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February 4, 2013
A resounding Cricket Australia board endorsement for the direction taken by the national team in the wake of the Argus review has been accompanied by the admission that plans have been poorly articulated in public.
The team performance manager Pat Howard, the national selector John Inverarity and the national coaching overseer and selector Rod Marsh presented to CA's board of directors in Melbourne on Monday ahead of the Allan Border Medal, providing a summary of their approach to the national team and the thinking behind it.
Wally Edwards, the CA chairman, emerged from the meeting to say that while the board "unequivocally supports" Howard, Inverarity and Marsh's efforts to "implement the Argus strategy to build sustained success for Australian cricket over the long term", there was an acknowledgement that plans had not been adequately explained to the public.
It is this inability to account with sufficient authority or detail for the development of better performing national teams, as much as any results, that has been responsible for the howls of protest at Australian cricket's apparent direction from outsiders, personified by the indignant words of Shane Warne, who has stated flatly that "everyone is unhappy" with where the team is at.
"We're not unhappy. We're possibly unhappy that we haven't communicated as well as we could've, I think that's a fact," Edwards said in Melbourne. "Certainly we didn't go into this with a great media plan to sell the idea of developing more cricketers, and more cricketers being available to play for Australia. If there's a weakness in what we've done that's it."
"I think [on the field] we've done extremely well. We were very unlucky against South Africa, the best side in the world ... we were unlucky not to at least draw that series and could've easily won it I think, so I'm very pleased with the way we're going. To build a new cricket side is a long-term thing. You don't do it overnight, it's not that easy. I'm confident we're on the right track."
As for the Howard/Inverarity policy of sharing the playing workload more widely around the national squad, particularly among young fast bowlers, Edwards said that in light of the current schedule of matches and formats there was simply no alternative.
"You only have to look at elite world sport," Edwards said. "Top performances can't be had by people playing every day of the week every week of the year, and with three formats of the game and very compacted world schedule of cricket now it's just not possible for people to perform at their absolute best every day of the year."
James Sutherland, the chief executive, said he had spoken at some length with Warne to hear his views on the national team, and was hopeful that the former leg spinner would again be involved as a mentor for young slow bowlers in the future.
"It was good to have a chat, a good robust discussion with him and clear the air," Sutherland said. "There's no doubt about his passion and enthusiasm for Australian cricket and the Australian cricket team to be successful."
"Hopefully there are opportunities down the track for him to be closer to us and have an even greater involvement. We've recently announced Dennis Lillee being involved with our fast bowlers and one of the things we'd love to see is Shane having a closer link with our spin bowlers, as he has in the past.
"He's got a very busy schedule but to have the two greats of Australian cricket bowling involved in our programs would be fantastic."
Warne published part two of his "manifesto", meanwhile, naming his preferred squads for the three formats, including a Test group of no fewer than 18 players.
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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