Growing disillusionment with the state of Australian cricket has seen whispers of discontent turn to cries of “a chronic problem” and a “lack of direction” from the media, fans and everyone in between.
It seems we all know the problem – the selectors – but are unable to find the answers. Cameron White synthesised it as “the search for the one” and how this is hurting the game- that it has robbed the Sheffield Shield of its prestige as a proving ground.
Can the selectors really be blamed entirely? Not that I am a sycophant of Trevor Hohns and Greg Chappell, I love to disagree with their decisions – it’s a prerequisite to be a cricket lover in this country – but to me, our problem is deeper than the XI players picked to don the baggy green.
It lies with the scheduling and pervasive nature of television. The game is being used as a route to keep filling already deep pockets.
With so much elite-level cricket clogging up the calendar from November to early March, it seems that no longer is the baggy green quite the pinnacle it once was. For the Big Bash to dominate our screens for over a month over the school holiday/Christmas period, culminating in 92 matches across the BBL/WBBL in the 2016-17 season, this is what young people see and aspire to be.
In Victoria, the teams in the underage State Championships are divided into “Stars” or “Renegades”, with the logos found on playing shirts and warm up kit.
Combined with this is a disjointed summer of international cricket. I’m not sure anyone could explain the point of the three-match One Day series against New Zealand between the South-African and Pakistan Test series.
As fans we become so swept up in the jam-packed calendar that matches are losing their significance; we lose perspective and it would be easy to see the players doing the same. To miss out one day means little as they can turn around in a matter of days and go again, in a different format, for a different team, in a different place.
We are caught in a whirlwind, and it couldn’t really be highlighted better than the series underway at the moment against Sri Lanka – dubbed the ‘who cares cup’ by former international, Stuart Clark, it falls perfectly into the category of meaningless cricket.
We live in an era where television rights are worth more than the cricket they cover. It is imperative that we don’t lose sight of the game we love, in favour of money-making exploits and a stream of never-ending senseless short form cricket.