Australia news April 21, 2013

Australia ask Hick to teach batting patience

24

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, 0:08 GMT

    I always liked Hick, but I did take delight at his torment when he played against Oz. Oz really do have to look at ways of combatting the 20/20 effect. I think that whilst we don't play too much of it at State level, there appears to be too much of it at age-level in Oz. I don't know that Hick will specifically improve things, there needs to be a structural change in the formats young batsmen play in. I think the Futures League could be tweaked to give more effect. IF, they changed the rules to give bonus batting points & allowed teams to bat as LONG as they like, (yes it would mean more draws), but at that level who cares? I thinkthe flow on effect would be, that young batsmen coming thru, have had the opportunity to score big, with WITHOUT time constraints. Also - they should CONSIDER making the Futures League a 4-day comp. IMO - this would give batsmen the practical learning required - THEN someone like Hick could help bed the theory with the practical!

  • KS72 on April 21, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    One of my favorite batsman! Watched him a fabulous century against India on a bunsen burner against kumbhle and co. To be fair to Hicky, he jus came into international cricket at the wrong time. WI - ambrose, walsh, marshal(later stages of his career), Pak - W's, Mushy and saqlain, AUs - Warne, Mcgrath and co, SA - Donald and pollock , Indian spinners on rank turners.......to top it al the merry go round circus of the English selection policy. If they had a central contract system like now and given players the confidence Hick would have cracked it. Good luck to him!

  • njr1330 on April 21, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    Hick was well aware of his frailties and wasn't bothered by them. On his retirement, a reporter asked him: 'With all your talent, shouldn't you have scored 30 Test-match Hundreds'? Hick's very telling reply was: 'Yes, but if I had, I'd have been someone else'

    I think this could turn out to be a bizarre masterstroke. By the way, it was 405 NOT OUT... His captain thought the world record (at the time) was 404, when in fact, it was 419!

  • 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.

  • Jaffa79 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.

  • Go_F.Alonso 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.

  • Meety on April 22, 2013, 0:08 GMT

    I always liked Hick, but I did take delight at his torment when he played against Oz. Oz really do have to look at ways of combatting the 20/20 effect. I think that whilst we don't play too much of it at State level, there appears to be too much of it at age-level in Oz. I don't know that Hick will specifically improve things, there needs to be a structural change in the formats young batsmen play in. I think the Futures League could be tweaked to give more effect. IF, they changed the rules to give bonus batting points & allowed teams to bat as LONG as they like, (yes it would mean more draws), but at that level who cares? I thinkthe flow on effect would be, that young batsmen coming thru, have had the opportunity to score big, with WITHOUT time constraints. Also - they should CONSIDER making the Futures League a 4-day comp. IMO - this would give batsmen the practical learning required - THEN someone like Hick could help bed the theory with the practical!

  • KS72 on April 21, 2013, 21:53 GMT

    One of my favorite batsman! Watched him a fabulous century against India on a bunsen burner against kumbhle and co. To be fair to Hicky, he jus came into international cricket at the wrong time. WI - ambrose, walsh, marshal(later stages of his career), Pak - W's, Mushy and saqlain, AUs - Warne, Mcgrath and co, SA - Donald and pollock , Indian spinners on rank turners.......to top it al the merry go round circus of the English selection policy. If they had a central contract system like now and given players the confidence Hick would have cracked it. Good luck to him!

  • njr1330 on April 21, 2013, 20:10 GMT

    Hick was well aware of his frailties and wasn't bothered by them. On his retirement, a reporter asked him: 'With all your talent, shouldn't you have scored 30 Test-match Hundreds'? Hick's very telling reply was: 'Yes, but if I had, I'd have been someone else'

    I think this could turn out to be a bizarre masterstroke. By the way, it was 405 NOT OUT... His captain thought the world record (at the time) was 404, when in fact, it was 419!

  • 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.

  • Jaffa79 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.

  • Go_F.Alonso 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 ?

  • Vijendran on April 22, 2013, 1:16 GMT

    Surely there are great Australian batsmen, eg Steve Waugh, Mark Taylor, Greg Chappell etc that would be willing to help the aussie batsmen out ahead of the ashes. Or maybe they're contining down the whole foreign coaches line- but surely the players would take in more and work better with a Steve Waugh rather than a Greaeme Hick, who can't say much about scoring ashes hundreds anyway really...

  • Jaffa79 on April 22, 2013, 1:05 GMT

    I don't buy into all of this chat about Ramps and Hick being victims. Hick played 65 Tests and averaged less than 32 and Ramps played 52 Tests ad averaged 27! That is just poor plain and simple. Both were unquestioned talents but what more can you do? It isn't as if they weren't given ample opportunity to rectify thier abysmal records. You can't hold their hands! There comes a point when you just have to front up. This is why it is called Test cricket! I think of the batters around the circuit that were incredibly unlucky not to have been given a run such as Trevor Ward, Rob Bailey and Alan Wells amongst others whilst Ramps, Hick and Crawley continually underachieved. I know Hick and Ramps had way more potential but the line should have been drawn under their names way before they were.

  • cloudmess on April 22, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    Hick was also unfortunate to have most of his career coincide with an extraordinary period for quality bowlers - he was forever facing Ambrose, Walsh, Wasim, Waqar, Mushtaq, Kumble, Warne, McGrath, Donald, Pollock, Muralitharan. England batsmen rarely got an easy series in those days(they obviously couldn't ever face their own bowlers!). There was also a 3-year period, roughly from the start of 1993 to early 1996, when Hick mostly looked the part at test level, and averaged 40+ against some strong attacks. I disagree that a more sympathetic regime would have got more out of him. The Flower/Cook regime does not exactly molly-coddle players, and mental toughness is still just as important at test level now (just look at poor Ravi Bopara). In any case, Hick also had his best period when England were in the hands of man-manager from hell, Ray Illingworth. He can certainly help the young Australian batsmen in planning an innings - more an issue of technique than temperament.

  • bobletham on April 21, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    Between 1993 and 1996 Hick averaged over 50 in Tests, a point often forgotten.

  • AlexPG on April 21, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    Clive Dunn - But there were a good few occasions when he did:

    Mumbai 93: came in at 58-4, which became 118-6, scored 178 which got England to a nearly respectable 347

    Kingston 94: With England wobbling at 60-4 against the might of the Windies pace attack Hick strokes 96, three times more what any of his team mates can muste.

    Brisbane 94: Set 508 to win, both openers fall early. Hick defies a rampant Warne (who finishes with a career best 8-71) for almost five hours on a wearing pitch to top score.

    Centurion Park 95: Coming in at 64-3, Hick scores 141 against Donald and the debutant Pollock before rain interferes to ruin the test.

    Perth 98: Hick comes in at 67-5, with England still 71 from making the Aussies bat again. A run a ball 68 gives England a brief flickering of hope.

    Headingley 200 (Windies) - Coming in at 122-6, puts on a century stand with a young Vaughan to set England up for a innings victory.

    Strange how only one of these came at home...

  • gramedgar on April 21, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    @clivedunn I don't disagree, and am a huge fan of them both, I just think Hick deserves more respect, his career was incredible.

  • Clive_Dunn on April 21, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Well the difference is that both Nasser and Ath, when the chips were down, stood up and produced match winning/saving innings. I can't imagine many England fans thinking "crisis time, thank god its Hicky walking out to steady the ship".

  • whoster on April 21, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    To be fair to Hick, he had one hell of a baptism of fire. First against a still-fearsome Windies attack in '91, followed by Wasim and Waqar's pace and swing in '92. When you add the fact that he was already under incredible pressure after being heralded as an already-great batsman after his astonishing achievements in county cricket, plus the England selectors constantly chopping and changing during the 90's (like the Aussie selectors today), it's no surprise that he (and Ramprakash) struggled. Neither of them were told "we believe in you, so don't worry about failing." These days, the likes of Cook and Bell have flourished because the selectors invested in them with loyalty whenever they went through a lean patch. Of course it's all conjecture, but I wonder how Hick and Ramprakash would've fared had they been born a generation later. As for Hick's new role, I wish him the best of luck, because he'll need it with the state the Aussie batting is in.

  • John-Price on April 21, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    What good news, but very surprising.

    I first saw Hick play as a teenager in the Birmingham League for Kidderminster, before he qualified for Worcestershire. It was clear then that he was an extraordinary talent and it was a joy to watch his seemingly unstoppable progress to becoming an all-time great. Then he hit Test cricket and, in truth, he was never the same again. His talent was enough in the County Championship and had obviated to need to tighten his technique and this was exposed when he moved up. In addition his personality was ill-suited to the rough and tumble of international sport - he was just too nice; and anyone who knows Worcestershire cricket will appreciate just what a fine man he is.

    It is ironic that Australia, who exposed his frailties as much any team, now turn to him for advice on the mental side of batting. Funny game cricket, but I hope he does them proud.

  • gramedgar on April 21, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    Good on Graham Hick, who was a victim of circumstance (built up to be knocked down by a rampant press and introduced to test cricket in the wrong team at the wrong time with the wrong management philosophy). Not a bad test record, and not far off Nass and Atherton's test average really, and we don't label them as unfulfilled.

    Mind you, Hick did have huge talent. I love arguing with myself.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on April 21, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    This beggars belief. HICK? We can all safely say that Australia's woes continue. Hick won't be any use in helping them to start a transition phase, which Australia must begin soon.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on April 21, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    This beggars belief. HICK? We can all safely say that Australia's woes continue. Hick won't be any use in helping them to start a transition phase, which Australia must begin soon.

  • gramedgar on April 21, 2013, 15:55 GMT

    Good on Graham Hick, who was a victim of circumstance (built up to be knocked down by a rampant press and introduced to test cricket in the wrong team at the wrong time with the wrong management philosophy). Not a bad test record, and not far off Nass and Atherton's test average really, and we don't label them as unfulfilled.

    Mind you, Hick did have huge talent. I love arguing with myself.

  • John-Price on April 21, 2013, 17:01 GMT

    What good news, but very surprising.

    I first saw Hick play as a teenager in the Birmingham League for Kidderminster, before he qualified for Worcestershire. It was clear then that he was an extraordinary talent and it was a joy to watch his seemingly unstoppable progress to becoming an all-time great. Then he hit Test cricket and, in truth, he was never the same again. His talent was enough in the County Championship and had obviated to need to tighten his technique and this was exposed when he moved up. In addition his personality was ill-suited to the rough and tumble of international sport - he was just too nice; and anyone who knows Worcestershire cricket will appreciate just what a fine man he is.

    It is ironic that Australia, who exposed his frailties as much any team, now turn to him for advice on the mental side of batting. Funny game cricket, but I hope he does them proud.

  • whoster on April 21, 2013, 18:48 GMT

    To be fair to Hick, he had one hell of a baptism of fire. First against a still-fearsome Windies attack in '91, followed by Wasim and Waqar's pace and swing in '92. When you add the fact that he was already under incredible pressure after being heralded as an already-great batsman after his astonishing achievements in county cricket, plus the England selectors constantly chopping and changing during the 90's (like the Aussie selectors today), it's no surprise that he (and Ramprakash) struggled. Neither of them were told "we believe in you, so don't worry about failing." These days, the likes of Cook and Bell have flourished because the selectors invested in them with loyalty whenever they went through a lean patch. Of course it's all conjecture, but I wonder how Hick and Ramprakash would've fared had they been born a generation later. As for Hick's new role, I wish him the best of luck, because he'll need it with the state the Aussie batting is in.

  • Clive_Dunn on April 21, 2013, 18:51 GMT

    Well the difference is that both Nasser and Ath, when the chips were down, stood up and produced match winning/saving innings. I can't imagine many England fans thinking "crisis time, thank god its Hicky walking out to steady the ship".

  • gramedgar on April 21, 2013, 20:08 GMT

    @clivedunn I don't disagree, and am a huge fan of them both, I just think Hick deserves more respect, his career was incredible.

  • AlexPG on April 21, 2013, 20:38 GMT

    Clive Dunn - But there were a good few occasions when he did:

    Mumbai 93: came in at 58-4, which became 118-6, scored 178 which got England to a nearly respectable 347

    Kingston 94: With England wobbling at 60-4 against the might of the Windies pace attack Hick strokes 96, three times more what any of his team mates can muste.

    Brisbane 94: Set 508 to win, both openers fall early. Hick defies a rampant Warne (who finishes with a career best 8-71) for almost five hours on a wearing pitch to top score.

    Centurion Park 95: Coming in at 64-3, Hick scores 141 against Donald and the debutant Pollock before rain interferes to ruin the test.

    Perth 98: Hick comes in at 67-5, with England still 71 from making the Aussies bat again. A run a ball 68 gives England a brief flickering of hope.

    Headingley 200 (Windies) - Coming in at 122-6, puts on a century stand with a young Vaughan to set England up for a innings victory.

    Strange how only one of these came at home...

  • bobletham on April 21, 2013, 22:52 GMT

    Between 1993 and 1996 Hick averaged over 50 in Tests, a point often forgotten.

  • cloudmess on April 22, 2013, 0:35 GMT

    Hick was also unfortunate to have most of his career coincide with an extraordinary period for quality bowlers - he was forever facing Ambrose, Walsh, Wasim, Waqar, Mushtaq, Kumble, Warne, McGrath, Donald, Pollock, Muralitharan. England batsmen rarely got an easy series in those days(they obviously couldn't ever face their own bowlers!). There was also a 3-year period, roughly from the start of 1993 to early 1996, when Hick mostly looked the part at test level, and averaged 40+ against some strong attacks. I disagree that a more sympathetic regime would have got more out of him. The Flower/Cook regime does not exactly molly-coddle players, and mental toughness is still just as important at test level now (just look at poor Ravi Bopara). In any case, Hick also had his best period when England were in the hands of man-manager from hell, Ray Illingworth. He can certainly help the young Australian batsmen in planning an innings - more an issue of technique than temperament.

  • Jaffa79 on April 22, 2013, 1:05 GMT

    I don't buy into all of this chat about Ramps and Hick being victims. Hick played 65 Tests and averaged less than 32 and Ramps played 52 Tests ad averaged 27! That is just poor plain and simple. Both were unquestioned talents but what more can you do? It isn't as if they weren't given ample opportunity to rectify thier abysmal records. You can't hold their hands! There comes a point when you just have to front up. This is why it is called Test cricket! I think of the batters around the circuit that were incredibly unlucky not to have been given a run such as Trevor Ward, Rob Bailey and Alan Wells amongst others whilst Ramps, Hick and Crawley continually underachieved. I know Hick and Ramps had way more potential but the line should have been drawn under their names way before they were.