Australia news October 18, 2013

Players take concerns to CA

26

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.

"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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Mad_Hamish on October 21, 2013, 1:52 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.

  • alstar2281 on October 20, 2013, 22:41 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.

  • smudgeon on October 20, 2013, 2:18 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.

  • on October 19, 2013, 20:04 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.

  • PrasPunter on October 19, 2013, 18:45 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 ?

  • ScottStevo on October 19, 2013, 17:19 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)

  • Ragav999 on October 19, 2013, 3:10 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.

  • on October 18, 2013, 22:27 GMT

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

    Just let the players go out and play some cricket.

  • GrindAR on October 18, 2013, 20:22 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.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on October 18, 2013, 20:11 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.

  • Mad_Hamish on October 21, 2013, 1:52 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.

  • alstar2281 on October 20, 2013, 22:41 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.

  • smudgeon on October 20, 2013, 2:18 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.

  • on October 19, 2013, 20:04 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.

  • PrasPunter on October 19, 2013, 18:45 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 ?

  • ScottStevo on October 19, 2013, 17:19 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)

  • Ragav999 on October 19, 2013, 3:10 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.

  • on October 18, 2013, 22:27 GMT

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

    Just let the players go out and play some cricket.

  • GrindAR on October 18, 2013, 20:22 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.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on October 18, 2013, 20:11 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.

  • xtrafalgarx on October 18, 2013, 16:13 GMT

    @Milhouse79, Last time i checked they got defeated 2 nil and by a big margin. If your refering to the three draws, those were at their home. You can't compare away performances to home ones.

  • Lets_Bash_Indians on October 18, 2013, 15:17 GMT

    Arrogance Shatters One Day,,, & we Are Witnessing

  • Jaffa79 on October 18, 2013, 13:49 GMT

    NZ are better than Australia; they gave England a much sterner test than the boys in canary yellow.

  • Jagger on October 18, 2013, 12:20 GMT

    @ David Brumby - I agree. Doctoring pitches to make life harder for Aussie batsmen is like a government charging its citizens a carbon tax.

    Extreme pain, absolutely no result.

  • on October 18, 2013, 11:42 GMT

    @Smudgeon - Having the same green pitches every match IS the main reason, as others have said, but for other reasons. The best part about the former pitches for Shield cricket was the versatility they had; Perth was fast and bouncy; Melbourne uneven; Adelaide flat than good for spin; Brisbane good for seamers then batsmen; Sydney good for spinners; Hobart good for batting, then bowling. This all meant batsmen and bowlers constantly had to adapt. Now, with constant 'result driven' seam friendly wickets, batsmen aren't batting time because they a) are so heavily disadvantaged and b) are often encouraged to get a quickfire 50 rather than 100, before they face a ball with their name on it. Adaptability and knowing when to occupy the crease are two keys to batting that people aren't being trained to learn - because of the state of the pitches.

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:55 GMT

    @ David Brumby

    "Why do think countries like NZ have never had any world class bowlers or batsmen"

    Sir Richard Hadlee?

  • Ozcricketwriter on October 18, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    Here is how to fix things, very simply: 1) Pick your best bowlers. Not your best spinner + 3 pacers, but your best 4 bowlers. If no spinner is in your top 4, don't pick them. 2) Pick your best keeper. Not your best batsman of keepers. Not your best friend. Not a guy who a particular bowler likes. But your best keeper. 3) Pick your best batsmen. Not your best 20 year olds. Not your best one that you like the look of but haven't actually done anything. But your best ones. 4) Have a good bowling coach who was a good bowler in his day, a good batting coach who was a good batsman in his day, and a good overall coach who was a good player in his day. And, if possible, make them all Australian. 5) Occasionally go for hunches, but if those hunches fail, dump them. Don't recall them 20 times and keep recalling them while they are destroying the team. 6) If a player is out of form, dump him. 7) If a player is in form, select him. 8) Don't over-complicate things. It isn't all that hard.

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    @ Smudgeon."I've heard talk that pitches are to blame for batsmen not getting enough time in the middle and learning how to score big - what nonsense...the best batsmen adapt and find a way to score"

    Sorry but that is totally incorrect. Pitches are the NUMBER one problem with our poor skill levels. Batsmen DO need time to work on technique and the ability to bat long periods and this can only be done on decent pitches. Secondly, such poor pitches mean bowlers do not learn to move the ball and instead just put it there. This is another major problem with Australian bowlers. Why do think countries like NZ have never had any world class bowlers or batsmen. Because they have poor pitches. Why do you think Indian has so many batsmen. There needs to be an equality with bat and ball and this is simply not happening in Australia and has not for some years. This is why the major decline and complete lack of youth. CA has single handedly destroyed cricket in Australia and nothing is changing.

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    @Roxsport, because the runs he's scoring at the moment are the first runs he's scored for close to 2yrs, there was a reason why he was dropped from the T20 team.. & why would you drop Steve Smith of all people?? he was one of the very few positives out of england? if White keeps up this form then by all means he should be back in the ODI team at the end of the summer.... but thats as far as it goes for now..

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    One of the things that players have made a lot of noise about lately is the need for stability in the team roster. I can definitely understand what they mean but, realistically, look at the situation with the perfomances in the last couple of months. In the Ryobi Cup Khawaja has half centuries in his last three innings, Cameron White has four straight (averaging 98.3!) and Warner has battled through bad form for a well-compiled 139. Meanwhile, George Bailey has been grinding out ODI 50s and Johnson is really pushing to get his spot back. I think competition for these spots is making the players knuckle down, and that's one of the biggest needs for Australian cricket right now. It just needs to be backed-up by some sensible selection.

  • ROXSPORT on October 18, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    I would love to see Cameron White in the team. IMHO, he is a better batsman than Steven Smith and an equally good fielder. Don't know why he isn't touring India?

  • smudgeon on October 18, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    Hmmm...yeah, I understand some of their concerns. But really, the most troubling thing I see is that there just isn't the depth there once was, particularly with batsmen. Australia had one hell of a golden era starting with Alan Border's twilight years through to the retirements of Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath. I've heard talk that pitches are to blame for batsmen not getting enough time in the middle and learning how to score big - what nonsense...the best batsmen adapt and find a way to score. One thing I remember Ricky Ponting saying was that as a kid, he would have batted for days if they'd let him. It's seen as much easier to slog your way to a six-figure IPL contract, why would you spend all day toughening up for days of batting?

  • RJHB on October 18, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Absolutely agree cnksnk, its wall papering the cracks or worse, denying there are even cracks at all.

  • on October 18, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    it's clear culture is not a green.... how can they say that? what basis is that made on? the negligence of CA & this "high performance review team" astounds me, I thought Pat Howard was a good appointment but that's really not looking like the case, like cnksnk said as well, injury management has not been great at all & that's at an international level as well as domestic, ie. Pat Cummins Champions League back injury, hope the players get their point across for once instead of CA being so oblivious as to whats really going on....

  • cnksnk on October 18, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Some of the conclusions are to say the least bizzare. Both Hussey and ponting have expressed concerns over team culture. Homeworkgate is less than 6 months ago. How can improve team culture be green. Injury management should be a red. All the young fast bowlers have broken down over the last 6 months and the selectors cannot , with any degree of certainty, say if even 2 of the lead fast bowlers will last the entire Ashes. How can align to the right organisational structure be green when the important change of the captain as selector has been given up. Succession planning cannot be a green when Australia does not have suitable players for most of the batting positions, let alone their back up. If Clarks back does not recover who is his like to like replacement. Seems to be an exercise in self congratulations and self denial.

  • Mary_786 on October 18, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Good to hear from the players perspective

  • No featured comments at the moment.

  • Mary_786 on October 18, 2013, 6:59 GMT

    Good to hear from the players perspective

  • cnksnk on October 18, 2013, 7:52 GMT

    Some of the conclusions are to say the least bizzare. Both Hussey and ponting have expressed concerns over team culture. Homeworkgate is less than 6 months ago. How can improve team culture be green. Injury management should be a red. All the young fast bowlers have broken down over the last 6 months and the selectors cannot , with any degree of certainty, say if even 2 of the lead fast bowlers will last the entire Ashes. How can align to the right organisational structure be green when the important change of the captain as selector has been given up. Succession planning cannot be a green when Australia does not have suitable players for most of the batting positions, let alone their back up. If Clarks back does not recover who is his like to like replacement. Seems to be an exercise in self congratulations and self denial.

  • on October 18, 2013, 8:21 GMT

    it's clear culture is not a green.... how can they say that? what basis is that made on? the negligence of CA & this "high performance review team" astounds me, I thought Pat Howard was a good appointment but that's really not looking like the case, like cnksnk said as well, injury management has not been great at all & that's at an international level as well as domestic, ie. Pat Cummins Champions League back injury, hope the players get their point across for once instead of CA being so oblivious as to whats really going on....

  • RJHB on October 18, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Absolutely agree cnksnk, its wall papering the cracks or worse, denying there are even cracks at all.

  • smudgeon on October 18, 2013, 8:56 GMT

    Hmmm...yeah, I understand some of their concerns. But really, the most troubling thing I see is that there just isn't the depth there once was, particularly with batsmen. Australia had one hell of a golden era starting with Alan Border's twilight years through to the retirements of Warne, Gilchrist and McGrath. I've heard talk that pitches are to blame for batsmen not getting enough time in the middle and learning how to score big - what nonsense...the best batsmen adapt and find a way to score. One thing I remember Ricky Ponting saying was that as a kid, he would have batted for days if they'd let him. It's seen as much easier to slog your way to a six-figure IPL contract, why would you spend all day toughening up for days of batting?

  • ROXSPORT on October 18, 2013, 9:38 GMT

    I would love to see Cameron White in the team. IMHO, he is a better batsman than Steven Smith and an equally good fielder. Don't know why he isn't touring India?

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:15 GMT

    One of the things that players have made a lot of noise about lately is the need for stability in the team roster. I can definitely understand what they mean but, realistically, look at the situation with the perfomances in the last couple of months. In the Ryobi Cup Khawaja has half centuries in his last three innings, Cameron White has four straight (averaging 98.3!) and Warner has battled through bad form for a well-compiled 139. Meanwhile, George Bailey has been grinding out ODI 50s and Johnson is really pushing to get his spot back. I think competition for these spots is making the players knuckle down, and that's one of the biggest needs for Australian cricket right now. It just needs to be backed-up by some sensible selection.

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:18 GMT

    @Roxsport, because the runs he's scoring at the moment are the first runs he's scored for close to 2yrs, there was a reason why he was dropped from the T20 team.. & why would you drop Steve Smith of all people?? he was one of the very few positives out of england? if White keeps up this form then by all means he should be back in the ODI team at the end of the summer.... but thats as far as it goes for now..

  • on October 18, 2013, 10:29 GMT

    @ Smudgeon."I've heard talk that pitches are to blame for batsmen not getting enough time in the middle and learning how to score big - what nonsense...the best batsmen adapt and find a way to score"

    Sorry but that is totally incorrect. Pitches are the NUMBER one problem with our poor skill levels. Batsmen DO need time to work on technique and the ability to bat long periods and this can only be done on decent pitches. Secondly, such poor pitches mean bowlers do not learn to move the ball and instead just put it there. This is another major problem with Australian bowlers. Why do think countries like NZ have never had any world class bowlers or batsmen. Because they have poor pitches. Why do you think Indian has so many batsmen. There needs to be an equality with bat and ball and this is simply not happening in Australia and has not for some years. This is why the major decline and complete lack of youth. CA has single handedly destroyed cricket in Australia and nothing is changing.

  • Ozcricketwriter on October 18, 2013, 10:54 GMT

    Here is how to fix things, very simply: 1) Pick your best bowlers. Not your best spinner + 3 pacers, but your best 4 bowlers. If no spinner is in your top 4, don't pick them. 2) Pick your best keeper. Not your best batsman of keepers. Not your best friend. Not a guy who a particular bowler likes. But your best keeper. 3) Pick your best batsmen. Not your best 20 year olds. Not your best one that you like the look of but haven't actually done anything. But your best ones. 4) Have a good bowling coach who was a good bowler in his day, a good batting coach who was a good batsman in his day, and a good overall coach who was a good player in his day. And, if possible, make them all Australian. 5) Occasionally go for hunches, but if those hunches fail, dump them. Don't recall them 20 times and keep recalling them while they are destroying the team. 6) If a player is out of form, dump him. 7) If a player is in form, select him. 8) Don't over-complicate things. It isn't all that hard.