August 3, 2011

Is there a method in the Australian selectors' madness?

The panel seems to be acting without rhyme or reason, mainly on the idea of shaking the tree until Test players emerge
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From the moment Nathan Hauritz was omitted from the bulging squad named for the first Ashes Test last winter it was clear that the Australian selectors were embarking upon a risky voyage in search of a cricket team capable of reclaiming top place in the rankings. Defeats might be suffered but Australia was not going to rest till the job had been complete.

Put another way, Greg Chappell has joined the panel. If it was not a move calculated to stir the waters then Cricket Australia did not know its man. Ever since, the panel has been an uneasy alliance between Andrew Hilditch's cautious methodology, Jamie Cox's ambitious analysis and Chappell's restless radicalism. Common sense left the panel on the day Merv Hughes, so much underestimated, was ousted.

Of course there is nothing wrong with having a range of voices and dispositions on a committee. Everything depends on whether the balance works. In this case the decisions seem to lurch between the stated positions, and the panel seems to be acting without rhyme or reason. Consistency requires a theme and a time frame. As it stands, some selectors think about today, others focus on tomorrow, and one seems to concentrate on five years yonder.

Hauritz's offence was not so much that he had been unable to trouble the Indian batsmen on their own pitches. He is not the first tweaker to not leave India bloodied and bruised. In any case it was not entirely his fault. Part of Australia's problem has been that Ricky Ponting was a poor captain of spinners. Far from nursing them or playing to their strengths, he sometimes set ridiculous fields and used them in fits and starts.

Nor was Hauritz's absence from the crucial Oval Test in 2009 decisive. His omission was a horrible mistake, founded upon an extraordinary misreading of the pitch. Still, he was hardly knocking the door down to take part, a response indicating a lack of self-belief. However, he took wickets against obliging West Indies and Pakistan outfits, thereby repairing the damage, or so it appeared. He seemed certain to start the last Ashes series.

Instead he was included only in the party of 17 announced 10 days before the first Test - a debacle, by the way, that ought to cost those responsible their jobs - and cut from the squad that convened in Brisbane. Hauritz was omitted because he was deemed to be a lightweight. That he was the most reliable spinner in the country was not enough. In Chappell's eyes, especially, he was not a Test spinner, did not have the strength of mind or deliver a heavy enough ball. According to this outlook, it's not the good or poor players that are the problem, it's the ones in between.

Dropping Hauritz and summoning an unproven lefty with a modest record but improved form for the first Test of an eagerly awaited Ashes series to be played against a rising England outfit was not so much a gamble as an inevitable consequence of that ruthless, seeking attitude. When Xavier Doherty failed to grasp his chance the panel ditched him and chose another bloke, Michael Beer, a West Australian few insiders had come across. He looked serviceable, not unlike Paul Harris of South Africa. Now Nathan Lyon has been added to the list.

It appears the selectors are working their way through the hopefuls in search of the solution. Not that the cricketing public is as sanguine. In their eyes playing cricket for Australia has become a lucky dip run by the mad hatter and chums. Others compare the selectors to an Idols panel. As far as punters are concerned, Hilditch lacks the wisdom detected in predecessors like Laurie Sawle and Trevor Hohns, whilst Chappell is dismissed as lacking judgement. Suffice it to say the panel cannot survive another chaotic campaign.

Not that all is quite lost. Admittedly Lyon was working on the grounds at the Adelaide Oval a few months ago but he comes from a cricketing family in Canberra and had gone south in search of opportunity. Darren Berry, South Australia's Twenty20 coach, spotted him making up the numbers in a practice match and threw him into a team as part of a successful strategy of preparing turning tracks and focusing on spin. It's the sort of story usually told in Pakistan, not hitherto regarded as a reliable role model.

Inexperienced, untested, mostly unknown, Lyon has only one thing going for him. By the look of things he can bowl. Certainly his deliveries drop and spin and occasionally fizz. He has been chosen not because he is ready or the best around but because he might mature into a Test tweaker. Mind you, much the same was said about Dan Cullen, a promising offie from the same neck of the woods, whose teasing flight excited amateur observers without especially endangering opposing batsmen. But his action was not as strong as the newcomer's. Lyon's game is built on solid foundations. It's possible the selectors might have found their man. Let's hope so. The jury is about to deliver its verdict.

Not that spin has been the only problem. Australia managed to go into the last Test of the Ashes series with a sketchy opening batsman, a callow fourth drop and, perforce, a novice at first wicket down. It was not an order likely to worry a superb England attack determined to complete the demolition job and capable of swinging the ball around in a manner supposedly no longer possible. Injuries to stalwarts like Ponting and Simon Katich did not help, but truth to tell the batting lacked any semblance of authority.

Australia's refusal to choose Brad Hodge, David Hussey and Cameron White confirmed that the new panel is intent on selecting not so much the best players around as cricketers deemed capable of becoming imposing Test cricketers in the Australian tradition. Evidently the three were judged not quite up to scratch, mostly due to weaknesses on the back foot. Nor did stop gaps appeal. Like Hauritz, too, they lack the special ingredient that sets champions apart, or so the panel has concluded. Presumably Alastair Cook and Jonathan Trott would have passed muster.

Australia's youngsters need to perform now or the sound of sharpening swords will be heard in every corner of the Australian cricketing community, and the heads on the block will be those of the selectors and those responsible for their appointment

The commitment to shaking the tree until Test players emerge is an idea that in a trice became a formula. At least as far as batting is concerned it may not suit the times. So much has changed in the education of young batsmen. The IPL has seen to that. Over the years Australians have concentrated on footwork. No nation has used its feet as well. Elsewhere shoulder, wrist, hands and head might be emphasised; down under, it is the pegs. Nowadays, though, clearing the front leg is regarded as more important than moving quickly and precisely into position. As David Warner and others could confirm, it is hard to go from disorder to order. India is facing the same challenge. Techniques are not so much deteriorating as becoming more flexible and less secure. The short and merry life can make millions.

Accordingly the selectors' faith in young batsmen has so far been unrewarded. That might not last. True talent usually finds a way. But the disregard shown by the selectors for batsmen with old-fashioned virtues like patience and tried and trusted techniques is overdone. Moreover it is a false reading of the Australian cricketing experience. Bill Lawry was not an especially attractive batsman but he put a high price on his wicket, frustrated many new-ball attacks and protected the middle order. It takes all sorts to make a cricket team, even an Australian team.

In one respect the selectors have been unlucky. Australia does have plenty of promising young speedsters. The selectors could not keep relying on Ben Hilfenhaus, a willing workhorse undone by a wonky back, or Mitchell Johnson, supposedly the leader of the attack but as often as not a liability. No wonder the cricket community was delighted to find Mitchell Starc, James Pattinson, Patrick Cummins, Josh Hazlewood and others working their way rapidly through the ranks.

Alas most of these raw newcomers have been injured and cannot be called up. Happily Pattinson has recovered and is in the squad to tour Sri Lanka. More will be heard of him. But the rest have been held back and the last place was given to Trent Copeland, an English-style seamer capable of using his height, keeping a line and length, moving the ball about and preying upon weaknesses.

Copeland's selection seems out of place because he is a grafter. Certainly he is not likely to scare any opponents or change the course of a match with a burst. Nor is he suited to conditions in Sri Lanka. But he gets bounce, stays fit, can bowl all day - indeed, gets irritated when he is withdrawn - and generally makes batsmen work for their runs. Oh yes, and he has taken a lot of Shield wickets at a respectable rate. It's not everything but it's a start.

It's going to be an interesting year for Australian cricket, and a telling one for the selectors. Heavily criticised for dumping Katich, they need to convince sceptics that they know their business. Patience is running out. As JM Keynes observed, "In the long run we are all dead." Australia's youngsters need to perform now or the sound of sharpening swords will be heard in every corner of the Australian cricketing community, and the heads on the block will be those of the selectors and those responsible for their appointment. As it stands, the prevailing view is that Chappell and Hilditch cannot work together and that Australian cricket has been undone not so much by their conflicting philosophies but by their want of acumen.

Peter Roebuck is a former captain of Somerset and the author, most recently, of In It to Win It

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Meety on August 5, 2011, 0:07 GMT

    @Paullie - I think if he substituted D Hussey for White the arguement would of been far better.

  • Meety on August 5, 2011, 0:05 GMT

    @AndyZaltzmannsHair - I'd actually argue that Oz batsmen play spin very well, just don't adapt to it as well in the subcontinent. Since 1947, the most prolific overseas spinner in Oz was Lance Gibbs who's 59 wickets came @ 33, with a S/R of 97. Kumble's 49 @ 37 & a S/R of 67. Murali doesn't even come on the list. Prasanna did okay with 31 @ 31 but a S/R of 83. Hauritz (dubious to compare as he is not playing Aus batsmen in TESTS) has 38 wickets @ 30, with a S/R of 61, his FC stats however (not exclusive to Shield cricket), his 96 wickets average 46 @ a S/R of 92. THAT is the problem in Oz. Oz batsmen smash spinners on Oz soil, it is survival of the fittest if you are a spinner. All our spinners will average higher domestically than they would normally at international level (which is why it is galling that O'Keefe FC ave 24 is constantly overlooked). MacGill & Warne's Shield stats were inferior to their test stats.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on August 4, 2011, 18:48 GMT

    Hauritz should never have been dropped. Whatever falling out he had and the way the Aussie cricket board handled it was wrong. And it's now costing them. Australia's biggest problem is their relationship with spin. They neither play high quality spin that well, and neither do they possess a top level spinner.

  • landl47 on August 4, 2011, 13:47 GMT

    @Meety: C'mon, you're not STILL beating the SA drum, are you? There's a qualification process in international cricket which all the members of the England team have gone through. Besides, Strauss and Prior were brought over by their families as kids, which makes them as much English as Khawaja is Australian. You also don't have to go back to the mid-70s to find great England teams (in fact, the Aussie teams of 1974-76 were some of the best ever). England may not have been up to the standard of the great WI team, but from 1977 to 1987 they handled the Aussies pretty well (5 series wins in 6 Ashes series) and they reached the World Cup final twice. Australia dominated from 1989 to 2003/4, but England have won 3 out of 4 series since then. I don't see any prospect of Australia being a great team again in 2 years: maybe in 5, if a whole lot of new players come along in the next few years. England are going to be very good for a number of years. Get used to losing!

  • robheinen on August 4, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    You compared the selectors to an idols panel and in one way that's not so bad a comparison. There is one factor you have omitted in your article and that's the following: No matter how promising a player looks in all forms but international cricket, he's still to prove himself on the international stage. It's been many players who played good and promising cricket, but weren't able to stand the pressure of international cricket. If selectors can judge exactly that factor to perfection than that's the selector you want.

  • bobagorof on August 4, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    Test batsmen don't get scared out by opposition bowlers - they tough it out. So Australia will need bowlers who can also tough it out. Good to see Copeland finally in the Test frame.

  • robheinen on August 4, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    You compared the selectors to an idols panel and in one way that's not so bad a comparison. There is one factor you have omitted in your article and that's the following: No matter how promising a player looks in all forms but international cricket, he's still to prove himself on the international stage. It's been many players who played good and promising cricket, but weren't able to stand the pressure of international cricket. If selectors can judge exactly that factor to perfection than that's the selector you want.

  • landl47 on August 4, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    I don't care how 'strong' his action is, a guy who has played four first-class games and got 12 wickets at 43 each is not ready for test match cricket. Hopefully, Australia is taking him along to show him what he needs to learn before becoming a test cricketer and will send him to learn in the Shield and perhaps county cricket. England has done that with Rashid, who is learning his craft and recently took his first 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket. By the time Swann hangs them up, he should be ready. @Woody111: Not sure what cricket you've been watching recently, but England only batted first once in the Ashes series and that was the draw at Brisbane where they made 260 in the first innings. Yes, they did bat first against Sri Lanka once and India once and made 400, but each time they were put in and would have bowled first if they'd won the toss. Losing the toss and making 400 when you're put in may be good cricket, but it isn't a strategy.

  • MinusZero on August 4, 2011, 0:29 GMT

    I am sure when Krejza debuted and got 12 wickets they probably thought their search was over. The problem is, there is no one in Shield cricket who is consistently showing they have what it takes. A bowler with an average over 40 is not a good bowler and definitely not test quality. The search will continue for years to come if they keep selecting players with awful average and who have only played a handful of games.

  • on August 3, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    I remember a time when always the Australian team was picked on the best XI players in the country. It didn't matter about age - the best players were picked. Case in point, when we won the Ashes in 06/07, the only player aged under 30 was Clarke. We had chosen the best players in Australia, and they delivered. On the odd occasion, a young player would get thrown in (like Clarke, Lee), but generally this was because they were thought of as at the top of the tree. Now there has to be the odd risk taken with young players to get cricket moving forward, but in my opinion performance outweighs potential, and if there are no young players performing then don't pick them.

  • Meety on August 5, 2011, 0:07 GMT

    @Paullie - I think if he substituted D Hussey for White the arguement would of been far better.

  • Meety on August 5, 2011, 0:05 GMT

    @AndyZaltzmannsHair - I'd actually argue that Oz batsmen play spin very well, just don't adapt to it as well in the subcontinent. Since 1947, the most prolific overseas spinner in Oz was Lance Gibbs who's 59 wickets came @ 33, with a S/R of 97. Kumble's 49 @ 37 & a S/R of 67. Murali doesn't even come on the list. Prasanna did okay with 31 @ 31 but a S/R of 83. Hauritz (dubious to compare as he is not playing Aus batsmen in TESTS) has 38 wickets @ 30, with a S/R of 61, his FC stats however (not exclusive to Shield cricket), his 96 wickets average 46 @ a S/R of 92. THAT is the problem in Oz. Oz batsmen smash spinners on Oz soil, it is survival of the fittest if you are a spinner. All our spinners will average higher domestically than they would normally at international level (which is why it is galling that O'Keefe FC ave 24 is constantly overlooked). MacGill & Warne's Shield stats were inferior to their test stats.

  • AndyZaltzmannsHair on August 4, 2011, 18:48 GMT

    Hauritz should never have been dropped. Whatever falling out he had and the way the Aussie cricket board handled it was wrong. And it's now costing them. Australia's biggest problem is their relationship with spin. They neither play high quality spin that well, and neither do they possess a top level spinner.

  • landl47 on August 4, 2011, 13:47 GMT

    @Meety: C'mon, you're not STILL beating the SA drum, are you? There's a qualification process in international cricket which all the members of the England team have gone through. Besides, Strauss and Prior were brought over by their families as kids, which makes them as much English as Khawaja is Australian. You also don't have to go back to the mid-70s to find great England teams (in fact, the Aussie teams of 1974-76 were some of the best ever). England may not have been up to the standard of the great WI team, but from 1977 to 1987 they handled the Aussies pretty well (5 series wins in 6 Ashes series) and they reached the World Cup final twice. Australia dominated from 1989 to 2003/4, but England have won 3 out of 4 series since then. I don't see any prospect of Australia being a great team again in 2 years: maybe in 5, if a whole lot of new players come along in the next few years. England are going to be very good for a number of years. Get used to losing!

  • robheinen on August 4, 2011, 7:47 GMT

    You compared the selectors to an idols panel and in one way that's not so bad a comparison. There is one factor you have omitted in your article and that's the following: No matter how promising a player looks in all forms but international cricket, he's still to prove himself on the international stage. It's been many players who played good and promising cricket, but weren't able to stand the pressure of international cricket. If selectors can judge exactly that factor to perfection than that's the selector you want.

  • bobagorof on August 4, 2011, 7:03 GMT

    Test batsmen don't get scared out by opposition bowlers - they tough it out. So Australia will need bowlers who can also tough it out. Good to see Copeland finally in the Test frame.

  • robheinen on August 4, 2011, 5:28 GMT

    You compared the selectors to an idols panel and in one way that's not so bad a comparison. There is one factor you have omitted in your article and that's the following: No matter how promising a player looks in all forms but international cricket, he's still to prove himself on the international stage. It's been many players who played good and promising cricket, but weren't able to stand the pressure of international cricket. If selectors can judge exactly that factor to perfection than that's the selector you want.

  • landl47 on August 4, 2011, 2:54 GMT

    I don't care how 'strong' his action is, a guy who has played four first-class games and got 12 wickets at 43 each is not ready for test match cricket. Hopefully, Australia is taking him along to show him what he needs to learn before becoming a test cricketer and will send him to learn in the Shield and perhaps county cricket. England has done that with Rashid, who is learning his craft and recently took his first 10-wicket haul in first-class cricket. By the time Swann hangs them up, he should be ready. @Woody111: Not sure what cricket you've been watching recently, but England only batted first once in the Ashes series and that was the draw at Brisbane where they made 260 in the first innings. Yes, they did bat first against Sri Lanka once and India once and made 400, but each time they were put in and would have bowled first if they'd won the toss. Losing the toss and making 400 when you're put in may be good cricket, but it isn't a strategy.

  • MinusZero on August 4, 2011, 0:29 GMT

    I am sure when Krejza debuted and got 12 wickets they probably thought their search was over. The problem is, there is no one in Shield cricket who is consistently showing they have what it takes. A bowler with an average over 40 is not a good bowler and definitely not test quality. The search will continue for years to come if they keep selecting players with awful average and who have only played a handful of games.

  • on August 3, 2011, 23:24 GMT

    I remember a time when always the Australian team was picked on the best XI players in the country. It didn't matter about age - the best players were picked. Case in point, when we won the Ashes in 06/07, the only player aged under 30 was Clarke. We had chosen the best players in Australia, and they delivered. On the odd occasion, a young player would get thrown in (like Clarke, Lee), but generally this was because they were thought of as at the top of the tree. Now there has to be the odd risk taken with young players to get cricket moving forward, but in my opinion performance outweighs potential, and if there are no young players performing then don't pick them.

  • __PK on August 3, 2011, 22:11 GMT

    After my reaction to the mention of Cameron White as one of the best players in Australia in this article, I've developed a new acronym. SMCAOMSIA - Spit My Coffee All Over My Screen In Astonishment. Interesting couple of paragraphs about Copeland - substitute the name McGrath in there and see how it reads.

  • Meety on August 3, 2011, 21:41 GMT

    @Woody111 - don't forget that Swann was dropped about 10yrs ago. A few of our guys COULD come back better cricketers, probably not though! @PeteB - it was an issue in the Shield just a few years ago. You only had to go back barely 4 years ago & the Shield was chockful of older players unlikely to reach further development. Each team barely had one young guy in the squad. The worm has turned - (too far), but will possibly reap better rewards in a year or two. @Browndog1968 - yes! YES! @Truemans_Ghost - it is interesting the turnaround of your mob, although somewhat dubious due to the "recruitment" of some players, which does not happen in Oz. The last great English teams were from the mid 70s, so it took 40 years to get back to the top, I think Oz doldrums will be less than 5, probably less than 2, (starting from last November!).

  • dean67 on August 3, 2011, 21:36 GMT

    What is the problem with picking the best performed players in Shield cricket? Beer or Lyon may well prove to be fine test bowlers but to pick them after a handful of 1st class games cheapens the Australian cap - if they are good enough then they will perform in Shield cricket. All this does is throw them in the deep end in the toughest of conditions before they know their own game. It is difficult enough to make Gen Y players take responsibility for their actions without handing them spots having not earned them. It is impossible to have confidence in the national selectors - the only world class aspect of the test team in the last couple of years has been the opening partnership which they were determined to change with the sacking of Katich. They then choose a test squad containing 4 uncontracted players less than 2 months after naming the contract list. It isn't that difficult - pick the players whose performances demand selection.

  • bluebillion on August 3, 2011, 16:02 GMT

    Greg Chappel did the same to India when he was coach - he wanted young players in place of Dravid, Sachin and Ganguly. While his logic may have been correct, the timing and certainly the method of a "big bang" change would never have worked.

    Maybe the selectors could have blooded these youngsters in a home series instead of the subcontinent which is probably the hardest place to tour for bowlers.

  • RandyOZ on August 3, 2011, 13:34 GMT

    I agree re: Lyon and his potential. I can't understand why we have no emerging leggies though. I know it's the harder spin to master and it takes lots of time, but I would've thought with the advent of Warne that there would be some young leg spinners coming through the ranks - very surprising.

  • yorkshire-86 on August 3, 2011, 13:07 GMT

    'Scaring' batsmen out is a anachronistic throwback to uncovered pitches and helmetless heads. In the 21st century you dont 'scare' batsmen out, you BOWL them out.

  • stormy16 on August 3, 2011, 12:33 GMT

    unfortunately something like this was going to happen after the retirement of the greats - time will tell if this is the best way to go about but I understand the CA mission. I also agree with the idea of lets look for the next Ponting or Waugh rather than invenst in hodge or katich who can only deliver for a few more years. The replacement for Warne there arent any and never will be any! Aus need to play with its strengths and spins never been one of them with the exception of Warne. Also finding a spinner in Aus is going to be a struggle just like South Africa - hey why doest CA import a couple of spinners! Tahir plays for SA and half the English side is from SA (ok not half but your get my point).

  • AlanHarrison on August 3, 2011, 10:12 GMT

    Interesting attribution of much of the responsibility for Australian selectors' recent blunders to Greg Chappell. One imagines this would accord with the suspicions of a high proportion of fans of India, and especially of Sourav Ganguly.

  • Truemans_Ghost on August 3, 2011, 10:03 GMT

    I will confess that, like all England supporters, I enjoyed the Schadenfreude of the Australian fall from grace for a while. However a weak fractured Australian test team is not good for cricket, and even for English cricket in particular. We really do need Australia the be strong again and championing proper test crcket (not too strong of course, slightly weaker than England will do fine).Looking at the rise of thsi England team, some significant players (Swann, Tremlett and before them Sidebottom) have been 30ish forgotten men who have surprised after recall and Trott, whilst not exactly plucked from obscurity, has exceeded anyone's expectations. England selectors, after being harrible for decades, started making some smart decisions.

  • kabe_ag7 on August 3, 2011, 9:55 GMT

    I don't like IPL. But how can the IPL, which is only 3 years old, affect the current crop of Australian players? It's been more than 3 years since Australia stopped getting players of the calibre of their older generation. Poor reasoning there. Though not to say that T20 is not going to have that effect on 'future' players.

  • on August 3, 2011, 9:24 GMT

    The selectors are terrible expeciialy chappell and hilditch, Hilditch knows nothing about cricket. Chappel is so radical and just wants changes all the time. This new spinner Lyon looks the best of the lot so far, he takes wickets, he doesnt leak runs and he is young. The selectors better stick with him.

  • bumsonseats on August 3, 2011, 8:32 GMT

    i thought after loosing 3 ashes series ponting would have gone. they disgard an opener thru age and keep the ex captain who is close to 37 whos form was very poor thru the last ashes series. clarke has to find his own may of doing things without the ex captain looking over his shoulder. dpk

  • on August 3, 2011, 8:26 GMT

    Copeland is a grafter...Copeland also has taken 87 first class wickets at 21.68, which makes him the best bowler in Australia on average. No, he's not going to scare anyone out, and the guy who should've scared people out, Shaun Tait, wasn't much of a Test bowler.

  • on August 3, 2011, 8:04 GMT

    The first time I have had read a really good article from the pen of Peter Perfect in years. Nice to to see you back. I hope the selectors read it, too.

  • Pres. on August 3, 2011, 8:00 GMT

    A fair assessment Peter, the truth is we are back in the field of Test playing countries now and there will be 3 places in the team up for grabs to any batsman or bowler who produces the performances to warrant selection. We're just not that good today.

    Sad that the Team performance review is still going on 7 months after the Ashes were lost, without any conclusions. Had they come earlier we could have started to make some constructive progress.

  • Browndog1968 on August 3, 2011, 7:59 GMT

    Yes Australia are in a slump and rebuilding. Yes the tallent pool is looking a bit shallow after so many years of being the deepest in the world but one thing is always guarenteed. When an Australian outfit takes the field there will be no quarter given. No side whether top or bottom of the rankings will take them lightly and it will always be just a matter of time before they will have a squad which propels them back to the top. Keep looking over your shoulders India, England and co, enjoy your time in the sun after so many years in the shade.

  • PeteB on August 3, 2011, 7:31 GMT

    I seem to remember some years ago you Peter bemoaning all the time servers in Australian Shield cricket stopping youngsters getting in the team. Alas,a few Shield hardened veterans would be just the boost Australian cricket needs, even if they're not playing in the test squad. It's an interesting time to be a supporter of Australian cricket. Eventually a settled and decent lineup will arise. I'll give it another 2-3 years. For the time being I hope Ryan Harris keeps injury free.

  • charlie1863 on August 3, 2011, 7:20 GMT

    As we all know by now Greg-CHAPPEL is the STIRRER and likes to be in the NEWS for all the wrong reasons. He was a GREAT CRICKETER in his time but his ATTITUDE & JUDGEMENT of current generation of cricketers is annoying & frustrating those who follow cricket.

  • ygkd on August 3, 2011, 7:10 GMT

    Glad to see Roebuck mention footwork. I was beginning to think it had been expunged from the cricketing vocabulary for all time. Ditto openers batting like Bill Lawry (Roebuck should know what he's talking about there). As for the question - would Trott and Cook have passed muster in Australia long enough to consolidate a place here - does anyone really believe Australia can currently accomodate such types of players (except perhaps if they were the somewhat precocious offspring of former Australian internationals)? That said, I still think the selectors might be right about Lyon.

  • Ozcricketwriter on August 3, 2011, 6:35 GMT

    dump chappell, hilditch and the coach and replace them with people from the dominant era. the rest will fall into place.

  • on August 3, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    What is it with Greg Chappell ! great cricketer but not liked as a would be politician, coach and national selector. The uncomprimising approach against set values and proven ideas is NOT the way to gain support by all and sundrie. I'm afraid it is to late for him personaly to believe the world will bend to his opinions. Core values and consensus will move Australian cricket foward!

  • Woody111 on August 3, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    @Chandau - that's a really good point about spinners and age. Look at how Swann returned to the English set up. The selectors give guys like Beer and Doherty a few spells and if they don't get a bag they're gone. There's no confidence exuded on the spinners at all. Swann said one of the great things about the English team now is that noone is looking over their shoulder. When Aus was great the team was stable; fewer players used over a 10 year period than probably ever before. Thtat's not to say there's no pressure to perform but if I was a spinner and got 2/100 I'd be uncertain if I was ever going to wear a baggy green again. Warne said spinners need to (and be supported by their captain to) go for 4/120 rather than 2/75 - ie bowl to get wickets; not merely hold up an end. I think the attitude now in Aus that you bowl spin to contain. With the fields Ponting set it's no wonder our spinners went for 3 or 4 singles an over but got no return for it? Let's hope Clarke gives them a chance

  • on August 3, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    If Cricket Australia believe that spinners are overnight successes, they ought to have a long chat with either Shane Warne or Graeme Swann or both.

  • ze_wolf on August 3, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    What about the refusal to select Cossie? In a year where 'result wickets' in the shield were the norm and every batsman around the country struggled he was head and shoulders above everyone else yet still can't even make the Australian A team.

  • nzcricket174 on August 3, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    Great article Peter. Australian Cricket truly is a mess.

  • chandau on August 3, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Just wonder how the IPL has affected the Auzzys, since very few play the tournament and mostly bowlers. it would be true to Sri Lankka as the second largest contingent and most of the top players. infact IPL contributed to the bad performance in england series. As far as spinners go, Auzzy have none at the moment; the two ggod ones are now gone and it will be years before another pair emerges. Also these selectors, as highly experienced they are, seem to have forgotten that the spinners perform well late in their careers, even the greats like Murali and Waarne. By chopping off guys before they gain a foothold these selectors are doing the world a favor; there will be no spinner confident enough to play for the next 10 years easily. :)

  • Meety on August 3, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    Pretty good analysis, don't quite get the description of Copeland as being English style, but that's minor. I don't have a problem with the concept of a 25 person central contract list - if anything I'd increase it further to 30, what I have a real problem with is the methodology used to select the 25. I think Cummins is a great prospect, but not ahead of Copeland. I think Lee is a stalwart that deserves any salary he gets, but he no longer plays Tests, Katich does. I think Smith has a huge potential, but is he a better prospect for Tests than say Lynn or say Cosgrove? Too many inconsistancies & there is real angst in the passionate fan base on these issues. Cricket Australia is losing a chunk of its core business - chasing the T20 money producing circus, are those new markets worth slaying the traditional fan base?

  • on August 3, 2011, 3:46 GMT

    The Chappell and Hildith combination will destroy Australian Cricket. Sangakkara talks how the SL board administration is mismanaged, PCB has problems with its players, WI board is a mess and Australia's is just as bad, but not as bad as the ZIM administration. All talk and no play, when John Buchannan, Trevor Holmes and co were around, Australia was no.1. The changing of the guard of players through retirement, the coach and the selectors have led Australia to be a not so good team. When the Argus review comes out the axe will fall on Hildith and co.

  • KAIRAVA on August 3, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    MADNESS..MADNESS...Absolute Madness.

  • Woody111 on August 3, 2011, 3:31 GMT

    Great again Peter but precious little on the fragility of the batting lineup. Looking over Strauss' record since England have become dominant he's made few substantial scores. This has been acceptable as Trott, Cook, KP - well almost everyone else - have filled the void. England's numbers 6 through 9 can all make tons! If Watson fails then Hussey has to make runs. If he doesn't, we're stuffed. Clarke and Ponting both need to again show their place is justified. Kahwaja and Hughes are just starting out; admittedly with Hughes it's a third chance. The pace attack will be fine but if the Lyon experiment does't work, what then? The guy sounds promising but that won't get you a 5 for on 5th day wickets to win a test. I think Aus is best served by a simple strategy that England is employing; bat first and make over 400 then use your pace to get 20 wickets. I'm confident Aus can find a way to get 20 wickets before too long but getting 400 looks a far way off for this group. I hope I'm wrong.

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  • Woody111 on August 3, 2011, 3:31 GMT

    Great again Peter but precious little on the fragility of the batting lineup. Looking over Strauss' record since England have become dominant he's made few substantial scores. This has been acceptable as Trott, Cook, KP - well almost everyone else - have filled the void. England's numbers 6 through 9 can all make tons! If Watson fails then Hussey has to make runs. If he doesn't, we're stuffed. Clarke and Ponting both need to again show their place is justified. Kahwaja and Hughes are just starting out; admittedly with Hughes it's a third chance. The pace attack will be fine but if the Lyon experiment does't work, what then? The guy sounds promising but that won't get you a 5 for on 5th day wickets to win a test. I think Aus is best served by a simple strategy that England is employing; bat first and make over 400 then use your pace to get 20 wickets. I'm confident Aus can find a way to get 20 wickets before too long but getting 400 looks a far way off for this group. I hope I'm wrong.

  • KAIRAVA on August 3, 2011, 3:36 GMT

    MADNESS..MADNESS...Absolute Madness.

  • on August 3, 2011, 3:46 GMT

    The Chappell and Hildith combination will destroy Australian Cricket. Sangakkara talks how the SL board administration is mismanaged, PCB has problems with its players, WI board is a mess and Australia's is just as bad, but not as bad as the ZIM administration. All talk and no play, when John Buchannan, Trevor Holmes and co were around, Australia was no.1. The changing of the guard of players through retirement, the coach and the selectors have led Australia to be a not so good team. When the Argus review comes out the axe will fall on Hildith and co.

  • Meety on August 3, 2011, 4:45 GMT

    Pretty good analysis, don't quite get the description of Copeland as being English style, but that's minor. I don't have a problem with the concept of a 25 person central contract list - if anything I'd increase it further to 30, what I have a real problem with is the methodology used to select the 25. I think Cummins is a great prospect, but not ahead of Copeland. I think Lee is a stalwart that deserves any salary he gets, but he no longer plays Tests, Katich does. I think Smith has a huge potential, but is he a better prospect for Tests than say Lynn or say Cosgrove? Too many inconsistancies & there is real angst in the passionate fan base on these issues. Cricket Australia is losing a chunk of its core business - chasing the T20 money producing circus, are those new markets worth slaying the traditional fan base?

  • chandau on August 3, 2011, 4:55 GMT

    Just wonder how the IPL has affected the Auzzys, since very few play the tournament and mostly bowlers. it would be true to Sri Lankka as the second largest contingent and most of the top players. infact IPL contributed to the bad performance in england series. As far as spinners go, Auzzy have none at the moment; the two ggod ones are now gone and it will be years before another pair emerges. Also these selectors, as highly experienced they are, seem to have forgotten that the spinners perform well late in their careers, even the greats like Murali and Waarne. By chopping off guys before they gain a foothold these selectors are doing the world a favor; there will be no spinner confident enough to play for the next 10 years easily. :)

  • nzcricket174 on August 3, 2011, 5:38 GMT

    Great article Peter. Australian Cricket truly is a mess.

  • ze_wolf on August 3, 2011, 6:03 GMT

    What about the refusal to select Cossie? In a year where 'result wickets' in the shield were the norm and every batsman around the country struggled he was head and shoulders above everyone else yet still can't even make the Australian A team.

  • on August 3, 2011, 6:09 GMT

    If Cricket Australia believe that spinners are overnight successes, they ought to have a long chat with either Shane Warne or Graeme Swann or both.

  • Woody111 on August 3, 2011, 6:13 GMT

    @Chandau - that's a really good point about spinners and age. Look at how Swann returned to the English set up. The selectors give guys like Beer and Doherty a few spells and if they don't get a bag they're gone. There's no confidence exuded on the spinners at all. Swann said one of the great things about the English team now is that noone is looking over their shoulder. When Aus was great the team was stable; fewer players used over a 10 year period than probably ever before. Thtat's not to say there's no pressure to perform but if I was a spinner and got 2/100 I'd be uncertain if I was ever going to wear a baggy green again. Warne said spinners need to (and be supported by their captain to) go for 4/120 rather than 2/75 - ie bowl to get wickets; not merely hold up an end. I think the attitude now in Aus that you bowl spin to contain. With the fields Ponting set it's no wonder our spinners went for 3 or 4 singles an over but got no return for it? Let's hope Clarke gives them a chance

  • on August 3, 2011, 6:19 GMT

    What is it with Greg Chappell ! great cricketer but not liked as a would be politician, coach and national selector. The uncomprimising approach against set values and proven ideas is NOT the way to gain support by all and sundrie. I'm afraid it is to late for him personaly to believe the world will bend to his opinions. Core values and consensus will move Australian cricket foward!