Australia news July 23, 2013

Australia revival 'will take time' - Howard

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Australian cricket faces years of difficult times ahead until the nation's domestic competitions can again be relied upon to provide effective preparation for young batsmen and spin bowlers. This grim view was not shied away from by Cricket Australia's team performance manager, Pat Howard, as he sifted through the wreckage of the 347-run defeat at Lord's, which has left many wondering how such a result could be possible two years after the Argus review highlighted many of the problems on display.

In a frank discussion of what appears a dire medium-term forecast for the national team, Howard defended his decision to sack the former coach, Mickey Arthur, and replace him with Darren Lehmann a mere two weeks before the start of the Investec Ashes series. He also agreed with an emotional James Pattinson's assessment that the lack of rest afforded the bowlers by an inept first-innings batting display at Lord's had contributed to his back stress fracture.

But the major conclusion Howard was prepared to draw from Lord's was that problems in the Australian game will take years to remedy, requiring even stronger alignment between the states and CA to strengthen the club and Sheffield Shield competitions that have been left in disrepair while Twenty20 dollars have been chased with far more vigour than adequate grounding for Test match cricketers.

"When Australia and Australia A play over the same weekend and the highest scores were Glenn Maxwell and Moises Henriques getting 60s and 70s [in Zimbabwe], our ability to bat a long time needs to improve," Howard said. "We need to work with the states to enforce that message around batting for a long time and batting with patience. Making sure Sheffield Shield cricket goes into the fourth day so we start getting footmarks, we start getting spinners bowling more in the Shield so they get used to that as well.

"There's a big process there to get right, and it's going to take time. I definitely need to work with the states to get this to a point where the Shield prepares players for Tests even better. We would love lots more people scoring big hundreds at home. Only two people got three hundreds in Shield cricket last year, Ricky Ponting and Chris Rogers. One of them is here and one you know plenty about, so the system has got to help provide that."

A minor victory for CA's high-performance regime in their battle with the marketing and programming side of the governing body's Melbourne office is a change to the 2013-14 summer, which will see the domestic limited-overs competition played as a whole early in the season, before a run of six consecutive Shield matches leading up to the final two Tests of the summer. The Big Bash League then takes hold until mid-February.

"I am happy about the fact it is not going Shield, one-dayer, Shield, one-dayer - there are six games of red-ball cricket in a row at the start of the season," Howard said. "No interruptions, no trying to hit it over the top, people are going to have to be patient and spinners will get some time to get wickets. I am hoping we will reinforce over that period the discipline of red-ball cricket. It's an opportunity for the coaches to drill in those messages."

On the matter of Arthur, Howard said he did not retreat for one moment from the call to install Lehmann, on a basis the South African has described as "totally unfair".

"When you sit there and look and have conversations, and there were plenty of articles written about what was right and what was wrong, you knew there was something that needed to be dealt with," Howard said. "It was dealt with and you make decisions not just for one week or two weeks but you make them for a period and who's going to best galvanise the side. I don't want to go into that particularly, but who was going to get the best out of this group, that was a simple decision.

"Obviously there is a legal issue going. I can't comment on that. But it's never nice when you get moved on. It's happened to lots of people. It's never nice. On the ground it's not affecting the players. They've moved on, gone on and feel galvanised with this group. Even though there are two Tests we lost, was one close, the other we didn't play well enough, clearly … I don't move away. It was the right decision."

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

Comments have now been closed for this article

  • on July 27, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    Problem is 4 day state cricket has taken a back seat to the KFC T20 big bash and the ODI games which are all marketed heavily on TV and include overseas 'star recruits' to bolster the gate tickets. This has been happening for the last several years now and as you can see Sheffield Shield is starting to suffer.It was one of the best domestic comps in the world and produced hardened players like Border , Steve Waugh and Ian Healy and McGrath. You had to score 5000 runs + to even have a look in as a batsman for Aus selection . Agar would be required to get substantial matches under his belt before being even considered for Aus. Not 4 matches.

  • LoungeChairCritic on July 24, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    Pat Howard and the players need to keep there heads up. A solution to our current woes may be to make shield matches go for 5 days instead of 4. There would be less pressure on curators to produce result pitches, spinners would play a larger role, fast bowlers would learn to mix it up on wearing pitches and batsmen would become more exposed to spin and reverse swing. To accommodate this the season would need to be extended into August and September. Teams could play in places like Darwin, Broome, Cairns and Brisbane which traditionally are dry during this time of the year. We need to make a significant investment into the 1st class system in the same way we need to invest heavily into 20/20. AFL, Union and League are taking away our best talent. There are 8100 players in the AFL earning between 60k to 1.6 million, cricket player payments need to be more spread. At least 100 cricketers domestically need to be earning a decent wage for our game to prosper.

  • Amith_S on July 23, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    I agree with Howard that faith needs to be shown in the current young players. I really think the likes of Khawaja, Starc, Pattinson, Smith will be our future stars. Khawaja showed his class in the second innings and they will all come through if we show faith in them. In saying that improvements can still be made in the future. Disappearing player participants is a major problem confronting Australian cricket. Those disappearing quantity of players also take a degree of quality of depth with them.CA can improve how they managed the changing circumstances of their sport as well as they should. Chasing short-term money via T20 over long-term secure structures is a major problem. I hope they get it right.

  • WhoCaresAboutIPL on July 26, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Much as I understand what kitten (250713, 14:54) has to say the idea that it is the amount of play that causes pace bowlers to fail is surely erroneous. Bowlers of the Fred Trueman era and earlier would often bowl many more deliveries - for example he played 603 first class matches and bowled nearly 100000 deliveries. However this does not take into account the balance of matches, 20/20, 50 over and first class. Fred played only 18 List A matches - whereas Glenn McGrath by contrast played more than 500 hundred. First class matches require long, sustained spells - "bowling to keep fit" and that seems to be the problem for the current generation.

  • on July 26, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I am sorry that the trend is with CA and some other countries that they are crowding their staff with 'academics" and this does not go well when we over analyse everything a player does, feels and says. There is too much excreta swimming around in their heads. Like JL said the danger is being over coached and I am afraid that is the road we are on. Batting is concentration and a straight bat, bowling is line and length. Simple it has worked for McGrath, Hughes (K) Chappells, etc., Get back to basics and become good at the simple things - the flash things will look after themselves. And please, please above all get rid of the 20/20 stuff it is not good for Test players. At least pick a team other than Test players to play this quick fix game and leave the Tests to us purists who can appreciate the subtleties and skills associated with these games and pay the Tests stars to compensate for loss of 20/20 income. Reduce their game time - it helps with injuries

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on July 26, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    This is a good sign , at least someone from CA is finally realizing the size of the crisis they are currently in , you can give all the homework , tough talk, change the coach or shuffle the batting order but the FACT remains that other than clarke there is no single test class batsmen in that lineup , usman khawaja and philip hughes might prosper given enough time but at the moment they are way below to being world class , sad thing is they used to be a team where even michael hussey had to wait until his 30s to get into the team ! howard has identified the problem , now if he can find the answers Aussies will be back to the top in next 6 or 7 years , but their short term does not look too good

  • Biggus on July 26, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    It's hard not to feel the crowded cricketing calendar, which sees to best players play little part in the Shield, has led to a dilution of that contest. Hardly anyone ever goes to Shield games any more. Personally I've been turned of from going to the WACA by the overbearing security staff that are omnipresent now. I'm not a particularly belligerent fan, but these security guards seem to be able to find any reason to take the fun out of being at the game. The Sheffield Shield is now a far softer contest than it used to be which can't be to the benefit of up and coming players.

  • on July 26, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    What I don't understand is why the coach was 'moved on', but the "High Performance Manager" is apparently unscathed and is possibly exerting even more influence. If losing 6 Tests does not bely "High Performance" I'm not sure what does.

    The 'run of 6 consecutive Shield matches' will, if I understand correctly, overlap with the first 3 Tests (to finish before the final 2 Tests). The upshot, surely, is that there will be limited, if any, domestic long-form preparation in the lead-up to the Ashes. Our Australian team stars will not have that benefit, and fringe players may not be seriously considered until Test 4, when the outcome of the series may already be determined.

  • on July 25, 2013, 19:42 GMT

    The problem has been ignored since before the 2010 Ashes Series .... substandard batting performances and batsmen who have awful batting technique.

    Since Pakistan 2010 and after removing Clarke's anomalous 200+ Innings, average partnerships for the top 5-wickets are 40.5, 25.0, 29.9, 39.9, 30.6. Meaning that on most occasions you can expect the w/keeper to walk out at 5/165 and, using Percentile Stats, 75% of the time Australia can expect to be 3/40.

  • perl57 on July 25, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    ACB had this gut feeling that after AB's period nothing can go wrong. They were wrong. Strategy had failed, administration rigged, players not properly payed, making them leave for other leagues during off times and last but by all the means first, players ill treated. Look at how Bhajji was treated in 2001 and how he came back? You've had a flair to groom spoilt brats by giving them more responsibility. What happened then? Why did you ill treat Symonds? Watto? Warner? The rott can stop if someone among the team raise their game and induce some spirit in those guys. Right now that can be either Watto or Warner.

  • on July 27, 2013, 12:32 GMT

    Problem is 4 day state cricket has taken a back seat to the KFC T20 big bash and the ODI games which are all marketed heavily on TV and include overseas 'star recruits' to bolster the gate tickets. This has been happening for the last several years now and as you can see Sheffield Shield is starting to suffer.It was one of the best domestic comps in the world and produced hardened players like Border , Steve Waugh and Ian Healy and McGrath. You had to score 5000 runs + to even have a look in as a batsman for Aus selection . Agar would be required to get substantial matches under his belt before being even considered for Aus. Not 4 matches.

  • LoungeChairCritic on July 24, 2013, 4:34 GMT

    Pat Howard and the players need to keep there heads up. A solution to our current woes may be to make shield matches go for 5 days instead of 4. There would be less pressure on curators to produce result pitches, spinners would play a larger role, fast bowlers would learn to mix it up on wearing pitches and batsmen would become more exposed to spin and reverse swing. To accommodate this the season would need to be extended into August and September. Teams could play in places like Darwin, Broome, Cairns and Brisbane which traditionally are dry during this time of the year. We need to make a significant investment into the 1st class system in the same way we need to invest heavily into 20/20. AFL, Union and League are taking away our best talent. There are 8100 players in the AFL earning between 60k to 1.6 million, cricket player payments need to be more spread. At least 100 cricketers domestically need to be earning a decent wage for our game to prosper.

  • Amith_S on July 23, 2013, 18:02 GMT

    I agree with Howard that faith needs to be shown in the current young players. I really think the likes of Khawaja, Starc, Pattinson, Smith will be our future stars. Khawaja showed his class in the second innings and they will all come through if we show faith in them. In saying that improvements can still be made in the future. Disappearing player participants is a major problem confronting Australian cricket. Those disappearing quantity of players also take a degree of quality of depth with them.CA can improve how they managed the changing circumstances of their sport as well as they should. Chasing short-term money via T20 over long-term secure structures is a major problem. I hope they get it right.

  • WhoCaresAboutIPL on July 26, 2013, 9:05 GMT

    Much as I understand what kitten (250713, 14:54) has to say the idea that it is the amount of play that causes pace bowlers to fail is surely erroneous. Bowlers of the Fred Trueman era and earlier would often bowl many more deliveries - for example he played 603 first class matches and bowled nearly 100000 deliveries. However this does not take into account the balance of matches, 20/20, 50 over and first class. Fred played only 18 List A matches - whereas Glenn McGrath by contrast played more than 500 hundred. First class matches require long, sustained spells - "bowling to keep fit" and that seems to be the problem for the current generation.

  • on July 26, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    I am sorry that the trend is with CA and some other countries that they are crowding their staff with 'academics" and this does not go well when we over analyse everything a player does, feels and says. There is too much excreta swimming around in their heads. Like JL said the danger is being over coached and I am afraid that is the road we are on. Batting is concentration and a straight bat, bowling is line and length. Simple it has worked for McGrath, Hughes (K) Chappells, etc., Get back to basics and become good at the simple things - the flash things will look after themselves. And please, please above all get rid of the 20/20 stuff it is not good for Test players. At least pick a team other than Test players to play this quick fix game and leave the Tests to us purists who can appreciate the subtleties and skills associated with these games and pay the Tests stars to compensate for loss of 20/20 income. Reduce their game time - it helps with injuries

  • mukesh_LOVE.cricket on July 26, 2013, 7:11 GMT

    This is a good sign , at least someone from CA is finally realizing the size of the crisis they are currently in , you can give all the homework , tough talk, change the coach or shuffle the batting order but the FACT remains that other than clarke there is no single test class batsmen in that lineup , usman khawaja and philip hughes might prosper given enough time but at the moment they are way below to being world class , sad thing is they used to be a team where even michael hussey had to wait until his 30s to get into the team ! howard has identified the problem , now if he can find the answers Aussies will be back to the top in next 6 or 7 years , but their short term does not look too good

  • Biggus on July 26, 2013, 5:00 GMT

    It's hard not to feel the crowded cricketing calendar, which sees to best players play little part in the Shield, has led to a dilution of that contest. Hardly anyone ever goes to Shield games any more. Personally I've been turned of from going to the WACA by the overbearing security staff that are omnipresent now. I'm not a particularly belligerent fan, but these security guards seem to be able to find any reason to take the fun out of being at the game. The Sheffield Shield is now a far softer contest than it used to be which can't be to the benefit of up and coming players.

  • on July 26, 2013, 3:25 GMT

    What I don't understand is why the coach was 'moved on', but the "High Performance Manager" is apparently unscathed and is possibly exerting even more influence. If losing 6 Tests does not bely "High Performance" I'm not sure what does.

    The 'run of 6 consecutive Shield matches' will, if I understand correctly, overlap with the first 3 Tests (to finish before the final 2 Tests). The upshot, surely, is that there will be limited, if any, domestic long-form preparation in the lead-up to the Ashes. Our Australian team stars will not have that benefit, and fringe players may not be seriously considered until Test 4, when the outcome of the series may already be determined.

  • on July 25, 2013, 19:42 GMT

    The problem has been ignored since before the 2010 Ashes Series .... substandard batting performances and batsmen who have awful batting technique.

    Since Pakistan 2010 and after removing Clarke's anomalous 200+ Innings, average partnerships for the top 5-wickets are 40.5, 25.0, 29.9, 39.9, 30.6. Meaning that on most occasions you can expect the w/keeper to walk out at 5/165 and, using Percentile Stats, 75% of the time Australia can expect to be 3/40.

  • perl57 on July 25, 2013, 15:57 GMT

    ACB had this gut feeling that after AB's period nothing can go wrong. They were wrong. Strategy had failed, administration rigged, players not properly payed, making them leave for other leagues during off times and last but by all the means first, players ill treated. Look at how Bhajji was treated in 2001 and how he came back? You've had a flair to groom spoilt brats by giving them more responsibility. What happened then? Why did you ill treat Symonds? Watto? Warner? The rott can stop if someone among the team raise their game and induce some spirit in those guys. Right now that can be either Watto or Warner.

  • kitten on July 25, 2013, 14:54 GMT

    As much as I love Test cricket, and as much as I would like to see it progress and get stronger, I feel with the fast pace that this world moves, people do not have the time to watch cricket over five days. All other sport with the exception of Golf ends in a day, win or lose. People want entertainment for the whole family, and a result at the end of it. So in short, the ODI(50/50) and the 20/20 are here to stay, and players earn more money playing these than the Test matches, and ofcourse their careers will last longer. Pace bowlers today are falling like flies with the amount of cricket they play, and something has got to give. If Test Cricket is to be preserved, then other forms of cricket should be curtailed, or else we will see a lot of cricketers opting out of Test cricket to concentrate on the shorter versions of the game.

  • on July 25, 2013, 10:45 GMT

    if shield matches end in 3 days how can u expect batsman to concentrate for long periods of time, also mentioned by mike hussey, brad hodge etc. Secondly fast bowlers are also making the transition from '3-day' bowling to '5-day' bowling, which explains their fragility. Yes greentops will improve their ability to play quality swing (which is nullified by 'stand and deliver' nature of long tournaments like BBL and IPL) - but what about spin. What about getting bowlers used to bowling for 5 days compared to 3 days. Australian pitches used to be the best in the world, and internationally they still are. But the shield pitches need to have the same character.

  • jr1972 on July 25, 2013, 10:13 GMT

    Success and failure are cyclical. It was inevitable that there would be a trough after the Everest-like peaks that Australian cricket rose to in the 90's and early 2000's. This success in some way has had a detrimental effect on the current state of the national side, and there are no longer 4 or 5 excellent players there to guide the new players, who must be feeling the pressure of expectation created by the teams of the past 15-20 years. The best thing that CA, the Australian media and the general public can do is stop looking for the next Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist and Ponting. These were exceptional players, (and in Warne's case a true great of the game) and you just don't replace this calibre of player. CA need to create the best environment possible for the current and the future generations of Australian cricketers, and allow them to forge their own identitys. History has shown that Australia do come good and it's surely only a matter of time.

  • on July 25, 2013, 4:01 GMT

    Howard has taken a quite negative stand on Australian cricket by saying the revival needs time. If you carefully look at the performance of the Aussie batsmen, the problem though optically was one of poor techniques at the wrong moment, had one looked to the personality ethic of each batsman it was not so much technique but of mind moments. Clearly the Aussies mindset is down and criticism is not the answer for the boys. You need one to one talk with all the leading batsmen and delve into their mind set. Human psychographics analysis are the key to answering their worries. Let them put out their concerns and find ways to strengthen their mindset. Above all the players should not live neither in the past or the future but at present. As one great batsman said you need to keep focus on the next ball because you have either survived this ball whether defending or scoring the runs. The English are not all that great, but are working as a team. Forget the past and that is the only way.

  • LoungeChairCritic on July 24, 2013, 23:58 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh-The 5 day shield match option would be an expensive option for the ACB. They would need a few more tours of India and a profitable Big Bash before they could afford it. If we want to be a successful test nation again we need to invest more into the shield comp. The shield v test pitches at grounds like the WACA, Adelaide & the Gabba are totally different. I would love to see shield batsmen actually guts it out and play a long innings. I would love to see a shield spinner bowl at one end for a session. I would love to see shield captains declare their first innings on the second day 1 hour before stumps. Although I am confident in our test future, we need to change to keep on top of the opposition.

  • on July 24, 2013, 13:54 GMT

    Let's not get too carried away here. The English top order was also three out for not much in both innings and their openers have been ordinary apart from Root's last innings. The difference is that the other English batsmen stood up when needed and the Australian batsmen just collapsed again. Australia need to keep the same batsmen(although Hughes must be on his last chance) so they can get the experience and learn what Test cricket is all about. It's very easy to forget that England were in the same position Australia is in now from 1989 (when they were whipped 4-0 in England) and it took them 16 years to win the Ashes back.

  • on July 24, 2013, 11:53 GMT

    Has anyone missed the obvious: 20 TESTS AGAINST TOP 3 SIDES! We need a two tier system of six teams per tier, giving two associate teams temp full membership. We also need to eliminate warm up matches against first class teams and replace them with warm up matches against lower ranked teams. EG: Aust (rank 4) plays SA (1), India (2), Eng (3), Pak (5) & WI (6) in one series each (four tests = 2 home, 2 away) every two years. Warm up matches is ONE test vs Ireland (in Eng), ONE test vs Zimb (in SA), THREE tests vs Sri/Bang/Afgan (in India/Pak) and ONE test against ????? (in WI). In Aust, the warm up matches are against NZ. This would create competition whilst holding onto the concept of teams playing each other once every two years. TOTAL: 20 competition tests and 4-6 warm up tests = 24-26 tests every two years (inc warm up matches).

  • xtrafalgarx on July 24, 2013, 10:03 GMT

    For the first time, I fully agree with Front-Foot-Lunge. This is just the VERY beginning of the transition phase, the Argus review plans may be working but it will take at the very least 5 years to see the earliest of results. So 10 years is a good estimate before the Australian first class system is one of the best in the world again.

  • on July 24, 2013, 9:45 GMT

    @Loungechaircritic, Somehow I just don't see 5 day shield matches being viable. They need to create more balanced pitches though and I think the points system needs to reflect this.

    @Brusselslion, you are spot on to a large degree. Our swimming teams also failed miserably at the last olympics, something we pride ourselves on. Perhaps with other larger nations investing so heavily in their respective infrastructures it may become more and more difficult for us to compete right across the sporting spectrum.

  • brusselslion on July 24, 2013, 9:29 GMT

    Why is Aussie cricket (and sport in general) suffering at the moment? For what it's worth, I'd suggest a couple of things (not new). The AIS was formed in the 80s and was a real innovation. Allowing for some lead time, it was no coincidence that Australia was dominant in many sports in the 90s thru to the early 2000s. The rest of the world noted this success, copied the methods and simply caught up, not just in cricket but in most sports. In some sports, the innovative baton has been passed on and another country is now dominant e.g. cycling in the UK. (Sadly, in cricket innovation over the past 10 - 15 years, has been directed at the "entertainment" side of things rather than technique).

    Secondly, Australia 's success in cricket worked against them. Some very good players e.g. Law, MacGill, etc. rarely got a look in at Test level and this created a bottleneck which extended down the line. With many players retiring at the same time, the gap simply couldn't be filled.

  • LoungeChairCritic on July 24, 2013, 9:09 GMT

    @thebrotherswaugh-The 5 day shield match option would be an expensive option for the ACB. They would need a few more tours of India and a profitable Big Bash before they could afford it. If we want to be a successful test nation again we need to invest more into the shield comp. The shield v test pitches at grounds like the WACA, Adelaide & the Gabba are totally different. I would love to see shield batsmen actually guts it out and play a long innings. I would love to see a shield spinner bowl at one end for a session. I would love to see shield captains declare their first innings on the second day 1 hour before stumps. Although I am confident in our test future, we need to change to keep on top of the opposition.

  • Thegimp on July 24, 2013, 8:30 GMT

    Loungechair, I agree with 5 day Shield matches, great idea. However I disagree with player payments. A domestically contracted player makes a min of $130K a few have endorsements and there is of course BBL and IPL contracts to be had. I don't think it's the money. The will to win and get better and be mentally tough never included money in the past. Fair pay for a fair day, yes, but money wasn't the major factor. Maybe we could invest more at grade level in qualified coaches doing the rounds of junior clubs. I tend to think that the current batch have it a little too easy on the money front. A shield player with an IPL contract can make $500K per year for the next 5 years easy. No incentive to go higher. I think we need to get kids off their Playstations and out into the parks. I am guilty of bringing up two boys who aren't involved in cricket due to work commitments and the like. I am about to change that with my youngest, work can wait, I'm breading a cricketer!!!!!

  • thebrotherswaugh on July 24, 2013, 8:29 GMT

    Continuing on from my previous post: How will the ACB pay for all of this. A good start would be to get rid of all the hanger's-on. Why have a Performance Manager and a Coach? Just because the really successful sporting franchises do it? Fair enough, but it hasn't worked, has it? The current crop of players are MASSIVELY overpaid - I heard comments on The Huddle & Switch Hit (highly recommended viewing on this site) that most OZ players are paid twice what their ENG counterparts earn. This is a leftover fringe benefit from the once might OZ side of the past. Put the current players on a performance-based incentive scheme and watch their payments plummet. This should free up quite a bit of capital for rebuilding and redeveloping the ailing Pura Cup competition. The BBL still has it's place, and the much of the blame laid at its feet for our current batting woes is rubbish. Our national T20 side is average, they are not world beaters. IND, ENG, and SA are all better than us @both formats

  • thebrotherswaugh on July 24, 2013, 8:16 GMT

    @LoungeChairCritic - That's an excellent suggestion and one that I would love the ACB to integrate into the domestic game, but it's more of a longer term prospect. The sad truth at the moment is that the majority of Pura Cup matches are over within 3 days, they don't even make it into the fourth day, so simply extending the format alone won't do much. But it is a component of the longer term solution - wickets must become more balanced, with good batting conditions for the first 3 days but still offer something for the bowlers if they're good enough, with wear and tear on the wicket brining the spinners into the game on days 4 & 5 - a traditional type of test pitch. Young batsmen must be brought through the ranks of a revitalised Pura Cup, more senior players need to be kept within the system, and make bowlers earn their wickets and encourage technique over natural flair from the majority of batsmen.

  • thebrotherswaugh on July 24, 2013, 8:04 GMT

    More of the same tripe. I notice he doesn't take any personal responsibility! He is the Performance Manager, but he didn't give us his full title - Poor Performance Manager. Funny how the Board, the 'Teflon Kid' James Sutherland, and other administrators are never held to account, even after years of MISMANAGEMENT. Nothing will change in the foreseeable future, as the entrenched and self-interested upper management remain at the helm. So the Argus Review was basically a political gambit, it justified axing some selectors and the coach, but 2 years later and NOTHING has changed. In fact, it's only deteriorated. The one shining light is our medium/fast bowlers, but at best you would describe their match-fitness as 'below average' - Pat Cummins continually breaks down, Pattinson is the same, Harris' entire career has been plagued, Starc has had problems, need I go on? Thank God for Siddle. Our management and support infrastructure for spinners has been deplorable and unprofessional.

  • on July 24, 2013, 7:38 GMT

    @ "when New Zealand beat England....." When was that ? They last won a test match against England in 2008 in a losing series and their last series win was in 1999 - a bit before T20.

  • bhusaranga on July 24, 2013, 6:38 GMT

    When West Indies was on top, there was no T20, why did they struggle and struggling till date? When South Africa beat England it was not due to T20. When NewZeland beat England it was not due to T20. When England lost to Pakistan it was not due to T20. All this T20 excuses are ridiculous. T20 is not hurting anyone rather it is allowing people to explore different innovations. If so many people like the game T20 format, let this be.

    You need quality players to play the game. Different format has different demand and those expected to play the format needs to accept it and play it. Sometime one generation plays and sometime its not. England is playing well and Australia not. It is simple.

    CA will definitely comeback at some point of time for sure. It may be this year or after some year.

  • on July 24, 2013, 6:16 GMT

    @Deeplongon, I wouldn't mind seeing an Aus V Aus A match or two either. I think one of the biggest problems now is that we just don't know what our best side is anymore. If each team played five bats, two spinners (an area where we have no clue at all about who is best) and three seamers on good tracks a few times I think we could finally work it out.

    @Landl47, we did that In india and got smashed. I think we need to at least go through the rest of this series and see what happens. I am sure a bloke like Rogers can make runs and be a positive influence around the younger blokes. Our top 7 may be older, but we still have 3 young blokes in there trying to find their feet at test level, i'm sure once a couple of them can then we'll see the likes of Burns, Maddinson, Warner, Silk, Henriques etc come in too. We still need some of these older heads leading the way, not sure where we would have been without Harris and Siddle in the first two tests.

  • LoungeChairCritic on July 24, 2013, 5:59 GMT

    I apologise for the typo in the previous post. There are 810 players in the AFL earning between 60k & 1.6 mill.

  • cricket_ahan on July 24, 2013, 5:09 GMT

    People on this forum have pointed out numerous things, and to an extent, they are all correct. Excessive T20 cricket, frequent team selection changes, pitch preparation etc etc. One thing that feels common is that there has been no consistent focus on improving one or a few things. The CA administration seem to jump from initiative to initiative as if they expect one to work a magical treat and make the Aus team dominant once more. The fact is any change and transition takes time - India, England, WI - and CA need to focus on the simple things and get them right. IMO, it means first finding a stable team selection (no constant ins and outs, let players fail and develop) and the right batting order (Clarke has to move to 3/4, and Watson needs to move down the order). Then it needs time refining SKILLS and preparing in match conditions - more bowling and batting, in the nets, in first class games etc and less time in the gym and on other conditioning.

  • Chris_Howard on July 24, 2013, 4:32 GMT

    And will take even longer if CA continue with their obsession with Watson as an opener. He's out 48% of the time missing the ball (LBW, bowled, stumped). That's not the technique of an opener (or of any recognised batsman for that matter)!!

  • ozjosh on July 24, 2013, 3:53 GMT

    For once I'd wish Pat Howard would stop speaking in trite management cliches and do what he's paid to do as high performance manager: produce a highly performing team. If he can't he should go back to rugby. No matter how many coaches come and go, they will always be in a powerless position. A root and brach overhaul of cricket in Australia is needed, and if Howard, Sutherland and Inverarity can't do it, they are the ones should be sacked.

  • on July 24, 2013, 3:15 GMT

    What has the Argus review done? It has led to victories against SL, draws with SA and NZ, a whitewash of IND, a comfortable win against WI, a loss by a 1-0 margin to SA, a comfortable win against SL then a 4-0 loss to IND. So Michael Clarke has 2 series losses, 2 draws and 4 series wins. That is not bad. People can say it must be the retirement of Ponting and Hussey which led to 6 losses on the trot which is no excuse. Michael Clarke was holding this team together with all his batting and support from Ponting and Hussey, occasionally he had support from Warner, Cowan and Wade, all of whom are not playing in the team. So why not bring them back?

  • Mitty2 on July 24, 2013, 3:10 GMT

    Thanks for the insight Howard... You truly are a genius!

    I'm not sure who I want out the most out of Inverarity, Sutherland and Howard... Maybe Sutherland just over Howard... Actually no just for Glenn Maxwell and Doherty Inverarity is on top :)

  • 2020sux on July 24, 2013, 2:25 GMT

    good on you Pat Howard for telling it as it really is, pity this attitude hadn't been expressed going into this series and saved all the heartache unrealistic expectations have caused. Now perhaps we can concentrate on building a good competitive team. If anyone wants to see the cost of continuing to delude ourselves just look towards the West Indies and their ongoing 20+ years in the wilderness.

  • CrankyofCroydon on July 24, 2013, 2:02 GMT

    Trouble is, Howeard is part of the problem.

    LAck of preparation, along with lack of development puts us in this place.

    The assessmnet is right, the man in charge is wrong to execute the remedy.

  • deeplongon on July 24, 2013, 1:10 GMT

    In the 1990's there was a series between AUSTRALIA and AUSTRALIA A+. The incumbent Australian players HATED this concept. Why? Because they were shown up by the Australia A players including Hayden, Langer, Martyn, Waugh, +++. In the 90's these so called Australia A players couldn't get a game in the REAL Australian team but everyone watching knew who the real stars were.

    In the end Australia beat Australia A but only because McGrath and Warne were in their side. Nevertheless it was a great opportunity to see and even blood young players on a big stage.

    It's time for an Australia versus Australia A series at the beginning of every Aussie Summer. Let's keep these overpaid under-performing people on their toes.

  • landl47 on July 24, 2013, 0:14 GMT

    Perhaps this Ashes series will mark the turning point for Australian cricket. Looking at it from the other side of the pitch, Australia appeared to come into this series thinking they had the bowling to beat England if they could only finagle a few runs. As a result this series doesn't represent a transition for Australia at all. Their top 7 are OLDER than England's top 7 and Harris is a good bowler at the end of his career. They regarded this series as an end in itself, not part of a rebuilding process.

    Although that might have been fair enough, they now have to face the fact that even with the older players they aren't good enough. As long as those players (Rogers, Haddin, Harris, Cowan and many would say Watson) are retained, new young players won't be introduced and rebuilding will take longer.

    Bring in young players (and I don't mean career journeymen like S. Marsh, Doolan, Ferguson, Quiney, Bailey) and accept that they will lose for a while. It's the only way.

  • RodStark on July 23, 2013, 23:45 GMT

    I'm certainly no expert on Australian domestic cricket, but it sounds like one of the problems might be the pitches prepared for the Sheffield Shield. Couldn't CA set standards for the type of pitch they want and have inspectors and fines for groundsmen who produce "poor" pitches? I think England have a similar system at least to some extent. (If CA already has this system, I apologize for stating the obvious.)

  • on July 23, 2013, 23:38 GMT

    Blame games don't help the current performance it just provides excuses for continued failures.

    Howard has just handed the starting 11 and Lehmann a get out of jail card - worse it says go directly to the bank and collect $$$$ - IS CA a monopoly?

  • on July 23, 2013, 23:13 GMT

    England concentrating their players more on traditional cricket against IPL and other cash rich leagues is paying the dividends in the form of results. Time to introspect for all other cricket boards (especially BCCI) to value the game of cricket than money.

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 22:58 GMT

    Final point from me.

    Australia have never won the T-20 WC. England have, or at least I think we have right ? Go figure.

  • Cpt.Meanster on July 23, 2013, 22:13 GMT

    @subbass: Yes, go on, sing praises of test cricket. It's only going to be here for another few years so why not give it one last pomp and show. The reason cricket evolved into many formats is because the organizers, law makers, and custodians of the game realized that NOT many people were left who could spend or rather I say 'waste' 5 precious days doing nothing. They felt a limited overs situation would create a far more interesting atmosphere where people would be assured of a definitive result. And yes, these guys who gave birth to 50 overs and T20 were all test cricket followers or your so called 'purists'. Even they know that test cricket is on life support and it's only a matter of time. The only reason test cricket could possibly still exist is because of the sympathy it still attracts of being the oldest format of the sport. So you see, it is sympathy more than anything for test cricket to still survive.

  • Lmaotsetung on July 23, 2013, 22:07 GMT

    No one is blaming T20 or IPL. They are blaming the scheduling not the format itself. Every noard is trying to milk every penny out of the T20 madness hence the cricketing calendar has been turned upside down. England is not immune to blame either BUT they recognize the problem and are addressing it. Pretty sad that with a 10 day break between tests, there are no county matches going on for out of form players or those on the fringe of selection getting some time in the middle. Eng will go to a Friday night T20 throughout the season and I think that's a great idea getting families to the game during the summer period and they still retain the T20 Finals day. As usual ECB leading the way showing how it should be done.

  • Longroom on July 23, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    Maybe Howard should fire himself? "Who was going to get the best out of this group, that was a simple decision" according to him so he fires Arthur and puts Lehmann in charge.

    Sorry, Mr Howard but going 2-0 down and hitting rock bottom in the test at Lords is hardly "getting the best out of this group". Lehmann has failed and so have you..

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Test cricket is here to stay, so get used to it all you white ball only fans and show some respect for the original format of the game as without Test matches/4 day cricket NONE of you would even have any limited overs cricket. It's the daddy of cricket and always will be ! T-20 50/50 is fine though so long as it knows it's place ! Also why do we still have at times 5/6 even 7 ODI's ? Pointless, just pointless !

  • thejesusofcool on July 23, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    BBL isn't their real problem.

    It's the IPL, in which they have far more participants at Test or near-Test level than us in England-just look at the shots they've got out to in these 2 Tests.

    BBL is badly placed in their domestic season and their pitches are becoming identikit at Shield level. But that all flows from IPL & trying to put bums on seats,which the Shield doesn't.

    And if they don't have something that makes a few bob, how do they pay decent players a good wage to stay Ozside & not join the IPL?

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Australia have some good young players coming through but they need to perform consistently in domestic cricket next season. all the Australian domestic cricket teams will play 6 fc matches each before the start of ashes series in Australia. I expect few guys to perform consistently in that period. alex doolan, shaun marsh, nic maddinson, Jordan silk, joe burns, tim paine, pat cummins, chadd sayers, fawad ahmed, adam zampa and mitch marsh will be the one to watch out for.

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Maybe this is all being over analized. Maybe the Aussies just don't have a match winning team anymore. They don't have Ponting and a host of others anymore. And as for the Ashes, England currently have a powerful team under Cook. Expectations of the Australian public are very high, because they are used to seeing winners. But just like the people of the West Indies, they need to face the harsh reality that they do not have a world beating team, and it will be difficult to get back to that level for both of those teams. The money is in India and England, and the population base is in those countries. England make up for their population shortfall by poaching heavily from South Africa and, in Morgan's case, Ireland. So Australia are at a disadvantage, just like the rest of the cricket nations. The Ashes event is the only thing the Aussies have going for them, but if they get thrashed too many times, England might see Indian as the more worthy rival in future times.

  • whoster on July 23, 2013, 20:04 GMT

    It's a combination of a dearth of talent and a dithering selection policy. Every excuse if being used - from too many domestic pitches favouring seam bowling, to too much T20. Joe Root has had a lot of success with Yorkshire in T20, yet does that stop him being able to concentrate for long periods and defend when necessary? The Aussie selectors have done nothing but paper over the cracks in the last few years. Shane Watson is NOT an opening batsman - he's a hard-hitting all-rounder who should bat at 6. Their only world-class batsman (and captain) continues to bat at 5 when he could be stabilising the top order at 3 or 4 , and they ged rid of every spinner who dares to not be as good as Shane Warne. Haddin has had a shocking time with the gloves, but Wade's no better. The Aussie pace attack is the only department where they compete with England, and England surely have the edge there too because of Jimmy Anderson. Australia are a poor side, made even worse by the selectors.

  • Rahulbose on July 23, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    Aussies can just wait a few years, all nations are playing T20. Only SA and Eng still have players who have test cricket as their priority. If they just wait then the likes KP will corrupt the culture in those teams as well and we will only have 30 ball 60 run specialists playing for all nations. Besides the marketing folks will be putting emphasis on playing more T20s and Test matches will reduce in number. 3 test Ashes are just around the corner.

  • on July 23, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    What worries me (and as an England supporter that's entirely rhetorical) is that Australia finds itself in an even worse position two years down the line from the Argus Review which was supposed to (and in fact did) identify solutions to the state Australian cricket was in.

    So having spent the time and money on that review, how has Australian cricket got worse? It suggests to me that those at the top are either a) incompetent, or b) primarily interested in making money. They're probably both.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 23, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Mr Howard is correct. Australia are really just at the very start of a transition phase, which took England, with good planning, over a decade to recover from. Australia, with the current leadership and skill it has in the sport, could take longer. It might be another 10 years at least until Australian fans see a new generation of players and a better team. England are just streets ahead.

  • on July 23, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    people should stop blaming t20 for Australia's poor test form. every country in the world play domestic t20 cricket every season. Australia need to produce good batting pitches. the pitches favour fast bowlers too much so batsmen cant make big scores and also spin bowler cant play because of the green top. there Australian batsmen cant play spin or make hundreds. im sure Australian batsmen will perform better next season in domestic cricket.

  • on July 23, 2013, 17:16 GMT

    people should stop blaming t20 for Australia's poor test form. every country in the world play domestic t20 cricket every season. Australia need to produce good batting pitches. the pitches favour fast bowlers too much so batsmen cant make big scores and also spin bowler cant play because of the green top. there Australian batsmen cant play spin or make hundreds. im sure Australian batsmen will perform better next season in domestic cricket.

  • Front-Foot-Lunge on July 23, 2013, 17:49 GMT

    Mr Howard is correct. Australia are really just at the very start of a transition phase, which took England, with good planning, over a decade to recover from. Australia, with the current leadership and skill it has in the sport, could take longer. It might be another 10 years at least until Australian fans see a new generation of players and a better team. England are just streets ahead.

  • on July 23, 2013, 18:16 GMT

    What worries me (and as an England supporter that's entirely rhetorical) is that Australia finds itself in an even worse position two years down the line from the Argus Review which was supposed to (and in fact did) identify solutions to the state Australian cricket was in.

    So having spent the time and money on that review, how has Australian cricket got worse? It suggests to me that those at the top are either a) incompetent, or b) primarily interested in making money. They're probably both.

  • Rahulbose on July 23, 2013, 18:33 GMT

    Aussies can just wait a few years, all nations are playing T20. Only SA and Eng still have players who have test cricket as their priority. If they just wait then the likes KP will corrupt the culture in those teams as well and we will only have 30 ball 60 run specialists playing for all nations. Besides the marketing folks will be putting emphasis on playing more T20s and Test matches will reduce in number. 3 test Ashes are just around the corner.

  • whoster on July 23, 2013, 20:04 GMT

    It's a combination of a dearth of talent and a dithering selection policy. Every excuse if being used - from too many domestic pitches favouring seam bowling, to too much T20. Joe Root has had a lot of success with Yorkshire in T20, yet does that stop him being able to concentrate for long periods and defend when necessary? The Aussie selectors have done nothing but paper over the cracks in the last few years. Shane Watson is NOT an opening batsman - he's a hard-hitting all-rounder who should bat at 6. Their only world-class batsman (and captain) continues to bat at 5 when he could be stabilising the top order at 3 or 4 , and they ged rid of every spinner who dares to not be as good as Shane Warne. Haddin has had a shocking time with the gloves, but Wade's no better. The Aussie pace attack is the only department where they compete with England, and England surely have the edge there too because of Jimmy Anderson. Australia are a poor side, made even worse by the selectors.

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:18 GMT

    Maybe this is all being over analized. Maybe the Aussies just don't have a match winning team anymore. They don't have Ponting and a host of others anymore. And as for the Ashes, England currently have a powerful team under Cook. Expectations of the Australian public are very high, because they are used to seeing winners. But just like the people of the West Indies, they need to face the harsh reality that they do not have a world beating team, and it will be difficult to get back to that level for both of those teams. The money is in India and England, and the population base is in those countries. England make up for their population shortfall by poaching heavily from South Africa and, in Morgan's case, Ireland. So Australia are at a disadvantage, just like the rest of the cricket nations. The Ashes event is the only thing the Aussies have going for them, but if they get thrashed too many times, England might see Indian as the more worthy rival in future times.

  • on July 23, 2013, 20:34 GMT

    Australia have some good young players coming through but they need to perform consistently in domestic cricket next season. all the Australian domestic cricket teams will play 6 fc matches each before the start of ashes series in Australia. I expect few guys to perform consistently in that period. alex doolan, shaun marsh, nic maddinson, Jordan silk, joe burns, tim paine, pat cummins, chadd sayers, fawad ahmed, adam zampa and mitch marsh will be the one to watch out for.

  • thejesusofcool on July 23, 2013, 20:43 GMT

    BBL isn't their real problem.

    It's the IPL, in which they have far more participants at Test or near-Test level than us in England-just look at the shots they've got out to in these 2 Tests.

    BBL is badly placed in their domestic season and their pitches are becoming identikit at Shield level. But that all flows from IPL & trying to put bums on seats,which the Shield doesn't.

    And if they don't have something that makes a few bob, how do they pay decent players a good wage to stay Ozside & not join the IPL?

  • subbass on July 23, 2013, 21:04 GMT

    Test cricket is here to stay, so get used to it all you white ball only fans and show some respect for the original format of the game as without Test matches/4 day cricket NONE of you would even have any limited overs cricket. It's the daddy of cricket and always will be ! T-20 50/50 is fine though so long as it knows it's place ! Also why do we still have at times 5/6 even 7 ODI's ? Pointless, just pointless !

  • Longroom on July 23, 2013, 22:03 GMT

    Maybe Howard should fire himself? "Who was going to get the best out of this group, that was a simple decision" according to him so he fires Arthur and puts Lehmann in charge.

    Sorry, Mr Howard but going 2-0 down and hitting rock bottom in the test at Lords is hardly "getting the best out of this group". Lehmann has failed and so have you..