Repair work on a damaging breakdown in the largest component of Australian cricket's talent conveyor belt is now the responsibility of Phil Jaques, after the former Test opener was unveiled as the new coach of New South Wales on a three-year deal.
Jaques was left as the only candidate for the role after his former Australia team-mate Brad Haddin withdrew from the running late last week, with the imminent commencement of the national team's limited-overs tour of England and Zimbabwe believed to be a contributing factor to his decision. Haddin is contracted with the national side as an assistant coach until the end of next year's Ashes tour.
Having previously served as the head coach of Queensland, Jaques moved back to Sydney last year for family reasons and served as an assistant to Trent Johnston as the NSW Blues endured a season of underwhelming results. NSW, Australia's most populous state, has not reached a Sheffield Shield final since 2014, compelling the state's performance manager David Moore and chief executive Andrew Jones to part ways with Johnston at the end of the summer.
"As a former Blues player I am delighted to have been given the opportunity to coach NSW as part of a new era," Jaques said. "We have a number of exceptional young cricketers, many of whom have recently represented the Australian Under-19s, and I look forward to working with them so they can reach their full potential.
"Equally we have a senior group of players, many with international experience, who can play a big part in not only our performances on the field but also moulding this squad for future success. Patience is required as young players develop, but this is an exciting time at Cricket NSW as we look to enhance the culture of improvement and learning, and continue to be the leading provider of talent for Australian cricket."
There are major concerns across Australian cricket about the fact that the generation beyond Steven Smith, David Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood, Nathan Lyon and Pat Cummins have not progressed as desired. This problem is epitomised by the decision to discard the talented but wayward Nic Maddinson from the state-contract list, with the left-hander now seeking a fresh start in Victoria.
"2017-18 was a difficult year for the Blues and we have refreshed the list accordingly. We are very deliberately bringing through a younger group of players and are not looking for a quick fix," chief executive Jones said. "Instead from Board level down we are looking to build a culture of growth and excellence, which will lead to sustained success. We want all our players to achieve their potential in the game, and if they do we will continue to win titles and produce players for Australia."
Performance manager Moore pointed to Jaques' playing record as evidence he would be the right man for the job. "We are delighted one of our own has been successful," he said. "Anyone who scores three centuries and six half-centuries in 11 Tests and makes more than 16,000 first-class runs at an average of better than 48 is obviously a quality player of vast experience.
"Phil has also learnt his trade as a coach, having progressed through the CNSW pathway from club level to our elite junior teams before becoming assistant coach of the Blues. He then gained head coaching experience in Queensland where he did an excellent job of developing and improving young players, and helped lay the platform for the Bulls' Sheffield Shield success last season.
"After returning to the Blues in 2017-18, Phil is aware of where we need to improve and hungry to lead that change."
Jaques was among the collection of state and national team coaches assembled at the National Cricket Centre in Brisbane last week for a series of frank seminars and discussions about the direction of the game and the way players are being coached, whether it be in terms of their technique, mentality or fitness.
Among other roles, Adam Voges appears set to take up the post of Western Australia and Perth Scorchers coach, replacing Justin Langer after he was chosen to replace Darren Lehmann as the mentor national team. Voges was a key ally of Langer as captain of the Warriors from 2012 to 2016 and also the Scorchers until the end of last season, before dabbling in commentary work.