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Players take concerns to CA

Daniel Brettig

October 18, 2013

Comments: 26 | Text size: A | A

Tim Ludeman bats, Queensland v South Australia, Sheffield Shield, 2nd day, Brisbane, October 2, 2012
The preparation of pitches for Sheffield Shield was the only recommendation marked in red, indicating a lack of progress © Getty Images
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At a time when Australia's cricketers are preparing a report to tackle the game's apparent decline at the top level and around the nation, Cricket Australia maintains there has been progress in every area singled out for improvement in 2011 by the Argus review apart from the preparation of domestic pitches.

More than 100 Australian and domestic players met in Sydney this week to discuss a draft of a report prepared by the Australian Cricketers Association, outlining a range of trouble areas in the game from scheduling and injury management to the talent pathway from club cricket up to the national team.

After a period of consultation where players meet with the ACA, look over the report and add their own critiques and suggestions, the players association chief executive Paul Marsh will submit the report to CA in December. One of the key recommendations of the report is expected to be a proposal to tighten the Twenty20 Big Bash League and move it elsewhere in the summer schedule.

While not prepared to comment on specifics of the report, Marsh said the extraordinary general meeting in Sydney had been fruitful, if also an offshoot of the scheduling of the domestic limited overs competition in the one city at the start of summer - an innovation opposed by many of the players as previously stated by George Bailey and Cameron White.

"It was the first consultation step around the state of the game report, we've spent a number of months putting together a draft report that deals with what we think are issues in the game we're concerned about and how we think we can resolve those issues," Marsh said. "It's the first step in what's going to be a pretty extensive process.

Cricket Australia assessment of Argus recommendations

  • Immediate actions to improve the team's operations
  • Implement the right organisational structure - Green

  • Ensure we have the right people in key roles - Yellow

  • Improve the Australian team's skills - Yellow
  • Improve the Australian team's culture - Green
  • Longer-term actions to align the High Performance System
  • Align the goals of CA and states - Green
  • 
Align each element of the agreed High Performance strategy - Green
  • 
Increase the strength of our supporting competitions - Yellow

  • Pitches - Red
  • 
Improve the co-ordination of talent identification and development - Green
  • 
Improve selection and talent management processes - Green

  • Clarify the roles, and increase the accountability, of the Centre of Excellence and States - Green
  • 
Improve our approach to injury management - Yellow

  • Improve the national coaching system - Green

  • Align our incentive systems, including the MOU - Green

  • Develop a succession plan for players and administrators - Green

"There were no recommendations the players kicked back on, there were some additional recommendations they made for us to consider, which was fantastic. But it was overall a very positive meeting and most of the meetings we have with the players are."

Marsh does not wish to air the report's dirtiest laundry in public, preferring to work together with CA on the problems the players have identified. However, the governing body's internal assessment of its progress against the recommendations set out by the Argus review suggests the organisation's head office in Melbourne does not hold the same views.

In a presentation prepared for a media briefing lunch held in Sydney on October 10, the team performance manager Pat Howard outlined various issues around the national side, including domestic cricket, injury management and selection policies for the Ashes summer.

One slide showed an assessment of where Australian cricket had progressed in response to Don Argus' report, which was compiled by a group including former Test captains Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh. "Of the 122 recommendations the majority have seen some real improvements to Australian cricket," it said.

Of the recommendations outlined, only the preparation of pitches for the Sheffield Shield competition was marked red, indicating a lack of progress. Every other area was given a green light, indicating improvement, or yellow, to show progress or pending results.The appointment of the captain as a selector, a role relinquished earlier this year by Michael Clarke, was not mentioned.

Goals of the report listed as yellow included "ensure we have the right people in key roles", "improve the Australian team's skills", "increase the strength of our supporting competitions" and "improve injury management". When told of the presentation, Marsh said serious concerns with the health of supporting competitions such as club cricket would form a major plank of the report.

"We think there are some genuine problems with the pathway at the moment that need to be looked at," he said. "That's obviously a significant part of this report."

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

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© ESPN Sports Media Ltd.

Posted by Mad_Hamish on (October 21, 2013, 2:52 GMT)

@PrasPunter a spinner asks different questions than a 4th quick bowler. Lyon hasn't won many matches but he's helped to setup up a few situations, taking 7-97 in the 4th Ashes test (Trott, Pietersen, Bell, Bairstow in the first dig, Pietersen, Bairstow and Anderson in the 2nd) unfortunately the batsmen failed. Taking 7-94 in an innings against India but again the batsmen failed.

Not to mention that a team with no spinner will struggle to get through overs.

Posted by alstar2281 on (October 20, 2013, 23:41 GMT)

I doubt very much that CA will listen to the ACA at all. CA is about marketing & money, and nothing to do with the players. This report gives great insight into the shambolic running of CA if ""ensure we have the right people in key roles", "improve the Australian team's skills", "increase the strength of our supporting competitions" and "improve injury management", count as tangible goals. If I offered these up in a Uni assignment I would be failed immedatley & if I produce it at work the boss would laugh me out of his office. I am sure that CA has published a set of KPI's for them to achieve, and surprise surprise they are achieving them. Pats on the back and big fat bonuses all round. Meanwhile the Cricketers and the true fans (not the fickle Gen Y's CA is focused on) continue to suffer from poor schedules, misaligned focuses & diminishing results. Perhaps "ensure we have the right people in key roles" should be downgraded from yellow to the reddest of reds.

Posted by smudgeon on (October 20, 2013, 3:18 GMT)

Okay, fair points guys, but I think I didn't make my point very well. What I was trying to say is that the pitches are being blamed for an issue that is much deeper - in Shield cricket, there is a lack of the patience, application, or mental toughness to stick it out on tough pitches, regardless of whether there is variety in surfaces or not. The mindset to bat all day (leave the good balls, punish the bad balls) is disappearing because a) it takes a lot of practice and dedication, and b) the easier (and "sexier") option is to work on your agricultural strokes and rampshots and aim for instant success as a T20 slogger. And ultimately, the public are more and more interested in T20 than Tests. Giving the pitches individual character may change this a little, but it's useless if the will to leave the good balls and be patient instead of having a crack and hoping it might pay off isn't there.

Posted by   on (October 19, 2013, 21:04 GMT)

Pras-Punter - Appreciate what you have. Lyon may not be a wow-factor spinner but he's good, solid, and reliable. We had to make do with Ashley Giles for a while. Fine team man and person but not really much more than a stock-bowler. Lyon is a notch above that.

Posted by PrasPunter on (October 19, 2013, 19:45 GMT)

Match-winning spinners !! Something that we never had as an option since Sydney 2007. Now tell me how many games have our spinners won for us since that test. Why don't we just play to our strengths ? At best, Lyon is serviceable but barely threatening. He has not turned games, that's for sure. Why can't the Aus selectors see what everyone else can see ?

Posted by ScottStevo on (October 19, 2013, 18:19 GMT)

@Front-Foot-Lunge, and all if this is forgotten if we win the Ashes. Personally, I think it's possible. England are a pretty average team who have struggled in recent times; inflated by a win in India and an Ashes win where they were outplayed for large periods - against what was labelled the worst team to leave Aus shores in 20 years. But, I understand where you're coming from. Being on the receiving end for decades of Aus dominance, you've gotta get what you can in as more likely than not, it will last about as long as you did at number 1 - and as we all know, that was only a fleeting moment! Wonder what you'll make of the English team if they take a hammering in Aus later this year - if you have the nuts to turn up here that is (which I highly doubt)

Posted by Ragav999 on (October 19, 2013, 4:10 GMT)

Ozcricketwriter: Fantastic points there! The spinner is the weak link in this Australian team apart from the batsmen. When Ponting and Hussey were playing, replacing the spinner with a quick would definitely have produced a higher success % in Tests. Many close games were lost due to below par performance by the spinners picked since Warne. Of course, spinners should be given a chance to develop by producing good pitches which has something in it for batsmen, quicks and spinners. This will improve the quality of spinners coming there.

Posted by   on (October 18, 2013, 23:27 GMT)

Maybe there is too much micro-management, administration and thinking involved.

Just let the players go out and play some cricket.

Posted by GrindAR on (October 18, 2013, 21:22 GMT)

@Jagger: Not sure about cricket... but carbon tax have some positive effects is parts of the world, where rules are applied in practice. I wish it would have been carbon penalty instead of tax. Penalty give fruitful results in making people/bodies/managements think towards dirty outputs, if not immediately... in the near future...

Btw, carbon alone is not a bad thing. It actually help filter bad stuffs at entry points.... the problem is when it is in vapor state.. There are more poisonous gases still freely emitted by industries... in parts of the world, where there are no law and no order for cash cows.

Posted by Front-Foot-Lunge on (October 18, 2013, 21:11 GMT)

Cricket Australia's latest yarn to bring the house down is "there has been progress in every area" of Australian cricket since their home Ashes thrashing 3 years ago. Maybe by today's Aussie cricketing standards perhaps. Homeworkgate, that hilariously banal whinging over a typed 100-word document, was only six months ago. It happened on a tour which came to symbolise the poor morale and commitment of a test team not up to the mark and demoralised by their endless Ashes's defeats. Now ex-players have spoken out, current players are feeling the heat, sensing the desperate immediacy to produce results, which only worsens the slide. Clarke must feel like he's hanging on by a thread.

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Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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