Selection an 'extra difficulty' for Clarke - Inverarity
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.
"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