Cutting on standby an unnecessary logistical nightmare

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    Ben Cutting has performed strongly in domestic one dayers, but his international career has been very stop-start. AP Photo/James Elsby

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    Earlier in the week when I posted the just-named 12-man squad for Australia’s next two One Day Internationals (in Brisbane today, and Sydney on Sunday), I mentioned Queensland quick Ben Cutting was not in the 12, but on standby.

    I had to correct myself though, having misheard the national selection panel (NSP) chairman, John Inverarity, during the live coverage of the press conference. The squad had been cut from 13 in Adelaide back to 12, and Cutting wasn’t in it, with the two left-arm Mitchells (Starc and Johnson) fit to play again.

    On Wednesday afternoon, the day after steering the Brisbane Heat into the Big Bash League final, Cutting was suddenly back in the Australian squad, and was indeed on standby for Starc and Johnson, who had previously been declared fit.

    While his Heat teammates remained in Melbourne for an extra day, in case they needed to fly to Perth for the BBL Final (which they now do), Cutting was back in Brisbane with the national side “as a precaution due to Johnson and Starc coming back from injury”.

    “If both pace bowlers prove their fitness to play as expected, Ben will re-join the Brisbane Heat on Friday afternoon for the Big Bash League final,” Inverarity said.

    So let’s just recap the timeline here.

    On Monday when the ODI squad was first named – without Cutting – the explanation from Inverarity surrounding Starc and Johnson was, “The medical staff said that it is very likely they’ll be fit. We’ll make a full assessment on Wednesday and, if there’s any doubt, we’ll bring other players into the squad.”

    On Tuesday, free of national duties, Cutting took 3/24 to rip the heart out of the Melbourne Renegades’ order as they chased the Heat’s healthy Luke Pomersbach-inspired total.

    By Wednesday, Cutting was back in Brisbane “as a precaution” and will remain there until either Starc and/or Johnson are passed fit, or he’s required to wear his Australian cap today at the ‘Gabba.

    If he’s not needed today, he’ll be on one of only a few direct Qantas flights this afternoon or this evening flying five-plus hours across the country to re-join his Heat teammates for tomorrow night’s BBL final.

    It makes you wonder why a 13-man squad wasn’t just named in the first place. I have a sneaking suspicion the answer lies in a bit of a conspiracy orchestrated by the BBL marketers and the NSP, which is bound to get Shane Warne’s goat.

    I suspect Cutting was always going to be in the squad for the next two games, but might not have been expected to play today, with Starc and Johnson fit again.

    Therefore, they ‘dropped’ Cutting, freeing him up to play as one of the Heat’s key bowlers in the semi, as he has been for most of the tournament.

    Come Wednesday, the ‘assessment’ determines that maybe Starc and Johnson aren’t as fit as first thought, and that it’s probably worth getting some cover in.

    What are the odds Starc and Johnson are passed fit to play today, Cutting flies to Perth and plays in the BBL final, but then is suddenly rushed back to Sydney on the red-eye when one or both of the lefties tweak something again?

    Now, those who’ve followed me enough on these pages and forums would know I don’t usually peddle conspiracy theories like this, but this scenario just seems too perfect to me.

    And what must Warnie think? He blew up deluxe before the Melbourne Stars’ BBL semi loss in Perth that, among other things, his Stars couldn’t recall James Pattinson – who had just returned in Melbourne club cricket – to help fill some of the holes left by his team’s four Australian reps.

    None of the Stars’ Australian players were allowed to play on Wednesday night yet, on the surface, it appears the Heat might have got a bit lucky with Cutting.

    Of course, the bigger underlying issue here, aside for the frequent flyer points Cutting has racked up this week, is that this is all a logistical nightmare for which Cricket Australia can only blame itself.

    It went into the first ODIs of the current series with a squad of 13, added two more for the second game, and then for the next block of games recalled three blokes who’d been putting their feet up while chopping the squad back to 12.

    If all the new faces get a run today at the ‘Gabba, Australia will have used 18 players in three games.

    Even without such fun as rotation and ‘informed player management’, this is surely taking experimentation and revolving door strategies too far.

    It’s hard to disagree with Allan Border’s opinion as aired on Inside Cricket earlier this week. Building squad depth and even wanting to rest and/or rotate players is fine, but surely it’s a better plan for all involved just to name a squad of say 15 for a series and pick from within that squad.

    Having one squad for two games, then a different squad for the next two games, even if they’re not intending to, does give the impression Australian one-day shirts are being handed out.

    If Cutting was needed as a precautionary cover for Starc or Johnson, then their worth in a 12-man squad in the first place is arguable. If their fitness is a game-by-game proposition, then why not leave them out completely to get the required treatment (or rest), and let the likes of Cutting show their wares across the series?

    Picking cricket teams isn’t supposed to be a logistically difficult task, but Cricket Australia at the moment seem hell-bent on making selection and these sort of things as complicated as possible. It’s no wonder the head-scratching abounds.

    UPDATE: Just as I was submitting this yesterday, news filtered through about the injury sustained by Moises Henriques during the Aussie team’s preparations. Cutting will now almost certainly be required in some shape or form today, which in turns puts the spotlight on the fitness of the two Mitchells.

    Michael Clarke spoke late yesterday about not being able to carry players who were less than 100% fit, but here he’ll go into this game with clouds over his two left-armers. So again I’ll ask, why name them in the first place?

    Brett McKay
    Brett McKay

    Brett McKay is one of The Roar's good news stories and has been a rugby and cricket expert for the site since July 2009. Brett is an international and Super Rugby commentator for ABC Grandstand radio, has commentated on the Australian Under-20s Championships and National Rugby Championship live stream coverage, and has written for magazines and websites in Australia, New Zealand, South Africa, and the UK. He tweets from @BMcSport.

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    The Crowd Says (90)

    • January 18th 2013 @ 4:21am
      AndyMack said | January 18th 2013 @ 4:21am | ! Report

      18 players in 3 games??? That is shambolic.

      Brett, have a question on the selectors that hopefully you or other roarers can help me with. Clarke as captain is on the selection panel. When he is rested, and Bailey steps up, does he become a selector (he is the official aust captain afterall), and if so does he replace Clarke, or is he added to the panel, giving us a half dozen??

      • Columnist

        January 18th 2013 @ 7:39am
        Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 7:39am | ! Report

        Andy, the captain of the day is a selector, whoever that might be. The panel remains at 5. I’m not sure at which point Bailey dropped off, and Clarke returned though. For eg, did Bailey pick Clarke as Captain and then step down, or was the panel only 4 for a few minutes before Clarke rejoined them? Not sure how that bit works, but there is only one Captain on there at any point…

        • Roar Pro

          January 18th 2013 @ 9:56am
          boes said | January 18th 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

          The selection panel has a rotation policy too..

          • Columnist

            January 18th 2013 @ 10:25am
            Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 10:25am | ! Report

            So do the coaches, Boes. Mickey Arthur has spent this week with his family in Perth, and Steve Rixon is in charge for today’s game. Arthur will rejoin the team in Sydney…

            • January 18th 2013 @ 11:18am
              Nick Inatey said | January 18th 2013 @ 11:18am | ! Report

              Hmm, it’s a bit of an unneccessary conundrum. I would think Bailey had no selection power at all. The two line ups for the first ODI’s seemed very pre-ordained, irrespecitive of other factors such as the pitch in Adelaide. For example, John Inverarity himself said Usman Khawaja was only ever going to play the first game (then replaced by Steven Smith in the second game) when everyone wondered why he wasn’t playing. Because surely, after seeing the Adelaide pitch, if you were captain and had some say on the selection table you would be wanting a different line up.

              • Columnist

                January 18th 2013 @ 11:39am
                Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 11:39am | ! Report

                Nick, dis Invers say that, that Khawaja would only play the first game? You may be right though, the two XIs were probably picked up front and then handed to Bailey…

    • January 18th 2013 @ 7:05am
      A1 said | January 18th 2013 @ 7:05am | ! Report

      What a joke. Cricket Australia is a laughing stock.

    • January 18th 2013 @ 7:21am
      Robert said | January 18th 2013 @ 7:21am | ! Report

      If Cutting is not required today and he flies over to Perth,isnt that putting him at more risk of injury by all this flying than it would be if he was playing cricket.It happened a few years ago to him.Inverarity is a nut case,but i thought Marsh and Bichel had at least half a brain

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      • January 18th 2013 @ 7:50am
        Allanthus said | January 18th 2013 @ 7:50am | ! Report

        Robert, that prompts an interesting question about the dynamics of the NSP. How democratic is it and how do they go about their decision making?

        What we know of Inverarity’s background and demeanour would suggest that he’s a “my way or the highway” type of guy. Where his position as head of the panel is much more than just holding a casting vote. This may be totally wrong of course, and I don’t expect him to come out and explain it, but it certainly seems that way.

        So we don’t know how much of a stamp Marsh and Bichel have on this, or whether they are just rolling along in behind Inverarity.

        • January 18th 2013 @ 8:46am
          formeropenside said | January 18th 2013 @ 8:46am | ! Report

          Interestingly, Greg Chappell picked John Inverarity as his chice for captain of the “Board” Australian cricket team for the 1977-78 series in a book on the 1977 Ashes series which also mentioned his move into WSC. Of course, that never happened due to the return of Simpson and rise of Hughes (after Yallop fell on his sword), but it is interesting to speculate.

          So much of the cricket of the 1980’s might have been different based on that simple decision.

    • Roar Pro

      January 18th 2013 @ 7:42am
      boes said | January 18th 2013 @ 7:42am | ! Report

      Dare I ask what would happen if both Mitchell’s and Henriques aren’t fit to play.

      • Columnist

        January 18th 2013 @ 7:49am
        Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 7:49am | ! Report

        We play with 10, Boes….

        • January 18th 2013 @ 8:49am
          Red Kev said | January 18th 2013 @ 8:49am | ! Report

          We effectively do that with Maxwell in the team anyway.

          • Roar Pro

            January 18th 2013 @ 8:59am
            boes said | January 18th 2013 @ 8:59am | ! Report

            I thought as an “all rounder” he filled 2 spots.

            • Columnist

              January 18th 2013 @ 9:41am
              Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 9:41am | ! Report

              Not very well, Boes…

              • Roar Pro

                January 18th 2013 @ 9:56am
                boes said | January 18th 2013 @ 9:56am | ! Report

                Yeah I get it….sorry it didn’t read the same way as it sounded in my head.

                Oh and I think there was a typo in your article….isn’t it ‘improvised player management’ ?

              • January 18th 2013 @ 10:12am
                Red Kev said | January 18th 2013 @ 10:12am | ! Report

                I thought it was funny boes

              • Columnist

                January 18th 2013 @ 10:26am
                Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 10:26am | ! Report

                You may have a point there, Boes!!

    • January 18th 2013 @ 8:01am
      Red Kev said | January 18th 2013 @ 8:01am | ! Report

      The selection of a new team for each match is about Inverarity getting in front of a camera. It is completely unnecessary but it feeds his headmaster’s ego.
      Border is dead on. Pick a squad (probably 7 batsman if the lineup isn’t settled or 6 if it is, 5 pacemen (likely one is an allrounder) and a spinner and wicketkeeper) and keep them training in camp. Release those not needed to shield games (oh no the Shield isn’t on during the summer anymore) as each comes up if they’re not needed. One press release for the South African test series, with another if you have to replace a player through injury. Then do one for the SL test series, then the SL one day series, then the West Indies series. There’s no need of a press conference where Inverarity obfuscates and dithers around point.

      • Columnist

        January 18th 2013 @ 9:49am
        Brett McKay said | January 18th 2013 @ 9:49am | ! Report

        Kev, I don’t have much trouble with the press conferences and the MRs so much – the information has to come from somewhere – but certainly it would’ve made sense in my mind to pick 15 or 16 for the SL series, and do the same again for the WIs. And yes, release a player here and there for state/BBL duties if they’re not required.

        Going from 13, which became 15 for Adelaide, right back to 12 for Brisbane though was always going to pushing the limit. It was only going to take one pre-match injury, or even injury concern, for the squad to be at its limit, and that’s before we consider players returning from injury already (and rest, for that matter)..

        • Roar Rookie

          January 18th 2013 @ 10:53am
          josh said | January 18th 2013 @ 10:53am | ! Report

          Its all detailed programmatic specificity.

    • January 18th 2013 @ 8:09am
      Pradeep said | January 18th 2013 @ 8:09am | ! Report

      Cutting should play, he deserved another game

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