Player management policy must change

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England's Eoin Morgan and Ravi Bopara shake hands with Australian cricketers. AFP PHOTO/PAUL ELLIS

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It has to change – the rotation, player management policy, whatever you want to call it.

David Warner, Matthew Wade and Michael Clarke were all rested for the first two one day internationals of the present series, and all returned for the third ODI at the ‘Gabba yesterday.

And the rest paid no immediate dividends, as not only were Australia bowled out for a humiliating 74 but all three rested players failed.

Warner was out for four, Clarke for nine and Wade out for eight – all three failing to reach double figures.

All three players were in terrific form after the Test series and to be rested from the first two ODIs must’ve been frustrating, for Warner and Wade especially who did not have any lingering injuries and it must’ve done no good for their recent good form with the bat.

Michael Clarke was also rested to give his hamstring more healing time but he played through the injury during the Sri Lankan Test series and showed no drop in form.

It was clearly evident the team in Adelaide was nowhere near Australia’s best XI, despite John Inverarity stating it was, and even the team who comprehensively beat Sri Lanka in the first game of the series wasn’t the best XI.

Although the axing of Mike Hussey due to retirement was extremely controversial, it was understandable. But any Australian team right now without either Clarke or Warner is not the best Australian team.

Australia don’t need to find a replacement for Mike Hussey until the 2015 One Day World Cup, as David Hussey is and has been playing a similar role to his elder brother for three or four years.

He can come in when Australia are 3/50 or 3/150 and play the long innings where he works the ball around, or the finishing innings where he finds gaps and hits regular boundaries.

I get what Cricket Australia and the medical staff are trying to do in not wanting to risk a player getting seriously injured, like a Ryan Harris. But the 12-18 months the rotation policy has existed it hasn’t worked and if it is going to stay it, changes need to be made.

The first thing to do is to change the resting or rotating of players in and out of the side when they think an injury may occur if the player plays in the next match. Mitchell Starc is a fantastic example of this.

After taking 5/63 to bowl Australia to victory in Hobart, he was rested for the next Test match, which denied him from playing his first Boxing Day Test match. It must’ve been demoralising for the young left-arm quickie and wouldn’t have done his confidence any good.

Selectors stated Starc had to be rested because they feared the ankle injury that kept him out of the 2010/11 season would flare up and become a problem again if he played.

This has to be changed. Unless a player cannot run between wickets or charge in and bowl without any genuine major discomfort, they should be picked to play, especially if they’re in good form prior to the Test.

Michael Clarke is another perfect example of this. In contrast to Starc, the hamstring/back injury he picked up in the second innings of the Hobart Test was more evident and serious – it’s an injury that has caused him many problems since he was a teenager. Yet he still played and went on to score a hundred, his first at the MCG.

Sure if Starc played Jackson Bird may not even be in the side but with the Ashes coming up and being only 22 as Starc is, he would want to get as much bowling and Test match experience as possible leading up to bigger series.

So overall if a batsman or bowler is in good form after one Test match, unless they show any major discomfort in running between wickets or running into bowl, they must play in the next Test.

The second and final thing that Cricket Australia could trial for a few months is having a specific set of bowlers playing in Tests, ODIs and T20s, especially with players who are injury prone.

Peter Siddle has not played an ODI or T20 since 2010 and hasn’t broken down with a seriously threatening injury since. Because he doesn’t play in the shorter forms, he is given more time off to rest and play in the Sheffield Shield for Victoria and then has the off season to continue staying fit and training.

Ryan Harris could do something like to this to prolong his career. When Harris plays, he is part of both the ODI and Test teams. If he retires from the shorter form of the game, it could extend Harris’ chances of playing an extra year or two and possibly the two back-to-back Ashes series.

Shane Watson could do something like this as well. He could either retire from ODI, T20 or both to prolong his Test career.

It’s something Cricket Australia and the players could opt for this year, as the player management or rotation policy has been a huge failure this season.

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