August 25, 2009

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

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Rajaram 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?

  • Greg 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.

  • Chris 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.

  • Umar 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.

  • 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

  • A 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!

  • Paul 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.

  • santosh 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.

  • Mujeeb 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.

  • ashish 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...

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