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Shipperd wants 12-a-side in Sheffield Shield

Brydon Coverdale

October 17, 2012

Comments: 37 | Text size: A | A

Greg Shipperd at Victoria's training session ahead of the Pura Cup final, Sydney, March 15, 2008
Greg Shipperd believes there could be a better way to give opportunities to players at first-class level © Getty Images

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

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Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (October 19, 2012, 8:46 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.

Posted by zenboomerang on (October 19, 2012, 7:53 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...

Posted by VivGilchrist on (October 18, 2012, 3:30 GMT)

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

Posted by Meety on (October 18, 2012, 0:46 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?

Posted by Nerk on (October 17, 2012, 23:22 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.

Posted by tfjones1978 on (October 17, 2012, 14:03 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.

Posted by Trapper439 on (October 17, 2012, 13:54 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.

Posted by Dashgar on (October 17, 2012, 13:48 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.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 12:11 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.

Posted by Tomek on (October 17, 2012, 12:06 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.

Posted by satish619chandar on (October 17, 2012, 11:42 GMT)

May be pick 12 a side with 11 field and 11 bat with no substitute fielders. If a couple are injured in play, play with 10. Cricket will be limited.

Posted by Hammond on (October 17, 2012, 11:40 GMT)

@hyclass- you said it. This is exactly what is happening to Australian cricket. Everywhere. Even at the grass roots level.

Posted by hyclass on (October 17, 2012, 11:13 GMT)

The idea is utterly without merit. The surest way to encourage performance is to be forced to play better at the level below. Its not just about statistics but the development of character to endure during the adversity of non-selection while continuing to perform. It retains value when the opportunity does arise.The State teams are not so powerful that they can dilute their playing pool by selecting under-performing long shots from the level below. It cant be any more than a publicity stunt and has no foundation in intelligence or reason.It must be evident at this point that the dearth of quality appearing in the last 4 years coincides with this bizarre movement away from the highly successful traditional model. The batsmen whom we are observing as complete and capable of taking the team forward,are those older players whose games were constructed before a move to T20. The substance and stubborn endurance of the long form game has been cast aside for the transience of commercial tv.

Posted by baghels.a on (October 17, 2012, 11:00 GMT)

Why dosen't the ICC allow subsitutes to take part like in other sports such as football,rugby,Hockey,basketball,volleyball instead of making cosmetic changes like powerplays. In the warm up matches teams are allowed to play wih 13 players but only 11 allowed in the field(meaning you still bat like normal till no.11 ), this way a team can have a specialist batter till no.8 and six regular bowlers and all this part time bowlers problem will vanish, two subsitutes is it too radical, i don't think so.....................Blokes don't be resitant to new ideas,this just provides for a very even contest beetween bat and ball !! if not 2 allow one subsitute as Shipperd stated

Posted by Dashgar on (October 17, 2012, 10:40 GMT)

I guess it's a good problem to have. I think things should stay as is however, except I'd make the futures league play more matches.

Posted by Timmuh on (October 17, 2012, 10:27 GMT)

If a player can't make the eleven for his state, how is he supposed to be "on the fringe" of national selection? Shield cricket needs to be as close as possible to Test cricket, and it should be hard to obtain and maintain a spot. If Holland was on the verge of Australia or AustraliaA selection, he would be in the Victorian first eleven every time.

Posted by Green_and_Gold on (October 17, 2012, 10:26 GMT)

If a player is not selected in the starting XI of a state team then how can he be considered in the national side?12 a side will not help players. Playing an extra quick will mean each bowler will bowl less. It will also mean that capts have an extra option to turn to when looking for wickets (something that wont be replicated in the national side). Bowlers will have less responsibility to take wickets and wont be prepared to bowl longer stints where there may not be another bowling option to go to. There is a similar story for the batsman too. This is a move that will help teams like Vic win more games not develop players.

Posted by PFEL on (October 17, 2012, 10:19 GMT)

A ridiculous idea. the last thing i needed was a reminder of the 12 a side one-day comp we used to have, or *shudders* the whole "supersub" fiasco.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (October 17, 2012, 10:06 GMT)

I am a little confused {which is not hard to do for me} when we had an abundance of quality test/shield players we did not need any extra teams, now we are in the eye of the storm we need extra teams ??. 6 test quality batsmen should be coming through the junior ranks to fill 6 shield teams, at the moment it is not, when it is, we can talk more teams.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 9:30 GMT)

Not only that, but any academy side could be based out of Brisbane and play their home games at Alan Border field, which seems to be a pretty slow track that offers something different. Also a great place for pre season work given the outstanding winter climate. They could also call up players from the state teams that are currently missing out.. Its certainly a pity that a guy like Chris Lynn for all his early promise is not getting a game for Qld right now, for instance. Players needed by state teams could also be sent back... there just needs to be some fluidity. There seems to be plenty of player swaps going on in County cricket and they don't have any lack of playing spots.

Posted by CricketMaan on (October 17, 2012, 9:22 GMT)

What next 12 at international level so that some worthy lad in the 15 doesnt miss out an oppurutnity to play an XI play that is the rule of the game, all these 12 as side is okay for Big Bash and IPL..not for 4 day. Rather i liked the proposal to make 1 or 2 bowlers in the One dayers to bowl a max of 12 overs.. that will tighten the competions both at domestic and international level.

Posted by jonesy2 on (October 17, 2012, 9:14 GMT)

such is the depth of australia cricket compared to any other nation, this is a very plausable concept

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

I think there is really the need for some sort of "Academy" type of team in the state comp. This would be made up of the likes of Holland, Burns, Hazlewood, Neville, Boyce etc and would also be the core of any Australia 'A' team to play against touring test squads. These are the guys just below test level that aren't playing any international cricket, but with the strong potential to do so. To be managed by the national team selectors/coaching staff etc. That way CA has full call on the players in their cross hairs and we have another 11 places in first class cricket...... Shipperds call for twelve man teams only increases our first class playing positions by 6 and as others have noted reduces the need for quality allrounders. Guys like Christian, Maxwell, Henriques, MacDonald, Mitch Marsh and Faulkner need to be bowling plenty of overs and batting in the top 6 too.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 9:12 GMT)

I also think the ACT should be added, NT may be difficult due to the weather during the cricket season being wet season up north. Although they could play in Alice springs. Its not like shield cricket draws fans and needs a large population to support them.

Posted by rickyvoncanterbury on (October 17, 2012, 8:41 GMT)

20 over games, 12 players a side , england holds the ashes, the worlds gone mad.

Posted by jrg_from_oz on (October 17, 2012, 8:34 GMT)

Absolutely ridiculous suggestion. The Shield is the strongest domestic f/c competition in the world, and it only stays f/c by abiding by the rules. Of course it's the fault of the ICC that the f/c rules aren't being changed - they are meant to set the rules, aren't they? And where's the push for 12-a-side f/c games, other than in GS's mind? If he's really serious, then the correct channel is to approach CA and get them to put a submission to the ICC to change the f/c rules. But as others have suggested, it would be a lot simpler to add two more f/c teams to the Shield. An ACT team could easily attract half its number from the NSW overflow, and there are surely enough up-and-coming youngsters who would jump at the chance of joining either team if it meant a regular f/c spot.

Posted by ygkd on (October 17, 2012, 8:22 GMT)

I reckon it is time to seriously consider adding the territories to the competition -two more teams in two years time. Two more pitches to gain experience on too.

Posted by Winsome on (October 17, 2012, 8:05 GMT)

We already have changed the way bowlers are used in the Ryobi, though I don't mind that, but 12 players for a Shield side? Get a grip. Players can always move states if they feel they are not getting the opportunities their talent/performances deserve. Shipperd sounds hacked off at having to pick spin bowlers when he'd rather not.

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 7:40 GMT)

Or these fringe players could play for one of the under performing states and be assured of a starting berth every game. Not rocket science now, is it?

Posted by   on (October 17, 2012, 7:23 GMT)

Bizarre idea. Why stop at 12? As an Englishman I like the idea of Australia going this way - let them get out of the idea of needing a balanced side, discourage them from developing class all-rounders. They should be asking a simple question - if a player is so good that he is a prospect for the national side - why can't he get into his state side? Something seems radically wrong - but it isn't the number of players in the XI.

Posted by Meety on (October 17, 2012, 7:12 GMT)

"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." - I have to say, that is a pretty dumb comment, - of course it would of been tougher for QLD if they played against 12 players! LOL! Have a look at NSW over the last couple of years - they had spinners SO'K, Hauritz & Casson in & out of the side, they couldn't fit them in, by chance thru injury & retiremen it is not always the caset, but they still hved the likes of Copeland, Bollinger, Cummins, Hazlewood, Starc to juggle. == == == I suppose one of the casualties for this season is Jade Herrick, where is he at the moment? Should be allowed to play for Sth Oz for the time being!

Posted by Meety on (October 17, 2012, 6:59 GMT)

I think that there could be scope to replace players a bit more often, not just in the case of a player getting called up for National duty (cricketing wise), but for a player who was in the National 12-man squad & misses out, they could/should join a game mid game. Obviously it would have to be a like for like swap. If players missing out is the big issue, then the remedy is to either a) Increase the teams in the Shield (not been done in over 30 yrs), b) Beef up the Futures League/2nd XI competition (I have banged on about the need for that anyway with the occupancy of the BBL right in the middle of the Domestic season). A third option, is to hold some made up Chairman's XI sides to play either each other or a Shield side not playing a Shield match. At the moment, whilst NSW have a lot of players absent in the Champ Trophy, they still would have a handy side & they could play a WA selection with both sides having guest players like Hauritz & George who aren't currently being used???

Posted by bobagorof on (October 17, 2012, 6:41 GMT)

Another alternative is to have what happens to NSW - players being kept out of the top side, and moving interstate. This also strengthens the competition because each state then has quality players, rather than having one or two teams with top players and the other teams making up the numbers.

Posted by Ben1989 on (October 17, 2012, 6:28 GMT)

I like the idea, does seem odd though, have always thought of 11 players as a team, but there's still only going to be 11 on the field at any given time, providing they put in some form of rules & regulations, would be very interesting to see......

Posted by gibboj on (October 17, 2012, 6:23 GMT)

how about two new teams, that would give 22 more players exposure

Posted by HatsforBats on (October 17, 2012, 6:13 GMT)

Rather than risking the loss of first class status by introducing a maximum of six available spots across the country, how about we create 22 new spots by introducing the ACT & NT into the shield competition? Players get exposure to more conditions, fans get more games, and local youngsters get greater opportunity to play. All we need is a cunning businessman to invest hundreds of millions and some free-to-air coverage (shame the younger Packer is so enamoured with casinos).

Posted by dwblurb on (October 17, 2012, 6:05 GMT)

Greg, you are a genius! And all this time I thought you were just a painfully-slow scoring shield player with the most hideously ugly technique I have ever seen. But why stop at twelve? We could move to 22-per-side, then we could have eleven batsmen, ten bowlers and a wicketkeeper all gainfully employed every week.

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Brydon CoverdaleClose
Brydon Coverdale Assistant Editor Possibly the only person to win a headline-writing award for a title with the word "heifers" in it, Brydon decided agricultural journalism wasn't for him when he took up his position with ESPNcricinfo in Melbourne. His cricketing career peaked with an unbeaten 85 in the seconds for a small team in rural Victoria on a day when they could not scrounge up 11 players and Brydon, tragically, ran out of partners to help him reach his century. He is also a compulsive TV game-show contestant and has appeared on half a dozen shows in Australia.
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