The Ashes 2013 May 16, 2013

Weak Sheffield Shield hurting Australia - Warne

ESPNcricinfo staff

Shane Warne believes fast-tracking young players into the Sheffield Shield rather than having them cut their teeth on Twenty20 is key to improving the strength of domestic cricket in Australia and ultimately the national team. In the preview of an exclusive eight-part video series, Words with Warnie, which will appear on ESPNcricinfo in the lead-up to the Ashes, Warne said the Sheffield Shield had slipped from its previous status as the best first-class breeding ground in the world.

The absence of young batsmen making mountains of domestic runs was especially obvious in the 2012-13 season, when the top three Shield run scorers were the 38-year-old Ricky Ponting, Mark Cosgrove, who has been playing for more than a decade, and Chris Rogers, 35. That dearth of batsmen knocking down the door left the national selectors few options but to recall Rogers for the upcoming Ashes series in England.

"I think we've got a lot of talent at the moment. I think if we pick the right players, we stick with them, we back them, and they have to then perform and repay that faith too," Warne said. "If they don't, well, sorry, [you're] out. And that's a fine balance between what's long enough and how long do you stick with someone for. But I think we have got the talent there.

"We've got to get the infrastructure right at domestic level. In any good business we need those foundations to be strong at the bottom and ... we've always prided ourselves on [the Sheffield Shield] being the best first-class cricket in the world. Now I'm not sure we still have got the best first-class cricket in the world.

"I think we have got a pretty good system, I think we have run a very tight ship. And I think we've got a lot of good young players. We just need to fast-track them and get them experience at domestic cricket and learn how to play the four-day game. I think if you can play the four-day game you will adapt to one-day and Twenty20, not the other way around, play one-day cricket and Twenty20s and try to adapt to four-day cricket - it's completely different."

The introduction of the Big Bash League with eight teams has meant that over the past couple of seasons there have been greater opportunities for young players to break into domestic cricket via Twenty20 rather than the Sheffield Shield. Warne said it would take time - and well beyond this year's back-to-back Ashes series - for Australia to get back on track and fight their way up from their current ICC rankings of fourth in Test cricket, third in ODIs and seventh in T20.

"I think we've got it there but I think it's going to take a good 12 or 18 months," Warne said. "We've got to get the structure right, we've got to get the process right, we've got to get selection right. We've got to get that mantra ... put the fans first. Be the best players we possibly can. Be entertaining. Play with passion.

"I think the players love playing cricket for Australia. They're passionate and they would do anything for it. I'm just not sure we're putting the fans first. I'm not sure we've got the structure right, I'm not sure we've got the process right, and I don't believe we're selecting the right players."

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • Harvey on May 22, 2013, 6:28 GMT

    What Warnie said is right. If you can play the four day game you can adapt to the shorter games, not the other way around. Watson is the classic example. Good short game player, but nowhere near a world class test player. The selectors have persisted too long trying to make Watson something he isnt. Warner is on the same path.

  • Dummy4 on May 22, 2013, 5:41 GMT

    My suggestion (and yes it could be wrong!) is to: revert the BBL to State v State (add NT & ACT to make 8 teams, Home & Away is 14 matches) and run it as a Friday night competition with the F50 competition run as a Saturday competition (on the following day). Then start each 4 day {Sheffield Shield} match on Sunday to finish on Wednesday. this takes 14 weeks. Then on the 15th Friday have the 2v3 BBL eliminator, on the 15th Sunday through Thursday have the 2v3 Sheffield Shield eliminator, on the 16th Saturday have the 2v3 F50 eliminator. Then on the 17th Friday have the BBL Final, on the 17th Sunday have the F50 final. Then on the 18th Friday through Tuesday have the Sheffield Shield final. (all finals hosted by a rotating state) This gives a total of 18 weeks of play which, if you take a break over Christmas/New Year (9 weeks before/9 weeks after), starts in mid/late October and finishes in early March.

  • Anupam on May 21, 2013, 7:17 GMT

    @Meety on (May 21, 2013, 0:30 GMT) "This Ashes side is the weakest side ever"- I don't remember his name but said my many cricketing Legends of Aus.

  • Anupam on May 21, 2013, 7:14 GMT

    @John Baker on (May 20, 2013, 23:56 GMT) Fella Clarke axed Katich,Hussey bro, Haddin, MJ, Watto, Ponting, Marsh, Paine, hilfy, Copeland.Clarke chooses his non-performer men like- Cowan, Wade, Lyon, Starc, Khawaja, over good players. Peter Forrest is a good player for test. I still don't understand why MJ is not selected HE is the best bowler in any format. Australia's every kind of problems arises since Clarke became captain. Can you tell us any problem before Clarke? every one is fearful,demotivated & non- performing under his regime.

  • Andrew on May 21, 2013, 0:30 GMT

    @AKS286 on (May 20, 2013, 16:02 GMT) - I am sure you are trying to select the worst side possible. I only bothered commenting as I am bored.

  • Dummy4 on May 20, 2013, 23:56 GMT

    @showbags88 Overseas players are allowed. How else would Johan Botha play for South Australia, it's just that apart from England all other domestic competitions are going on at the same time.

    @AKS286 get rid of Clarke as captain? You can't blame him for any of the batting woes that have befallen Australia, he can't bat for everyone. Nor will changing him have any effect of Domestic Cricket.

    @Dylan Young to be fair, two of those seasons were really soggy.

  • Martin on May 20, 2013, 19:57 GMT

    Ah! The Ashes forums are back...!! We love 'em! To us nothing much has changed with the internals of Australian cricket at the upper levels. Sure - the selectors have changed, etc, the trouble is that you can have whatever selectors you like but those selectors can't select quality if the quality just isn't there. It's not just me who thinks this - many of my Aussie mates in Australia think the same thing. The other thing that seems to be a problem is the politics - all Aussies know there is a problem - but who are they going to allow on the quest to fix it? Nobody seems to agree, there just seems to be a huge bun fight. Warne himself mentions the politics around selectors and selection. The biggest problem (of many) for Australia is what to do about the batting. The England bowlers will dismantle Australia in England in 2013. Australian batting used to be tremendously resilient - dominating in English conditions. But not any more. Bring it on!

  • Anupam on May 20, 2013, 16:02 GMT

    Klinger, Hughes, Marsh, Clarke, Paine,Smith/Forrest, Watto, Johnson,Pattin, Siddle, Beer/Boyce.

  • Anupam on May 20, 2013, 14:28 GMT

    Change your current Oz Captain then suddenly Shield looks like strong, selection becomes good, negative mindset will change, BBL, IPL will becomes fabulous, performance & skill will improve, team will become strong, pitch becomes competitive etc Just single step Change your Current Captain. Hope after the whitewash in Ashes'13 CA will forcefully do this.

  • Geoffrey on May 20, 2013, 9:43 GMT

    I love this. In reality the strongest first class competition in the world is the English county system.