John Inverarity named full-time Australian selector
John Inverarity is confident he has kept close enough ties with the game to make a success of his new role as Australia's national selector. Inverarity, 67, was a surprise appointment to the newly-created full-time job, with Rod Marsh and Trevor Hohns previously considered front-runners for what will be one of the most important positions in Cricket Australia's new structure.
A former allrounder who played six Tests for Australia, Inverarity was more prominent in Sheffield Shield cricket and was considered a great thinker and captain during his 23-year first-class career for South Australia and Western Australia. Since his retirement from cricket, he was headmaster of a prestigious boys' high school in Perth, and more recently served as head of St George's College at the University of Western Australia.
However, Inverarity has also kept his hand in cricket coaching, first at Kent in 2001 and then during a three-year stint as head coach of Warwickshire, which ended in 2005. Cricket Australia's chief executive, James Sutherland, said Inverarity's varied experience made him the outstanding candidate to succeed Andrew Hilditch, the current part-time chairman, as the head of the revamped selection panel.
"There's no concern at our end," Sutherland said of Inverarity's age. "One of the things that we've worked through in the interview process and got absolute satisfaction on is the fact that John Inverarity is ready to do this job. In many ways, this is his time to be involved in cricket.
"He's pursued another career, he has continued to have an involvement and an interest in cricket through that time, but he's pursued another career. As I see it, it's a career that is very much complementary to what this role as national selector is. In terms of any questions about his age, I just don't think that's an issue."
Inverarity will begin his new role after the tour of South Africa, with Hilditch and the interim panel set to continue choosing the teams during that trip. Cricket Australia's attention will now turn to finding two independent part-time selectors to join Inverarity and the captain Michael Clarke on the panel, which will also include the yet-to-be-chosen head coach.
Their challenge over the next few seasons - Inverarity has been signed to a three-year contract - is to manage the development of a host of young players, while also steering the side through a transition phase with older men such as Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey nearing the end of their careers. Inverarity said he was confident he had not been out of the game too long to handle the responsibilities.
"I'm 67 but I feel very young at heart," Inverarity said. "I'd like to think that over those 67 years I've had a lot of experiences from which I have benefited. The key thing in this is exercising judgment. I have followed the game very closely. I think in my life outside of cricket, particularly in education and being the headmaster of a school and warden of a university college, your experiences and exercising judgments and dealing with young people [will help].
"All my life I have sought challenges. I have sought challenges of trying to be in the area where I can influence a leadership or management role and trying to get a group performing at its best. Whether that's been in a cricket team or club, or in a school or in a university college, that's what motivates me. That's what I really enjoy doing. I feel that over the years I've had some success in doing so."
Inverarity is the second key appointment to stem from the Argus review, after the former rugby international Pat Howard was named Cricket Australia's general manager of team performance earlier this month. His appointment also came on the same day that his former Western Australia team-mate, Wally Edwards, was elected chairman of Cricket Australia.
However, while Inverarity has a firm three-year deal to shape the future of Australian cricket, Edwards is less certain about the length of his tenure. The review into Cricket Australia's governance is expected to be tabled later this year and could recommended the existing board being replaced by an independent commission.
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo