Jason Gillespie
Former Australia fast bowler

Australia's selectors should be full-time professionals

It won't be so easy for England in the 2010-11 Ashes, but Australia must look at having full-time selectors

Jason Gillespie

August 25, 2009

Comments: 29 | Text size: A | A

Peter Siddle gave Australia an early breakthrough when he removed Alastair Cook, England v Australia, 5th Test, The Oval, 1st day, August 20, 2009
I believe Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus can be some of the greatest bowlers Australia have produced © Getty Images

It's time for Cricket Australia to bite the bullet and give all the national selectors a full-time job. After the 2-1 Ashes defeat it's necessary to examine the structures on and off the field and switching to this type of panel would make the national set-up even more professional.

The job carries a lot of work, too much for guys who have to juggle their other commitments. It's about 100 days a year of watching cricket, which doesn't sound like a lot to the lay person - and makes it seem like a dream position - but it involves loads of travelling interstate and overseas.

I don't see why Cricket Australia doesn't spend the money on them - they deserve it for the importance of their job. Cricket Australia put up millions of dollars for the players, but then have part-time selectors. It doesn't fit.

The current lot of Andrew Hilditch, David Boon, Jamie Cox and Merv Hughes all have other careers. Hilditch, the chairman, is one of the most organised people in the world - his work ethic is legendary: he's a lawyer, a chairman of selectors, a husband and a father - but he can only do so much. There's talk of one role becoming full-time and having talent identification people in each state, but that looks like cutting costs to me. They must go further to help the game at the top levels in this period of change.

I reckon it would be a fantastic job, one I'd certainly be interested in doing, if it was full-time. You could identify players, see all areas of their games, go to training sessions and follow them on tours. Once you'd done that you could report back with a thorough range of observations at the selection table. It's tough when things go wrong though, like they did in the fifth Test.

I can sympathise with them over their decision to play four fast bowlers at The Oval, but that doesn't cover up for everyone blatantly mis-reading the wicket. Nathan Hauritz, the offspiner, was desperately needed. That was costly, although the session of madness on the second day, when they lost 10 for 87, was where things really fell apart for Australia.

The next Test squad for Australia's series against West Indies in November will be fascinating. Stuart Clark might find it hard to force his way in and the selectors will have the same argument over whether to go with four quicks or three and a spinner. More tough decisions lie ahead, but that's a few months away, after the Ashes post-mortems.

Ricky Ponting always cops it when Australia lose, but he is one of the country's greatest ever captains and his record speaks for itself. He's led in 61 Tests and won 39 of them - two fewer than Steve Waugh - but is scrutinised a whole lot more. There were a few tactical mistakes during this series, but every captain is guilty of those. He also had to deal with a massive turnover of players and former internationals criticising him. Jeff Thomson saying he's a "crap" captain isn't constructive, especially when he doesn't give any reasons why.

My highlight of the series was the continued development of Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus. The only slight criticism of Hilfenhaus is that he can be so accurate and consistent that he can be a bit predictable. If he uses the crease more, coming wider on occasions, he will create some different angles and opportunities. Mitchell Johnson was very hot and cold this series, but I believe Johnson, Siddle and Hilfenhaus can be some of the greatest bowlers Australia have produced. Also, look out for Doug Bollinger, the left-armer from New South Wales, when they play at home.

Hauritz did well considering some of the flak he copped before the series, Marcus North showed the hallmarks of an excellent player as well as strong leadership skills, Michael Clarke was fantastic and Michael Hussey was fabulous in his final innings after his struggles. Shane Watson did well when he came in, but he has a serious technical flaw that results in lbws, while Phillip Hughes has to fine tune his play against the fast bowlers. Despite all the good signs, the Ashes will remain in England. Two bad days, one at Lord's and one at The Oval, cost them.

It won't be so easy for England when they visit in 2010-11. Australia are a different team at home and will start favourites because of their local advantage. There's nothing worse than losing to the Poms, so the Aussies will hit back. Bring it on.

Jason Gillespie is sixth on Australia's list of Test wicket-takers with 259 in 71 matches. He will write for Cricinfo through the 2009 Ashes

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Posted by popcorn on (August 27, 2009, 7:50 GMT)

Why don't the cricket correspondents give Ricky Ponting the CREDIT he deserves -for being the only captain since Warwick Armstrong to wallop England 5 nil in 2006 -07?

Posted by Quillos on (August 27, 2009, 2:02 GMT)

The only people in the world that think the Australian selectors did a good job are the Australian selectors and James Sutherland. That stinks of arrogance and maybe James Sutherland should go too. The question Hilditch and co needs to answer is, Where is our next wicket taking spinner coming from? Surely that don't think Hauritz is that bowler. Nathan is a good tight one day player but he is never going to terrorize an opposition. Both Krejza and Mcgain were dumped after bowling poorly on wickets that did not suit, but they were more likely to have had an impact of the result of Ashes series. Sack the selectors and put an ex Australian Captain in charge of the new panel. A least then we would have some one who could speak form experience about the pressures and requirements involved in winning. I am still annoyed at the selector's treatment of Matt Hayden while Hussey had played worse.

Posted by Chris_Howard on (August 26, 2009, 23:36 GMT)

Too right! Something needs to be done about the selectors. Here's a list or errors they made: 1) No reserver genuine batsman 2) Replaced a genuine batsman with an all-rounder (who batted like an all rounder and never looked like turning his starts into 100s) 3) Kept playing out of form players (Hussey, Johnson) 4) Played Haddin injured (before injury he batted he made 229 runs in 3 innings, whereas carrying the injury, he made just 49 runs in 3 innings) 5) Left S Clark out for too long 6) Failed to play Hauritz at the Oval, despite knowing Tests go for five days.

Posted by Blue_Devil on (August 26, 2009, 15:28 GMT)

Jason's motives for taking potshots at the selectors are a bit questionable, considering he agreed with the all-pace selection in his previous article.

Not including Hauritz was a major blunder. However, leaving out Brett Lee at Headingley and the Oval was another key mistake. Lee was by far the most impressive bowler in the warm up games relative to Johnson, Hilfenhaus and Siddle. While the three young guns took wickets, none of them were able to stamp their authority on the opposition in all but one innings. In contrast, England ran through the Australian lineup on at least three occasions: the two innings at Lords, and the fatal burst delivered by Broad at the Oval.

Australia lacked a champion bowler like Brett Lee who could run through the England batting lineup relying on a lethal combination of pace and reverse swing. Johnson was expected to play that role and clearly came up short. Brett Lee could've given Australia the vital attacking option they desperately needed.

Posted by goodday_ram on (August 26, 2009, 12:57 GMT)

Goodday Jason, Before the match started everyone was happy with Australia going with 4 seamers, they dropped Brett Lee, i think this gave an edge to the England players to play the aussies fast bowlers quite comfortably . England had one task to do which was to play the aussies fast bowlers whom they had faced the previous match.That made there job quite easy even when they lost wickets at regular interval they were able to pass 300 in the first. We never missed Hauritz Till this time, Jason! I am a die hard fan of australian cricket legacy but nowadays i think Aussies are not doing what they thought the Cricket World, That is giving excuses! I want aussies not to give any reasons for losing,rather accepting the defeat and come back with an attitude of the champions, and show the crcket lovers what they can do in there next tour rather than thinking about Next Ashes which is again quite far! Cheers mate

Posted by Hoggy_1989 on (August 26, 2009, 11:14 GMT)

All commentators backflip on their word. I've seen Ian Chappell and many other go back on their word in the space of a Test match. Gillespie is no exception. I've always said that you should always have a spinner in the team. If the selectors think Hauritz is the best spinner in Australia, then play him in all games on all pitches, unless its an absolute green top wicket (which never happens in Test cricket nowadays anyway). If the wicket is really dry, play two. But of course, we didn't bring two spinners with us...which is an absolute joke. What happened to the days of taking a 25 or 30 man squad to England? Ok, we don't play as many first class warm up games in England as we once did...but still only having two opening batsman and one spinner in a team to anyway is absurd!

Posted by PrinzPaulEugen on (August 26, 2009, 10:28 GMT)

I think some have missed the point of this article. Dizzy is talking about the nature of the job of those who make up the selection panel, not their selections. And for one I'm not sure how tenable Jason's comments are.

Apart from himself, who he cheekily puts forward as one of the full time selectors, who would fill the roles? It seems to me we need someone like Steve Waugh, Ian Healy, Justin Langer, or the ubiquitous Warney on the panel. I can't see any of those blokes giving up their new rewarding lives to put their hands up.

Hilditch has no cricketing credibility, and everyone knows it. Trevor Hohns was similar, however due somewhat to dumb luck he didn't oversee the free fall of Australian cricket. Yes, I'm ignoriing Boony and Merv. Perhaps it's time for one of them to take over. Anyway Dizzy, if I was on the Cricket Australia board, I'd vote for you.

Posted by santosh.sampath on (August 26, 2009, 9:52 GMT)

I thought India has the same problem. Selectors should work full time. All the problems surface only when a team starts losing.

Posted by mujeebpa on (August 26, 2009, 9:49 GMT)

Hi dear Jason,

Please keep stop commenting / advising at least for some time. Whats your comment as the pre-match, Aus must pack with full pace option which was the decising factor of the series. So you are not fit to comment.

Posted by ashish29486 on (August 26, 2009, 7:27 GMT)

first of all i would like to say that picking nathan hauritz in the squad was a blunder. you don win test matches with bowlers who are defensive in approach. the one's who attack are the one's who win you matches. the right spinner was jason kregza. he might have been expensive in the two tests he played in ,but the guy has it in him to be the next best spinner for australia. remember he picked 12 odd wickets in his debut that too against india. and australia needs a genuine all rounder to balance their side in all forms of game. hope they pick the right squad for west indies series in nov...

Posted by Benkl on (August 26, 2009, 6:45 GMT)

A Spinner would have made NO difference to the result we lost by 250 runs eg more than our whole first innings. The Batsman failed under pressure because they didnt tough it out we need more players like Kattich and less like Clarke.

The last time Australia won with a full time spinner...3rd of January ...Every other win was 4 quicks.

btw Bollinger bowled in Sydney vs SA and went wicket less on his home ground.

Posted by cricket_wins on (August 26, 2009, 6:30 GMT)

I think there seems to be a serious flaw in experts playing down the Ashes loss. Rather than attributing it to administrative issues, why is there no admission of the fact that Australia played in a mediocre fashion? This is needless to say, one of the most humiliating defeats that Australia have faced in many many years. While 2005 was well contested with England being on Australia's back, the 2009 series was, as Ian Chappell said "a good contest between two seriously flawed teams". Yes, we enjoyed watching it. But to downplay the loss is unpardonable. Australia must seriously introspect, change match strategies, allow different minds to think in the middle and even have some heads roll, if they have some sense of respect for cricket and the Ashes.

Posted by Jeremiser on (August 26, 2009, 6:14 GMT)

really biased and pretty boring.It's like a five-year old writing. the part that got me was: "...his work ethic is legendary: he's a lawyer, a chairman of selectors, a husband and a father"

husband and father - was that so necessary? I think a single mother working two jobs on minimum wage has a higher work ethic.

England deserve congratulations. Im very delighted that they won (as a Saffer) because we go num1 in the world, and the aussies are just too holier than thou - who cares if Eng go on to lose their next series. they beat AUS.:) And when i was growing up, that didnt look very possible. They've given me stories to relay to my grandkids.

Posted by derrida_derider on (August 26, 2009, 4:38 GMT)

This "everyone misread the wicket" line is hogwash. For one, the English seriously contemplated putting two spinners in, and only didn't do so because Monty is too out of form. For another, as soon as I saw the first TV pictures of the pitch - at the toin coss - I could see it was far too dry and would break up very quickly. Certainly the commentators thought so at the toss.

Of course the pitch was prepared to suit the home team, but so what? We do the same, and it's hypocrisy to pretend otherwise.

Anyway, Australia had five seamers - Watson is a genuine all-rounder (though he's no opener - too dodgy around his off stump). Had things turned out to help the quicks they still wouldn't be short of them.

Given the strange omissions from the tour, and the strange selections during the series, I say we need new selectors. And I'd have said it even if we'd won the Cardiff match.

Posted by Woody111 on (August 26, 2009, 3:33 GMT)

Notice England went with Swann in every single test. Many spin advocates state you should always have a specialist spinner - by not picking Hauritz twice that was a strong message on his perceived ability - less so 'horses for course'. As Headingly went our way it's easy to say the decision was justified. Hauritz did more than anyone expected and still couldn't get a gig for the 4th and 5th. I also don't see how fulltime selectors helps Aus' cause. I think it would result in the captain's input becoming more diminished. Giving selectors more say in plans leads to Ponting being told this is who you have and how you'll do it. Re Hilfenhaus - he's doing the job of strangling one end. Johnson's role is to strike at the other end - he coudn't do it enough and we saw the result. At last someone is talking about Bollinger! This guy will be worth watching this summer. 2013 will most likely see Katich, Hussey, Ponting and Clark absent. The most important thing now is planning for that

Posted by GHemrajani on (August 26, 2009, 2:31 GMT)

Jason clearly favored four quicks for the last test. Atleast he should first admit that he was wrong. Seems to be favoring Stuart Clark and Ricky Ponting.

Posted by gzawilliam on (August 26, 2009, 1:46 GMT)

laxman_sachin_devotee have you even read this article in the right manor? Its simple to see he is writing about the australian team and the issues which cost them the series..

And geez there are enough journo's in england to praise the eng team. Dizzy is here for the australia side of the coin..

Its got nothing to do with giving credit where it's due. he can leave that to another article.. This article is about australian cricket and where it should be heading.

Posted by Maximus77 on (August 25, 2009, 23:47 GMT)

In the first article Jason said, Australia is going to win by 3-0 because weather issues in 2 venues that will result in draws. In the article before Oval test, he predicted Australia is going to win. In this article he said 2 bad days cost Australia Ashes as if they dominated rest of the series. He is full of praise for all the Australian players despite loosing consistently except for SA series. He thinks Ponting is one of the best captain and recent bad record is due to recent retirements. He can't think that his good record is because of great players he had earlier and not due to his captaincy. Now Jason is predicting 2010-11 series saying that it's difficult to win in Australia. I think he has short memory. He doesn't seem to remember SA and India series.

Posted by batmannrobin on (August 25, 2009, 22:15 GMT)

A really amusing read !! Was this columnist not the one who said England have no chance of coming back? His captain also had the same view after Leeds and Strauss and Co have hammered him so much that he plans to come back after 4 years !!!! Pity poor Micheal Clarke!! - He was the best Oz batsman on tour and deserves to be captain . As for as Dizzy's article, i think enough has been said. Everyone expect Ponting and Aus selectors knew Hauritz was missed . And well , Dizzy , y not give some credit to Strauss who led by example and virtually carried the top order single handedly and was dignified and modest even after victory - admitting that they were very poor when they were bad and just gud enough when they were good. Compare this to the rash talk of Punter after Leeds -" No chance for England ". This complacency and disrepct for opponets was as important as any other factor in Oz loss. Oz ve lost 3 ofd last 4 series and won just 12 of the 27 matches after Warne - Mcgrath adieu !

Posted by Rev0408 on (August 25, 2009, 16:00 GMT)

Hauritz's omission was a mistake - but it has to be noted that the English left out Panesar for the decider too. What it highlighted was the need for a balanced attack no matter the conditions. Hauritz is the perfect man for this role - if it is turning and/or bouncing, he'll take wickets. If it's dead, he'll tie up an end. Sure, he has been carted before, but compared to Krejza or McGain he is the best all-round option. I'd push for Krejza if McGrath, Clark and Dizzy himself were the pacemen (offering control) but with Johnson and Siddle getting wayward at times, consistency is required. Furthermore (as noted in the article), Hauritz is a tough little fella, and ignored the rubbish thrown his way before the series kicked off.

Posted by DDRS1980 on (August 25, 2009, 15:56 GMT)

Here's my problem with the loyalty argument: Hauritz was the man in possession coming out of the first three Tests, and he and Hilfenhaus emerged from those games as Australia's best bowlers. If you were going to show loyalty, you should have played him at Headingley. By opting for Stuart Clark, you embraced a 'horses for courses' approach that, if followed logically, should have brought Hauritz back in for the Oval. An all-pace attack is an imbalanced attack that could be justified at Headingley, but probably not any other English ground. So it wasn't a case of misreading the Oval pitch. It should simply have been recognised as a non-Headingley pitch. Poor Hauritzer ...

Posted by laxman_sachin_devotee on (August 25, 2009, 15:24 GMT)

I was a fan of Gillespie's bowling but his columns which are completely biased towards Aussies have disappointed me. For instance, in this column, not once has he congratulated the English cricket team for winning the Ashes by dominating almost all the sessions at Oval. May be he should take a leaf or two out of Hoggard's book who has the ability to laugh at himself & at his country's cricket team and also give credit to his opponents where it's due.

Posted by AliT72 on (August 25, 2009, 14:39 GMT)

Actually Dizzy never said that they should go in with four quicks. If you read the article, all he did was list the possible combinations - including having Hauritz on board. The headline however - which I'm sure he had nothing about - tried to make out that he was saying something sensational. All people remember is the tag from the headline.

Posted by squidhead on (August 25, 2009, 14:12 GMT)

Um, Diz, given your column last week "Australia must play four seamers" you'll understand if I don't back your wish to become a full-time selector just yet. Granted you won't have had any prior knowledge of the pitch conditions, but if everyone misread it - England included - that's not the issue. Nor is it whether the selectors are part- or full-time. I'm guessing (like Ponting?) you're a fan of the don't-change-a-winning-team ethic whereas what we've needed, it seems, is a pretty ruthless horses-for-courses approach. Loyalty is admirable, but we just don't have the great players any more who can perform under any conditions. We need people who can make tough, sometimes cruel decisions, who call a spade a spade without resorting to PC claptrap (I'm looking at you, Mr. Sutherland). We're glad you're not Thommo, of course, but with all due respect the job ain't for you. I note with interest though that Warney has tentatively put his hand up for it...

Posted by Chazzaca on (August 25, 2009, 14:07 GMT)

I was just about to the say the same thing but mankib & SH_cricketbuff beat me to it!! Also Gillespie said that England "had no way" of coming back in the 5th test - he obviously hasn't been paying too much attention this series as we flogged the Poms in Cardiff yet they came back to easily beat us at Lords!! Now it's bring on 2010-11 where we are a different side home at home - South Africa showed that we can be beaten at home also!!

Truth is we're not the superpower we once were.

Posted by SH_cricketbuff on (August 25, 2009, 13:46 GMT)

Didn't Gillespie say he'll go with 4 fast bowlers in this test in his previous article before the test and now he's saying Hauritz was desperately needed?? make up your mind man!!

Posted by Benkl on (August 25, 2009, 13:32 GMT)

Here Here ...

You think Lee will be back ?

Posted by manikb on (August 25, 2009, 13:01 GMT)

In his previous article before the Oval test match, Jason mentioned that Australia should go with four seamers. In this article he mentions "I can sympathise with them over their decision to play four fast bowlers at The Oval, but that doesn't cover up for everyone blatantly mis-reading the wicket. Nathan Hauritz, the offspiner, was desperately needed."

atleast Jason should remain consistent.

Posted by SidArthur on (August 25, 2009, 12:23 GMT)

Full time selectors sounds like too much information--there is such a thing. Seems like everyone would have gone with Hauritz at the Oval, except the selectors. That equals over-thinking or too much information. If they make part-time bad decisions, then they'll make them full-time as well, no better, even worse. Besides, Aussies lost because they choked, not because of lack of talent, experience, or selectors' decisions, and choking is something you can't plan for. Greg Norman lost a couple of majors because he choked. Tiger Woods wins plenty because he doesn't. Full-time selectors sounds like an excuse for a junket, and Merv's waste-line is big enough already.

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