Big Bash League 2013-14 January 16, 2014

Clarke, Warner signings hurt Thunder


Sydney Thunder General Manager Nick Cummins believes the signings of international players Michael Clarke and David Warner to the franchise have unintentionally contributed to the Thunder's horrendous season. Cummins took the extraordinary step of writing an open letter to members and fans explaining some of the issues surrounding the struggling franchise just two days after the Thunder snapped a 19-game, 753-day, losing streak against the Melbourne Renegades.

In the letter, posted on the Thunder's website, Cummins explained the signings of Clarke and Warner. Clarke has not been able to play for the franchise this season while Warner has made just one appearance against the Sixers.

"While both these players were signed before I started at the Sydney Thunder these were well-intentioned decisions that have not proven to be successful," Cummins said.

Cummins cited Clarke's ongoing back issues and the importance of the Ashes series for his absence, saying that Cricket Australia had prioritised Test cricket and that Clarke was managed accordingly and was not made available for the Thunder as a result. He defended the signing of Warner saying the franchise expected him to be available.

"It is important for members to remember that when David was signed by the Thunder he was not playing ODI cricket for Australia," Cummins said. "His place was not secure in the Test team and he was left out of the ODI tour to India. To David's credit (and our detriment), he put together a stunning run of centuries in both the Ryobi Cup and Sheffield Shield.

"We went from expecting David to play as many as all eight BBL games to only having him for one."

Cummins went on to say that the absence of Clarke and Warner and injuries to Tillakaratne Dilshan, Usman Khawaja, Luke Doran, and AJ Tye severely tested the depth of the squad and it is something the franchise will address for next season.

"We recognise that our list is short of experience, that our older players are being asked to carry too much of the burden and our younger players are being thrust into roles that has tested their experience," he said. "However, we have a list of players that we are targeting, that we think will profoundly improve the Thunder. I am not going to speculate on names, but understand that we will be aggressive in our recruiting."

Cummins also directly addressed the team's overall performance. "Certainly we have not achieved the points target we set ourselves at the start of the season," he said. "However, I think we have made enormous strides in becoming a more competitive outfit. We've broken our run of defeats and we were able to put ourselves in winning positions in four other games.

"Unfortunately, a combination of luck, inexperience and poor execution saw us fail to post a win in those four close games. We've been very disappointed with the games against the Heat and Hurricanes, as they were not played in the manner that we expect.

"The players know this and understand where they need to improve."

Former Thunder coach Shane Duff told the Sydney Morning Herald on Monday that he felt the franchise had been "set up for failure" from the outset and that the facilities and resources made available to the coaching and playing staff were "unacceptable" and a major reason why the franchise could not attract quality players.

Cummins explained the improvements that have been made in these areas.

"Off the field we have made enormous progress," he said. "From a team perspective we have vastly improved our coaching, training, quality of training facilities, player welfare, player accommodation and player transport. These facets are all important in order to retain and attract good players. If we had not improved these areas, attracting star players would continue to be a challenge.

"From a club perspective, we have doubled our sponsorship revenue, exceeded last year's membership and our crowds are up by nearly 50% on BBL02."

The Thunder will play their final game of BBL03 against the Sydney Sixers on January 25 against at ANZ Stadium.

Alex Malcolm is a freelance writer based in Perth

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • GAYAN on January 21, 2014, 11:08 GMT

    what about chandika Haturusinghe has he done any improvement to the team...

  • Imran on January 17, 2014, 3:18 GMT

    Thunder needs to be thinking right while making international signings. Historically Asian batsmen struggle on Aussie tracks.

  • David on January 16, 2014, 23:01 GMT

    Yes, you would think that when you were signing players it might be helpful if they were actually available to play.

  • Android on January 16, 2014, 14:13 GMT

    yes we need batsmen like hussey and khawaja to score runs but I think we really need some fast bowlers who can bowl around 150 km/hr to stop losing matches at the end.

  • Amith on January 16, 2014, 13:42 GMT

    Guys like SOK should be playing for Thunder as he is a product of Richmond. At present only the likes of Khawaja is the western sydney product holding his head high as he has been our best batsman for the last few seasons but we need other western sydney guys like SOK, Cummins and others in the team.

  • Mariam on January 16, 2014, 13:40 GMT

    Need to focus more on signings like Khawaja, guys who are able to play for BBL games and are consistent run getters, the bowling for Thunder doesn't let them down, its the batting and need to get more batting strength as Hussey and Khawaja can't get all the runs

  • Android on January 16, 2014, 12:38 GMT

    The Thunder's only star players are Hussey, Khawaja, Nannes and Dilshan (I don't count Warner and Clarke as they've played one match between them), and Dilshan and Khawaja have been injured for half the matches. The rest of the team are 2nd XI players who can chip in but need some experience around them to bring out their best. 2 or 3 players is not enough, and it's no surprise that their win came when they had all their big names on board.

  • Danny on January 16, 2014, 12:35 GMT

    Thunder's problem has always been the quality of the players away from their couple of big names. Nobody other than Warner, Gayle, Kwawaja, Hussey and Morgan has ever scored more than 37 in an innings in their history. Most of them are fringe State players at best, found out quickly playing against quality opposition.

  • Aruna on January 16, 2014, 9:11 GMT

    @ Ken McCarron: Have you really been watching thrilling matches? If your preferred team is Sixers and you are a real cricket fan, what else you can do? But BBL could have been more competitive league if they have arranged accordingly.

  • Dummy4 on January 16, 2014, 8:27 GMT

    AMAN_Karu - fans don't like watching the other teams? I've been to a few Sixers games over the years and I strongly disagree!

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