Australia news February 8, 2013

Cricket Australia admits to rotation mistakes


Australia may seek to rest players more often on overseas tours rather than depriving home crowds of the national side's most high profile cricketers during the summer. Momentum is growing for the concept of using foreign assignments to give Australia's most heavily employed cricketers a break rather than home limited-overs games during January.

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia's chief executive, has conceded it may be fairer for the Australian public to rest the likes of Michael Clarke and David Warner from ODIs in England and India later this year following Test series in those countries, rather than those at home. ESPNcricinfo understands the players' union also favours the idea.

The team performance manager Pat Howard has also conceded two significant missteps in the management of the national team during the ODI portion of this season.

Howard agreed it was "fair" to suggest the decision to rest Warner at the same time the captain Michael Clarke was sidelined by his recovery from a hamstring problem was ill-advised, and could have waited until Clarke had returned to fitness for the third game in Brisbane. There was also an admission that Usman Khawaja and Steven Smith were shabbily treated in being given only one match each at the start of the series than being promptly dropped back to their states.

These calls were among the most contentious in a summer when the national selectors have attempted to broaden the squad at their disposal, taking an approach uncompromising in its focus to ensure the team its at its freshest and most focused for major Test match assignments in India and England.

Warner's absence early in the series meant the ODI team was without a single name likely to attract spectators to the gate, and also left the side with a decidedly developmental look. The vagaries of player management are likely to result in a tweaking of the player payment MOU this year, as the players' union has argued the performance incentives factored into the agreement last year cannot be fairly applied when the ODI and Twenty20 teams can be changed so drastically at the blunt end of the World Cup cycle.

Smith and Khawaja's use as short-term options is known to have irked players and coaches in both their respective states, who wondered at how young players could be able to show their wares without some semblance of continuity. Howard said that while those selections were part of the balance between affording opportunities and then bowing to a public expectation to reinforce the team once Warner, Clarke and Matthew Wade had taken time out.

"I would have to say we could have done that better, absolutely," Howard. "I actually feel that if we'd won in Adelaide there would have been a more consistent run. But there was a lot of [public] pressure there. So Steve Smith and Usman Khawaja, as the Indian Test team has shown, are well regarded. They're not the complete player by any means, but they're very highly regarded. Selection is not an easy job.

"I think the Aaron Finch [selection] is about trying to give him some continuity, a proper run at it. The selectors do want to give continuity to a couple of people to try and give them that. Continuity for a period is important while we've also seen players under pressure really give great performances. A little bit of competition, [Ed] Cowan gets a hundred [against South Africa] then Warner gets a hundred - that sort of competition has been seen to be good at times. But continuity is important too."

Warner's place as a key performer in all formats for Australia - plus a Twenty20 hired gun - has given him a most unrelenting schedule to cope with, and Howard noted that his run-scoring dried up considerably during last year's tour of the West Indies after a heavy home summer.

"When Warner went to the West Indies last year he was absolutely cooked," Howard said. "Didn't perform, didn't score runs. And if you look at the last 12 months ODIs have been his weakest format. Guys came in and performed, Finch came in, [Phillip] Hughes came in. Hughes was [Australia's] man of the series. Did Warner not playing cost us? The fan issue is fine, the performance issue I'd argue that's not right.

"Balancing fans versus balancing performance is a hard one. The guys who came in hungry, the Baileys, the Hugheses, have done well. David Warner, if we just keep letting him play all the time, every game, you've got to make some choice. If Warner was a Test-only batsman, or just Tests and ODIs and he had his time off and didn't go to Sri Lanka and didn't go to IPL, that's a different discussion isn't it?"

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Adrian on February 10, 2013, 10:23 GMT

    There are merits to the rotation policy. The West Indies series is a non event. They gave them breaks in the glory days of the 2000s too. Nobody cared then. So why do they care now?

  • Eric on February 10, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    Do they need to apologise? Probably not. Do they need to admit they made a mistake. Absolutely.

    Believe it or not, I think they were so busy thinking about winning tournaments in future that they forgot about the business side of the role. Australia in general and Sydney in particular are very tough sports market. We deserve to see our heroes play in person. That is where they make their money from gate takings and television.

    Case 1: Mitchell Starc They promote test cricket as the number one form of the game and the Boxing Day test is the biggest test of the year. So kids grow up dreaming of playing a Boxing Day test for their country. This is the game they decide to rest / rotate / manager a player? Wrong message.

    Case 2: Michael Hussey He wants to play, the public want to see him play and on form is one of the first players picked in any format of the game for Australia, probably any team in the world. They could have rested Clarke AND Warner, if they had just picked Hussey.

  • Allan on February 9, 2013, 7:24 GMT

    @Michael_sheridon good points mate, bring on the India series, counting the days down.

  • Lou on February 9, 2013, 4:18 GMT

    Why the hell should Howard apologise? Or the selectors for that matter? What a crock. Warner is hardly that big a loss in ODIs you only have to look at his record to see that. The childish whining from the press and public in Aus is monotonous and is purely based around crankiness that Australia just doesn't have the same calibre ofplayer that they once did.

  • Harris on February 9, 2013, 3:08 GMT

    The upcoming India & England tours better be the time that players get rested this season because the Australian public does not deserve to watch a b-grade side at home ever again.

    Cricket Australia needs to understand that Australia's summer of cricket is its most important asset. They should only rest players during Australia's winter when the team is overseas and Australian's are watching the footy.

  • Mariam on February 9, 2013, 2:05 GMT

    @hyclass i am a big fan of Khawaja and don't think his treatment for the ODIs was good, but ultimately his priority should be test cricket and India series will give him that opportunity. Like you i predict him to have a big series there. With this golden generation of players featuring Steve Waugh, Ricky Ponting, Glen McGrath, Shane Warne and Matthew Hayden just to name a few retiring, , it was always going to be a tough follow up job to whoever was bestowed the honour of filling these awfully large boots but what the selectors have to do is give the younger guys a good crack at establshing themselves. Khawaja is a perfect example as he always seems to get 1-2 games to prove himself and needs a full series to show what he can do as both him and Hughes are gun batsman. Ultimately it comes down to that one word; consistency. Without it, teams look like they are riding on the Tower of Terror at Dreamworld, but with it some can seem to be nigh undefeatable.

  • Lee on February 8, 2013, 22:47 GMT

    So Howard admits their treatment of Usman Khawaja was poor... So why hasn't he been selected to replace the injured Michael Clarke? How does one make sense of this mess? Incredibly, they instead bring in Shaun Marsh who has had a gazillion opportunities and proven time and time again he is not up to it. Why hasn't Uzi been given as many chances as the hopeless Aaron Finch, who hasn't made a score of note in a dozen appearances for Australia? The mind boggles.

  • roger on February 8, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    Just wondering when it is Pat Howards turn for rotation?

  • Dummy4 on February 8, 2013, 21:18 GMT

    @cricket-india, you're right, you don't get it. The article clearly states "to rest the likes of Michael Clarke and David Warner from ODIs in England and India later this year following Test series in those countries" = they would miss a ODI or two, not a test match.

  • Phil on February 8, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    Good to see Howard acknolwedge that they didn't handle Smith and especially Khawaja in the best manner, dropping him after 1 debut game where he was run out was not the way to go but i am happy to see him in India and believe he can be a key player there along with Hughes.

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