Australia in Sri Lanka 2011 July 29, 2011

Test players picked from anywhere, White believes


Cameron White, the Australian Twenty20 captain, says the rapid promotion of Nathan Lyon to tour Sri Lanka next month suggests the national selectors are employing an open door policy for the Test side, irrespective of the format a player makes his name in.

Lyon's selection, having played only four first-class matches and a handful of Twenty20 and limited overs matches for South Australia last summer, has illustrated how far the national panel is prepared to look in its pursuit of "champion" players.

White certainly sounded bemused when questioned on what Lyon's selection, alongside Michael Beer and Trent Copeland, signified for the rest of Australia's cricketers.

He concluded that it now meant that a player could be plucked from Twenty20s to play Tests or Sheffield Shield cricket to play Twenty20, as talent identifiers ceased to discriminate between formats and disciplines.

"Very interesting question. It is a tough one for me to answer," White told reporters in Brisbane before the Twenty20 squad flew out for Sri Lanka. "I guess if you are in the right place at the right time you can be picked.

"If you are in form and the selectors view that you are the right man for the job they can pick you. It seems as though the door is open for everyone in first-class cricket, one day cricket, and Twenty20 cricket to play Test cricket, if that makes any sense."

Both Andrew Hilditch, the chairman of selectors, and Greg Chappell, the national talent manager and selector, have stated that their present policy is to cast around widely in the hope that certain players will show immediate signs of becoming top class performers. It is an approach laced with risk and uncertainty, and far removed from that employed by the national panel when Australia was last struggling so markedly in the mid-1980s.

At that time the selectors identified a group of players with talent to support the captaincy of Allan Border, and largely stuck by them until results began to improve. The likes of Steve Waugh, Dean Jones, Merv Hughes, Geoff Marsh, David Boon and Craig McDermott emerged as the nucleus of a strong Australian side, that later became great when younger talent was introduced to a stable dressing room.

"We're picking the best team for Australia," Hilditch said when announcing the Test squad in Adelaide. "But we need some experienced players, which we think we have got, and we also need to find a couple of new champions in the next couple of years."

Australia's coach, Tim Nielsen, is not a selector, but he defended the scatter-gun ways of the panel, which is under heavy scrutiny as part of the Don Argus-led Australian team performance review. The review is due to table its findings to the Cricket Australia board at its next meeting on August 18-19.

"We are obviously looking for the spinner who can take us forward in all three forms of the game," Nielsen said. "To be honest no-one has taken their opportunity and made it their own yet. No-one has made their spot their own. And that is why we see some fluctuations in who is selected.

"Because whether it be through injury or performance we haven't seen one spinner really take the job on. Lyon and Beer now have the opportunity to stake their claim.

Nielsen did not see anything inconsistent about the rapid distribution of baggy green caps, particularly to spin bowlers. Twelve have now been elevated to the Australian Test squad since Shane Warne retired in 2007.

"We have come off a summer where we didn't have the success we would have liked," he said. "And it's pretty obvious we are searching for the mix of players we think will take us forward.

"We have seen a couple of players who are perceived to have jumped the queue because they have performed well when given the opportunity, and I think that is the way it has always been. If you are given a chance at domestic or Australia A level and do well the selectors will reward that."

Nielsen's role is also being analysed closely by the review, and his support staff has been significantly altered by the additions of Steve Rixon as fielding coach and Craig McDermott as pace bowling coach. The players have enjoyed the presence of more mentors with Test match experience, something Nielsen himself cannot call upon.

Rixon was appointed at the insistence of the new captain Michael Clarke, and Nielsen said the team now bore the stamp of the new leader.

"Michael's very clear on how he feels the team should be playing and the things he feels are important for the team to be playing that way," he told AAP. "We've got some new staff around the place, a new captain, a new vice-captain so all of those things lead to a different voice and a different idea.

"It's been really positive so far, I've really enjoyed working with those guys. I'm sure in the next little while, even if it doesn't transfer into wins straight out of the blocks, we're hopeful the new cricketers we've got in the team and the different direction we're taking will lead us back to the levels we want to be playing at and the standing we want in world cricket."

The Australian Twenty20 squad departs on Saturday for two matches on August 6 and 8, with limited overs and Test series to follow.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • abhijeet on August 1, 2011, 4:32 GMT

    @RJHB. You can find the reasons of Indian hatred for Chappel by going through the comments of Australian people who are hating him for what he doing to theie team. Chappel's method is to basically gamble with new talent instead of proven performers. This is never a good idea. AS far as India is concerned, we haven't even been able to fill up the place Ganguly vacated 2 years back. And as a test batman, he was nothing compared to Dravid & Tendulkar. So much for new young talented energetic hungry guys, Chappel is in love with.

  • Christopher on August 1, 2011, 4:17 GMT

    To all you Indians-you were right about Chappell.I admired and respected him as a player when i was growing up,but he is poison as an administrator.Unfortunately,the entire CA administration,Board,selection and coaching staff are identical,so Chappell doesnt appear out of place.For most traditional supporters,its not about winning or losing,but how they play the game.There is also the matter of fair play in selection which has vanished and the scandalous misuse of existing resources.Whatever australian cricket has been over the preceding 130 years,under this administration,it has died.

  • j on July 31, 2011, 14:25 GMT

    Oh boy, Chappell at work again, eh? You poor Aussies. It appears that when he was brought to India as coach to bring in the Aussie professionalism/planning, he exchanged it for our crazy selection ideas and took those back home when he left. The current Aussie cricket setup looks like our indian setup from the past and our Indian setup looks a lot more like the old Aussie setup in terms of planning and approach.

  • Dummy4 on July 31, 2011, 14:21 GMT

    if the aussies do beat lanka with this team, chappell will become a hero!!

  • Anthony on July 31, 2011, 9:56 GMT

    Dashgar, I respect your views but I hope you are joking. Spinners since Warne, the list is getting longer and longer. It's an embarrassment for the team and it doesn't stick that you just brush these things aside when for years the Aussies were loudest and most critical of other teams when they were doing it tough. A bit rich, its not a one way street.

    My view, their bowling lacks heart, no ticker, you'll never do any good with Timid Mitch leading from the front and frankly Hilfenhaus, Siddle, Bollinger and Harris are either not up to and give up when the going gets tough or both. The batting has folded like a deck of cards in two Ashes series now, against good opposition they are a rabble.

  • Peter on July 31, 2011, 0:48 GMT

    Can't wait for that date in August when Chappell and Hilditch are told their services are no longer required...............

  • Dummy4 on July 30, 2011, 15:04 GMT

    First Oz got to fire Andrew Hidlitch and Greg Chappell.Hidlitch has been randomly picking players and knocking them off.Remember Phil Jaques and Chris Rogers,anyone?Phil Jaques was the first choice opener but suddenly disappeared with an injury and never got a chance again.Logically he was the one to have got the opening slot after the 2009 Ashes.Rogers was in the mix,got a test match at Perth against us,was dropped once Hayden came back and never got a look in again.Now he doesn't even have a state contract.Hughes too has been a victim though he has managed a 2nd chance.After those hundreds in SA,he did struggle in the Ashes but should have been persisted with,not kicked out.You also got many spinners.Hauritz is the best of the lot but he has been in and out.And Chappell,as an Indian got experience of what he did to my team.Now the same is happening in Oz.He said Ponting and Hussey must quit since Oz have limited talent(?) and made Simon a scapegoat,kicking him out.

  • Alan on July 30, 2011, 12:06 GMT

    Well Cameron White is certainly right in suggesting that Australian test players certainly seem to be picked these days from "anywhere": indeed, the example of Nathan Lyon suggests that these days the selection even of individuals who have little or no previous association with the game of cricket is considered. I am interested to see how the squad fares: Sri Lanka's bowling after Murali are struggling for penetration, but noone is going to find it easy to win test matches against Sri Lanka in Sri Lanka

  • Dimuthu on July 30, 2011, 9:04 GMT

    australia are giving a weak sri lankan test side every opportunity to make amends after a poor england tour :-D mahela, sanga, dilshan and co. will have these spinners for breakfast!

  • Tim on July 30, 2011, 8:39 GMT

    Can we stop adding the spinners used since Warne. It is getting old. Australia do need new blood but the problem is that the new blood doesn't need to be under 22 with less than 10 first class games of experience. There are players in the state system with lots of experience, lots of years left who are ready made test players. Cameron White is just one of these players. George Bailey, Mark Cosgrove, Shaun Marsh, Matthew Wade, Callum Ferguson, Luke Butterworth, Steve O'Keefe and Dan Christian are others. We have a very good fast bowling attack at the moment, we have the potential to have a good batting lineup. All we need is a spinner who can get through overs, maintain pressure and provide the odd wicket and we'll be a complete side. Look at SA, second best test side in the world and no quality spinner. I think Lyon will be better than most of the names that came before him but he needs some time in shield cricket first.

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