Former Australia captain Ian Chappell has called for a complete rethink of Australia's cricket system after the team's crushing defeat in the ongoing Investec Ashes series in England. In an interview with ESPNcricinfo, Chappell said Australia were now worse off than they were before the Argus review of 2011, and he has forecast dark days ahead due to the lack of batting depth in the domestic system.
The retirement of Michael Clarke and likely departure of Chris Rogers will leave Australia needing at least two new batsmen in their top six after this series, but their replacements are far from obvious. Chappell said the fact that so many of Australia's new Test batsmen in recent years were older - including Rogers, Adam Voges, Ed Cowan, George Bailey and Rob Quiney - was evidence of a failing system.
"Normally you'd be highly critical of the selection panel for doing that, but you have to have sympathy for the selection panel, because what they would obviously like is a lot of young players churning out runs regularly in first-class cricket, and sadly that's just not happening," Chappell said. "That to me is where the major concern is.
"I think there are some guys there with a lot of skill. But whether they would do any better against the moving ball than what we've seen lately - you wouldn't want to be betting your house on it.
"The Argus review was, in my opinion, from the time it was done, a complete waste of time. We're now back in the same boat. In fact I think we're behind the eight-ball because what they did was they added another layer of management. The system is wrong, the Argus report was a waste of time."
Every time I hear people say the batting is better now, I nearly throw up. The hitting is better, but the batting is not better. We've seen that with Australia. The art of survival is on the way out fastIan Chappell on the shift in batsmen's mindset
Australia's major failures in recent years have come when the ball has moved, either in spinning conditions or against seam and swing. Chappell said during his playing days, batsmen were exposed to enough variety in conditions during Sheffield Shield cricket that they had confidence in their techniques when asked to tour countries such as England or India, which he believes does not happen now.
"Young players are going to be playing with an IPL contract in mind," Chappell said. "If I can show that I'm a terrific hitter of the ball and I can score at eight an over, that could get me a big IPL contract. So the question you've got to ask yourself is, are they developing techniques that make it easier to play in that manner, to score at eight and ten runs an over and be terrific hitters?
"Every time I hear people say the batting is better now, I nearly throw up, because the batting is not better. The hitting is better, but the batting is not better. We've seen that with Australia. The art of survival is on the way out fast. I don't blame the young guys.
"But this is what the officials, the administrators, have got to work out - is that going to help you in Test cricket? And the answer is no, not unless you have absolutely flat pitches in Test cricket, which I'm not sure we want."
Chappell said one key to improving Australian cricket would be to boost the numbers of 17- and 18-year-olds playing Sheffield Shield cricket and honing their games at that level. However, he felt it could be years before Australian cricket would begin to reap the rewards and in the meantime, the new captain Steven Smith would face some serious challenges with his Test team.