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Nevill wants Smith, Warner to help build NSW team

Peter Nevill collects a throw Cricket Australia/Getty Images

Improved talent development was at the forefront of Peter Nevill's mind as he was formally unveiled as the New South Wales captain, and he wants the banned duo of Steven Smith and David Warner to play a role in helping Australia's largest cricket state atone for several lost years now in evidence at international level.

On the current limited-overs tour of England, the only Blues player in the squad is Nathan Lyon. While Smith, Warner, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Pat Cummins were all unavailable through suspension or injury, the trend was even starker for Australia A squads named to tour India - Kurtis Patterson the only NSW contracted cricketer included.

This breakdown in the talent conveyor belt for the nation's most populous state played a part in costing Trent Johnston his job as coach. His replacement Phil Jaques has been working with Nevill and the rest of the senior players to drive home their need to develop the younger members of a contract list that has been shorn of the likes of Ed Cowan and Doug Bollinger by retirement and the unfulfilled talent of Nic Maddinson relocating to Victoria.

"NSW has been accustomed to success over the years and we're very determined to bring that back," Nevill said in Sydney. "A big focus for us moving forward is we've got some good senior players around the place and we're making sure we get knowledge transferred and bring on our younger players and get them up-skilled as quick as we can to be ready to perform well when they get their chance at first-class cricket.

"[We want Smith and Warner to help] as much as they're available to do. Having that kind of knowledge around the place as well is only going to help up-skill some of these young guys and also some of our more experienced guys, you can always learn by talking about the game with people who know the game inside out, and those two definitely fit in that category.

"We've been lucky the big three quicks have been around doing their rehab stuff, and were involved in our planning day as well. So Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins - having that calibre of people around and being able to share what they've experienced over their career so far, its invaluable knowledge that people learn a lot from hearing."

Rather than initiating formal involvement for Smith and Warner, Nevill wanted to encourage the pair to spend time with players on one-on-one basis over coffee. "It doesn't have to be on a formal basis," he said. "If they're around and they want to have a coffee with people. Some of the best learning experiences for me are quite informal experiences, just sitting around and having a coffee or something like that.

"They're going to have a lot of things in their schedules, they're busy people, but the more we can have them around, the better. I would certainly not be against them playing any games for us, I'd love to have them around all the time and hopefully we can have them at some point this season to play for us. If that's the Shield final then we'll have to make sure we make that."

As for a series of photos taken of Smith in repose in New York this week and then published with inflammatory headlines in the News Corp tabloids on Tuesday, Nevill said he was eager to ensure his predecessor was in a healthy mental space. "That's obviously disappointing," he said. "First and foremost Steve's a lovely human being, he's a friend of mine and I care about him a lot. You wouldn't want to see that happening to anybody really. But that's the thing, what's been great is seeing his friends and his team-mates rally around him and really want to make sure he's doing ok personally."

Starc, Hazlewood and Cummins shared their gleanings from Australia's pre-tour camp in Brisbane with the NSW squad, including the key principles and benchmarks of the national team coach Justin Langer. In a departure from the previous regime, these are understood to have focused almost exclusively on standards of behaviour and said very little about performance, with the logic being that good people in a good environment will perform at their best.

Nevill was tellingly dropped from the Australian Test team in late 2016, at a time when Matthew Wade's more openly hostile approach to opponents was preferred amid euphemistic talk about "energy" and "presence". A little less than two years later, Cricket Australia is in the midst of dual cultural reviews, and while Nevill said he wanted individuals to find their own way to be at their best, there is little doubt he prefers a different tack, and will follow it as he strives to return to the international arena.

"People will go about performing at their optimal level in different ways," Nevill said. "Some people thrive off getting in a bit of a verbal contest, some people don't, but a lot of the reasons that people do that is to get themselves into that optimal space and I'm comfortable with people doing whatever they need to do to be in their optimal space. We want to be winning games of cricket, that's the focus for me, and whichever way you go about doing that consistently I think is a good way to go about doing it.

"I'd love to play Test cricket again, so a good goal for me is to get on the Ashes tour at the end of this season, they'll take two keepers to England, so if I can put the numbers on the board that I did before the last Ashes tour to England [in 2015] then hopefully I can get on that tour."