Patience needed in the current crop of players
The way modern cricket is heading, there seems to be a huge turnover in the number of players that are rotating through the national set up.
With the inclusion of T20 format we have seen that the number of players that are getting national call ups have increased dramatically.
My concern is in the impact this has had on the national Test team.
The national Test team over the last few years has had so many players coming in and out its been hard to identify a core group beyond two to three players.
In my opinion the five day format demands that you know your fellow teammates’ strengths and weaknesses as much as you know the opposition.
This would have been an assumed fact in the great teams of West Indies (1980s), Australia (1990-2000) and I would say South Africa and England post 2007.
One thing in common within these teams mentioned above is that the players were together for a significant period of time and naturally got to know each others games inside out.
I can see a counter argument to this point being that these teams were dominating world cricket and therefore remained as a core group whereas the current Australian team is not.
This is where my chosen heading for the article comes into play, “Patience”.
If you look beyond the glory days most of these teams; they went through a period where the results were not so visible. In modern times one of the best example would be the South African team post 2003 world cup.
The core group since then still remains to date; with the younger guys moulded around them.
Where the success was not so prominent then, they are certainly reaping the rewards now.
Have a think about how many of the English players that are in the current squad experienced a 5-0 whitewash in 2007. Except Jon Trott and Matt Prior the current core group was built around those experiences.
The realisation that they needed to raise there game to a higher level. The hunger and desire to learn from their mistakes and improve both individually and collectively as a team and a good structure of new talent has got them to where they are at present.
I have one more important point I want to get across. I remember reading an article by Justin Langer on his experience together with Ricky Ponting in the early 1990s.
They were in the back benches in the national team set up in the early stages of their career fighting their way into the national team. He mentions how they vowed to each other to train as hard as they can to reach their goals.
The point I want to make here is that the bar was set higher to get into the national team then that it is now. With this, naturally the quality of player that comes through would be that much less.
I have purposely chosen the word quality above as I believe that the talent of the young players is still exceptional.
Matthew Hayden, Damien Martin struggled to swim in the deep end in the early stages of their career and came back as seasoned and accomplished players.
Adam Gilchrist was in the domestic set up for seven years before he got his Test call and look how he set the world alight. The young Australian talents at the moment don’t have the same experience due to the bulk retirement of the Aussie greats in 2007.
However I firmly believe that there are some Steve Waugh’s of Australian cricket still present in the set up; these are guys who have been seasoned and hardened through their experiences as cricketers over a long period of time.
Guys who know their game inside out, who know their weaknesses as much as their strengths. I believe guys like George Bailey, Adam Vogues, Brad Haddin, Chris Rogers should be around the longer format set up and in equal contention for a Test call up.
If not the national team they should be part of the A team set up so that the young guys coming through really have experience within the team to learn from.
Furthermore this would create that competitive and structured environment to get the most out of the talented cricketers and raise the bar for the national team entry set up.