Australia A v England XI, Tour match, Hobart

Henriques A captain in name alone

Moises Henriques has barely had a chance to get over his jetlag before captaining Australia A, but it is a leadership role in name and not much else as decisions are made elsewhere

Daniel Brettig in Hobart

November 5, 2013

Comments: 32 | Text size: A | A
'Too much micro management in Aussie cricket'

In Donnie Brasco, Al Pacino's beaten down mob footsoldier Lefty Ruggiero has a moment of pause. Usually harbouring a healthy sense of his own worth, he ponders for a moment to Johnny Depp, playing the title character, about where he actually fits into the grander scheme of Mafia things. "Who am I?" he asks, before providing the answer. "I'm a, a spoke on a wheel … and so are you."

A similar realisation hit the Australia A captain Moises Henriques on the eve of his team's match against Alastair Cook's Englishmen in Hobart. Still jetlagged after returning home from a limited-overs tour of India during which he only played in the opening Twenty20 match, Henriques is set to lead out a team over which he has very little control, not even dictating the batting order as captains are invariably entitled to.

Up north in New South Wales, Josh Hazlewood is similarly at the mercy of central control. As one of eight fast bowlers chosen to be groomed for possible Test match selection this summer he has been rested from the Blues' match against Victoria in Melbourne. Hazlewood did not bowl at all well in the opening match against Tasmania at Blacktown Oval, and in the opinion of his state bowling coach Geoff Lawson needs more time in the middle, not less.

Australian cricket's direction is increasingly dictated by central control, the power residing ever more prominently with Cricket Australia's management in Melbourne. The national team keys are held by the executive general manager team performance, Pat Howard, and it is he and the national selectors who have dictated how Henriques will lead his team, and how much Hazlewood will play. During the India series it was mused more than once that the prevailing ODI playing conditions left captains largely powerless. Likewise Henriques, who will lead by following orders.

"All the roles are already predefined for a one-off match like this, and I think most of the decisions I make will be just on the park and things like that," Henriques said. "Or the roles will be self defined or defined before the game starts, and anything that happens during the match will be more my responsibility.

"I got in yesterday midday to Hobart, feeling okay at this stage, slept pretty well last night through exhaustion more than anything. I should be right for tomorrow. We had plenty of time over there to help ourselves to great training facilities and good coaching, so whilst I wasn't playing cricket I felt I was still improving as a cricketer. I feel like I can come back now and get back into some four-day cricket, and there's going to be a bit before the BBL starts."

Among the pre-ordained dictates of CA will be to ensure the likes of Alex Doolan, Shaun Marsh and Usman Khawaja get plenty of opportunities to bat against the touring attack. As the next best batsmen outside the Test team, they will be chasing individual goals at Bellerive Oval, and the order in which they walk out to bat will fascinate. All are No. 3 batsmen by trade, but in a line-up also including Michael Klinger, Callum Ferguson, Glenn Maxwell and Tim Paine there will be plenty of jostling for position.

Other considerations will include a desire to make England's players sweat - if such a thing is possible in the face of crisp winds sweeping in off the Derwent River - by batting for as long as possible, then bowling with discipline and tact. Ben Cutting has done both with distinction for Queensland, Trent Copeland likewise for the Blues, and the Victorian spinner Jon Holland will be the latest slow left-armer to try his hand at confounding Kevin Pietersen.

Josh Hazlewood geared up for a training session, Headingley, September 5, 2013
Josh Hazlewood could have been playing for Australia A this week, instead he is not playing any first-class cricket at all © Getty Images

One man who might also have been playing this week is Hazlewood, who instead finds himself out of the Blues' team at the behest of Howard and CA's medical staff. His poor bowling against Tasmania did not change the fact that he will not be playing a first-class match this week - the same result would have followed a 10-wicket haul. Lawson's concerns have been voiced publicly and not endeared him to CA or NSW. But as a compromise, Hazlewood may now play for his grade club over the weekend.

Contrast this, for a moment, with England's approach to fast bowlers, as described by James Anderson. "There's a huge amount of trust there - if bowler wants to bowl it's pretty much allowed," he said. "He'll be told when to stop or when they think we should stop and if we don't want to, [we'll] bowl. They get us in really good condition to work through a five-Test series which is unusual for us and to have back-to-back five-Test series will really test us out. As well as being managed by the coaches and selectors, at the moment I think they've got it spot on."

The whys and wherefores of Hazlewood's status are currently the source of considerable debate. Similarly, the fortunes of Henriques, Maxwell, George Bailey, Aaron Finch and Phillip Hughes, all players taking part in Shield or Australia A matches this week just two days after returning from the subcontinent, will be examined closely. Interested observers will include not only those choosing the Australian Test team for Brisbane, but also the players and coaches who have grown increasingly to question the centralised decision-making of Australian cricket. As for Henriques, he is doing all that a footsoldier can do in the circumstances - his best.

"The only thing I am worried about at the moment is trying to win games for whatever team I am playing for, whether it is down here this week or back at NSW," Henriques said. "The big goal is to put ourselves in position to win the Shield so I think playing good cricket is all I can try and do, and the rest will look after itself."

Said like a spoke on a wheel.

Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets here

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Posted by kevaldedhia813 on (November 7, 2013, 17:14 GMT)

I think too much of management has spoiled australian sports. Good management can never make players perfect. But good coaches and less management involvement will make players better (good old days). Management is putting too much pressure on players and you can see results with cricket australia. selection should be made purely on basis of merit. who playes better in first class and is in good form. Watson should be dropped and chance shuold be given to players who really deserve it.

Posted by mehulmatrix on (November 7, 2013, 7:19 GMT)

Whats going on with CA? The video title puts it perfectly, 'too much micro management'. I checked Pat Howard's profile & seems to have not played any decent grade level cricket & is making the selection and role calls? There's a saying in sanskrit with translation on these lines - " During the time of destruction, the intellect goes in opposite direction" which aptly fits the state of Aus cricket & administration. Not sure what the Argus report indicated or found. Players come from ODI series & straight into FC matches, huh. Think Satish Acharya can make wonderful cartoons on working of CA and Aus cricket. News of Aus cricket have become source of amusement now!

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 6, 2013, 20:27 GMT)

@Chris_P, I'm not sure what your point is there? You say, if you think Watson has played only one FC game (other than tests) - then in the next sentence try to include test records???? For some reason you're comparing Watson to Henriques based on FC stats when one is playing test cricket and the other playing shield. If you're incapable of coming to the conclusion that we're comparing apples and oranges here, then yes, you're right, there's no point in discussing this further with you! Watson's last shield game was in Nov 2010 - do you disagree?

Posted by Chris_P on (November 6, 2013, 7:14 GMT)

@jimmy787. You are not the only one who is stumped by the Marsh line of thinking. Last season he avergaed 18, got dropped from the WA state side, hasn't made runs since in the longer format, then gets selected to Captain WA!!? And to be selected for this game is equally puzzling. I got no answer to this one.

Posted by notwavingbutdrowning on (November 6, 2013, 5:37 GMT)

You can't learn much about a batsman if he sitting in the sheds. England will be very happy to bat for 4 days at this rate I am sure.

Posted by Gaswell on (November 6, 2013, 4:09 GMT)

0-200 Yep thought the bowling attack for Aust A looked insipid. Thought it might be a good idea to really put the English bats under pressure in this game.

Posted by tpjpower on (November 6, 2013, 3:53 GMT)

Can somebody please explain what is exceptional about Hazlewood? He isn't particularly quick, it doesn't look like he moves the ball a great deal, and isn't remarkable in his accuracy. Those are surely the three bases on which a pace bowler might be selected. The one attribute this bloke has is his height - but is that really more important than actual fast bowling skills? Don't know what CA sees in him. Oh wait, he's from NSW - no need for explanation after all.

Posted by Gaswell on (November 6, 2013, 0:32 GMT)

Hazelwood should be playing shield cricket period. There is no sense in resting him, he has done next to nothing. Bowlers need to bowl. What is the point in having him uninjured and available but not match fit and with no confidence?

Posted by Chris_P on (November 5, 2013, 23:56 GMT)

@ScottStevo. I guess we better leave it be. If you think Watson has only played ONE First Class match (other than tests) since 2010 I can understand why you don't believe in statistics. Last time I checked, Tests were included in First Class figures, & let me tell you, Watson's makes for very poor reading. See, I have watched Henriques also, since he made his debut as an 18yo & he always impressed me as something special, & it was always frustrating when someone has got those talents & doesn't deliver. This last year he has put results on the board. Is he ready for tests? I wouldn't pick him yet, but only to let him deliver a full season of results. He also doesn't have injury problems & his bowling figures show him with a FC average of 28 with a promising strike-rate for an extra bowler. Mark Taylor rates him highly, also as a leader, so others see him with the talent as well. To each their own, though.

Posted by jimmy787 on (November 5, 2013, 23:34 GMT)

I know that statistics aren't everything to go by, but Shaun Marsh averages less than 35 in first class cricket. And he is next in line for an Australian number 3 berth?

Wow have standards slipped in Australian cricket...

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 23:13 GMT)

What did Callum Ferguson do to wrong someone?

Most runs in Sheffield Shield last year, been on the fringes, yet hasn't even been given a test match yet.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 21:14 GMT)

well for me doolan, fergusson and cosgrove should play. the openers should be Rogers,Doolan,Cosgrove@4,Clarke@5,Bailey ,Paine@7,harris,Jhonson,Hazelwood and fawad. too much has been said of Watson and Smith. thye both scored a century on a flat wicket . on ajuicy gabba or perth they will be exposed.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 20:35 GMT)

Too much cotton wool, surely the states should be in control of their teams entirely? Isn't the incentive of winning enough for them to pick the best teams?

Watson said the same thing when he was captaining a tour match in England, that he had no say over anything at all, including the batting line up. Management gonna manage I guess.

Posted by pat_one_back on (November 5, 2013, 20:19 GMT)

I'd be looking at Doug Bollinger ahead of Hazelwood. Pace, bounce, swing, raw aggression, matured beyond the injury red zone and now with a lot of fitness work behind him. I thought Dougie was unfairly treated following the last ashes, he may have been due a spell back in FC but not Siberia. Sidds & Hilfy weren't bowling well either. Harris, Bollinger, Siddle, now that's some serious new and old ball menace without the inherent risks of an MJ test comeback.

Posted by AKS286 on (November 5, 2013, 18:03 GMT)

My eyes will be on Klinger & Marsh both are having good technique & temperament which is required in tests. Peter Forrest is the another man who is ignored by CA. Kindly don't mention same song domestic record. Forrest is also having a good technique & temperament. Moises must replace Watto in Ashes if he is injured. Moises is the best all rounder after Watto, Some name are faded like Dan Christian & Butterworth. But if Faulkner will play then what will be the role? As a 3rd seamer or as an all-rounder? Really missing Beer & Boyce in A team. A team- Maddison, Marsh, Cosgrove, Doolan, Forrest, Handscomb, Moises, Bird, Richardson/Coulter, Mcdermott, Beer/Boyce

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 5, 2013, 16:36 GMT)

@Chris_P, and how do you figure that when Watson has played something like 1 first class game in ages - last played Nov '10?! (not including test cricket, nor test tour matches - which I'm assuming we aren't going to be using as a comparison against shield matches). Nonetheless, delivering or not, Henriques doesn't have the potential. I too am a NSW fan and heard huge things of this all rounder coming through the ranks. When I finally saw him, I was completely disappointed. He's nowhere near a test quality batsman and lesser still with the ball. He's a talented cricketer, just not at test level. And, to be fair, it's Watson's inability to stay fit which has had detrimental effect on his test career. Stats may not lie, but they rarely tell the whole story. You need only watch the 2 players for a matter of overs before realising one is up to standard, and the other isn't - and I can assure you, Watson isn't the latter.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 15:36 GMT)

Absolute rubbish article about nothing from Brettig. Yes - I believe CA need a public thrashing whenever possible, but articles like this make it easy for CA to ignore strong criticism from the press. The reality in Aus cricket is that the state boards are as selfish and money orientated as CA are. They clearly only do things for themselves and have stopped working toward the good of Aus cricket a long time ago. Pitches being the most obvious example, but there are others. Not blooding youngsters until they were forced to and refusing to rest players because the state needed every point they could get is another. There are lots of examples. The centralised control of Aus cricket players would not be necessary if the state board played ball. This is not BCCI style bullying. It's a necessary evil and well done for CA to look after players here. I really hope they force Harris to rest as well.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 5, 2013, 15:13 GMT)

@ ScottStevo . Of course you are entitled to your thoughts re: Watson, but stats don't lie. In first class cricket, Watson is performing abysmally. I don't deny Henriques wasn't delivering on his potential, don't forget I am a constant spectator for nearly all the Blues home matches & it was the greatest source of frustration that a player with so much talent wasn't delivering. Yes, what you say is right about him last season, but simply said, he exceeded any other allrounder in the Aussie first class scene, & delivered far more than Watson has done for the past 4 years. And, he hasn't broken down! His Indian innings you stated included a diobolical run out where Wade left him stranded. He is finally starting to deliver on his potential.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 5, 2013, 14:04 GMT)

@Mitty2. Re: Henriques. He really doesn't do it for me as skipper. When Smith is in the team, you can see him as a natural, he is a thoughtful cricketer & was always offering his thoughts, but MoHen not so much. I got to admit, I was pretty surprised they gave him the (C) for this game, he needs to concentrate on doing what he started out last season, & that is finally delivering on his undoubted potential. The selectors aren't too sure if he is a one day player, test player or whatever & it isn't doing him any good. Agree with Paine, he looked all class last week, batted quite well too, & his keeping is top shelf. For the sake of future Aussie cricket, the national selectors should let MoHen & Hazelwood have a full shield season to consolidate themselves, add Maddinson to that mix as well, he is well short of test readiness, but an exciting talent in development.

Posted by ScottStevo on (November 5, 2013, 13:48 GMT)

@Chris_P, look at the stats prior to that. In county cricket in 2012 he played 8 innings with a top score of 28 and an average of 8. This season you rave about so highly, he played 8 innings, had 2 not outs, one of which was 161*, with a respectable return of 391 runs. Those not outs topping his average out massively. As for 20 with the ball, look at how many bowlers were averaging 18-20. Way too many! Either all our bowlers are guns, or all our batsmen are useless, or the decks are considerably favouring the ball, hence the unreal bowling returns and shoddy batting averages. Also, he played one decent test in India, with 68 and 81*. Then 5, 0, 0, 2. Particularly telling was his bowled dismissal against ishant where he was beaten all ends up by the slightest of movement due to a poor techinique. There's no comparison in talent between he and Watson. Watson is miles ahead in terms of capability, by far a better bat and by far a better bowler - regardless of what your precious stats say

Posted by AKS286 on (November 5, 2013, 13:36 GMT)

I think Aus A team should add those players who are immediate replacement in term of bowling. like Johnson, Pattinson, Bird, Faulkner/Starc, Mcdermott. As Poms played Tremlett, Finn, Rankin & Stokes. Lyon will play as a specialist spinner but what about second spinner where he is Holland if not then Beer & Boyce should play in Aus A team. Good Wishes to Shaun Marsh you are a talent just show it Fella.

Posted by Mitty2 on (November 5, 2013, 12:21 GMT)

Hazlewood's obviously an immense talent, but is yet to prove anything at state level. Bowls brisk with good bounce, but has a front on action and doesn't really swing it. This on top of a usually wayward line and length - he's not ready, so why in hell is he being managed by CA and not his state? He won't play an Ashes test, so why?

Henriques... Not too sure about to be honest, those are some pretty damn good stats from @Chris_P, but for some reason he just doesn't look the part. Averaged over 100 with the ball in India which is forgivable considering the conditions, but i don't see much penetration in his bowling nor any particular assets of it. To me his batting is what can get him selected and he needs to improve his poor FC average. @Chris!P, as you're obviously a strong NSW supporter, does Henriques have leadership potential? He doesn't strike me as the type. I reckon Paine would've been a better choice.

Posted by Stevros3 on (November 5, 2013, 12:09 GMT)

People who think that CA are unique in controlling bowlers are wrong. The ECB do the same with young bowlers learning the trade. It's ok for experienced guys who are able to judge how much they can bowl as the likes of Jimmy Anderson are able to judge when they can and can't bowl. Younger guys are different. If you play organised cricket in England you are subject to what's known as the 'Fast bowling directive' which limits the number of overs a young fast bowler can bowl in one spell and also the maximum overs he can bowl in a day. This is just a high profile case where a young bowler shouldn't be overused and CA have just told NSW that he's in their plans so not to use him too much based on this. If you're not anticipating him playing Test cricket then he'd be capable of playing more matches at other times. Letting them know he may just means they can't overuse him.

Posted by xtrafalgarx on (November 5, 2013, 11:22 GMT)

@Clarke501. Well said, couldn't have said it better myself. It's not as If Hazelwood isn't playing cricket at all either, even if he is playing grade cricket, it's still cricket and surely still counts as "time in the middle".

If Australia win the Ashes, the English will be looking at how we manage our bowlers, just like they did before.

Posted by Chris_P on (November 5, 2013, 10:37 GMT)

@Big_Maxy_Walker. No Henriques you say? Just because he is from NSW. Let's see what he has done in the past year in first class. In Australia 2012/13 Batting average 65.16 with , Bowling average 20.28, Australian A tour to the UK, Batting average 63, Bowling average 8.4, Played 3 tests in India averaged 31.2 (Watson 16.5) & was run out for 0 by a stupid call from Wade in that. Can't really see why he doesn't deserve consideration, there is no one who has outperformed him in Australia. Interesting.

Posted by spindizzy on (November 5, 2013, 10:27 GMT)

CAs current process is to try things and when they fail try them harder because obviously the idea was excellent but the execution wasn't done properly.

Posted by dunger.bob on (November 5, 2013, 10:26 GMT)

Sometimes bowlers simply need to bowl and I'm not so sure about all this micro management. It looks as though all we're getting is a bunch of highly tuned invalids.

Case in point, Pat Cummins. 18 y.o wunderkind. Possibly fine tuned out of the game before he was 20. .. Yeah, that's freaking brilliant. .. Still, he's probably the finest tuned invalid in the village, so that's always a bonus.

Posted by Beertjie on (November 5, 2013, 10:24 GMT)

Good points in this article. Hazlewood would definitely have done his cause good or harm by playing rather than sitting out. Sheer madness, CA. Just hope he's not in line for selection now or after a flash in the pan performance.

Posted by KhanMitch on (November 5, 2013, 10:06 GMT)

Should be a great round of matches, can't wait

Posted by shillingsworth on (November 5, 2013, 10:00 GMT)

I'm not convinced that the difference between the preparation of English and Australian bowlers is really as great as the article makes out. When a side is losing, it's all too easy for lazy journalists to jump aboard a bandwagon. If Australia regain the Ashes, expect a rush of articles praising their superb backroom team and the excellent management of their quick bowlers.

Posted by   on (November 5, 2013, 9:51 GMT)

The amount of players being spoken about is bewildering. Are Aus planning on fielding a team of thirty? This reminds me of the bad old days of the nineties, when England fans didn't have a clue who'd be in the team from one week to the next. Pretty sure my mum got a game at one point.

Posted by Big_Maxy_Walker on (November 5, 2013, 9:06 GMT)

neither Henriques or Hazlewood should be anywhere near the test team. but of course they wear the blue of NSW so they should be first called up

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Daniel BrettigClose
Daniel Brettig Assistant editor Daniel Brettig had been a journalist for eight years when he joined ESPNcricinfo, but his fascination with cricket dates back to the early 1990s, when his dad helped him sneak into the family lounge room to watch the end of day-night World Series matches well past bedtime. Unapologetically passionate about indie music and the South Australian Redbacks, Daniel's chief cricketing achievement was to dismiss Wisden Almanack editor Lawrence Booth in the 2010 Ashes press match in Perth - a rare Australian victory that summer.
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