What’s wrong with the Redbacks?
The South Australian Redbacks are surely one of the worst performing sporting organisations in Australia. They are a constant source of frustration to South Australian cricket fans.
Admittedly they have won the Ryobi Cup in 2011-2012, all be it through a fortunate draw and a freak last over from Gary Putland. They also won the Twenty20 competition in 2010/2011, largely due to the form of their overseas players Kieran Pollard and Shahid Afridi.
However, a domestic side must be judged in the main on its four day performances, which have been nothing short of disgraceful. They have not won a game since November 2010, which comprises 16 straight losses. They have not won a Sheffield Shield since 1995/96.
By any standards this record is nothing short of a disgrace.
The hierarchy of Darren Berry and Jamie Cox had to do something drastic and they have. By relieving Michael Klinger, one of the only consistent performers over the last few years, of the captaincy and appointing Johan Botha, they have identified leadership as an issue. Coming from the rigid structure of South Africa he is sure to install a strict set of disciplinary requirements and lead from the front.
However, I question his position in the side as a spinner ahead of a local talent and wicket taker like Cullen Bailey.
Then we have the signing of Phil Hughes. There is no doubt that a combination of Klinger and Hughes at the top of the order is a mouth watering prospect and some high scores are on the cards. However it is proven that runs on the flat tracks of the Adelaide Oval are not held in that high regard and it will be a long road back to the Test side for him. Daniel Christian and Callum Ferguson remain unsigned and fitting these two internationals into the salary cap remains a major issue.
While this recruiting may provide some short term relief for the Redbacks I believe it is masking some much bigger issues. The first is at board level. They have failed to retain top South Australians in the state. Darren Lehmann’s axing as a player was a disgrace and then overlooking him as a coach was incomprehensible.
He has already delivered a shield to Queensland. The failure to retain the likes of Gillespie and Blewett in a coaching capacity and Ryan Harris and Mark Cosgrove as players are a further examples of pure incompetence. It seems interstate discards are preferred over local products.
The biggest issue is the standard of grade cricket in Adelaide. Pitches are not up to scratch and there are far too many sides, resulting in the jump from local level to state level being far too large. A scouring of the district team scores each week sees only a handful over 200 meaning that when a batsman is promoted, it is no surprise to see him fail.
I think we may see some better scores as a result of the recruiting of Phil Hughes but the jury is still well and truly out on the Redbacks. Until we see some changes at board level and some people are prepared to make tough calls, the Redbacks and their supporters still have many tough times ahead.