coach though. - Look at what he accomplished in just a short time working with Shane Watson...

Posted by Biggus on (May 13, 2011, 5:51 GMT)

No real surprises here. I would always have hoped that we did pick 'horses for courses'. After all, haven't we usually picked two spinners for tests in Sydney and had plenty of pace in Perth? This principle should cover all selection meetings surely! I'm far more concerned with the selection of administrators.

Posted by katandthat3 on (May 13, 2011, 5:41 GMT)

This makes sense to pick more specialist squads. McDonald has been undeservedly overlooked since his last SA series, Butterworth along with Cummins should be in the reckoning for SA tour. Hauritz for me is still the best off-spinner in the country and should go to Sri Lanka, still don't particularly rate Beer or Krejza. I'd have O'Keefe, Smith, Heal or Lyon ahead of Beer. I'm just as interested in the A tour sides to Zimbo as well. Like to see players like Hazelwood, Lyon and Mitch Marsh go and see someone like George Bailey lead the team. Australia has a great opportunity to get things moving again I'd certainly prefer someone like Hilditch and Neilson not to be there. Fresh change off the field as well as on.

Posted by Mossop1313 on (May 13, 2011, 5:36 GMT)

Fine for Greg Chappell to talk about "specialist" squads, but what was the caper when we needed a "specialist" spinner last year? The two best "specialist" spinners in the country (Hauritz and O'Keefe) didn't get a single test . . between them!!!! The selections since GC took over the top job have at best been seen as "interesting". Unfortunately his recent history suggests chaos wherever he lands . . . . last summer was an absolute schemozzle here in Australia. In fact, Cricket Australia has a lot to answer for. Who dreamed up a change to a 2-innings 45-over comp in a 50-over World Cup Year? Who decided that the domestic 20-20 comp needs 2 teams from Sydney and Melbourne and none from the ACT who have produced enough first-class players in the last 5 years to have their own Shield side? I'm not holding my breath that this year will be any different.

Posted by bobagorof on (May 13, 2011, 5:13 GMT)

Picking squads to suit the playing conditions should not be anything new - Australia has always chosen pace-heavy squads for Ashes series and included an extra spinner for touring India. What will be more interesting to see is whether the selectors do the same thing for the batsmen - ie pick good players of spin for the SL tour. Also, where is Nathan Haurtiz? Barring the last tour to India, where he was recovering from injury and none of the spin bowlers did particularly well, he's had a decent record since Warne retired - exactly the kind of 'best combination while waiting for champions' that Chappell talked about.

Posted by VivGilchrist on (May 13, 2011, 3:26 GMT)

Please tell me that I didnt just read Michael Beer, Steven Smith, and Jason Krezja as suggestions for Sri Lanka?

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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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