Australia news April 21, 2013

Australia ask Hick to teach batting patience

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Graeme Hick, one of the greatest batting enigmas in England's history, has been called up to sort out the mindsets of young Australia batsmen increasingly wedded to Twenty20 cricket.

Hick will not have time to influence the Ashes series - Australia, despite being in a state of turmoil, plan to announce their squad on Wednesday, even though the opening Test at Trent Bridge will still be 12 weeks away.

But Australia's decision to call up Hick to teach their batsmen how to play long innings reflects their uncertainty about how to deal with the influence of a T20 format that promises quick rewards and instant fame.

Nobody loved batting more than Hick. He only scored six Test hundreds for England in 65 Tests - none against Australia in 10 attempts and was pilloried by the English media during an international career that was viewed as largely unfulfilled.

But he made 136 hundreds in 25 years at first-class level when his batting often seemed inexorable. It was those qualities which has persuaded Troy Cooley, the head coach at Australia's centre of excellence and Stuart Law, the high performance coach, to summon him to Brisbane from his home nearby on the Gold Coast.

"In the first-class system here there was only one person who had scored two hundreds in Sheffield Shield cricket by mid-January, not including the guys that played in the Test matches," Hick told the Sunday Express. "That's unheard of, and when I spoke to Stuey Law and Troy Cooley (that was something they identified. Having put together some biggish scores in my time, they thought I could pass on some of my methods."

Hick will work with some of the younger players in Australia's set-up from mid-May onwards. "It's a unique system in that players can go from Grade cricket to Test cricket very quickly," he said. "The way the Australia team is at the moment I would think that a lot of these younger guys will feel they have a real chance of making it into the side in the next 18 months or so."

Hick's 405 for Worcestershire against Somerset in 1988 remains one of the most remarkable batting feats in England's first-class history - only exceeded twice in the country - but he has not been used in any capacity since his retirement. Australia are out to prove that his knowledge is worth tapping.

David Hopps is the UK editor of ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on April 22, 2013, 23:24 GMT

    @ blink182alex on (April 22, 2013, 13:30 GMT) - couldn't agree with your 2nd sentence any more. I'd select the Champ Trophy & the A-tour before the Ashes.

  • Camberwellcarrot1979 on April 22, 2013, 22:54 GMT

    @ Jonesy 'The best young talent in that department?'. Please elaborate. I must have missed all of that talent! Please do not involve Phil Hughes in your answer...

  • blink182alex on April 22, 2013, 13:30 GMT

    Why are we announcing our squad so soon. we've still got 12 weeks to the first test. Surely announce the Champions Trophy squad before the Ashes squad!

  • bouncedout on April 22, 2013, 11:09 GMT

    Aus clearly need someone to help them. What with the only decent batsman in their squad injured struggling to get fit for the ashes.

    Aus must look on with envy at the depth of batting and coaching talent in England.

    Some on here continue to put forward the view that Aus are still the best team in the world. if this is the approach that they take then the road to climb the rankings will be a very long one. Aus supporters need to accept that they are the 5th or 6th best team. Once done they can start to try and move forward.

  • SebV on April 22, 2013, 9:40 GMT

    Zimbabwe should've approached Hick first, they can benefit immensely. It's amazing how well they played last week despite having relatively much lesser coaching staff/equipment. Imagine what a bit of help can do. It's a shame the board can't even retain Streak as a bowling coach. Hope things get better for Zimbabawe and not just around cricket.

  • jonesy2 on April 22, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    would prefer an actual decent batsman. rahul dravid and/or mike hussey should go along as consultants in patience. i dont think they need it i dont know what this article is even trying to say could just be made up for all we know. i found it funny that apparently australia are in "a state of turmoil", first ive heard of it last time i checked australia had the best batsman on the planet as well as the best young talent in that department. same cannot be said about england. check your own backyard before worrying about ours mate

  • gemmy123 on April 22, 2013, 7:58 GMT

    Well he can't make them any worse, can he? Say what you want about his international record (which included some pretty good innings' against Aus) but 136 hundreds proves he knows how to pace an innings and manouvere a field. He'll have plenty to offer, although I am surprised the Australians don't have someone native who they'd prefer to turn to.

  • palla.avinash on April 22, 2013, 5:54 GMT

    I would have asked cricket Australia to make Rahul dravid as coach for ashes he knows what it is about patience and he knows well the conditions in England in the modern he is the most patient and technique wise solid in defense which Australian players lack so i would ask cricket Australia to consider the decision.

  • R_U_4_REAL_NICK on April 22, 2013, 5:17 GMT

    Yeah great, but you can't teach pigs to run a dog/horse race. Instead of trying to re-invent the wheel, why not just stick with and concentrate on those new fresh faces that WANT to specialise in proper test cricket. Too many '6 or out' players in a team will not win many games, especially tests. Look at the Delhi Daredevils performance in this years IPL if you don't believe me! Look at one Virender Sehwag if you don't believe me: ten sub-40 scores, and then suddenly a 95 not out. Entertaining = yes; Too many players of this style in a test team = no way. Except for Siddle, the bowling mindset in Aus. is baffling too.

  • PrasPunter on April 22, 2013, 3:59 GMT

    Steve Waugh-like mental toughness can't be taught - it's an in-born quality - that fighting spirit, bloody-minded grit and all those things . As Warne put out, we need folks of attitude and big heart - and I would say only Siddle possesses those in abundance. More than technique and things like that, what we need is a group that stays on ground, feels proud about the baggy-green and give your everything to it. Can we name anyone with these qualities in the Test team ? Couldn't go beyond Sidds, though to some extent, I would add Smith to this category. Any other nominees ?