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Mantra of high performance not extending to selectors

Andyc Roar Rookie

11 Have your say

    Cricket Australia’s much vaunted high performance mantra, it seems, doesn’t extend to the national selection panel.

    Inaction on ending the careers of ageing stars has left little time to groom the next generation of batsmen before a gruelling 12 month period in which Australia play four away Tests against India before heading to England for a five match series which will be reciprocated in the 2013-14 Australian summer.

    Entering the Australian summer of 2011-12, the national selectors were faced with the dilemma of planning for the 2013 Ashes and managing the exits of Ricky Ponting and Michael Hussey. Fears that Ponting and Hussey wouldn’t be round for a tilt at regaining the Ashes in England have come to fruition.

    Ponting struggled against New Zealand before plundering the Indian attack in the New Year, however Ponting’s renaissance didn’t last and by year’s end he had announced his retirement from Test cricket.

    Hussey’s retirement comes as a greater shock as he has shown few signs of slowing down and leaves Test cricket at the top of his game.

    Inevitably when Australia loses, the selectors are judged harshly by the public and there will always be a player or three around the country who thinks they have been hard done. There is the saying that it is harder to get into the Australian Test team than get out of it and that makes sense, as stability is an important ingredient of a successful cricket side.

    Recent comments by John Inverarity indicate this is a selection panel which fears getting it wrong. High performance selection panels make steadfast judgements which show faith in the players to perform and don’t attempt to justify their actions at press conferences.

    Staggering public comments suggesting that Phil Hughes was protected from facing South Africa on his return to Test cricket have the potential to do Hughes and Australian cricket great harm.

    Since when have Australian players been hesitant of doing battle with South Africa?

    After all Hughes made a century on debut against South Africa and while they have a good pace attack, they are hardly Joel Garner, Malcolm Marshall, Michael Holding and Andy Roberts!

    Michael Hussey has been a great player at international level since making his debut at 30 and it’s hard to be down on him for wanting to play international cricket for as long as his mind would allow, though his sudden retirement does leave a gaping hole in what is fast becoming a fragile top six.

    Should the selectors have tapped Ponting and Hussey on the shoulder last summer and said for the betterment of the team it’s time to move on? A high performance selection panel would have most certainly retired Ponting and probably been brave enough to do the same with Hussey.

    Initially both decisions would have been highly unpopular but then again so was the axing of Ian Healy for Adam Gilchrist. The angst subsided very quickly when Gilchrist started blasting centuries while batting at seven.

    As we say goodbye to 2012, the Australian cricket team is about to embark on the toughest 12 months it has faced in decades.

    Expect competitive performances against India, who have their own problems with the form of Virender Sehwag and Sachin Tendulkar. Though better Australian sides have struggled to beat India on the subcontinent, a series win isn’t out of the question given the weak Indian bowling attack.

    England will win the Ashes and by plenty. England are simply a better side and would have beaten Australia with Michael Hussey and Ricky Ponting in the middle order, which makes it all the more frustrating that some tough decisions weren’t made earlier.

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    The Crowd Says (11)

    • Roar Guru

      January 1st 2013 @ 7:52am
      Andy_Roo said | January 1st 2013 @ 7:52am | ! Report

      AndyC, I think you are being far too critical of the current selection panel.

      Yes the call should have been made on Ponting’s retirement but the previous selection panel should have made that call two years ago. The current selection panel didn’t make the call because Ponting’s form against India last year was good.

      Nobody expected Hussey to retire and his form would have meant his selection was never, repeat never in doubt.

      The Argus review identified open and honest communication between players/selectors/public as an important issue. The selectors are trying to do exactly that by explaining their decisions and thought processes.

      The selectors have also shown a clear direction by choosing Wade over Haddin, by sticking with Warner and Cowan and by standing firm on the rotation policy for fast bowlers.

      I think this shows that the selection panel is actually performing at a reasonably high level. I have concerns about the rotation policy and the inclusion of captain and coach on the selection panel but those are seperate issues.

      How the selection pael deals with Hussey’s retirement and how it shapes the ashes touring party over the next few months will be very interesting ot watch.

      • January 2nd 2013 @ 6:14am
        lolly said | January 2nd 2013 @ 6:14am | ! Report

        It’s good (even if rare) to read someone who thinks they are doing a reasonable job. I think they are too.

        I don’t even have that many issues with the rotation policy, we don’t have really outstanding bowlers who are being sat out in place of someone else and we are finding out about new players’ temperament and talent by widening the pool.

      • January 2nd 2013 @ 1:01pm
        JohnB said | January 2nd 2013 @ 1:01pm | ! Report

        In retrospect, the one thing they might have done is ask both Ponting and Hussey if they intended playing on to the Ashes series. If they did ask that question, and the answer was yes, then I have no problem with them continuing to have been selected while their form warranted it, since there weren’t better players being kept out.

        Beyond that, I’m not too sure what picks these selectors have made which were obviously wrong at the time they were made.

    • January 1st 2013 @ 8:15am
      pope paul v11 said | January 1st 2013 @ 8:15am | ! Report

      The Argus review is a pile of rubbish but the major selectors appear to ignore it anyway. Why is Maxwell even in this squad? Take him to India by all means and play him against the Hardly Considered XI but there is no reasdn to play him ahead of Khawaja. It it an insult.

      • January 1st 2013 @ 3:59pm
        Stephen said | January 1st 2013 @ 3:59pm | ! Report

        Pope paul v11 has a very good point. How can Khawaja not be picked. Khawaja was averaging 52 and leading the shield tally before his last shield game where he got a dubious lbw call that hit his thigh pad. He has become more aggressive under boof, is among the leading shield scorers(2nd) and his fielding looks sharp(just look at the big bash games) so yes his continual non selection is not fair and it will continue to get responses as those on this site.. We are a country of immigrants and i hope he is not ignored for that reason but if the selectors don’t reward performance soon then it will be percieved that way. I am very dissapointed that a T20 specialist in Maxwell has been plucked over him when he has been standby for Clarke. If maxwell could bowl then i could understand but he can’t bowl

        • January 2nd 2013 @ 11:00am
          Matt F said | January 2nd 2013 @ 11:00am | ! Report

          Let’s cut out the conspiracy theories for a moment. He wasn’t selected at the start of the summer because he had a poor season last year and was OK without being brilliant at the start of this season. Most of Khawaja’s runs came leter in the Shield. When hughes was recalled for Hobart they made quite clear that they considered Hughes and Khawaja but Hughes had done more, which he had.

          As for Sydney? The selectors have stated that they want to play an all-rounder to replace Watson and Khawaja isn’t one. We can debate the merits of whether they should pick an all-rounder or a batsman for this test ( I think we should pick a batsman, especially given Hussey’s impending retirement) but that’s got nothing to do with any conspiracy against Khawaja. It’s to do with the fact that they want an all-rounder in the XI. If they want to try an all-rounder then obviously Khawaja doesn’t fit the bill.

          If they really didn’t like Khawaja then they wouldn’t even have him in the squad. Brad Hodge is an example of such a player.

          More likely they want to try Maxwell because they feel that a spin bowling all-rounder could be useful in India (especially given we don’t have any spinners apart from Lyon) and may also be useful as security if we decide to play four quicks in the Ashes.

          • January 2nd 2013 @ 2:34pm
            Red Kev said | January 2nd 2013 @ 2:34pm | ! Report

            You are wrong on one point Matt.
            Putting Khawaja in the squad is exactly how they get away with bias without the media calling them on it. Khawaja is cover for Clarke but not good enough to replace the no.4 in the batting lineup? Khawaja is just edged out by Hughes as Ponting’s replacement but can’t replace Hussey because we need his 35yo brother, or Maxwell because Watson can’t bowl. They keep Khawaja around without ever actually letting him play and they get to look like they are giving him a shot, but all the while they feed bogus excuses to friendly journos like Brettig and keep him out of the side.

            • Roar Guru

              January 2nd 2013 @ 4:26pm
              Andy_Roo said | January 2nd 2013 @ 4:26pm | ! Report

              Khawaja will replace Hussey in the side, I have no doubt about that. I don’t think there is any bias against him. .David hussey has been mentioned but I think only as a ackup player on the ashes tour, not a first choice player. I think this would actually be a good idea, to have someone in the ashes squad with a little bit more experience if required.

    • January 1st 2013 @ 11:14am
      Red Kev said | January 1st 2013 @ 11:14am | ! Report

      You’re bang on with this article. The NSP has failed spectacularly, a fact that became blatantly obvious to everyone when Arthur and Inverarity came out and said earlier in the summer that they “hadn’t even discussed” a succession plan for Ricky Ponting.
      A new era beckoned in the wake of the Ashes humiliation and the Argus report; unfortunately Pat Howard as High Performance Director and the new National Selection Panel of Inverarity, Marsh, Bichel, Arthur (coach), and Clarke (captain) did not seize the opportunity to truly re-invigorate the test team. Now we are now nearly two years on from the Ashes debacle no closer to answering any of the questions that were being posed back then, except “will Ponting and Hussey make it to the back-to-back Ashes series”. The answer is no because both retired, and now Clarke, Arthur and Inverarity are not ready for the future without them.
      If Ponting had been forcibly retired after the Ashes, Khawaja would not have been continually been jerked around by the selectors and instead of tests being shared between Khawaja, Marsh, Quiney and Hughes, Usman would have 20 tests to his name and be settled in the top order heading into Sydney this week (as well as, given his previous captaincy experience, developing into a leader within the squad).
      Hussey’s retirement this summer would then have paved the way for Hughes return (who already has 17 tests worth of experience in his previous stints in a baggygreen) in a staggered manner and our top order would not look so shaky. Instead the NSP dithered and did nothing with the veterans persisted in selecting 30 year olds with 30 something averages who have never looked like test standard players – and now we face a crisis of experience which sees Inverarity and Co running scared and looking at recalling Haddin or calling up 35 year old David Hussey as stop gap measures or giving caps to guys like Maxwell and Christian neither of whom should ever be close to a baggy green.
      The bullet must now be bitten and a longer term approach adopted. Warner, Cowan, Hughes, Khawaja, Clarke has to be our top order for at least the next 12 months, regardless of performance. They need time to gel into partnerships. Faith needs to be shown as the team rebuilds.

    • January 1st 2013 @ 7:38pm
      Jason said | January 1st 2013 @ 7:38pm | ! Report

      Phil Hughes didn’t make a century on debut. In fact, he got a duck in his first dig.

      • Roar Rookie

        January 2nd 2013 @ 10:40am
        Andyc said | January 2nd 2013 @ 10:40am | ! Report

        True Jason my mistake; Hughes made 0 & 75 on debut. In the second test he made 115 & 160. i’d still argue that South Africa should have held no fears for Hughes.

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