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Selection an 'extra difficulty' for Clarke - Inverarity

Daniel Brettig

December 21, 2011

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Australia's selectors, John Inverarity, Rod Marsh and Andy Bichel, Brisbane, November 29, 2011
John Inverarity (left) is of the opinion that Michael Clarke's role as selector puts the Australia captain in a tough spot © Getty Images
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Michael Clarke's elevation to a selection role has added "extra difficulty" to the office of the Australian captaincy, according to the head of the panel, John Inverarity.

Though he did not express outright opposition to Clarke's position as captain and selector, Inverarity was of the view that the arrangement brought about by the Argus review of Australian cricket had placed the incumbent in "a very difficult position".

Clarke and his predecessor Ricky Ponting shared the view that the captain should also be a formal selector, but the saga of Phillip Hughes' demotion from the Test team, despite his standing as a close friend of Clarke, has placed renewed heat on the position, as Inverarity acknowledged.

"It is obviously a very difficult situation, a captain needs to be supportive of his current players and Michael was exactly that," Inverarity said of Clarke's support of Hughes. "But the reality is there are other pressures, as it is a difficult situation that Michael is in, a very difficult situation.

"The pressures on an Australian captain are enormous, and with the current situation with the captain being one of the official selectors on the national selection panel, it is an extra difficulty, but that's the situation and Michael needs to cope with that."

Asked directly whether or not he was opposed to the arrangement, Inverarity replied: "That's a question I'll defer for the time being, thank you."

Inverarity also said there was concern among the selectors about a Twenty20-dominated schedule that has the potential for a player to be chosen for the fourth Test against India in Adelaide having not played a first-class match for almost eight weeks.

"Yes it is of concern, of course it is of concern," he said. "We're faced with the prospect of including a new player should there be injury or loss of form, a new player for the Test match in Adelaide, which begins about January 24, and that new player would not have played first-class cricket for six or seven weeks. That is a concern, but that is the situation and that is what we've got to cope with.

Howard responds to Inverarity

  • Australia's team performance manager, Pat Howard, has said the pressures of Michael Clarke's role as captain and selector are not unique, and are necessary to the job. Responding to John Inverarity's contention that the role added "extra difficulty" to the office of Australian captain, Howard said a balance was required.
  • "Every role everywhere there are difficult balancing acts to deal with, and I think John was just verbalising how difficult it is for anybody, coach or captain, anybody who is close to the team and being a selector," Howard told ESPNcricinfo. "That's in AFL, that's in rugby, that's in soccer, this is not unique. He was verbalising what everyone has to deal with, it is not easy and requires a real amount of skill. I think Mickey [Arthur] and Michael are doing a really good job on that and they're embracing it, and I think John is more than cognisant of that as well."
  • Refinement of the captain's role has been suggested, including the concept of having the selectors picking the squad of 12 or 13 then the captain choosing his XI from that. Howard said the present arrangement was not far removed from this.
  • "The chairman and the selection panel are responsible for the squad's announcement. The captain and the coach do recommend the XI when they're playing," he said. "That's where that responsibility lies, it was laid out in the Argus review and that is exactly how we work. And that is so it is clear no matter whether we're in Bangladesh and you're a million miles from anybody else, or you're in the middle or England or at the MCG. We just want consistent processes to make sure we know clearly who is responsible for what."

"From the preparation of a Test team the current situation is not ideal, but that's the way it is. A lot of us watched the T20 match last night in Brisbane and it was a great success there."

There is plenty that is not ideal in Australian cricket, and another is among Inverarity's pet peeves. In the West Australian teams of the 1970s that Inverarity captained, every player was obliged to bowl for at least an hour in the nets at every session, encouraging batsmen who could bowl and break partnerships. Inverarity said there was not enough of this in evidence, and indicated he had told the talent managers of each state to encourage their batsmen to bowl as often as possible.

"In general all of us on the selection panel hold that view that it is very desirable to have some of your six best batsmen as decent bowlers," Inverarity said. "If you look at some of the Australian teams when Steve Waugh and Mark Waugh were among the best batsmen and also very handy bowlers.

"Allrounders are like gold and also batsmen who are very competent bowlers - Greg Chappell, Doug Walters, Greg Blewett, and here in WA Tom Moody was a prime example. It does make a huge difference if a couple of your batsmen are decent bowlers. We've talked to the national talent managers in each state and we're certainly emphasising that."

Two series since he accepted the role of national selector, Inverarity said he was satisfied with the level of youth and freshness being injected into the team, reeling off a list of names that lengthened with each Test since the tour of Sri Lanka.

"In recent times Pat Cummins has come into the side, Nathan Lyon has come into the side, David Warner, James Pattinson, Mitchell Starc and now Ed Cowan," he said. "So there are a lot of new names there, a lot of refreshment, and I think that needs to be blended with experienced players and I'm very pleased with the way that's developing."

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

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Posted by Simoc on (December 22, 2011, 11:20 GMT)

The selections are obvious apart from Christians. Kawaja and Hughes are flops at this stage and need a mountain of runs to get back in. Ponting, Hussey and Clarke are the three best batsman in Australia so picked themselves. Ponting needs to get runs again but even out of form is miles better than the two dropped. Its hard to see the fast bowlers troubling the Indian batsman unless we get some green tops. But similarly unless Zaheer, Irfant come good, there quicks don't look much better. We may be in for high scores in direct contrast to the recent tests.

Posted by RandyOZ on (December 22, 2011, 11:15 GMT)

We need Christian to cover for Hilfenhaus or Starc's potential failure. Plus if the pitch isn't spinning we are relying on Siddle and Pattinson, very risky. It's a no brainer that Christian comes in.

Posted by unregisteredalien on (December 22, 2011, 8:30 GMT)

I could not agree more with Inverarity's (none-too-subtle) unvoiced opinion. It is a horrible conflict of interest for the captain to be a regular selector and obviously the captain is in no position to be a talent spotter. In fact, I may have misunderstood originally, but I thought the Argus report called for the captain to be a selector only when the team was on tour, to help the selector-on-duty and the coach to choose the team from the touring party. If the (former captains) on the Argus panel actually wanted the captain to be a regular member of the selection panel then that was a rare bum note in an otherwise excellent set of recommendations.

Posted by Android4 on (December 22, 2011, 6:34 GMT)

Clarke's 'friendships' keep destroying the team. Hughes has hacked around way too long, and Clarke being offended because of an arguement where Katich told him to harden up is a major reason behind the recent batting collapses.

Clarke is to emotionally soft and metrosexual to have the second most important job in the country. Hussey or Katich should be captain. Clarke should be given a mirror and told to leave. Take him out the side, and overall the team would improve, regardless of him being a good player. Not long ago he was on the verve of being dropped. He hasn't done that much to prove himself really, except a couple of scores. He's just bad news.

Posted by the_flying_squad on (December 22, 2011, 6:19 GMT)

"drop ponting, drop hussey"

For who? Seriously.

Posted by Rahul_78 on (December 22, 2011, 4:15 GMT)

What Inverarity says makes lot of sense. When you have paid professional selectors who can keep a wider eye on the performances across the country they are expected to select a balanced pool of players who are best of the lot and deserve to play for the country. Then it should be captain the foremost and coach who should select the XI that is going to play on the field. In todays busy schedules, cramped cricketing calenders and media commitments it is going to be difficult for someone like Clarke to carry the burden of being selector. Captain should definitely be a selector but his selection duty should be restricted to select the best XI out of fourteen provided by the selectors.

Posted by   on (December 22, 2011, 4:05 GMT)

The dilemma and difficulty is in-built into any system that lets the skipper to be a part of the selection process. If someone is 'discovering' these now, then obviously they have not been thoroughly deliberated while going for such an arrangement. By being part of the deliberations at least the skipper would know how the other selectors think and what is their criteria for selection. He can then share the thought process amongst the selectors with his team mates who will then have (hopefully!) less reason to wonder why someone is selected pr dropped. Case in point: Hilfenhaus, Ponting, Hughes. The merit in this system is that the captain can be a bridge of communication between the selectors and the players. No system is perfect. But we need to work its strength.

Posted by satish619chandar on (December 22, 2011, 3:39 GMT)

Sad to see such a view from Clarke.. Never expected a Aussie captain to be sad to drop his under performing friend and replacing him with a guy in red hot form.. Every captain will go through this case.. Even Dhoni had to drop Yuvi and Raina, his best pals around in test squads..

Posted by   on (December 22, 2011, 3:18 GMT)

Nice Sunny few days, no extra off the air or off the pitch movement and there is a good chance that Ponting and Hussey will come good and rest will all be forgotten. If they cant do well even in that then Inverity has no option.

Posted by farkin on (December 22, 2011, 2:38 GMT)

11 in form players are better then 11 friends which is how the Australian team has been selected in the past

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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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