Australia news October 17, 2012

Shipperd wants 12-a-side in Sheffield Shield


Greg Shipperd, the coach of Victoria, has called on Cricket Australia to allow 12 players per side in the Sheffield Shield in future seasons to provide greater opportunities for players on the fringe of Australian selection. Shipperd's radical proposal comes as Victoria consider how to juggle their surfeit of strong contenders for next week's Sheffield Shield match against Tasmania, although he has been campaigning for such a change for some time.

Last week, Victoria beat Queensland at the Gabba with a side featuring eight players who have represented Australia and two more - Jon Holland and Rob Quiney - who the Victorians believe have the potential to play international cricket soon. Since then, they have been bolstered even further by the return of Andrew McDonald and Glenn Maxwell from the Champions League and finding men to squeeze out of the team won't be easy.

Cricket Australia is especially keen for the left-arm spinner Holland to remain in the side despite the fact that he has bowled only 10 overs in the first two Shield matches of the season, on green, pace-friendly pitches. CA's desire for Holland, considered by the selectors as one of the best two spinners in the country, to be given game time meant the in-form batsman Aaron Finch was pushed out of the side, and Shipperd believes there could be a better approach.

"When I think about the future of Australian cricket ... we should play 12 players, because we're going to have to make a decision on someone who could play for Australia who's going to have to sit on the bench," Shipperd told ESPNcricinfo. "Yes, we could send them off to 2nd XI cricket, but if it was Jon Holland to miss out, or Clint McKay, or John Hastings, or resting Peter Siddle, is that the best thing for Australian cricket and that player and the competition? I don't think so.

"Last game [Finch and Holland both playing] would have happened. Our batting depth would have been better, our bowling depth would have been still as strong, but the game would have been tougher for the opposition. Likewise they would have been in a similar position. The game would have been tougher for us. I think it's all about playing tough, competitive cricket for Australia to get back to No.1 and we've missed that opportunity. Yes, it's still 11 against 11, but there's a lot of good players out there that aren't being exposed to the game across the course of four days."

The main problem with Shipperd's suggestion is that under the existing ICC regulations, the Sheffield Shield would lose its first-class status if it moved to 12 players per side, with 11 batting and 11 fielding. ICC rules clearly define the conditions of first-class cricket, including that matches must be "of three or more days' duration between two sides of eleven players". There is leeway for teams to be tweaked mid-match if a player is called up for national duty, but there is no provision for games to start with more than 11 players per side.

Cricket Australia is believed to be open-minded to Shipperd's idea in principle, but not if it meant the loss of first-class status for the Sheffield Shield. CA has been willing to think outside the square in one-day cricket where there is more flexibility - their move to a 12-a-side split-innings format in the Ryobi Cup in 2010-11 was particularly adventurous - and Shipperd wants a similarly bold approach for the longer format.

"I've been saying it for years now, it is just unfortunately falling on deaf ears at the playing cricket committee level [at CA]," Shipperd said. "They keep blaming the ICC but I think that's a furphy. Cricket Australia have on many occasions been a leader in terms of going our own way, in terms of finding what is the right recipe for us.

"It's not always about jumping in to bed, so to speak, with a slow-moving ICC process. I think we've lost a couple of years of player opportunity and player development and toughening up our environment because we're beholden to some archaic traditional view of what a cricket team should look like, with 11 players only."

Shipperd said other state coaches were supportive of the idea, as were medical staff around the country. The move would help with the management of young fast bowlers, for the workload could be spread among a larger attack in each first-class match.

Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • richard on October 19, 2012, 7:46 GMT

    @ Meety on (October 17 2012, 23:46 PM GMT) agree on the bowlers, and I may be all for expanding FC fixtures, if there was no continuance of the never ending 20/20 games.

  • Roo on October 19, 2012, 6:53 GMT

    @Greg Shipperd... Changing the laws of cricket to accommodate 1 extra player isn't the answer, it the outdated teams that need updating - look what AFL, NRL, Soccer, Netball have done over recent decades... Our population has increased 5 fold in 100 years, so why haven't the number of teams?... I have been calling for a expanded SS comp for years - at least 8 teams - ACT & another NSW team & including NZ with 2 teams to make a 10 team comp... This could be expanded to a 12 team comp down the line & give all quality players a chance at FC cricket against a variety of pitches/conditions & turn it into a true competition...

  • Basil on October 18, 2012, 2:30 GMT

    Why stop at 12? Let's make it 21!.... Think of all the boundaries that would be saved.

  • Andrew on October 17, 2012, 23:46 GMT

    @Jono Makim - the idea is not without precedent, a slightly more structured example is in England they have a team playing List A's called the Unicorns. This team tends to be full of journeymen, but sometimes they have a break out season & get drafted into a County team. I would prefer the ACT to be the next Shield team, but then again does it need to be a Shield participating side? It could be a side that has similar status to Tassie 40 odd years ago! @ rickyvoncanterbury on (October 17 2012, 09:06 AM GMT) - good point, & 100% right when discussing batsmen, but we really do seem to have a surplus of bowlers - Herrick hasn't played Shield or a List A game yet & he was pretty good last year. == == == The biggest hinderance to expanding FC fixtures is, the bloody great big hole in the middle of the season dedicated to BBL?

  • Simon on October 17, 2012, 22:22 GMT

    Bollocks of the highest degree. Australia has performed well for over a hundred years playing cricket - you know cricket, that sport where there are ELEVEN players on the field. I suppose soccer coaches want an extra striker because that would mean attacking would be easier, or rugby managers an extra back or forward. You shouldn't want to change the rules just because they don't suit your current purposes. Man up, stop having a whinge, and play the game.

  • Terry on October 17, 2012, 13:03 GMT

    I would actually like to see 11 starting players and two substitute players. After every two sessions a player can be substituted before the conclusion of the next two sessions. All substitutes can be used to bat, bowl, field, wicket keep and all other aspects of the game. Rules should be that a player is not allowed to field as a substitute unless they use that interchange. In the event that a player is injured and the double-session has already been subsituted, the team must play with 10 players until the double-session concludes.

  • Travis on October 17, 2012, 12:54 GMT

    Shipperd is clearly putting the interests of Victorian cricket before the interests of Australian cricket by putting forth this utterly ridiculous suggestion. In soccer terms it's like saying that Barcelona (and I'm not comparing Victoria to Barcelona here in any way, shape or form) should get extra substitutions, because otherwise some of their players might leave. Tough luck, Victoria. If there are not enough spots for all of your best players then some of them will leave. That's simply how sport works. @Phil Wood: that's a very good point about this potentially being the death knell of the all-rounder. Although as an Aussie fan I'll freely concede that Australia has never produced many rop notch all-rounders.

  • Tim on October 17, 2012, 12:48 GMT

    One thing all the Holland naysayers should consider is that one of the big jobs for test spinners in Australia is bowling a side out on day five. In shield cricket they don't have a day five so spinners are less valuable. Don't compare apples with oranges. Test cricket is a different game. Holland may not be better than Hastings or McKay in 4 day cricket, but in 5 day cricket he could be far more valuable.

  • Dummy4 on October 17, 2012, 11:11 GMT

    Bring in the ACT and Northern NSW out of Newcastle. 8 team, 14 match season (with a final). We have the player depth and we need more First Class cricket.

  • Tomek on October 17, 2012, 11:06 GMT

    Australia have the perfect set up to solve this problem. With the Centre of Excellence fielding a first class side, picked from ANY of the other teams. They can make it their side to choose, as in Australia A tours, or they can just pick the next best 11 after the states have their sides in place which would be easier on the states of course. This has significant precedent in many different sports, the AIS run sides in a number of competitions, including at least one national level comp in women's netball. Universities around the world have played first class cricket. There is NO stipulation in ICC regulations that suggest a team need have a state/province/county.

    This would also mean that the national management could have a captain of this side that will take orders from above, meaning none of these silly situations where Jon Holland plays behind 4 of the best seamers going around, who then destroy teams and leave him redundant. Good idea me, yup.

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