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August 22, 2011
Greg Chappell will remain on tour as Australia's selector on duty ahead of the three Tests against Sri Lanka after discussions with James Sutherland, the Cricket Australia chief executive.
Sutherland and Chappell cleared whatever shades of grey remained between them in Colombo on Tuesday to confirm that CA's national talent manager would remain as the selector on tour in a caretaker capacity, despite being stripped of the role for the future as part of the restructures brought on by the Argus review.
"Greg's staying, Greg's selector on duty and he'll stay until whatever time we see appropriate," Sutherland said before departing Colombo after the briefest of visits. "The approach we normally take with selector on duty is once we get into the Test series then we just see how things go and what's needed on the ground here. Greg will be selector on duty through the Test series.
"We just talked through the circumstances and he's completely understanding of that and he's an employee of CA and he fully understands, he's absolutely committed to CA and he understands that's in the best interests as well, and he'll be fine."
Having spoken to the assembled Australian team on tour, including all coaches and support staff, Sutherland said none of his discussions indicated that Chappell would seek to leave the national talent manager's role now it had been re-defined.
"Absolutely no discussion about that, Greg is national talent manager and I'm on public record saying I can't think of anyone in the world who is better credentialled than Greg Chappell to do the job," Sutherland said.
"I came over here just to have a chat to everyone, and what I see is a group of absolutely dead-set professionals, who are very focused on what they need to do in the immediate term to help the Australian cricket team win the current Test series. I don't see there's any distraction that we need to have any concerns about."
Michael Clarke, the Australian captain, had said after the final ODI against Sri Lanka that he was happy to take responsibility for selection, alongside the coach Tim Nielsen - himself unlikely to keep his job much longer - if Chappell chose to fly home.
"I'm not bothered either way," Clarke said. "If Greg stays fantastic, if Greg has to go back then obviously the coach and the captain are now selectors, we'll have the communication with the selectors back home like there normally is, so either way I'm not really fussed to be honest."
The head of cricket operations, Michael Brown, himself moved to one side as one of the recommendations of the review, was in Colombo to manage the announcement of the findings and has been seen in animated conversation with Ricky Ponting and the former Sri Lanka coach Tom Moody, among others.
Jamie Cox, the only remaining member of the selection panel who has not been given an immediate verdict on his future, had indicated that Chappell would stay on in Sri Lanka, as neither Cox nor the departing chairman, Andrew Hilditch, were intent on joining the tour in a caretaker capacity.
Hilditch released a statement on the day of the review's publication, indicating that his time as a member of the selection panel was effectively at an end.
The elevation of the captain to an official selection position is only the subtlest of changes from the accepted norms of Australian cricket. Mark Taylor once described the dynamic between himself and the selectors to the then England captain Mike Atherton: "I don't officially sit in on selection, but by and large they'll let me take who I want."
Similarly, Clarke did not feel any great qualms about holding the role and talking to players about their inclusion or otherwise.
"I understand what comes with it, but I think in regards to the players, they know the captain has some sort of input in the XI that take the field anyway," he said. "Not in all decisions but he gets to at least voice his opinion. Being a selector will be quite similar, I don't make or break the decision, I have my vote, and if I get outvoted, it doesn't go that way.
"The players understand the captain has always had somewhat of a say, obviously now being an official selector you'll have a bit more of a say, but for me it's about getting the best XI players we possibly can onto that field and we play our best cricket, it's as simple as that. None of the decisions I make will ever be personal, it'll be all about what's best for the team and I've tried to do that from day one."
That process, in Test cricket at least, begins when Clarke speaks to Nielsen and Chappell about how to approach the warm-up match, balancing his prospective Test XI against those younger players, like the spin bowler Nathan Lyon, who he must get a decent sight of.
"It's a tough one, you can go one of two ways, either you can pick your Test team, or close to your Test team, and play that to try to get a bit of momentum as a team," Clarke said, "but then you've also got to monitor where guys are at, the guys who've played all five one-dayers, and work out if you know your Test XI.
"It is pretty important that we make that decision, I'd like to give the guys as much notice as possible and I believe we've got to do whatever's right to get us 100% ready, day one of that Test match."
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfoFeeds: Daniel Brettig
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