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Cricket historian and writer in Melbourne

Cricket Australia, look at yourself

Australians used to pride themselves on having the best cricket governance. Not anymore, now that the board seems bent on casting itself as a marketing organisation that dabbles in the game on the side

Gideon Haigh

January 18, 2011

Comments: 111 | Text size: A | A

James Sutherland speaks to members of the media as it is announced that up to 1,300 cricket fans who bought Ashes tickets on Internet auction sites could find themselves stung when they turn up to Test matches, Melbourne, August 31, 2006
Why is James Sutherland questioning Michael Clarke's and Phil Hughes' decision to attend a charity breakfast on a match day when Cricket Australia has spent the summer promoting mediocrity? © Getty Images
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Cricket boards are like wicketkeepers, most effective when least conspicuous. By this measure Cricket Australia is having a summer every bit as bad as its cricket team. It's one thing to fail during the Ashes, another to fail so abjectly that the whole surrounding structure is called into question. But such has been the riot of arse-covering and buck-passing since the end of the Sydney Test that it almost seems the cricketers themselves will get off the hook.

It started with a disastrous press conference in the immediate aftermath of the fifth Test in which chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch announced himself satisfied that he and his three colleagues had "done a very good job as a selection panel". Worse, his response when criticised for unwarranted self-satisfaction took him to new heights of unintelligibility: "To the extent that someone thinks that we're not disappointed with the result, I'm disappointed those comments were taken that way. The reality is nobody could be more disappointed than the national selection panel. We picked what we thought was a squad capable of winning the Ashes and it wasn't capable of winning the Ashes, so that is disappointing." Hilditch is a lawyer. You have to wonder what his advices read like.

That same day Australian coach Tim Nielsen gave a press conference little less odd. Asked whether any members of his team had improved over the last year, he responded: "It depends on how you measure improvement." Well, Tim, it's not rocket surgery: wickets and runs might be a start. "If we sit back and look at the series results," he added, "it would be easy to say none of us have." But it's far from obvious that the view would vary according to the posture from which it was made. Were Nielsen a coach in any other sport, he would only have avoided the sack by resigning. In fact, thanks to a fortuitous extension of his contract last August, he will be around for the next Ashes.

Chief executive James Sutherland has promised a thoroughgoing review of the season. So far, however, the only parties he has criticised have been Phil Hughes and Michael Clarke for the heinous crime of briefly attending a charity breakfast of the Shane Warne Foundation on Boxing Day. "That was a supreme error of judgement on their part," Sutherland said last week. "The players decided that of their own will. I would be surprised if we see that happening again."

Players attending a breakfast is a "supreme error of judgement"? Come again? It's not like they launched a line of lingerie or read the weather on Sunrise wearing a tutu. Was Sutherland seriously contending that the performances of either Clarke or Hughes were compromised by attending a function raising money for charity? If so, if their games are so sensitive that they can be derailed by having their vegemite in the wrong place, then arguably neither player should be in the side. Sutherland is normally supremely circumspect in his public utterances: three weeks ago, for example, he shrank from criticising Ricky Ponting's obnoxious harangue of Aleem Dar. One would have thought that Clarke's and Hughes' hardly compared as a breach of protocol.

If we're going to start talking judgements, in fact, it's best not to look too closely at Cricket Australia's. Test match watchers this summer would have been forgiven for drawing the impression that CA is now a marketing organisation that dabbles in cricket on the side. The barrage of idiotic distractions, the desperate attempts to look hip and youthful, the overexposure of the fading Doug Bollinger, the involvement of players in customer-friendly rigmarole - hitting balls into the crowd, shaking babies, kissing hands etc - all of them have added up to a sense of a cart so far ahead of the horse that no one has noticed the horse turning into a three-legged, one-eyed camel. Players can just get away with being advertising billboards when they are winning. When they are losing, so are the products. To paraphrase Bjorge Lillelien: "Commonwealth Bank! Vodafone! Betfair! Colonel Sanders! Can you hear me Colonel Sanders? Your boys took one hell of a beating!"

It's CA's marketing services department and its general manager Mike McKenna who have been responsible for the summer's bamboozling cycle of stunts, from projecting Ricky Ponting's face onto Big Ben to the 17-man squad shemozzle at Sydney Harbour Bridge. It's McKenna, too, who whenever he spruiks the Twenty20 Big Bash League suggests that he has spent most of his five years in cricket caressing his BlackBerry rather than absorbing anything about the game. McKenna recently suggested that the objective of the Big Bash League was to "enable us to make a hero out of Shaun Tait or David Warner, two great cricketers currently not playing for Australia [in Test cricket]." If a "supreme error of judgement" has been perpetrated in Australian circles lately, it's been the promotion of such permanently stunted mediocrities as Shaun Tait and David Warner as "great cricketers".

 
 
Why is it that when Australian cricket administrators talk these days, they sound like that they have no confidence in their game's enduring fascination or charm, and as though they really wish they were selling something else?
 

In fact, CA has chosen an unfortunate time to become infatuated with Twenty20, the game's bitch goddess. It will be striving to regenerate its team in the most complex, challenging and longest form of the game, an effort requiring a sense of common purpose and shared mission, even as it carves domestic cricket into a city-based competition involving cricket's shortest and crudest variant. Not the time to be dividing one's energies, one might have thought; not the time to be pandering to parochialism, populism and short-term greed either.

McKenna justifies this by appeal to other sports: "Every other sport makes its money from their league format, whether they are rugby or football, from a club-versus-club competition. That's where the passion is." Hmm. So cricket has had it wrong all these years. That passion we felt for our country, our state, or even just for the game… well, it felt like passion, but it must have been something else - indigestion, perhaps. Where cricket's administrative circles were once a bastion of the idea of their game's difference, specialness, uniqueness, now the obsession is with making cricket look the same as every other sport. Why is it that when Australian cricket administrators talk these days, they sound like that they have no confidence in their game's enduring fascination or charm, and as though they really wish they were selling something else?

So crummy a summer has CA had that some are even questioning its future. Two of the most influential voices in the Australian cricket media, Peter Roebuck in the Age and Malcolm Conn in the Australian, have argued for a total governance makeover, replacing the existing system of a board composed of representatives from the six state associations sitting in long-fixed ratios with something more like the commission that runs the Australian Football League.

The chief executive of the Australian Cricketers' Association (ACA), Paul Marsh, added his voice to that clamour at the weekend, by calling the current model "fundamentally flawed" and demanding a group composed of "captains of industry and other highly qualified people": "You've got a situation where directors of the Cricket Australia board also have to be directors of their respective state boards. This produces an unavoidable conflict of interest, where directors have responsibilities to CA and their state associations."

It's pretty hard to disagree with the proposition that a system basically devised in 1905 is ripe for renewal; that South Australia's votes, for instance, are hopelessly out of proportion with its net contribution to Australian cricket when set against Queensland's two and Tasmania's one; that the Buggins' Turn principle of the chairmanship is a recipe for mediocrity; that a distribution system in which Cricket Australia simply disgorges its profits to the state associations militates against long-term planning; that an organisation with no say over who sits on its board is a weird archaism; that an organisation claiming to reach out to non-Anglo communities and women but without non-Anglo or female members among its directors is a nonsense.

On the other hand, it's not so long since Australians flattered themselves that they had the best cricket governance in the world. CA's board may not be a dream team of commercial and cultural nobs and nabobs, as fantasised of by Conn, Roebuck and Marsh, but the direct connection between it and Australia's under-performance in the Ashes is pretty hard to establish. It's not like Shane Watson can't run between wickets because South Australia has three votes on the CA board, or that Tait is an overhyped non-entity because he's confused by CA's financial distribution model.

Australian cricket has a federal structure because Australia has a federal structure, and because nation and game arrived at their modes of governance at roughly the same time. It is arguable that a key virtue often claimed for it, that it is representative of and in touch with cricket at its lowest levels, has weakened, that market research, onto which CA holds like a drunk to a lamp post, has been substituted for actual direct bottom-up input into the formation of national will. But any substitute for the existing model, even if the personnel were more talented, would almost certainly be less representative. At least with football, members can go to their clubs, vote for whomever and feel as though their view counts. Where is that mechanism in cricket? The best represented constituency in Australian cricket at the moment is the players, as evinced by the loud voice in all matters of Paul Marsh. Mind you, based on current performance, it's far from clear that the players deserve such eminence; it's even arguable that the ACA is part of the problem. Twelve years since the first memorandum of understanding between CA and the ACA, which placed first-class cricket on a full-time professional footing, players have never been wealthier, more cosseted, more protected. Yet over that same period, partly because you can earn a tidy living these days being not very good, standards in the domestic scene are widely regarded as having fallen. Thanks to the IPL, meanwhile, perversely discrepant pay and incentives are turning the Australian playing community into an every-man-for-himself society of haves and have-nots, with neither rhyme nor reason: one hopes, for instance, that the next time Daniel Christian and Steve O'Keefe run into one another during the Aussie summer, $900,000 Christian at least shouts $20,000 O'Keefe a drink. What sort of trade union is it that condones rewards bestowed so unevenly?

As for the rest of us in Australian cricket, a contagious and debilitating cynicism is spreading: there is a feeling that something is amiss, that something is being lost, that the players are overpaid numpties and/or B-list celebrity haircuts, that the administrators are beige bureaucrats and/or shonky spivs, and that those who care about cricket, who have it in their blood, who think it a fine thing and worth fighting for, are being marginalised and excluded, because they are at odds with the fast-buck mentality, because they object to being slotted into demographics of "cricket consumers'".

Such impressions are visceral rather than fair or reasoned - at all levels of the game in this country can be found able, well-motivated people who care a great deal about what they do. But they are impressions too widely felt to be ignored. Relations between Cricket Australia and its players might be tense at the moment, but they face parallel challenges, both having a lot of work to do to restore their respective credibilities.

Gideon Haigh is a cricket historian and writer

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Posted by Bayman on (January 21, 2011, 11:19 GMT)

Gideon Haigh once famously said that, "T20 is a game invented for those people who do not like cricket!" In the years since I've seen nothing that invalidates Gideon's statement. While the diminishing of techniques was anticipated I doubt many of us expected the decline to manifest itself so quickly. Anyone who saw Steve Smith bottom edge his pull shot onto his stumps in the Melbourne test will appreciate the decline. No foot work whatsoever and he seemed surprised that he failed to control his bat and the shot. T20 at its worst. The best thing T20 can do, and the IPL in particular, is to make some young men very rich, very quickly. It certainly will not improve them as cricketers unless, of course, they decide to only play the shorter forms of the game. Indeed, that has already happened in Australia with the likes of Hodge, Tait and Lee. In ancient Rome there were the games and the gladiators to keep the masses amused - today it's T20! Not much has really changed.

Posted by Wozza-CY on (January 21, 2011, 10:51 GMT)

To suggest T20 or IPL is the cause of Australian cricket or test cricket doesn't really make a lot of sense. England have been bang on with their assessment of the two games thus far. Yardy will never play test cricket for England, but is one of the first picks for T20. Cook doesn't even play T20 for 50 over cricket for his local side of Essex, yet is their best test batsman at the moment. I don't see why you can't pick a specialist T20 side. It would give players who wouldn't ordinarily have the honour of playing for Australia or their countries to do that. Keep these players separate from the test team etc. What's wrong with Warner, Hopes, Hodge, Christian, White, Marsh, Henriques, A.O'brien, Doherty, Hastings, Tait forming the T20 side & understand that 5 day cricket is a completely different animal to one that takes a few hours to complete?

Posted by sonjjay on (January 21, 2011, 7:57 GMT)

@Vishnu27 Whilst I totally agree with you about IPL being a sickness to cricket I think the impact would be more felt by Indian cricket in the coming years.Blaming the failures of Australian team squarely on IPL is rather unfair as there are other T20 leagues operating too,IPL has played its part in specific but its t20 in general that has led to sub standard batting techniques.But yes as an Indian fan I the IPL should be shutdown its sort of like Frankenstein's monster out to destroy its own creator.

Posted by Impactzone on (January 21, 2011, 3:30 GMT)

Instead of Quality Participation (levels of play for different purposes) we get dumb it down to the lowest common denominator game formats in junior ranks. Juniors who don't get to develop a cricket brain earlier enough provide lower skilled players into the more competitive levels, who are all complaining at the drop off in skills. Ground up and Top down CA has a lot to learn about how to coach individual skills to players. Build skills and games get won. Current Practice is certainly not Best Practice.

T20 is a new world. GH has missed the point entirely there. CA marketing also missed the mental issues facing a stressed team with some of its VB advertising - the coaching staff should have banned those from getting past the script stage.

Posted by Vishnu27 on (January 21, 2011, 0:37 GMT)

As is often the way, Gideon again tells it like it truly is. Until such time as CA is prepared to tackle its issues from the CEO down, we will continue to see spineless performances such as the recent Ashes series. The CA executive, including Sutherland need a massive shake-up. Reducing the Shield season from 10 games to 8 next year in preference to T20 is sheer madness & Australian cricket will continue to suffer as a result. The IPL (& T20) is a sickness that is really starting to take over a beautiful old game. You merely had to witness Steve Smith's last to batting performances in Australian colours: it was like the kid was playing baseball. Do we really want a world where young boys & girls grow up wanting to be sluggers & biffers, instead of immulating Mark Waugh, Damien Martyn or Usman Khawaja? It is a very ugly time for cricket generally & until the ICC places some level of control over the BCCI & ultimately the IPL, things will only continue to devolve & deteriorate further.

Posted by Wozza-CY on (January 20, 2011, 5:45 GMT)

An excellent article & sums up the way a lot of fans from the 'outer' feel. CA will soon see the imbalance in the balance sheets if the poor performances continue. They rode the wave of the 'retirement bashes' of some of our greats & the tills kept ringing. How can fans in the crowd who fork out a big percentage of their wages to go to the ground, continue the type of torture they went through this summer. How can the fans relate to the M.Clarkes of this world who buy their relatives six figure sports cars? Aussie fans were defenseless this summer, because there was no defence to our visiting counterparts banter. We had nothing to cheer about, nothing to snype back. Something the 'Pups' of this world don't seem to get. Judging by the' collar up smile-athons' they don't even understand they're getting flogged!. They've lost the run of themselves & it's a culture endemic in the current organisation. Where is AB!

Posted by   on (January 20, 2011, 1:15 GMT)

@MTrain, If you don't like the Channel 9 coverage, don't watch it. The cricket is /always/ on the ABC radio. It's much better to listen to it on the wireless than on the telly, and if you insist on pictures just turn the sound down on the telly and listen to the radio.

Posted by Meety on (January 20, 2011, 0:08 GMT)

@Asis Rout - well said mate. The First class system is getting stronger & has built the base for where India is now. IPL brings more riches, but makes super stars out of "flawed cricketers".

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 22:56 GMT)

Mobeen Zahid - well said man. I agree entirely! Whilst it also think that it is premature to be knocking the Australian Cricket team, yes its great players are indecline but given the right selections they can still go toe to toe with the Saffers & Indians on the test arena. England on the otherhand seem to give them the heebee jeebees!!

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 21:29 GMT)

@maddy20 and hariahyd IPL doesn't prepare players.The Ranji trophy does.India didn't win anything in two consecutive T-20 world cups after playing the IPL.Most of the Indian batsmen are not even improving on their short ball play say like Ganguly in the latter half of his career.Things which are based on greed doesn't augur well for any of the stakeholders in the game.Now Australian Cricket has slipped in their administration and management than anything else.I am at loss to associate professionalism with this set up.Not so long ago Australian team looked good even after the departure of these greats but Ponting,Hilditch and Nielsen are hurting them bad.The sub-continental teams and fans were accused of backing fading superstars but Australia seems no different to them as well.This palpable gloom and doom in the Australian ranks call for drastic decisions.Ponting should be sacked from his captaincy.Give young players their well deserved chances.

Posted by KBCA on (January 19, 2011, 14:11 GMT)

LOL! "it felt like passion, but it must have been something else - indigestion, perhaps" ! that almost made me spit beer on the keyboard :D

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 13:31 GMT)

James Sutherland is bit of a yes man to India especially after the Symonds/ Harbajhan incident in 2008 & Australian cricket hasn't really improved since. Will James Sutherland stand up to Australian cricket next summer.

Posted by MTrain on (January 19, 2011, 13:23 GMT)

As long as they get mediocre commentators like 'Slats' dancing with cheerleaders to promote T20 cricket as an 'entertainment' show, the ratings and viewership will always come before the actual on-field performance.

It's disgusting how quickly the demise of the standard of Australian cricket (domestic and international) has been. The mismanagement of our state level spinners being #1.

But as long as Heals is providing his inane running commentary, James Brayshaw chips in with his 'blokey humour' and countless shots of stunning women are shown in the crowds after every over, I doubt CA give a rats about the on-field performance.

Posted by sundar1811 on (January 19, 2011, 7:27 GMT)

Aussie cricket has always been like the US elections - driven more by hype, imagery and media than anything else. No wonder then that mediocre players like Michale Clarke, Shaun Tait, Mike Hussey(I do believe he belongs in this list as well with his quite limited repertoire of skillsets centred on grafting - Mr Cricket ? then what are VVS Laxman or Hashim Amla or Jacques Kallis??) etc, with inadequate skillsets are hyped beyond the necessary by the Media as part of their psychological warfare against opponents. Soon the players start believing in these and wallow in their mediocrity. Only when objectivity returns to media hype will quality Cricket regain the front seat.

Posted by hungDaddy on (January 19, 2011, 7:25 GMT)

probably what they need is a foreign administrator on the top (just like a foreign coach !!!) n sm1 who has sweated it out in the field wud b a better admin than ne of the diplomat serving 'em rite now.

I guess they need sm1 like srisanth with oodles of exp in field n a cool head over his shoulders to guide them back to the top

Posted by grg525 on (January 19, 2011, 7:02 GMT)

Wow, can not believe that the states still have different voting rights. Must have taken a lot of lobbying to get Tassie's one vote. I guess it explains why it is a NSWcentric institution, apparently accountable to no one.

It will be interesting how much the current ODI captain continues to get booed whilst batting for the next 6 matches. Has no one in CA even noticed??

Posted by candyfloss on (January 19, 2011, 7:00 GMT)

The australian fans should not ring the death knell of world cricket simply because their team is on the decline.There are other teams around that are still providing some exciting cricket.

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 6:38 GMT)

Anyone who believes that the IPL and the Big Bash will lead to great cricket, is crazy. There's no reality left in the game now. All you see is a crass, over-exposed, fundamentally flawed attempt to "look-good". Cricket over the decades has always been a sport that goes with the word "grace". There's none left in it now. Curse the people who think that cricket should be like football, it should never. Its an exclusive sport so let it be just that! Haigh's article reflects just that..Australia's decline is evidence enough. And so will India's in the coming years, when all the big bucks churn out stupid, money-hungry "entertainers". I curse you all for ruining the sport that taught me passion in my childhood.

Posted by Dashelan on (January 19, 2011, 6:24 GMT)

Thank you for a very succinct article. I could not agree more. I have emailed CA a number of times with very similar thoughts, but it was only when I challenged them to reply that they in fact did. I hope everyone at CA read this article and act on it or the Australian public will very soon start voting with their feet. Let us see what the sponsors think of empty stadiums and falling TV ratings.

Posted by maddy20 on (January 19, 2011, 5:46 GMT)

IPL did help us find some match-winners in limited overs atleast. Yusuf Pathan, Ravi Chandran Ashwin, Virat Kohli to name a few. So I would not complain about it. True IPL was a distraction from intl cricket but it is clear that the present Indian team is really serious as far as winning games is concerned. Instead of bashing and/or copying BCCI ACB should look at themselves and retrospect.

Posted by del_ on (January 19, 2011, 4:54 GMT)

"At least with football, members can go to their clubs, vote for whomever and feel as though their view counts. Where is that mechanism in cricket?". This is exactly how I have felt this summer. I want to hold all members of CA accountable, including the players, as it is obvious all those at CA somehow believe they are doing a good job. Yet my only method is voting at SACA meetings between people who are put up for the job because they know people, not because they know cricket. I fear the game, and those that love and watch it, are being forgotten.

Posted by katandthat3 on (January 19, 2011, 4:26 GMT)

Excellent points Gideon, nice if this article was pinging off the cold soulless corridors of CA to stir some action but I'm sure their marketers have some more zany ideas to continue the avalanche of calamity that has crushed season 2010/2011.

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 3:55 GMT)

@maddy20, About the series win in NZ, and mentioning the pitches, etc. in 2009 NZ prepared flat tracks that your batsmen are used to and it showed why that was a dumb move. Mark Richardson made a good point about why the pitches were made this way (NZC knows which side their bread is buttered on). In 2002 we beat your side because the pitches back then were proper kiwi pitches. And considering the home games your team plays, you only drew against South Africa last year because your groundsmen were in a rush to produce turning tracks for the last game, had it been a normal pitch you would have lost once again.

Posted by evenflow_1990 on (January 19, 2011, 3:39 GMT)

this is a brilliant article. very very funny. and also very very true.

Posted by Meety on (January 19, 2011, 3:31 GMT)

There have been some analogies between sporting codes particularly the football codes going on. If you think of the National Oz side as a "Football Club", we have been premiers for years (bit like St George in the 50s & 60s), winning everything. The last 3 years we have declined, no longer Premiers but up until this season semi-finalists. This year we are heading for a 25 yr low, almost facing relegation! In situations like this - where the decline is fairly sharp relative to the period of sucess - playing rosters are fiddled with but not completely wiped. Generally - the Coach (read Nielson) is the first to have his head chopped off. In most Footy codes the Coach is the selector so in Oz case - the selection panel must be chopped up with the Coach. Replacing Boards are alot more trickier due to politics, corporate support & cronyism. So in my books bye, bye Nielson, M Young (fielding coach), & selection panel. If I was a dictator I'd get rid of Sutherland as well, execution style!!!!

Posted by Meety on (January 19, 2011, 2:35 GMT)

@maddy20 - not really wanting this to turn into a discussion about all things Indian, but you are partially vindacated by the performance of India in Sth Africa. I thought the best India could of hoped for was a 2-1 loss. Walking away with a 1-1 scoreline is sort of a win. Despite that - it doesn't categorically announce to the World that India are Champions of the World. Having said that - it is not a bad platform for the next couple of years. Bear in mind that was their first series away from home-like conditions in almost 2 years, at which time all other countries have played numerous "overseas" test series. The ODI result in Sth Africa is a fantastic position to be 2-1 up. India have played well, but really the Choke is on for the Saffas!!!! Re: the talent in the Indian domestic cricket; agree Pujarra looks the goods, but Chahar accurate medium pace is not something to be bragging about (yet). Utthappa has been around & I think is hot & cold.

Posted by   on (January 19, 2011, 2:15 GMT)

Rocket surgery? Who performs surgery on a rocket? Anyway, As long as the Aussies are losing (even against the Poms) I'm happy. They have some pretty awesome cricketers but I'd be embarrassed by the way they behave on the field if I were an Aussie… I cringe watching these guys celebrate tons, take wickets, and act like 12 year old school girls when things don't go their way.... Is there a more disliked international sports team? It always makes me laugh why these arrogant guys wonder why they get paid out when they come to NZ.

Posted by Bayman on (January 19, 2011, 0:52 GMT)

The current priorities of CA can best be summed up the comment made by a CA official to a friend during the last Ashes Test in Sydney, "The cricket's been disappointing but we've sold more merchandise than ever!"

As for the comments, post match, by Hilditch, Sutherland and Nielsen, what can I say. Delusional at best, dangerous at worst. It wasn't just the 3-1 scoreline, it was the complete domination of England over a team which never looked like competing on even terms. Apparently, though, the CA hierarchy have had a blinder. You've got to be happy with that!

Posted by Chris_Howard on (January 19, 2011, 0:50 GMT)

I always find it interesting that golf has never had an identity crisis. Golf has never felt the need to keep up with the fast paced modern world. It's never felt compelled to create a three hour shootout version for the uneducated masses of sports "fans" who just want to see bash and giggle. Cricket needs to go back to its core identity of Test cricket. Hit and giggle forms are all well and good, but shouldn't become over-rated. You don't see Tiger Woods going head-to-head with John Daly on a driving range just coz it'd make for better entertainment. And don't even get me started on the two week torture of a tennis tournament like the Aus Open. If tennis can go for two weeks... surely five days of cricket should be easily marketable.

Posted by Sanj747 on (January 19, 2011, 0:46 GMT)

Maddy20 your words saved the series against SAF says it all. Couldn't win in SL either had to save the test series. Number 1 teams generally win series not draw them. Can't see India emulating Australia's record of 3 consecutive World Cup victories. Even the Windies couldn't do it.

Posted by souths70 on (January 19, 2011, 0:43 GMT)

Thank the stars; as an Australian fan who has been used to being refered to as arrogant for the last ten years; Many Thanks Indian fans for now taking the mantle away from us. With your comments below I can see all other international fans waiting to comment on any form of loss or weakness in the near future regarding the magnificent Indian team. The way they are bragging about being number one in the world is dangerous, because the difference between second and third in the world, is much closer today than when the West Indies or Australian's were at their peaks.

Also when India have won three world cups in a row, maybe then the longevity of their greatness will be confirmed.

Posted by Number_5 on (January 19, 2011, 0:10 GMT)

As always, great article. The demise of cricket in this country can be linked back to the day CA bent over the BCCI in monkey gate. They showed its not the game or its players that are important but the dollar. Whilst not a bad thing for world cricket to have other teams at the top of the heap, it will tak cricket in this country a decade to recover and at least half that for us to retain the ahses, as long as change is made now to the structure of the game in this country, If CA cant see, we are the laughing stock of world cricket and truly desereve our lowly ranking. If this was a private enterprise the CEO, the board and Senior executives would all be sacked....now surely that, more than anything tells the story or where we are at.

Posted by Benarman on (January 18, 2011, 23:59 GMT)

Possibly the best article I have read on the state of Australian cricket yet. I can't for the life of me understand how Steve Smith is considered a test level number 6 'batsman'. He makes Marcus North, who he replaced, look like a white Gary Sobers. Frankly, there are players with better techniques in the Mercantile D grade in Melbourne where I play. The selectors think they are doing a good job? Is Australia so bereft of talent that it needs to select this hack for Tests?

Then there are the players themselves, poncing about with their underpants contracts and bogan tattoo's. Acting like they are King Poo of Turd Island when they've just been revealed by the Poms to be little more than Fart the messenger boys.

A mate of mine from England came over to fulfil his life's dream - to watch an Ashes test at the MCG. It probably ranked up there with having his first child. Seeing the mediocrity on display from all facets of Australian cricket, I could only applaud with him.

Posted by powerash5000 on (January 18, 2011, 23:40 GMT)

sad but ture. I just want to see the best players playing their best cricket, don't care who sells more kfc or who's fun to have in the changerooms for whatever reason.

Posted by alexlt on (January 18, 2011, 22:18 GMT)

I don't necessarily think reformation is required, CA just need to get some new, better people. Hildich, Nielson and Sutherland need to go. However, the players also have to take their considerable share of the blame for the teams performance. Also, i don't think the IPL is as bad as you make out. These players still have to make their names at domestic level before they are offered the big bucks, so in a way it encourages greater competitiveness at state level.

Posted by maddy20 on (January 18, 2011, 22:16 GMT)

@Michael Diackson Thank you for your entertainment. That was the most hilarious thing I have read or seen in a long time. Just so you know 1)India has not lost a home test series in 6 years(against any opposition) 2)India has won test series against NZ(where pitches were nightmarish for Indian teams of the past), Eng(who have just given the Aussies the spanking of a life time), West Indies and saved the test series against SA(the second most formidable team of the era). 3)A second string Indian team without 4 first choice players(Sachin, Sehwag, Gambhir and strike bowler Praveen Kumar) is on the verge of a series win against near full-strength SA(missing only Kallis). You might also be disappointed to know that there are lots of talented youngsters in our domestic cricket Deepak Chahar(medium pacer with lethal accuracy), Manish Pandey, Robin Uthappa, Cheteshwar Pujara etc., who will be the part of a formidable Indian team of the next era after the big 3 return.

Posted by ygkd on (January 18, 2011, 22:12 GMT)

I wish you were wrong, Mr Haigh, but I can't say you are. Cricket was for so many years said to be stuck in a timewarp, yet now we seem to have some strange sort of Eighties wide-boy wannabes taking over the game, taking us back to a future of big money, bad taste grooming and anything-goes attitude. If only we had '80s quality cricket being played out on the grounds, one might feel like something was going right.

Posted by FlashAsh on (January 18, 2011, 21:53 GMT)

Hang on a minute! and I'm not having a go at IPL etc but if its such a great invention and improves players etc out of Oz and Eng who has most players in IPL who actually get used? Then if you draw in the Indai and SA teams there would appear to be absolutely no correlation to IPL playing and Test team improvements!

As to CA they really do need to have a similar enquiry as ECB did and learn from their mistakes, unfortunately whereas ECB recognised changes need to be made and its governing body were open to change CA appears to have too much self-interest at heart.

Sutherland should also apologise to the charity concerning his comments about Hughes and Clarke and then to Aleem Dar on behalf of Ricky Ponting. This above all else is double standards at its ugliest and shame on him. just imagine if it had been Watto attending his sausage sizzle in Ipswich!! Sutherland would have been lynched!!

CA need to wake up and smell the coffee!!

Posted by LeftHandedBeast on (January 18, 2011, 21:49 GMT)

Agree with your article Gideon, well made points. As a cricket fan, i upset a lot of my Australian friends when i predicted England to win the ashes easily. Its quite simple really when you watch enough cricket to pick where your teams strengths and weaknesses are. England looked superior in all facets. The system is flawed is a gross understatement, put simply its broken. Players allowed to age from wine to vinegar, talented youth not getting an opportunity, selectors who appear to read statistics instead of watching games or choose players on reputations as opposed to form, a lack of professionalism, the entire system needs change if we want to regain top ranking in all forms of cricket(trust me world cup will be lost as well). India's cricket board would not tolerate such a decline in form, why should we?

Posted by slm6 on (January 18, 2011, 21:34 GMT)

Points for intent, but somebody should have proof-read this article!

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (January 18, 2011, 21:17 GMT)

@Gideon, I wouldn't be praising the IPL so much if you truly took a look at the quality of batsmen and bowlers it is starting to produce. Some Indians are starting to get it, the IPL although a cash cow could be very detrimental to their long term game in Tests. Could you imagine Suresh Raina taking over Laxman's position at Number 6 in the Test batting lineup? Exactly.

Posted by P.James on (January 18, 2011, 21:13 GMT)

Well written article. Agree with all the points

Posted by Sanj747 on (January 18, 2011, 20:57 GMT)

Mr Iyer with due respect India can't deliver the knock out blow away from home. They drew in SL and SAF. Top teams win series and not draw them. That's what the great West Indies in the 80s did. As for CA, the start would be to remove Hilditch, Nielsen, Ponting and Clarke. Move forward with the likes of Watson and Paine.

Posted by pom_basher on (January 18, 2011, 20:49 GMT)

@Michael Dickson - Of course no personal comments, but a lot of people are eating humble pie after second string Indian team defeated saffies today... Some cricinfo pundit wrote about lot of luck and some determination a couple of days ago... is he going to come out of his hideout?

Posted by Dr.K.H.Iyer on (January 18, 2011, 20:32 GMT)

@Michael Dickson: Agree on one point though mate! When Sachin, Laxman and Zaheer are gone it's gonna be tough!

Posted by Dr.K.H.Iyer on (January 18, 2011, 20:31 GMT)

@Michael Dickson:Ha ha ha...............! Sour grapes, eh? Mate! India is easily the best Team out there! We beat Eng @ Home and Whitewashed OZ! Will do the same to Eng later this year! Feeling Jealous, eh? If any team has any right to brag, it is India and SA of course! Others, Welcome to the era of India!

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 18:13 GMT)

And as for your third point, read up, as you won't like this at all. India's rise to number 1 in tests is the biggest joke going around in world cricket. Seriously! Sure they have improved in overseas performances in the last 5-6 years, but are they really deserving of their number 1 ranking?? Hardly - ICC is giving them points for teh_lulz. Most people with an IQ above that of a German Shepherd, 60, would be able to agree that the reason is a combination of 3 things. 1 - The fall and fall of Australia in tests, 2 - South Africa playing hardly any test cricket and 3 - India playing a lot of overseas tests against weak/weakening countries, and boring visiting teams to sleep at home. Sure, they did well in South Africa, but South Africa is a team notorious for choking when given the favourites tag. To say the IPL revitalised them in tests is a woeful exaggeration. Try saying that again in 2-3 years time - when Sachin, Laxman, Dravid and Zaheer are gone!

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 17:40 GMT)

@Hariafromhyd, read up, you are about to be ripped one for all your wayward claims. 1. "My question to you is, if IPL is so bad, why has Indian cricket been revitalized in every sense after the IPL." - Really?? You think it's been revitalised? Let's see, who is in the side right now that the IPL identified?? Hmm, well Virat Kohli, and Suresh Raina. Suresh Raina has been at best very average or at worst a failure, and Virat Kohli had a good start by feasting on a tame NZ bowling attack on flat Indian boring pitches. Besides these two, the Indian side is the same it's been for 5 years or more, and has been a catastrophic failure in international tournaments to this day. Not to mention NZ is still uindefeated in T20Is against India. Freaking NZ!! If that is revitalising, I'd hate to see what it takes to be counted as collapsing. 2 Virat Kohli. See my previous answer, and no he hasn't been trasnformed. He will be India's Martin Guptill - good in years 1/2 in international cricket, then ok.

Posted by elsmallo on (January 18, 2011, 17:36 GMT)

weenmcqueen, you say you're not a 'stody oldtimer who smokes a pipe at Lord's. But why not?? This sounds like the absolute way of life! The stody oldtimers get a bad time of it methinks. Everyone qualifies their IPL wobblies by tubthumping their non-stody-oltimer status. But picture ye this: you, weenmcqueen, a man now of mature years and experience, sitting serenely on a fine summer day in your usual Lord's balcony chair. Tendulkar or Kallis has just scored a brilliant 100, only to be removed by an unplayable delivery from Steyn or Zaheer Khan. Proper cricket. The stuff that the game has been built upon, as any stody oldtimer will tell you. This is what we should be striving for, in our youth and while we still have time. One day, we will all be oldtimers. But will we be stody? Time will be the judge of that.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 17:08 GMT)

Slightly alarmist yet necessarily critical of an obsolete system, I support the reformation of the entire administrative structure. I agree with Hariafromhyd's comments that the IPL is always an easy cheap shot. We need to embrace this evolutionary strand of the game and see city based franchises as a natural progression which can ensure the continuation of Test cricket as the supreme international competition, not a threat to it. Most importantly soccer's promotion/relegation system is a natural equalizer which once introduced will keep the five day game from facing the same fate as the ODI, by ensuring competitiveness. On the marketing front; elements of that must be embraced. But illustrating the used car salesman antics of CA is the Melbourne T20 promotion poster depicting Shane Watson looking decidedly weary after carrying Australia for two years opposite a dropped-for-lack-of-form Paul Collingwood with the words "Melbournes weekend of cricket" as if apologising for a 3 day circus

Posted by bicr on (January 18, 2011, 16:58 GMT)

Sutherland, Hilditch et al sound very much like the ANC government! Too entitled to have to worry about the consequences of their actions/inactions. Never knew there was anything to compare to Zuma and his cronies!

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 16:47 GMT)

It hurts to see that its true..

Posted by thesnare on (January 18, 2011, 16:37 GMT)

Hang on, Im not reading any comments out here. Nor did I read this article itself. The only thing I do to "read" your articles is use Ctrl+F. Why, oh why Gideon has the IPL got just one reference, that too in the final paragraphs? I searched for BCCI, blank. No reference at all. Searched for India, nope. Ijaz Butt, nope. I secretly think this is Anand Ramachandran trying to do a Gideon. Fail, Anand. Go through my comment to see what you need to have in there to write like Mr.Haigh. Peace bro, better luck next time.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 16:19 GMT)

I always say that CA's decline was obvious when they sold themselves to BCCI in harbajan / symonds case and left their own players hanging to dry. They are too intimidted / impressed by India to do anything on their own. ECB in this case is much better and has some integrity. Thank Gideon, we always enjoy your articles for their sincerity.

Posted by Dr.K.H.Iyer on (January 18, 2011, 15:58 GMT)

@Hariafromhyd : IPL did not raise India to No.1 my dear! A blend of extremely talented youngsters with legendary veterans ( and their calming influence on the young adrenaline) actually did it! There is no other Team where there are such great Veterans(Sachin, Laxman, Dravid& now retired Kumble) who are respected not only for prowess but also their conduct(only Kallis is an exception)! IPL greats like Raina could not even face QUALITY FAST BOWLING! Sachin & Laxman did that! Dravid is out of form or else I guess he would have done so too! IPL will not develop great cricketers but only pop corn cricketers! If you want good quality look at the Ranji sides!

Posted by MartoAus on (January 18, 2011, 15:58 GMT)

Hear hear, Gideon. Agree with everything written here. The most embarrassing thing to watch this summer sans the cricket itself were the stupid ads. They do nothing to dispell the Australian public's current perception of the Australian Cricket Team as a bunch of overpaid hacks. In a time where the Shield competition and national team are faltering, for any CA official to suggest that the way forward for Australian cricket is an expansion of the national T20 comp is downright ludicrous and shows they are not fit to govern the sport in this country.

Posted by srivatsan on (January 18, 2011, 15:56 GMT)

Gideon,

Just a thought about IPL here, it's because Cricket Australia is persisting with non-senses that O'Keefe, Christian and Hussey(D) are playing in IPL first place.

Posted by Vakbar on (January 18, 2011, 15:39 GMT)

What a brilliant, well written piece from the heart. Of course being an Englishman and having suffered taunts and barbs from the Aussies over the years on just about everything from English cricketing structure to our manhood (or lack thereof), I find it a little difficult to be sympathetic.

However, the sensible, less vengeful part of me, says that it cannot be right for Australian cricket to be so weak, especially when West Indies and Pakistan are such a mess.

So let's hope that, over the next decade, CA (slowly) restores itself, whilst taking numerous beatings along the way. What doesn't kill you only makes you stronger

Posted by venkatesh018 on (January 18, 2011, 13:12 GMT)

Surely Australian cricket, one of the pillars of the modern game, is at a crossroads at this moment. I hope sane heads prevail in the Australian cricket community and efforts are made to keep the standards high in Australia's four day game. The concern expressed in this article are genuine and need to be tackled headon.

Posted by cricketislovely on (January 18, 2011, 12:28 GMT)

Blaming an "infatuation" with T20 cricket for Australia's demise as Test nation makes no sense. India and England play more T20 cricket at domestic level than Australia and both sides are travelling very nicely. The Sheffield competition is the same length it's always been and will not be shortened once the Big Bash League commences next summer.

Whilst Gideon nostalgically longs for days-gone-by. The reality is that the Australian sporting landscape has changed dramatically over the last 10-20 years. Cricket faces increased competition from other sports (AFL, Rugby League/Union, Soccer etc.) in attracting and retaining talented athletes. The BBL and participation in the IPL and ICL gives cricket a fighting chance in this regard.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 12:20 GMT)

At least the Australian cricketers are better than the administrators. They do not live in denial like the administrators. I really cannot understand how Hildiitch, Nielsen et al can be smug about what has been the "great Aussie debacle". Ponting wants to stay till he dies, Nielsen gets renewed after successive bouts of defeats and Hildtich says the selectors are not to blame. I think it is short sighted to blame money and the IPL for the failures of the game and its structure. I can tell you that Marsh and Watson definitely have benefited enormously from the IPL. The team has been outplayed and it does not have the talent to cover up for the stupidity of the selectors unlike teams of the past. Australian is in dire straits. They need a new coach- not Nielsen but someone in the likes of Bobby Simpson who worked with youngsters. I think they should dump people like Johnson who is either rags or riches and has been so for far too long. He typifies Australia"s problems. Spoilt! sridhar

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 12:18 GMT)

I've often said that a cool hair cut helps selection because the image sells more... and I bet doug the rug would never have played for australia with his bald head!

Posted by boooonnie on (January 18, 2011, 12:11 GMT)

Haigh strikes me as some one who loves the sound of his own voice (or pen, keyboard or whatever) but one thing that is clear from the present Ashes series - the Australians were beaten just as much off the feild then on it. From the time that Aust let Sri Lanka off the hook in with 8 wickets down in the second ODI it was clear that Aust cricketers did not have their head screwed on properly. Why should they? Next was the selected 17 man squad, then the dropping of Hauritz and next the revolving door of bowlers getting on and off the Australian team bus. Michael Beer??? The recent return of Brett Lee and a recent cricinfo article on Stuart MacGill reminds me Aust has lost just Warne, McGrath and Hayden of recent times but also their replacements in waiting, Lee, MacGill, Symonds and even Hogg. Nevertheless Cricket Australia has not handled this situation well at all and the results are showing on the field. Aust still has the talent on the field but we are losing games off it!

Posted by EVH316 on (January 18, 2011, 12:02 GMT)

Great work as ever, Mr Haigh, particularly " shaking babies, kissing hands". Has the cult of public relations become so powerful that the purveyors of spin believe that saying something often enough, will make it true? All this crap about "executing skills sets" seems to have blinded the players from their stinky performance. Occam`s Razor is a decent rule of thumb, ie. Players not good enough, preparation not good enough, selection not good enough, operating in complete denial = A series loss. What on earth does James Sutherland envisage his job to be? The loss, in a fairly humiliating way, of an Ashes series is one occasion where he could at least "front up". To have next-to-no comment to make about another Ponting v. Umpire incident whilst condemning players attending a charity breakfast suggests CA have long since lost sight of the Bradman adage about being custodians of the game. But on the other hand, as an Englishman, good work James Sutherland, carry on!

Posted by overthefence on (January 18, 2011, 11:57 GMT)

Good article.

All sport has become over-commercialised, over-jargonised, over-corporatised. Look at the Olympics which went from "glory of sport" to "glory of money". Cricket is now no different and the Jamie Sutherland types are professional money men who could just as easily be running Cadbury's next week as Cricket Australia. Don't get me wrong sport needs money and organisation to succeed but they get carried away and take it away from 'the fans' in the process. As Gideon said, now we are just 'consumers' of things like 20-20 (hit and giggle, park cricket imo).

The board are responsible for Australia's on-field performance in as much as they have allowed themselves to be distracted and haven't looked after and developed Shield and State One Day Cricket. Maybe bringing the internationals back to play more state cricket would do the trick? and/or a national club competition from all over Australia?

Posted by weenmcqueen on (January 18, 2011, 11:43 GMT)

Dear Mr Sutherland, three questions. Firstly; is there a difference in your mind between cricket fan and cricket consumer? Secondly; Are these one and the same? Thirdly; Who do you hold in higher esteem or which of these are more valuable to the game of cricket. The fan of cricket who loves the game, sees cricket as the most enthralling game in the world, infuriating at times but always enthralling. pays their hard earned money to attend at least one test match every summer however does not take any notice of the chicken products, the online gambling company and the beer. Or the guy who never makes the effort to get to a game, watches one of the T20s and a few of the last overs of the ODIs so that he has something to talk about at the office the next day but eats lots of southern style chicken, bets online a dozen times a week with money he doesn't have and drinks heaps of VB? Please Gideon next time you are within ear shot of Mr Sutherland can you get his opinion?

Posted by cheersquadsteve on (January 18, 2011, 11:38 GMT)

probably the best opinion piece delivered on the atrocious summer that the australian cricket team has delivered, culminating in the squad announced for the world cup today. What pombasher and hariafromhyd fail to see however is that this is an article on australian cricket and not the IPL. The IPL has transformed indian cricket yet has slowly hammered the nails into the coffin of most test playing nations. David Warner and Dan Christian next generation test players? Give it a rest

Posted by amitgarg78 on (January 18, 2011, 11:31 GMT)

An article well written! It shows that the writer cares. But you lost my vote entirely by bringing in IPL in the mix. IPL pays money for skill that it values. It may seem disproportionate, but its a demand and supply game at the end of it. But is that really affecting Aussie Cricketers? Being paid well and hence being financially secure should mean that one should be able to focus MORE and not less, on the passion that brought them in to the game. Ergo, it help raise their game. And I trust, playing for the country remains at the top of every professional cricketer's list. What you have may be an absence of skill required to succeed at the top level. But it would be foolish to lay all blame on the IPL brigade. Being paid for the skill you have and is valued by someone, is no crime for a professional cricketer. For a decade now, we have had greats walk the ground. This downfall may have been accentuated by poor management but it just proves Aussie cricketers to be mortals.

Posted by Behind_the_bowlers_arm on (January 18, 2011, 11:11 GMT)

Agree completely that the heart of the problem has been CA morphing into a marketing body rather than being at its heart a cricket and cricketers first body. They have got away from having a successful Aust cricket team first and foremost in their thoughts in EVERY decision. A start would be to reverse the stupidity of cancelling the Shield final for more Giggle cricket and the next would be to work on a structure that restores the strength , depth and competitiveness of the Sheffield Shield. All Australian players should play at least half the Shield program. In days gone by players missed a couple of Shield games around the Xmas period when Tests were on but played maybe 75% of fixtures which brought on young players. Of course the easy fix as a start is to remove the out of his depth Nielsen and all current selectors bar G Chappell.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 11:10 GMT)

Mr.Haigh excellent article except for the potshot at IPL..KFC BB shud be blamed if at all.CA deciding to change LOI format? CA shud have told Tait play all or eff off..y ddint they?

Posted by StarveTheLizard on (January 18, 2011, 11:05 GMT)

Poor Gideon. He started out with a decent article then started to rant! He lost me with the "Bitch Godess" statement. My word! Gideon, I'm sorry that 20-20 is a dangerous influence on what you think cricket should be. I'm sorry if the Big-Bash and the Champions League are exposing the game to a wider audience and you find this upsetting. Calling it nasty names will not halt change, however.

Posted by MonkeyBooBoo on (January 18, 2011, 10:50 GMT)

Sadly this article rings true.

Posted by bjg62 on (January 18, 2011, 10:39 GMT)

The thing that is undeniable is that if CA is the flag bearer for the game in Australia then why is the cupboard bare? I remember in the 'good old' days they used to go around the grounds and say: 'Haydens got another ton for Qld, Siddons got one for SA, Lehmanns got 100 in a session, young Ricky Ponting is looking good etc'. As we all know this doesn't happen any more. So my question is: What has happened to alll the new talent? Maybe players of today don't have the technique to play longer forms of the game. Maybe they've scared off all the potential Andrew Symonds and Shane Warnes with their zero tolerance to attitude. Why do fast bowlers break down so often? If we can't answer these then CA must have been been asleep at the wheel. For Sutherland to get stuck into Clarke and Hughes for their function activities just shows he is totally out of touch he is with the Australian public. Next he will deride the McGrath Foundation for distracting the public by the focus on pink!

Posted by bonner on (January 18, 2011, 10:22 GMT)

Tell us what you really think, Gideon.

Posted by othello22 on (January 18, 2011, 10:13 GMT)

Well said, Gideon. Well said. Now see if you can get these idiots to admit it. I dare you to try.

Posted by ram5160 on (January 18, 2011, 10:07 GMT)

" the involvement of players in customer-friendly rigmarole - hitting balls into the crowd, shaking babies, kissing hands etc" Shaking babies? Anyway, Gideon spots the problems, but where are the solutions?

Posted by pom_basher on (January 18, 2011, 9:38 GMT)

Qute a Surprise, Mr Haigh. I simply did text search on BCCI, came out blank... then on India, ditto. What happened? not even a cursery mention of BCCI in this article???? Oh hang on, just found the IPL bashing over the salary bias for Aussie professionals here. Can he bother check how many Aussie corporates are paying hundreds of grands to good for nothing Indian IT workers while some very good Indian professionals are earning only a tenth of that elsewhere? Please, please Mr Haigh, you need to do something about it!

Posted by dmudge on (January 18, 2011, 9:36 GMT)

Yes, yes and yes. Well said. I especially like the bit about administrators these days wishing they had a better product to sell - it really does seem they have no confidence that cricket for the sake of cricket is something of value. Instead of worrying about image, crowd sizes & television rights, CA needs to focus on: 1) how to develop 6 batsmen in Australia who can make test double tons (refer India); 2) how to develop a handful of spinners who can take wickets in India as well as Sydney; 3) how to develop a bunch of seamers who can take 5 top order wickets for under 200 runs; 4) how to develop a handful of talented wicketkeepers (must not necessarily be keeper-batsmen). Everything else will then take care of itself.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 9:11 GMT)

The only article by Gideon Haigh I have ever agreed with!

Posted by weenmcqueen on (January 18, 2011, 8:59 GMT)

As usual Mr Haigh is the voice for and of cricket. I agree with your sentiment entirely, visceral as it is. The Sydney press conference squad announcement was ludicrous. The fact that Doug Bollinger appeared on most of the adverts during the test series made it look as if the this is the new duty for the 12th man; carry drinks, bring in new bats, appear on the adds in the breaks. no wonder he hasn't been fit enough to play. IPL is a difficult one. Indeed it pays way out of proportion to talent although as always the cream will rise to the top. be aware the IPL's prime function is as an advertising board for indian building companies, telecom giants and fats food joints . the cricket is simply a means to an end. i am not a stody oldtimer who smokes a pipe at Lord's. I'm what Mr McKenna would classify as a Gen X thirty something with young children ripe for the picking. i don't want the new product, i want cricket back!

Posted by Hariafromhyd on (January 18, 2011, 8:55 GMT)

A good article, but i think the reference to IPL is a very cheap shot, one that 'certain' cricket writers have always been indulging in for very 'obvious' reasons.

My question to you is, if IPL is so bad, why has Indian cricket been revitalized in every sense after the IPL. You need examples, i will give you 3

1. Ashish Nehra: He was lost in the world of domestic cricket after his injury post the 2003 worldcup. The IPL gave him opportunities and the exposure. He is now one of the key players for the World Cup

2. Virat Kohli : His talent was never in question. Early years in the Indian cricket brought some challenges for him in terms of temperament and player in pressure situations. The IPL has completely transformed him. I will not be surprised if he plays in England during the Test Series

3. Why is India the no 1 test side and why do you think we will win the ' World Cup' in 2011 ( touch wood)

I could go on an on,the moral is it is not your 'gut' feel that should Judge

Posted by cricket_wins on (January 18, 2011, 8:47 GMT)

I believe that this situation warrants a reality check, followed by setting realistic and achievable goals for the future. Lets not build hopes and expect too much from professionals on and off the field. I know it is tough but that is the only way we can patronize this once-mighty Aussie outfit.

Posted by cricket_wins on (January 18, 2011, 8:44 GMT)

It is clear that the concerned professionals (on and off the field) are running out of defence mechanisms for the clearly below-par performances of late. It is about time they woke up to reality, gave themselves a rap on their own knuckles where needed, shook things up a bit and give themselves very realistic goals for the future.

Posted by Favelli on (January 18, 2011, 8:43 GMT)

Gideon Haigh and indeed Malcol Conn have missed the biggest blunder made by Cricket Australia in the last 10 years and that is to move the Cricket Acadey from the idyllic setup in Adelaide to Brisbane whch as we know fro recent events is much ore prone to inclement weather. When in Adelaide the players had the best net facilities in the world, the best environment in which to learn proper technique and simply the best place to play cricket. It is 7 years since the Academy has moved to Brisbane and what have Cricket Australia got to show for the move. Absolutely nothing.

Posted by crow_eater on (January 18, 2011, 8:31 GMT)

Well said Gideon. I can't help feel that if the players spent as much time practicing their game as they did flogging phone plans, vitamins & fatty chicken the outcome of the Ashes might have been completely different. It was with some hollow irony that I watched those adds in the last 2 tests. Asking Clarky if he'd be happy if he got 3 runs, I think he would have been by the end..........

Posted by Nerk on (January 18, 2011, 8:19 GMT)

It seems like India in reverse. India embraces 20/20, makes the IPL and rises to the top of the test rankings. Australia on the other hand is very slow to adopt 20/20 and when it does, test cricket falls. The problem is that too many businessmen are in cricket administrators, and not enough cricketers. This is not to say there should not be businessmen involved, but that there should be a balance between money on one hand and the good of the game on the other. CA has not been able to do this, and Australian cricket suffers.

Posted by c5nv2838a47i on (January 18, 2011, 8:10 GMT)

I think one reason why Australian cricket is suffering at the moment is because the national side and the state sides have seen an unprecedented amount of retirements. The following cricketers have retired over the last five years: Dominic Thornley, Nathan Bracken, Matthew Nicholson, Glenn McGrath, Matthew Hayden, Martin Love, Andrew Symonds, Ashley Noffke, Andy Bichel, Darren Lehmann, Matthew Elliott, Jason Gillespie, Michael DiVenuto, Michael Dighton, Daniel Marsh, Michael Bevan, Brad Hodge, Shane Warne, Mick Lewis, Matthew Inness, Justin Langer, Damien Martyn, Brad Hogg, Adam Gilchrist.

Posted by shumit on (January 18, 2011, 8:08 GMT)

Thanx Gideon for this. Being an Indian I was always in awe of Cricket Australia for their ruthless efficiency, professional management and lack of scandals, that have so often plagued Indian cricket due to its immensely corrupt and narcissistic Board. Now the roles seem to have somewhat reversed, although its hard to see any board becoming more corrupt than the BCCI. Today Australian cricket is in lamentable shape. While we took a 'David-Goliathic' joy when a weaker team beat Australia in the past, today I look upon the australian team with pity. A stubborn and maniacal leader who is fading into complete oblivion - maybe back to his alcoholic days -, an inefficient and thick-skinned board, a comic marketing system and complete lack of depth within the state cricketing system incapable of producing even vaguely international class players. What a waste... I really pray for some champions to emerge again in Australia, and bring back some semblance of those glory days!

Posted by Dr_Van_Nostrand on (January 18, 2011, 7:58 GMT)

It's all very true, excellent article. You can't go to an international match in Australia without being confronted with non-stop advertising for 7 hours, not to mention the outrageous ticket prices and Declaration-of-Independence-long conditions of entry. It's all about flogging products and criminally overpaid players for CA....and they still whinge that crowds are dropping!?

Posted by trepuR on (January 18, 2011, 7:24 GMT)

Good article, you ended up going on a bit of a rant but I can't blame you, it is so frustrating to see everything that CA does, I agree wholeheatedly with all of what you say here. I would love to be in your shoes and able to just spill my guts in an article about everything that is wrong with the game of cricket at the moment and get it to so many people, but I have a 1000 character limit. Everyone that I try to talk to about what is wrong with cricket either does not care or does not agree, with a few exceptions. I only picked up the game a few years ago when I was twelve, and I do not realy have any cricket in my blood but I am obsessed with the game and I just get so passionate about the sport I almost want to scream when I think about all of the rediculously idiotic stuff that CA has done.

Posted by catalyst213 on (January 18, 2011, 7:22 GMT)

As you yourself quoted that," Hilditch is a lawyer. You have to wonder what his advices read like. Sorry to scrtach on the old wounds but im quite compelled to say that John Howard's nomination was rejected on similar grounds. Although you didnt feel in a similar fashion as you do now for Hilditch. CA and oz writers are not playing fair with the public. We all hope to see Aus bounce back and be as competitive as it has always been.

Posted by Ajay42 on (January 18, 2011, 7:19 GMT)

Everything is about perception, visceral and non factual though it may be. For me, Australian players are in denial about their own declining standards and still think they can talk their way through games, rather than winning them on the field. Stop using words like "disappointing" five times in every sentence and start rebuilding.And being Indian, as far as administration goes, this pot has no right to comment on the blackness of the kettle.

Posted by Dhoni_fan_from_a_dada_era on (January 18, 2011, 6:54 GMT)

Excellent article. Takes teh problems head on. calls a spade a spade. hats off Gideon. Same problem is there with India. The enormous mediocrity in offer by BCCI is absolutely shameful.

Posted by crh8971 on (January 18, 2011, 6:33 GMT)

Gideon you have yet again proven you are one of the great thinkers about the game of cricket, both in Australia and more broadly. It appears that the only quality that Australian cricket has enjoyed in abundance at every level, from players to the coaching staff, selectors and administrators, is hubris. The ability of representitives of all of these groups to stand in front of the media over the past couple of years and utter absolute nonsense is unprecedented outside the confines of the NSW Labour Party. Should the Cricket Australia move to a true commission stucture with some role to play for an elected representitive of the cricket loving public then I hope you will accept my nomination and run for the position.

Posted by Chiller38 on (January 18, 2011, 6:21 GMT)

Spot on Gideon! Thousands of devoted Cricket followers in Australia could not have put the argument better.

Posted by sbansban on (January 18, 2011, 6:16 GMT)

Rocket science + brain surgery = rocket surgery???

Posted by longrun on (January 18, 2011, 6:12 GMT)

gideon once again says it how it is. good article. cricket is unique and it unites an otherwise club/state focused nation in winter to one in summer. why do the administrators blinded by dollar signs fail to see they are killing the game that millions love and have done for decades, to pamper for the minority who know not what true cricket is. test cricket is the pinnacle and should be the main focus. i dont even remember who was here for last years one dayers, but i remember the test series of 2004 v india. i remember the ashes of 02 -03. but i dont remember 1 dayer - world cups yes, not the rest. ps. tait shouldn't be in word cup squad, who is hastings, 1 spinner in india, no ferguson, what has d hussey done lately, who is steve smith having relations with? we are better than this australia - sutherland said u keep doing same things you get same results - well mate, resign

Posted by AndyZaltzmannsHair on (January 18, 2011, 6:10 GMT)

They should take a leaf out of the BCCI's book and be a fine, upstanding institution which puts grassroots cricket first and foremost and does not care about the money.... oh wait.... oops.

Posted by Boba_Fett on (January 18, 2011, 5:42 GMT)

Yup, that about sums it all up.

Posted by Achettup on (January 18, 2011, 5:31 GMT)

You know what Cricket Australia needs, Gideon? Prime Minister John Howard to clean up this mess. I mean, who else could there possibly be, more suited to the job?

Posted by Nihontone on (January 18, 2011, 5:21 GMT)

Well said, Gideon! There is nothing more to add. At all.

Posted by GerardB on (January 18, 2011, 4:55 GMT)

Great article Gideon. The Big Bash League is the final nail in the ever unaccountable CA's coffin as far as I'm concerned. They finally have a passionate domestic league but it's going to be ripped apart so McKenna can justify his ongoing role - change for the sake of change so to speak. Walking around the G watching the Bushrangers with a crowd of 30,000 - 45,000 is a great experience, that left to its own devices can easily grow to 60,000+ and be extremely profitable in it's own right. They are absolutely dreaming if they think that more than 5,000 will show up to Etihad Stadium to watch a franchise of interstate players 'representing' the northern and western suburbs of Melbourne. The new league will just continue the ongoing carnage being wrecked upon this sport by the self-indulgent, out of touch, over marketed CA board. Do they even care about cricket anymore?

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 4:44 GMT)

a domestic OZ team can beat the current australian team.. they are not utilizing the local talent...IPL is making use of it.. we never heard of names like Dan Christian, Tim Paine, O keefe on a international platform..

Posted by landl47 on (January 18, 2011, 4:38 GMT)

A surgical dissection of the current state of the administraion in Australian cricket. The downside of Australia's period of dominance has been that the administrators and selectors have got comfortable and soft. Now the great players of the last 20 years are almost all gone, the lack of foresight and succession planning is beginning to show all too clearly. Hilditch's unbelievable refusal to accept any blame for Australia's Ashes failure only means that the needed overhaul is still far away. England, so long a laughing stock for its shambolic policies, now is organized and clearsighted, while Australia looks set for a period in the wilderness. As a cricket fan, I find it sad; as an England supporter, I'm lovin' it.

Posted by thefountain on (January 18, 2011, 4:22 GMT)

CA needs a restructure. They are coming off as pompous and very out of touch. The schedule needs a massive rethink. Way too much cricket. It's a joke that Ricky Ponting has played once for Tasmania in years.

It's been Aust vs England since november now. Everyone just seems sick of it and they are cricket fans.

Five tests, two 20/20's and now seven one days games against one side. Overkill!

Posted by redneck on (January 18, 2011, 4:13 GMT)

just one more thing, in defence of south australia. the adelaide oval is the 3rd most profitable venue for cricket in australia. while they may have 3 votes based on being a founding member they make up for their short comings on field by providing more than the waca or gabba to cricket australias coffers. its also why sa get the australia day match like vic get boxing day and nsw the new years test.

Posted by redneck on (January 18, 2011, 4:04 GMT)

i wholeheartedly agree with every word you have written my haigh! we had a good system, then as soon as the ipl popped up we thought we take a leaf out of the bcci's book???? which might work except australia's not india!!!! ipl created a high profile sports league to the second most populated nation on earth where there had been virtually none before it. in australia we have football codes that already do that to the maximum extent possible. when summer rolled around it meant a bit of variety on the australian sports calender it meant international sport which is something us afl lovers are depreived of during the winter. now it just seems cricket aust. wants to put shield cricket on the bakcburner, change the format of the 1 day comp (in a world cup year?!) and push 20/20 down our throats all january to the point where our national team had only 1 ODI before the world cup squad had to be picked??? someone needs to put the cricket back in cricket australia before its too late!

Posted by mharun91 on (January 18, 2011, 4:01 GMT)

Wonderfully done! I love reading your works. As I think most cricket lovers do. It's very sad cricket has got so commercialized.

Posted by Sandoid on (January 18, 2011, 3:50 GMT)

Wow, some of McKenna's comments are astonishing. I pick up on a similar point re the marketeers driving the game's direction rather than image here:

http://theloosecannon.com.au/2011/01/12/ashes-autopsy-rotting-from-the-head-down/

Posted by Kaze on (January 18, 2011, 3:46 GMT)

Very good article, I think Australian cricket will start its' way up when Hilditch and Neilsen are removed. One of their biggest blunders has been with the way Hauritz has been treated especially from the last test of the 2009 Ashes onward. It would make sense if when Hiditch and Neilsen speak that they don't use their mouths.

Posted by   on (January 18, 2011, 3:46 GMT)

Gideon has to rant.. Period!!!!

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Gideon HaighClose
Gideon Haigh Born in London of a Yorkshire father, raised in Australia by a Tasmanian mother, Gideon Haigh lives in Melbourne with a cat, Trumper. He has written 19 books and edited a further seven. He is also a life member and perennial vice-president of the South Yarra CC.

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