Commonwealth Bank Series February 24, 2012

Not always a bad thing to be a NSW reject

According to Malcolm Conn , Peter Forest is a New South Wales reject.

According to Malcolm Conn, Peter Forest is a New South Wales reject.

And he is. Forrest couldn’t cut it at NSW. He had a great start, played for Australia A and was talked about as a potential future player for Australia before he slipped off the radar. Eventually he struggled to even hold a place with NSW.

At some states, a player with his obvious talent might have been given more time, but you don’t get long at NSW. You’re either the next big thing, comfortable being a well loved but underused back up, or you’re out.

In his book, Eddie Cowan refers to the superstar culture there. No other state looks for the next big thing more than NSW, and it means that quality cricketers in average form can be overlooked for a 17-year-old potential once-in-a-generation player. To put it as bluntly as Malcolm Conn might, and slightly misquote the band TISM, “If you’re not famous at 20, you’re finished”.

In recent years Australia has called up John Hastings, Dan Christian, Eddie Cowan, Jason Krejza and even Nathan Lyon. All are NSW rejects. All went through the system there in one way or another. Christian, Cowan and Krejza even played for NSW, before moving to another state. But all were only picked for Australia when they were performing for their new states.

Perhaps they felt more appreciated. Perhaps the coaching systems helped them. Or that their positions weren’t in constant jeopardy meant they could relax and played better cricket. But leaving home was a good thing for these players, who all found happy times in their new surroundings.

Hastings looks like he should be bare-knuckle fighting for his salary. Every time you see him on a cricket ground you can hear Tony Greig whisper “broad-shouldered young man”. His bowling is steady, clever and efficient. His batting is handy. He has worked hard to become a semi-regular for his country in limited-overs cricket. He’s probably never going to be an all time great, but that’s okay, few players are. If he recovers from his injuries, well he can become a reasonable player for Australia for a few years. If, like Tim Bresnan, he continues to develop his skills, he could become a very important player for Australia and perhaps even a Test-bowling allrounder.

Hastings left NSW for Victoria. At that time Moises Henriques was going to be cricket's version of the best thing since sliced bread, a genuine allrounder. Henriques could bowl as fast as Hastings, was a realistic middle-order batsman, was younger and was potentially the allrounder that Australia had been looking for since Keith Miller left cricket.

In the five years since Hastings made his debut for Victoria, he has outperformed Henriques consistently. So instead of Henriques fulfilling his potential, he's played three matches for Australia while Hastings has played 14. On pure talent you’d always go for Henriques, but on performances, Hastings is a no brainer.

That's just one obvious case of someone having to leave NSW. The search for a young superstar once led NSW to have Beau Casson and Steve Smith in their line-up ahead of Nathan Hauritz, only for Hauritz to be picked for Australia.

Having NSW rejects looking for a new home makes Shield Cricket stronger as well. Players like Brendon Drew and Aaron O'Brien may never play for their country, but by playing in Shield Cricket they improve its standard. Even below Shield cricket there are many NSW imports around the country strengthening club cricket standards.

Kurtis Patterson is 18 and made 157 on debut in first-class cricket. If that isn't enough to get some fringe-squad batsman to move states, countries, or even galaxies just to get another opportunity, I'm not sure what is.

Forrest has scored his first hundred for Australia. One, there is almost no chance he would have scored if he'd stayed in NSW. He's currently averaging over 50 in his four games. He's not an obvious ODI player, but his talent and current form will mean that before long he may be seen in Tests.

There's no doubt that NSW look towards the future more than any other state side, and Australia have benefitted from that many times. However, it's also good that the other states are willing to give these guys a second chance.

Forrest may never be a superstar Australian player, but he could be a very good one, especially for a reject.

Jarrod Kimber is 50% of the Two Chucks, and the mind responsible for

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • testli5504537 on April 1, 2012, 16:40 GMT

    @SteveL watson started at tasmania and was picked for australia before moving back home to qld. he only moved to nsw last season and hes been a gun for longer than that chieftan

  • testli5504537 on March 1, 2012, 1:54 GMT

    On the other hand, Shane Watson was a dud for Qld until he moved down to NSW, especially as an opener...something there certainly lifted him to be the player he is today.

    NSW has had an excellent string of Captains who were certainly capable of coaching and mentoring younger, talented players to the highest levels. Most of those State Captains were playing for Australia though, and I think the international playing schedule has grown so much that the excellent NSW Captains are no longer available for that state mentoring role. Compare that to other State captains and their international obligations, and you might find this is more about the quality of captaincy than anything else.

  • testli5504537 on February 27, 2012, 22:57 GMT

    Forrest averages under 40 in first class cricket, and a mediocre one day domestic record, with only 2 one day domestic 50s and a low average and strike rate. He didn't make it for NSW because the NSW team is full of superstars, many of whom are more qualified to play for Australia than Forrest: Khawaja, Hughes, Jaques, Katich - they are all better than Forrest, and Maddinson, Patterson, and co are at least as good with more potential. Forrest is an inappropriate choice for the Australian team at the moment. That is not to say with runs on the board he will be a better candidate, but he does not have a track record of consistency and should not be picked.

  • testli5504537 on February 27, 2012, 0:29 GMT

    It is probably because of this almost relentless search by NSW, that they ultimately get more players picked for International duties than other states.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2012, 22:11 GMT

    Jarrod, apart from the recent 4-0 thrashing Australia laid on India, I still believe their cricket team has been searching for players rather than players coming to them. I don't think any other full-member team has changed as many players as Aus have in the last 4-5 years. You have guys playing for 20 matches, scoring 2-3 centuries and disappearing (e.g- Marcus North). You have under performing openers that are repeatedly failing yet playing (e.g- Warner, Hughes, etc). I reckon once this teams travels abroad, they are in for a pounding. The average age of this team is around 29-30 which makes so sense if you are building a team "for the future". Out of the playing 11, 9 players are extremely mediocre and won't be around in the next 3 years because of form, age or both. Then what is this whole business of "future building"?

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2012, 22:10 GMT

    'he's not an obvious odi player, but his talent and current form will mean that before long he may be seen in tests.' Excellent hedge there Jrod.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2012, 21:58 GMT

    A similar thing happens in NZ with ex-Aucklanders. In the current batch Rob Nichol, Reece Young, Taran Nethula, Chris Martin, Andy McKay, Tim McIntosh, Dereck de Boorder and James Neesham all had to move away from Auckland in order to get regular game time. Ronnie Hira is also not on contract to Auckland (in one of the stupidest admin moves ever) but decided to stay on and make a living from match payments.

    Martin and McIntosh have since moved back, but Auckland is still in likely to lose a number of good players next year in search of the next big thing.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2012, 15:33 GMT

    good article

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2012, 13:40 GMT

    Good article, stole my thunder a bit cos I was gonna write a blog on the same subject. I would however have liked you to touch on the underdevelopment of these so called superstars at NSW currently. Cowan was pushed out for Hughes and Steve Smith played TEST CRICKET FOR AUSTRALIA??? These people pushing the far more talented players out of the NSW team and then floundering. Smith (and I suspect Hughes) has been described by one coach in the Australian set up as "uncoachable". How a 20 year old thinks they know everything in the game and refuses to listen to their coach at International level is near unbelievable. Then again these players have probably had NSW officials blowing that much smoke up their arses since they first walked through the door that they probably believe it.

  • testli5504537 on February 25, 2012, 13:26 GMT

    Actually, there lies a great message for selectors of all countries, if they are willing to learn. It is no fluke that the list of NSW rejects were so long..John Hastings, Dan Christian, Eddie Cowan, Jason Krejza, Nathan Lyon. NSW proabably makes some mistakes and that is a matter of study.

    But as this article points out, probably thats the way of life for professionals.

    If changins passports is easier, we will certainly find find more national rejects who goes on to make bigger things than some of their preferred nation-mates, like Pieterson for example!

    If you are an English / Pakistani fast bowler, you would be surely wanted desperately in India and could become hero of billion people, if you are willing to take an Indian passport, but probably you will never make it to your nations side.

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