Argus review recommendations August 21, 2011

Loan system among Argus proposals


Australian cricketers would be loaned between states in an effort to ensure the nation's best 66 players are consistently appearing in the Sheffield Shield, under a proposal outlined in the Don Argus-led Australia team performance review.

A loan system, and the use of incentives to encourage strong states - namely New South Wales and Victoria - to allow fringe players to ply their trades elsewhere are key to the review's recommendations about strengthening the pathway that underpins the Test side.

Many figures within Australian cricket, the Tasmania captain George Bailey among them, argued that every effort should be made to get the best players playing first-class cricket, irrespective of their state. NSW in particular have an abundance of talent that may be better utilised by the greater flow of players to other teams.

"Australian cricket must consider innovative ways of dealing with the geographical imbalance of talent resulting from the widely varying populations of states," the Argus review said. "Consideration should be given to: a loan system at first-class level, perhaps managed by the National Talent Manager; mechanisms to encourage states to export under-utilised talent, for example: State Talent Managers being required to recommend players for transfer at the end of the season, where it is unlikely they will be selected by their current state; financial incentives for states for each first-class player they produce, regardless of whether the player plays for that state."

The rate of serious injuries among fast bowlers was also addressed, as the panel concluded that more needed to be done to manage the transition between short and long-format cricket. This conclusion shines harsh light on the scheduling of the expanded Twenty20 Big Bash League head-to-head with the home Test programme in December and January.

Australia's fast bowling stocks are believed to be strong, particularly in terms of the talent that is starting to emerge. However many fast bowlers, either young or more experienced, experienced serious injuries in recent times, and the panel argued that better and more thoughtful management was required, particularly to bridge the fitness and conditioning gap between the three formats.

"Feedback suggests that fast bowling injuries are and have been caused by a combination of factors: absolute match schedule and workload; changes in workload and intensity (eg. shifting between from Twenty20 to Shield); intrinsic factors such as age, bone density and skeletal strength; bowling action; lower proportion of overs being bowled by spinners.

"The 'gut feel' of most of the fast bowlers we spoke to, and others, was that: fast bowlers should be screened for the intrinsics above; workloads should be graded accordingly, with a bias to building players up over time through regular bowling (plus core strength work etc.) at higher levels than currently; workload management should be focussed as much on changes in workload than absolute volumes."

While the review's recommendations to restructure the selection, coaching and management processes around the national team attracted the most attention initally, Argus and company looked far more deeply into the reasons why Australia had stopped producing players of substance.

Among the other longer term plans outlined by the review panel were ways to encourage senior players to remain in grade cricket, while also discouraging the emergence of a "graduation mentality" that has seen first-class and Test players show reluctance to return to their local clubs.

It was concluded that more had to be done to keep senior players involved, so better to keep standards high and so educate young players. Research has been recommended to ascertain why older players have been leaving the game earlier than in the past. First-class and international players should also be reminded that they are not exempt from playing at the grassroots level.

"[We should] also reinforce that state players are not exempt from grade cricket and should play as often as possible," the report said. "A 'graduation' mentality among players - ie. a belief that once they have played at a higher level, they are no longer obliged to play, or were above, the previous level they played - is unacceptable."

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, will arrive in Sri Lanka this week to speak to the players and officials on tour about the review. He sought to clarify that the review, while scathing about so many aspects of the Australian team's structure, performance and organisation in recent times, did not blame individuals.

"The report does not and did not seek to blame individuals - it says we have the wrong high performance structure and need to change the design of that structure," Sutherland said. "It doesn't and nor should it blame individuals such as Andrew Hilditch, Tim Nielsen and Greg Chappell.

"Take Greg Chappell for example - a person of stature - all the report says is that the job we created and then hired Greg to do should be structured differently to have a singular focus on national talent management. Similarly, Hilditch has previously argued Australian cricket needs a full time head of selection in the full knowledge that he would not be available should his recommendation be accepted."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Chris on August 24, 2011, 6:10 GMT

    Maybe we just need a couple more sides. Of late, NSW have regularly had players who've been on the verge of national selection struggling to get a game in the state side because there are so many players there, including playing games with the two current Australian openers playing alongside the two top condenders for that role in the same side, and then some of the top young players in the same positions struggling to get a game.

    Maybe it's time to bring in a second NSW side, and possible a second Victorian side also, as has been done for the new Twenty-20 comp, but do it in the Shield also.

    I bet none of the other top cricketing nations have only 6 first class sides!

  • Andrew on August 24, 2011, 4:01 GMT

    @Nicholas Mayo - sorry mate I don't buy into the reasons you've given regarding Ozzys not playing in England. As Hyclass said - they are playing in short formats, but County cricket not so. I agree with your comments about County cricket is a great place to learn or refine your game. I believe the drop in Ozzys playing in County cricket is more to do with politics & quota restrictions. I'd also have to throw in the other reason is that since the Poms moved to a 4-day 1st class comp, the standard of English born/qualified players have improved, particularly in the 1st division.

  • Christopher on August 24, 2011, 3:37 GMT

    I have always considered County Cricket a fine finishing school.Where do I discredit County Cricket@Nicholas Mayo?I have highlighted that others hold it and the results accomplished there in lower regard,even offering my caveat on their opinion,that it has produced the world No.1 team.It isnt suggested that i share their view.Ive made it clear that one of the strengths of County Cricket,is its arduous schedule and that a County pro must have the quality of endurance if he is to prosper.I consider mental and physical endurance to be the two must underrated aspects of the modern game.Ive highlighted how it encourages non bowlers to work on this part of their game.D.Hussey and North are two that immediately come to mind.The obvious advantage of playing in that,or any other country,is working in different environments.Ive highlighted 4 players from australia immediately,who play there.Your opinion on the worth of Australian players,is clumsy,lacks supporting evidence and discredits you.

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2011, 19:31 GMT

    hyclass - I think your doing Country Cricket a disservice, Yes there are a lot of game but that is one of the strenghts of it. Players will play a lot of matches, get plenty of chances they also learn to play in English conditions which is very useful for Ashes series. There are two reasons this is not happening for Aus Players firstly because they are not good enough for the price and secondly because those looking for a payday find their way to the IPL

  • Dummy4 on August 23, 2011, 15:15 GMT

    I think if there's a need to get the best talent all playing and there is that need, then the solution is through another team, preferably an academy based team. This could be based out of the centre of excellence in Brisbane and perhaps focus solely on first class cricket. Aimed at perhaps under 23 players, competing in the shield competition as well as playing touring 'A' teams and touring overseas, with a squad of 16 or so they could play 20 matches a year easily. Over the last few years we've seen a log jam of bowlers in New South Wales for instance which has given players like Copeland very little chance at all to play first class cricket. Perhaps the national talent manager could be responsible for managing the squad, plucking players from state teams at the end of each season with a view to touring through the winter and forming a team thereafter for the following state competition. With a concentrated squad of young talent all in one place they may be better managed.

  • Andrew on August 23, 2011, 3:50 GMT

    @Adrian Bartsch/Hyclass - re: County Cricket. I think the Kolpak arrangements have stymied Oz players going to County cricket over the last few years. Unless you can get residency (I think DiVenuto), its quite tough, as they have also (I think lowered the import quota), I am fairly sure this in a round about way how quite a few Saffas are qualifying to play for England. Whilst I don't like the qualification part of it, England were well within their rights to reduce imports IMO, even if it takes away some opportunities for some young Ozzys!

  • Christopher on August 23, 2011, 0:41 GMT

    Thanks for the heads up on Alice Springs @Mark Smith. I havent been there for a few years and wasnt aware cricket could be played there.The last i saw,was the unfortunate sight of the consequences of dole day,at the pub on the Todd River end.It wasnt a good look.Given its internationally iconic standing,the BBL,which i hold in low regard in terms of its contribution to cricket in general,might accomplish some good,by basing a team there in season.It would help put it in the spotlight and for international viewers,to whom,one cricket field is much the same as the next,it could introduce the elements of Australiana that make overseas games alluring and promote tourism.With the Australian dollar on the wrong side of tourists,it might be an excellent sinecure.

  • Christopher on August 22, 2011, 23:30 GMT

    @Adrian Bartsch.with respect to the positivity of comments,you will find its a result of actions finally meeting intelligence at CA.If people were negative,it was a sign that they long ago recognised that action was necessary and instead received rhetoric,contrary to intelligence.When Australian cricket burned,CA fiddled.I think cricket fans would burn images in effigy if it was legal to do so.As for County Cricket,there are ceratinly some playing,such as Hughes,North,David Hussey and Cosgrove.I think a number of them also play IPL.Ive noted on this site,that County Cricket is not held in high esteem and that results there are deemed to inflate player figures,despite England being No.1.A County season is a test of endurance and a County pro,such as an overseas player is constantly playing or driving between games.They definitely earn their money and it encourages predominantly batsmen,to develop their bowling.Any link between it and Australias dominance would be tenuous and incidental.

  • Dummy4 on August 22, 2011, 21:46 GMT

    Guys, with regards to cricket in the NT, you simply could not play in Darwin after mid November at the absolute latest, and really that is more like mid October. It just rains! Alice Springs is a genuine option though as a place to play though in the Australian Summer. Don't be fooled to think the pitches in Alice or Darwin are Indian turners, quite the opposite in fact. Alice pitches are very slow and seam around, it has to do with the grass that grows there, while Darwin pitches and outfields are flat and fast batting tracks.

  • Siva on August 22, 2011, 18:35 GMT

    Got to love the Australians and their love for cricket! I just hope the Indian management and the BCCI are reading this!

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