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June 25, 2013
Australia's fast bowlers will not be rotated during the Investec Ashes series but the much-debated rotation policy will live on in one-day cricket, according to the Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland. Speaking on ABC radio on the day after the sacking of coach Mickey Arthur, Sutherland said that Australia's selectors would be choosing the best XI for each of the upcoming 10 Tests rather than resting players based on workload.
The rotating of fast bowlers - or "informed player management", as the national selector John Inverarity called it - caused controversy last summer when Australia left Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus out of the Perth Test against South Africa after their heavy workloads in the previous Test. It was later revealed, though not at the time, that both men were suffering from injury niggles that meant they would not have been operating at full capacity had they played at the WACA.
Similarly, Mitchell Starc was left out of the Boxing Day Test against Sri Lanka at the MCG despite the fact that he had taken 14 wickets in the previous two Tests. Again, it was later revealed that Starc was suffering from bone spurs in his ankle and the team management believed it would have been too great a risk to play him, based on the information they had been given by sports scientists on the likelihood of Starc breaking down.
"I think certainly looking ahead to the Ashes series in England and next summer in Australia you won't see any of that rotation policy, as you call it, in the fashion that we have in the past," Sutherland said on ABC radio. "It's about providing opportunities to players for a team that's in transition so the selectors can see, give players opportunities at international level and see how they cope with that and respond.
"For well over a decade the Australian selectors have adopted a policy of doing that particularly with one-day cricket. I've got no doubt that will continue but for Ashes Test matches we will day in day out be picking our best team."
The new coach Darren Lehmann, who is also a selector, is known to be an advocate of picking the best side for every game and it appears he will get his wish in Test cricket. But the rotating of players also became an issue during the limited-overs portion of the Australian summer, when Channel Nine was frustrated at the absence of several star players like Michael Clarke (who was injured) and David Warner from the first ODI against Sri Lanka.
Earlier this month, at the announcement of a new broadcasting deal, the Channel Nine chief executive David Gyngell said he was not a fan of rotating players but that it was a matter for Cricket Australia to decide. The abbreviated schedule of ODIs this summer - there are only five to be played against England in January - could mean that rotation in home games becomes less of an issue even in the shorter formats.
Sutherland also conceded in his ABC interview that Arthur could be considered a scapegoat for the recent on-field and off-field failures in the Australian camp and that everyone involved in Australian cricket needed to take some responsibility.
"People will no doubt say Mickey Arthur is a scapegoat in this and to some extent he is but realistically as head coach you need to take responsibility for the performance of the team," Sutherland said. "The players also need to stand up. We all do."
Brydon Coverdale is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. He tweets hereFeeds: Brydon Coverdale
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