Stuart pushes case for hard graft
Anthony Stuart, the recently appointed New South Wales coach, reckons Australian cricket must develop a greater appetite for hard work if major success is to follow.
Named as the man to replace Matthew Mott after spending five trophy-less years as the provincial coach of Wellington in New Zealand, Stuart's reputation is one of meticulous preparation and stern advice. He has every intention of keeping that up with the Blues, who have tended to yo-yo between successful seasons and dire ones over the past decade.
Stuart's attitude is reflected in his thoughts about the national team, in which he enjoyed a brief but bright stint in 1997 that culminated in a hat-trick at the MCG against Pakistan. At the time Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne were developing the partnership that would dominate world cricket for more than a decade. Stuart cannot see anyone of their ilk on the horizon.
"I think the guys have got a lot of hard work in front of them," he said. "I think the days are gone where we've got guys who could take wickets at will. When Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath retired we lost 1400 Test wickets. The guys understand there are greater challenges for them out there now and the guys have to be prepared for that. If they want to get back to the top of the pile then they've got to expect to do a lot of hard work."
The NSW chief executive, David Gilbert, has spoken admiringly of Stuart's passion for the Blue cap and willingness to make hard decisions - the sort of advance billing that can make established players nervous but younger ones ambitious. Stuart is sure he will need to be tough in charge, expecting professionalism from his squad.
"I think the guys are fully aware that they are full-time professional athletes," he said. "They've got to expect that when they come they come to work and they come to work hard. I don't think I'm going to be telling them anything different that they don't already know. With a different voice and maybe a different philosophy on things that might be the key to make a difference.
"I'm not here to reinvent the wheel, the boys have had some short-term success in the last few years and my job is to just challenge them that little bit further and make sure guys are continually wanting to improve and that's why I'm here.
"I'll be tough when I need to be but the players have to be tough when they need to be as well. My job is to make sure that we don't get comfortable, we make sure we turn up with the right attitude at every training session, let alone every game. That's important for guys that they're not always going to be feeling great every day, every training and gym session but it's important that when you are feeling tough that you come with the right attitude.
"Because that's when good players and good sides get through in tough situations, when they find that extra bit when they're not feeling great but they find a way to win."
One player welcoming Stuart to the fold is the sometime Test off spinner Nathan Hauritz, who is presently trying to prove his fitness in time to be considered for the tour of Sri Lanka in August. "I think it's a very positive step forward for NSW," he said. "There's a very young group, a medium to young group, and it's time for those guys to mould their own dynasty, like back when it was the Waughs and [Stuart] MacGills.
"At NSW now it's probably time for Moises Henriques, young Nic Maddinson, Pat Cummins, all those kids coming through, to be able to do that. I think Anthony Stuart will allow them to do that."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo