The Ashes 2013 April 25, 2013

T20 cash hits Australian batting - Mark Taylor


Even as he performed his stage-managed role to add gravitas and happy history to Australia's Ashes squad announcement, the former captain Mark Taylor cut through the mystique to state how Twenty20's easy money had contributed to the national side's poverty of Test match batting options.

Taylor and his successor Steve Waugh were present in Sydney to provide a Cricket Australia-approved reminder that teams past had flown to England with modest billing but returned home as heroes. The spirit of the 1989 Ashes tourists, unfancied almost as much as Michael Clarke's team but ultimately the inflictors of a right royal 4-0 hammering, was invoked as though a holy rite.

But Taylor was blunt in saying the hunger of Australia's cricketers for Tests, particularly their batsmen, had been sapped by the riches on offer in T20, specifically at the IPL currently buzzing across the subcontinent. Frank and clear-eyed as ever, Taylor said no amount of wistful talk about baggy green caps and representing one's country could counter the cash on offer to players prepared to forego their best batting technique in order to chase sixes and switch-hits in India.

"If you look at the IPL and the money that's going around there, that's got to be a big influence I think. As much as they all say 'Test cricket's the No. 1', a million dollars is very distracting," Taylor told ESPNcricinfo. "You look at Glenn Maxwell getting US$1 million to go play in the IPL and he's not even playing. How do you compete with that?

"How do you tell a young player making the next Australian Test team is more important? Knock back an IPL contract and spend two years working on your batting technique to get in for a Test match, and throw away $2 million? It's easier said than done."

"Knock back an IPL contract and spend two years working on your batting technique to get in for a Test match, and throw away $2 million? It's easier said than done."
Mark Taylor

There was some disquiet earlier this month when the list of CA contracts omitted numerous Ashes aspirants, partly due to a system that recognises all formats. Taylor said the system had improved a good deal since 1989, or even the late 1990s, when an industrial dispute with the board pushed the players to the brink of a strike. But he still doubted how any national contract could now dissuade a young player from considering the IPL's riches ahead of Test cricket's more archaic sense of loyalty.

"The idea of the contracts system going back to my time was to give players security, and they've now got that," he said. "I think the CA contracts and even the state contracts give players good security, much more than there was back in the 1990s, and that's what should happen.

"But I'm not sure any of these contracts can ever make up for an IPL contract. There's probably no security in the IPL, but if you get a $2 million contract you don't need a lot of security. And that's impossible to compete with."

In 1989, Taylor accumulated no fewer than 839 runs in the six Tests, while Waugh crashed cavalier hundreds at Headingley and Lord's and returned home with a series average well beyond 100. They were hungry young batsmen, offered only the most rudimentary of playing contracts, and still playing at a time when numerous Australian cricketers still held down day jobs.

Notwithstanding the current crop's vastly different financial circumstances, Taylor challenged the batsmen selected other than Clarke to rise above their mediocre records and make the sorts of scores that would make a statement about Australia's intentions, much as he and Waugh had done in Leeds.

"Trent Bridge and Lord's, the first two Tests, are very important," Taylor said. "If you go back to '89 we won at Headingley where no one gave us a chance, then we won at Lord's. All of a sudden you're 2-0 up. If Australia can start something like that, it will start with someone like David Warner or Phil Hughes, or Cowan, or Watson, making 150, a big score.

"At Headingley I made 136, Steve made 177 and AB [Allan Border] made a quickfire 66. It'll start with someone almost out of the blue making a big score and saying 'we're here to compete'. That's what this side needs to do. Look at Warner, Watson, Cowan, Hughes. Four opening batsmen really, they're all averaging in the 30s. That won't get it done. One or two of them over there have got to average 70 in this series or more."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Dummy4 on April 30, 2013, 3:14 GMT

    With all the negative aspects of IPL and 20/20 cricket being highlighted, one has to wonder what the state of cricket would be like if the career opportunities of IPL and 20/20 cricket didnt exist along with the greatly expanded supporter base and talent pool that the shorter format has created. In Australia at least there is a virtual Galaxy of different sports from which to choose for any young sporting aspirant. If representation in the highly exclusive national test and one day sides were the only avenue available for a young cricketer to achieve fame and fortune then many would despair of choosing cricket over AFL, rugby league/union or soccer in the first place. The flowering of new opportunities created by adopting a club/ franchise model provides the necessary lure to the game of cricket as a whole both for this current generation and future generations.Test cricket however will never be replaced in the minds of true cricket lovers amongst both players and spectators.

  • Anupam on April 29, 2013, 9:00 GMT

    popcorn on (April 29, 2013, 0:22 GMT) As you said Fella "David Warner and Shane Watson and James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwell who may score heavily in Million Dollar IPL matches ,but fail in Test matches". Yes off course requirement for test cricket is Technique, Temperament & Fitness. Playing 90 min vs 5 day is equal fella? Before t20 Test & Odi will the squad are same? Test cricket is not for all thats why it is called real cricket challenge. most of you just think is M.Taylor & N.Hussain deserves ODI selection as well as Captain?- Honestly tell me.

  • Rajaram on April 29, 2013, 0:22 GMT

    Very subtly, without making an open statement,the Selectors should announce,"We will take into consideration "Test - match Ready"cricketers who have played MORE 4 day Shield Games and Australia A games while selecting our Squad for 5 day Test Matches."THIS will send the message across that we do not want players like David Warner and Shane Watson and James Faulkner and Glenn Maxwel lwho may score heavily in Million Dollar IPL matches ,but fail in Test matches. The GHOST of Doug Bollinger declared unfit on the very last afternoon of the Mohali Test, which we would have won had he been fit because he he was bowling very well in the morning, will continue to haunt us. You will recall that Doug Bollinger and Mike Hussey returned to join the Test Squad in India just 4 days after playing the Champions League T20 Tournament in South Africa.Mike Hussey is an exception because he is ALWAYS FIT for Test Cricket. Remember he got into the Test side after 10,000 first class runs in Shield Cricket.

  • Dummy4 on April 28, 2013, 22:22 GMT

    In Reply to Mr Crickets comments, if you have been looking at the Indian cricket team over the last 10 years you will see that IPL is eroding into their game. Despite the 4-0 win over Australia ( abiet on turning dust bowls ) they have the opportunity of picking cricketers out of at least 50 million players. I know that figure sounds diabolical but it's true. Most of those cricketers are from very poor areas and those players will do anything to get out of their situation. England is smart not allowing their test players to play in the IPL, but I guarantee they are not suffering financially. I personally think that the Australian players should be allowed to play once in the IPL then after that it's back to Australian duties. That way they can say thye have been there and grabbed some money, but come back to reality which is winning both Test Matches and Test Series,

  • Brian on April 28, 2013, 16:12 GMT

    I've plenty of respect for Mark Taylor, but I think his analysis is flawed. Granted England have none of their test players in the IPL, so the comparison seems to make sense, but look at the teams who are overtaking Australia, such as India and South Africa. They have plenty of players in the IPL; so why isn't their performance in test cricket adversely affected the same way? People were saying the same about one-day cricket in the 1970s and 1980s, that it was adversely affecting particular countries' performance in tests (England was a prime example of a country this point was made about), but all teams were involved. The question of whether players learn and profit from other forms of the game or allow it to distract them is down to the fundamentals of their abilities, professionalism, and their successful management by administrators. These are and have always been what dictates team fortunes in test cricket, and the real distraction comes from misleading analysis to the contrary

  • Adrian on April 28, 2013, 14:15 GMT

    @Meety - there is no problem picking Hughes. As you say, he was averaging 60. There was no problem taking him to England in 2009, as he was in great form. And they also did the right thing dumping him half way through the season. The real problem is bringing him back. He has averaged barely over 20 since being brought back, and now, on top of England exposing flaws in his technique, so too have New Zealand and India. The only two sides that he has done well against are South Africa and Sri Lanka - take them out of the equation and his test average is 18!!!

  • Dale on April 28, 2013, 11:03 GMT

    While the IPL certainly doesn't help things, our batting drought has more to do with our domestic cricket setup and our completely incompetent selection panel. First off if a player is scoring runs consistently pick him. Brad Hodge, Chris Rogers, Phil Jacques, Dave Hussey, etc etc. Second if a player isn't scoring runs but looks promising, don't pick him till he develops into a run score.

    Next thing, stop doctoring pitches for results. All pitches should be test match quality as in plenty for the seamers and swingers early flatten out a bit and help the batsmen then crack and turn late on day 4 and on day 5.

    This will expose our batsmen to all manner of conditions and help fix our spin problem. At the moment our domestic competition is set on fast bowlers and batsmen averaging high 30's to mid 40's with high strike rates. It might produce a lot of fast bowlers, but that's it. It takes more than good quicks to be a champion side we need the whole package.

  • Sourabh on April 27, 2013, 5:25 GMT

    Quite ridiculous blaming the IPL for all f Ur deficits in producing quality test players. If a player is actually good n talented enough, he wont find it difficullt to adjust with all the formats f d game. A league spanning jus over a month cant affect ur technique which comes from hardwork of decade. AB, Steyn, KP, Kohli are good ex f this. C'mon Taylor, with due respect to all ur experience n knowledge, I still totally disagree with wot U've said. U n all other Aussies must admit that Australia Cricket is now going through a slump in quality. Rather than blaming d IPL n its money, a focus shud b given on nurturing talents across d large country f urs. Also, dont forget dat there's anothet t20 league named 'Big Bash' is conducted there down-under. Wots abt it ? Is it doing something different than IPL. God bless Australia n God bless all d haters f India n IPL.

  • Dummy4 on April 27, 2013, 2:15 GMT

    I do agree with most of what is written up here, but one thing I would like to agree with Mary_786 is the system in place for the youth. Everyone keeps blaming T20 leagues for ruining the thought process of a young mind, but what have we got in place in the youth before the big levels? And as for technique goes, there heaps of players world wide who have proven to us that they can be brilliant and text book test players and at the same time be completely devastating in T20. The main thing i question in this on-going (since T20 started) argument is that if the player choses playing for these leagues its fine but if they give it preference over representing their respective country, then I do not think they deserve to be given a chance to be a part of an elite club which is Test cricket.

  • Dummy4 on April 26, 2013, 23:11 GMT

    Australian cricket administrators are negligent in their handling of the 20/20 issue. It is indeed ruining the performances of Australian batsmen and bowlers, but the solution is there for all to see.

    Simply treat Tests and 20/20 cricket as different games. Just like rugby union and rugby league are. Apply a rule where if you play a 20/20 match for your country you can't be selected for a test team (or vice versa) for say 12 months.That way players will have to choose which form of the game they want to play, and prepare appropriately for it.

    The administrators would have to ensure that the players would be commensurately compensated whatever form of the game they chose.

    Forget the "restraint of trade" arguments people will deliver to refute the above. That response is garbage.

    The above system does have shortcomings, for example how do you select 50 over teams, that would need to be worked through, but it has to be better for the purest form of the game for Australian cricket.