Australia news June 26, 2011

'T20 preference could kill Test cricket in Australia'

ESPNcricinfo staff
26

Neil D'Costa, Michael Clarke's mentor and coach, has said Australia's growing preference for Twenty20 could lead to Test cricket getting sidelined in a country already struggling to rebuild a team which has slipped to No. 5 in the rankings. ''A lot of junior state cricket in Australia is now Twenty20 cricket and that could kill Test cricket in this country,'' D'Costa told the Sydney Morning Herald.

D'Costa has been Clarke's mentor since he was seven and has been coaching state-level juniors in India for some years now. He contrasted Australia's preference with the relative lack of Twenty20 cricket in India at the junior level, which he says allows young players to learn the basics of the game better.

''In India, it's very different. There is no Twenty20 in the junior state programs. We don't train for it, don't play it, don't promote it and the players have nothing to do with it. It's only at the higher levels, where there are players who have learnt their game and can make improvisations, that Twenty20 is introduced. The job of all junior coaches in India is to teach players the fundamentals of batting.

''The energy that's being put in, the planning that's going into the development of Indian cricketers, is amazing. At the same time, Australia's spending time and money just trying to work out our problems.''

D'Costa said he was surprised when he met several of his young Australian students who just wanted to score faster and hit the ball harder. ''It's a real concern because everything in Australian cricket at the moment seems to be about Twenty20. It's all about the Big Bash, how we can get more people to the games, how we can make money out of India. It's not really about how we can make better cricketers.''

D'Costa also raised concerns about the direction of the Centre of Excellence program, saying more players were being taught to become ''clones'' instead of their individual needs being attended to. D'Costa cited the example of Phil Hughes who started his career with twin centuries in his second Test only to have his technique questioned, especially against the short ball.

''The stuff that he was told was not in sync with how he'd made runs all his life,'' D'Costa said. ''The fact that he scored a couple of centuries early on showed there were some skills there. He had to refine them within his way of doing it. But the information given to him didn't take into account his way of preparing and playing.

''You don't coach a Premier League soccer player how to kick a ball. And you don't get a landscape artist to paint portraits. They are coaching our most talented players with the same principles as you should coach a junior. These guys are past all that. It's as though they're trying to create clones. They're not coaching players according to what they specifically need.''

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • hyclass on June 29, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    I hope that D'Costa is interviewed along with Hughes for the review.Ive been looking,for over 2 years,for the real explanation for Hughes loss of form,to come into the public domain.I was aware that the only explanation to Hughes sudden change of style and loss of form,that fit all the facts,was a mandate from the coach criticizing his play against the short ball and his attacking style and ordering him to play differently or be dropped.He played differently,it didnt work,he was dropped and as expected,the coach failed to own up.The fact that he was out pulling in the first innings of the 2nd Ashes test should have told the whole story.The utter lack of protest by the australian camp, when he was claimed caught at slip for 17 in the second innings of that test,despite the ball having bounced well short of the england captain was the final evidence.D'Costa is providing first hand evidence,that he knows that this is what happened.All those who were critical of Hughes should be ashamed.

  • ygkd on June 28, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    All under-age cricket is not 2 day/55 over stuff. It may be in some places, but not everywhere. My mid-teen son would benefit enormously from longer matches than what he currently plays (seniors excepted).

  • hyclass on June 28, 2011, 1:24 GMT

    Hodge was dropped in 2008,for an unexplained flaw.Players with 5-6 tests,double centurions,excellent 1st class records and test averages in the high 50s,shouldnt be dropped-particularly as he scored 67 and 27 in his last test.Forward to Hughes a few months later-dropped averaging 58.I believe his game was forceably changed,by the coach,before the Ashes to suit some imaginary plan,undermining a prodigy.Attacking,he scored 151 and 82not out vs Tas.to gain Sth African test selection,2 centuries against an attack boasting 1100 test wickets and 3 more for his county before the 2009 Ashes.6 hundreds in a handful of games on 3 continents.His game was suddenly entirely different by the 1st Test.Where he instinctively attacked,he was unnaturally defending.At 21,he was abandoned and left to deal with the fallout.Batting success requires an attacking plan,a defensive plan,focus,courage and stamina.That is all.As D'Costa and Bradman pointed out,technique is a players servant,never his master

  • VivGilchrist on June 27, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Aussasinator, On what authority do yo speak? Test cricket in Australia probably attracts the biggest crowds. It's not dead. Go back to IPL and follow your "franchise".

  • skkh on June 27, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    Neil is 100% right but then Cricket Australia is deaf, blind and also mute. Cricket is slowly dying out here but the authorities can neither see this nor hear all the criticism levelled against them. Unfortunately very little talent comes cricket's way here in Australia. The youth go for the AFL which pays them well. Whatever little talent comes cricket's way it is for the quick dollar earning twenty20 which truly is a crap format and can never be called cricket. The state sides which once boasted of abundant talent now have their cup boards bare. The present test prospect like Usman Khawaja is an OK player but not test class by any standards. Shaun Marsh probably deserves a place in the XI and I fret to think of finding a replacement for Ricky and Mike Hussey. We do not have any bench strength to speak of. Yes cricket is having a slow death here in Australia and very soon we will be on par with the once great West Indies.

  • Meety on June 27, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    @ Aussasinator - I think you have a selected memory, Ponting & Clarke both turned down BIG contracts in the IPL, to concentrate on Oz commitments.

  • on June 27, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Agree with most of what D'Costa has to say. Juniors need to learn the fundamentals of cricket when they are young in order to succeed in any format. The best way to learn the fundamentals are in the traditional longer formats of the game. The IPL and various other T20 leagues have been great in many ways despite the players not having played T20 as juniors, so why should we change anything now. In regards to cricket Australia getting crowds to the games the solution is reduce the number of cricket games in general. There is far too much international cricket going on and no one is going to turn up to domestic cricket becuse its just too much to follow

  • D.V.C. on June 27, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    I'm 31. When I played cricket in Australia as a junior we had 30 overs a side. There isn't a good reason to chop off the extra 10 overs. All it does is ensure fewer players in the side get a bat and bowl, and at Junior level you want to try and give everyone a go.

  • PYC1959 on June 27, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    D'Costa has hit the nail on the head and as a father who's son plays at a junior District level you can see it happening in every club. I was even told by a very senior coach that the aim at a junior level is to score as many runs as possible and worry about technique later, needless to say we had a big disagreement. The biggest problem is us as parents do not have a say in the direction, we all see what is happening but when we question it the answer is that T20 is the future. Someone has to stop and look at the way India do it and copy them, no shame in that, when Australia were top of the ladder for many year in Tests many a country were trying to copy us.

  • Blazedragon on June 26, 2011, 23:59 GMT

    Aussasinator, If old men like Ganguly and Kumble still get to play IPL then Ponting easily do so. He just doesn't have any interest in such a sorry excuse for a tournament.

  • hyclass on June 29, 2011, 7:45 GMT

    I hope that D'Costa is interviewed along with Hughes for the review.Ive been looking,for over 2 years,for the real explanation for Hughes loss of form,to come into the public domain.I was aware that the only explanation to Hughes sudden change of style and loss of form,that fit all the facts,was a mandate from the coach criticizing his play against the short ball and his attacking style and ordering him to play differently or be dropped.He played differently,it didnt work,he was dropped and as expected,the coach failed to own up.The fact that he was out pulling in the first innings of the 2nd Ashes test should have told the whole story.The utter lack of protest by the australian camp, when he was claimed caught at slip for 17 in the second innings of that test,despite the ball having bounced well short of the england captain was the final evidence.D'Costa is providing first hand evidence,that he knows that this is what happened.All those who were critical of Hughes should be ashamed.

  • ygkd on June 28, 2011, 5:02 GMT

    All under-age cricket is not 2 day/55 over stuff. It may be in some places, but not everywhere. My mid-teen son would benefit enormously from longer matches than what he currently plays (seniors excepted).

  • hyclass on June 28, 2011, 1:24 GMT

    Hodge was dropped in 2008,for an unexplained flaw.Players with 5-6 tests,double centurions,excellent 1st class records and test averages in the high 50s,shouldnt be dropped-particularly as he scored 67 and 27 in his last test.Forward to Hughes a few months later-dropped averaging 58.I believe his game was forceably changed,by the coach,before the Ashes to suit some imaginary plan,undermining a prodigy.Attacking,he scored 151 and 82not out vs Tas.to gain Sth African test selection,2 centuries against an attack boasting 1100 test wickets and 3 more for his county before the 2009 Ashes.6 hundreds in a handful of games on 3 continents.His game was suddenly entirely different by the 1st Test.Where he instinctively attacked,he was unnaturally defending.At 21,he was abandoned and left to deal with the fallout.Batting success requires an attacking plan,a defensive plan,focus,courage and stamina.That is all.As D'Costa and Bradman pointed out,technique is a players servant,never his master

  • VivGilchrist on June 27, 2011, 8:30 GMT

    Aussasinator, On what authority do yo speak? Test cricket in Australia probably attracts the biggest crowds. It's not dead. Go back to IPL and follow your "franchise".

  • skkh on June 27, 2011, 6:27 GMT

    Neil is 100% right but then Cricket Australia is deaf, blind and also mute. Cricket is slowly dying out here but the authorities can neither see this nor hear all the criticism levelled against them. Unfortunately very little talent comes cricket's way here in Australia. The youth go for the AFL which pays them well. Whatever little talent comes cricket's way it is for the quick dollar earning twenty20 which truly is a crap format and can never be called cricket. The state sides which once boasted of abundant talent now have their cup boards bare. The present test prospect like Usman Khawaja is an OK player but not test class by any standards. Shaun Marsh probably deserves a place in the XI and I fret to think of finding a replacement for Ricky and Mike Hussey. We do not have any bench strength to speak of. Yes cricket is having a slow death here in Australia and very soon we will be on par with the once great West Indies.

  • Meety on June 27, 2011, 6:08 GMT

    @ Aussasinator - I think you have a selected memory, Ponting & Clarke both turned down BIG contracts in the IPL, to concentrate on Oz commitments.

  • on June 27, 2011, 4:57 GMT

    Agree with most of what D'Costa has to say. Juniors need to learn the fundamentals of cricket when they are young in order to succeed in any format. The best way to learn the fundamentals are in the traditional longer formats of the game. The IPL and various other T20 leagues have been great in many ways despite the players not having played T20 as juniors, so why should we change anything now. In regards to cricket Australia getting crowds to the games the solution is reduce the number of cricket games in general. There is far too much international cricket going on and no one is going to turn up to domestic cricket becuse its just too much to follow

  • D.V.C. on June 27, 2011, 2:00 GMT

    I'm 31. When I played cricket in Australia as a junior we had 30 overs a side. There isn't a good reason to chop off the extra 10 overs. All it does is ensure fewer players in the side get a bat and bowl, and at Junior level you want to try and give everyone a go.

  • PYC1959 on June 27, 2011, 0:20 GMT

    D'Costa has hit the nail on the head and as a father who's son plays at a junior District level you can see it happening in every club. I was even told by a very senior coach that the aim at a junior level is to score as many runs as possible and worry about technique later, needless to say we had a big disagreement. The biggest problem is us as parents do not have a say in the direction, we all see what is happening but when we question it the answer is that T20 is the future. Someone has to stop and look at the way India do it and copy them, no shame in that, when Australia were top of the ladder for many year in Tests many a country were trying to copy us.

  • Blazedragon on June 26, 2011, 23:59 GMT

    Aussasinator, If old men like Ganguly and Kumble still get to play IPL then Ponting easily do so. He just doesn't have any interest in such a sorry excuse for a tournament.

  • bobagorof on June 26, 2011, 23:21 GMT

    ManThes Pm: If that happens I'll stop watching cricket altogether. The 'best' way to 'save' Test cricket is to not tinker with it. I don't see anything in your suggestions that would encourage me to watch.

  • Blazedragon on June 26, 2011, 18:49 GMT

    Indians brag too much. Aus have been in power for 15 years. Indians have been in power for less than 2 years and are already snuggling. Don't cry when you lose to England.

  • on June 26, 2011, 18:30 GMT

    Test cricket will be out soon or in cuming years! People gonna give priority to t20 and little priority to ODI! they best way to improve the test cricket is to reduce into 3 days and make it into 70 over a day and only one breaks with having powerplay and freehit methods and also play in daynite time! its my point of view buzzers dont get too much and dont bash me like the saviours of test cricket!

  • candyfloss on June 26, 2011, 18:18 GMT

    Well its a good thing that Mr.D'costa has clearly stated as to who is ignoring test cricket.In India all three forms of the game are loved and followed (personally I would like it if we get rid of IPL).Nevertheless its wonderful to know that youngsters in our country still focus on the longer version of the game and only switch to T20 once they have their fundamentals right.I can see a few aussies on here living in denial but well its their problem.

  • Aussasinator on June 26, 2011, 17:11 GMT

    Only Mitchell Johnson has spurned the riches of T20 to play for Australia. Not Ponting ( he was shown the door by IPL) and not Michael Clarke ( who wouldnt have been preferred anyway). Fact is that the younger generation favours the shortest format increasingly for pecuniary reasons, as well as for the fact that Test cricket extracts more out of their bodies. I had said this before, Test cricket is already dead in Australia. After the tough series with England, India can consider sending a slightly rotated, younger side to Australia for the ODIs.

  • ramsharat on June 26, 2011, 16:04 GMT

    India is great. According to me Big Bash may be just half of what IPL is but still INDIA rule the test cricket inspite of having cash rich IPL which may attract the players to T20. Australia should learn a lesson or two or else it we might see another struggling side like West Indies!!!!

  • popcorn on June 26, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    Is Cricket australia short of funds? why this obsession to get people to come to the Stadiums to watch cricket, that is shifting their focus to T20? I too have ALWAYS believed that the Wham Bam, Sloggers Park T20 is bad for Test Cricket. Thank God for Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson who spurned the riches of T20 and IPL to play for their country. Are there any more like them? Maybe Usman Khawaja.No others. Even Mike Hussey has turned to T20. His time is up, so he wants to make the most of the IPL riches. as for Phil Hughes, i would be personally watching if he consistently performs in the 4 day games. One century in the Shield Final is not enough. "One swallow doth not a summer make". I think he should ask Greg Chappel for tips on how to improve his technique. See what Greg Chappell did for Shane Watson.

  • on June 26, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    nice to here with IPL still we (india) are giving priotry to test cricket with IPL and hope australia find their way back as cricket needs them more than anyone to be strong

  • jonesy2 on June 26, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    ahahahaha this is such a load of rubbish!!! how is this published??? you lost me at "Australia's growing preference for Twenty20 could lead to Test cricket getting sidelined in a country already struggling to rebuild a team which has slipped to No. 5 in the rankings". um australia are not struggling in any way shape or form, just selecting. stll the best team in the world.

  • on June 26, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    I don't understand the reason why T20 cricket has to be introduced to junior cricketers. Not knowing the basics will harm them even in the T20 format. Players should be brought into test mould and then transfered to T20 and not the oteher way around

  • on June 26, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    The kids want to play 50 over cricket and 2 day cricket, not T20. All the under aged cricket is over 2 days and 55 overs each day. The adults is 2 days of 80 overs minimum, there is a few T20 games being introduced but most people sit out of them because there not interested. T20 is a bit of fun and if people want to play it let them. If T20 gets more people playing cricket and watching cricket then great. If u ask any aussie player except shuan tait or andrew symonds, they would say they would much prefer to play test cricket for the country. We are just producing bad batsman it has nothing to do with T20, australia just is in a bad patch at the moment for batsman.

  • Gizza on June 26, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    D'Costa's criticism of the "clone coaching" is probably the most important point along with the urge to let T20 take over everything. Cricket is one of the few sports in the world where all eleven players are truly unique. Every bowler bowls in their own way (fast/spin, run-up, action, where you bowl from the crease, even way you appeal). Every batsman bats in their own way (stance, shot selection, level of agression, movement of feet and other parts of body). Fielding is more monotonous and even though very important is ultimately a secondary skill. Quite often, it is these unique things which makes the bowler or batsman successful. The number of technically perfect cricketers is quite rare (perhaps McGrath and Tendulkar are close). Most great cricketers possess a technical weakness but their natural talent is far stronger and outweighs it. We watch the game because of these players who have that X-factor or flair. No coach in the world should destroy that.

  • Sinhaya on June 26, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    Seems Aussies are too obsessed about playing India non stop. Look how many times have Aussies visited India since 2007? Answer is every year. This creates too much of an imbalance in bilateral series. I have to agree with what Costa says. I doubt Australia succeeding in their upcoming tour of Sri Lanka in August. Australia must be keen to have more bilateral series with Sri Lanka and Pakistan (in neutral venues) as just going after money will not help Aussie cricket. Australia is visiting Sri Lanka in August for a bilateral series after 7.5 years which is unacceptable. In contrast, Sri Lanka toured Australia 4 times since 2004!

  • farkin on June 26, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    looking for the quick buck is killing Australian cricket .a good coach points out the little things wrong in some ones game . going back to the basics does not work but video of your game play does it points out what your good coach is trying to tell you

  • farkin on June 26, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    t20 is for people who cant sit still for any thing aka the attention span of a gnat . give me test cricket any day

  • boris6491 on June 26, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    Certainly not criticising D'Costa, who undoubtedly explains why Australian cricket is at a crossroad, but it always does interest me how Phil Hughes is always thrown up for discussion when on the subject of 'how T20 is ruining the technique of Australian youngsters'. His major strides have come in 4 day and 5 day cricket alone and he has never really been involved to a large extent in T20. He represents a true anomaly, a player who has just got the technique he has got and as D'Costa says, can only really refine himself to a given degree. As he says correctly, 'you don't coach a Premier League soccer player how to kick a ball'. I only wish that these sorts of sentiments turn into something that Cricket Australia takes seriously and begins to implement a plan to counter this from grassroot levels. This may leave Australian cricket in transition for a while yet, but at least gives us a more secure future to look forward to.

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  • boris6491 on June 26, 2011, 10:06 GMT

    Certainly not criticising D'Costa, who undoubtedly explains why Australian cricket is at a crossroad, but it always does interest me how Phil Hughes is always thrown up for discussion when on the subject of 'how T20 is ruining the technique of Australian youngsters'. His major strides have come in 4 day and 5 day cricket alone and he has never really been involved to a large extent in T20. He represents a true anomaly, a player who has just got the technique he has got and as D'Costa says, can only really refine himself to a given degree. As he says correctly, 'you don't coach a Premier League soccer player how to kick a ball'. I only wish that these sorts of sentiments turn into something that Cricket Australia takes seriously and begins to implement a plan to counter this from grassroot levels. This may leave Australian cricket in transition for a while yet, but at least gives us a more secure future to look forward to.

  • farkin on June 26, 2011, 10:22 GMT

    t20 is for people who cant sit still for any thing aka the attention span of a gnat . give me test cricket any day

  • farkin on June 26, 2011, 10:28 GMT

    looking for the quick buck is killing Australian cricket .a good coach points out the little things wrong in some ones game . going back to the basics does not work but video of your game play does it points out what your good coach is trying to tell you

  • Sinhaya on June 26, 2011, 11:25 GMT

    Seems Aussies are too obsessed about playing India non stop. Look how many times have Aussies visited India since 2007? Answer is every year. This creates too much of an imbalance in bilateral series. I have to agree with what Costa says. I doubt Australia succeeding in their upcoming tour of Sri Lanka in August. Australia must be keen to have more bilateral series with Sri Lanka and Pakistan (in neutral venues) as just going after money will not help Aussie cricket. Australia is visiting Sri Lanka in August for a bilateral series after 7.5 years which is unacceptable. In contrast, Sri Lanka toured Australia 4 times since 2004!

  • Gizza on June 26, 2011, 11:30 GMT

    D'Costa's criticism of the "clone coaching" is probably the most important point along with the urge to let T20 take over everything. Cricket is one of the few sports in the world where all eleven players are truly unique. Every bowler bowls in their own way (fast/spin, run-up, action, where you bowl from the crease, even way you appeal). Every batsman bats in their own way (stance, shot selection, level of agression, movement of feet and other parts of body). Fielding is more monotonous and even though very important is ultimately a secondary skill. Quite often, it is these unique things which makes the bowler or batsman successful. The number of technically perfect cricketers is quite rare (perhaps McGrath and Tendulkar are close). Most great cricketers possess a technical weakness but their natural talent is far stronger and outweighs it. We watch the game because of these players who have that X-factor or flair. No coach in the world should destroy that.

  • on June 26, 2011, 11:38 GMT

    The kids want to play 50 over cricket and 2 day cricket, not T20. All the under aged cricket is over 2 days and 55 overs each day. The adults is 2 days of 80 overs minimum, there is a few T20 games being introduced but most people sit out of them because there not interested. T20 is a bit of fun and if people want to play it let them. If T20 gets more people playing cricket and watching cricket then great. If u ask any aussie player except shuan tait or andrew symonds, they would say they would much prefer to play test cricket for the country. We are just producing bad batsman it has nothing to do with T20, australia just is in a bad patch at the moment for batsman.

  • on June 26, 2011, 12:44 GMT

    I don't understand the reason why T20 cricket has to be introduced to junior cricketers. Not knowing the basics will harm them even in the T20 format. Players should be brought into test mould and then transfered to T20 and not the oteher way around

  • jonesy2 on June 26, 2011, 14:15 GMT

    ahahahaha this is such a load of rubbish!!! how is this published??? you lost me at "Australia's growing preference for Twenty20 could lead to Test cricket getting sidelined in a country already struggling to rebuild a team which has slipped to No. 5 in the rankings". um australia are not struggling in any way shape or form, just selecting. stll the best team in the world.

  • on June 26, 2011, 14:59 GMT

    nice to here with IPL still we (india) are giving priotry to test cricket with IPL and hope australia find their way back as cricket needs them more than anyone to be strong

  • popcorn on June 26, 2011, 15:05 GMT

    Is Cricket australia short of funds? why this obsession to get people to come to the Stadiums to watch cricket, that is shifting their focus to T20? I too have ALWAYS believed that the Wham Bam, Sloggers Park T20 is bad for Test Cricket. Thank God for Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke and Mitchell Johnson who spurned the riches of T20 and IPL to play for their country. Are there any more like them? Maybe Usman Khawaja.No others. Even Mike Hussey has turned to T20. His time is up, so he wants to make the most of the IPL riches. as for Phil Hughes, i would be personally watching if he consistently performs in the 4 day games. One century in the Shield Final is not enough. "One swallow doth not a summer make". I think he should ask Greg Chappel for tips on how to improve his technique. See what Greg Chappell did for Shane Watson.