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Second-string team should come at a second-string price

Colin Bettles Roar Rookie

By Colin Bettles, Colin Bettles is a Roar Rookie


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    If Cricket Australia wants to continue selecting second-string teams to represent the nation, then paying cricket fans should be entitled to some kind of financial compensation for the sudden drop in viewing quality.

    Those fans who paid their hard-earned cash in advance to watch one-day games live at the MCG and Adelaide Oval in the upcoming series against Sri Lanka will have done so thinking they’d be watching the best Australian cricketers taking on the best opposition team.

    They no doubt opened their wallets to purchase that elite experience in good faith, but now have every reason to feel a little swindled by the last-minute decisions made by high-ranking cricketing authorities.

    Those on the aggrieved list would also include some members of the Victorian and South Australian cricketing associations, of which there are tens of thousands.

    This summer, spectators are already dealing with a substantial slump in the overall quality of the Sri Lankan side due to injuries sustained on tour.

    In particular they would note the loss of Kumar Sangakkara, whose rich batting talents are greatly appreciated by Australian audiences.

    But adding insult to audience injury, the Australian selectors deposed prolific skipper Michael Clarke; exciting, crowd-pulling opening batsman David Warner; and in-form keeper-batsman Matthew Wade from the Commonwealth Bank Series squad.

    Man of the moment Michael Hussey has also been axed, with the national selectors giving the excuse that they’re now taking a long-term view towards the 2015 ICC Cricket World Cup in Australia and New Zealand.

    Notable omissions were also made from the national team’s last match against Pakistan in Sharjah last September, with James Pattinson out due to injury and Dan Christian excluded.

    Enigmatic all-rounder Shane Watson is another top-line player to be absent from the upcoming contest, injured again.

    Mitchell Johnson, Mitchell Starc and Phil Hughes are the only survivors of the Test series win over Sri Lanka to feature in the selected one-day squad.

    Clarke, Warner, Wade and Hussey all featured in the six Test matches this summer against South Africa and Sri Lanka.

    No matter which way you slice it or dice it, the selected Australian one day squad falls considerably short of delivering a wholesome, quality cricketing meal, lacking key ingredients and hardly worth paying top dollar for.

    Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland played down the issue this week, saying the first two games of the Commonwealth Bank series would provide an opportunity for upcoming players to prove their worth.

    He said he can understand people’s disappointment at the selections.

    But he stressed a big picture focus was needed on the future of Australian cricket, with some important competitions to be won down the track.

    What’s cricket’s master chef really said though is this: “Cricket fans are expected to pay the same entry price for a cheapened experience, and subsidise Cricket Australia using the elite stage to develop its next level of international players, rather than the various State competitions”.

    As expected, Clarke, Wade and Warner will not be available to play for their respective Big Bash Twenty20 League teams while being rested.

    But having the best players unavailable at the next level of competition is nothing new for Australian cricket fans, and the lack of depth is another major issue facing the game’s development in this nation that’s not been adequately addressed for many years.

    Cricket Australia’s reasoning for resting key players, and stated intention to have them returned to the ODI squad refreshed, will do little to appease the paying public who lined up early to buy tickets to these first two games of the series.

    Their support must be dwindling as fast as the daily temperature is rising on the east coast, making a day at the beach seem far more attractive than getting their wallets burnt by cricketing authorities.

    (I won’t even start a rant about the obscene cost of food and drink once entry is gained at the venues.)

    This inequity with the rotation policy and the paying public’s dissatisfaction was first brought to my attention a couple of years ago when Cricket Australia rested Ricky Ponting for a one-dayer at the WACA Ground.

    Ponting was one particular fan’s favourite player, and his anticipation and expectation of seeing the Australian batting legend taking on an international attack had been building for months leading up to the game.

    The decision to rest the icon cricketer was made only a few days out from the Perth game, and a hollow feeling has continued to haunt that once enthusiastic fan, and warned him off buying tickets early.

    The viewing public should also be entitled to hold grave doubts about the authenticity of the different messages pitched to them about elite cricket, in the various advertising campaigns used to promote this summer’s international cricket calendar, and others in years ahead.

    Big name players feature heavily in the spruiking, but of course there’s no mention of any last minute changes, rotations or second-string players fronting up for the day as replacements for players like Warner, Clarke and Hussey.

    I’m sure there’s a disclaimer somewhere on the entry ticket or membership vouchers, in small print, which tells fans they may not see the best players playing against the best opponents on the day, with the selection panel’s maligned rotation policy cleverly inscribed into legal jargon.

    But every single weasel word will leave those fans with nothing but a sour taste in their mouths and no doubt they too will think twice before committing to buying any more tickets in advance.

    They may even start feeling like the bastard relative of the Australian cricket family, who lacks a legal or accounting degree.

    The selection of a clearly second-string team sends a resounding message to the Australian cricket fans and general public that Cricket Australia has an open licence to treat them like second-class citizens.

    You’d also have to wonder what the sponsors of the one-day series think when the Australian selectors decide to rest the same big-name stars that are also used to advertise the games, alongside their commercial logo.

    At Adelaide Oyal the cost of general admission for an adult is about $50, while the gate price is $10 for a domestic one-day match.

    So, given Sunday’s match will provide much better viewing than a domestic one-dayer – but falls a long way short of reaching elite international status – perhaps Cricket Australia could drop the gate entry price to somewhere between the two.

    A suggested formulae for the new gate entry cost could be reached by taking the number of available players who should be playing in the Australian first XI – in this case four, with Clarke, Warner, Wade and Hussey – and refund on that percentage.

    Cricket Australia also offers refunds for games affected by rain, according to the number of overs bowled on the day.

    With almost half the Australian team missing from these two one-day games, perhaps 100 percent should be the refunded amount.

    The policy says, “Except as provided for under the Competition and Consumer Act 2010, in no other circumstances shall a refund be payable.”

    If that’s not enough literature, aggrieved fans may like to look a little closer at the Competition and Consumer Act to see where they really stand on this issue of diminished quality.

    I’m sure if the Royal Shakespeare Company advertised the appearance of Tom Cruise, Johnny Depp, Richard Gere and Julia Roberts all appearing together in a performance of Hamlet at Stratford-upon-Avon theatre, but only the understudies turned up on the night, there’d be a strong cause to provide full or partial refunds to the fans, or they may even mount a complete boycott.

    Colin Bettles has a long history of involvement in cricket, including Editor of Cricket Week, Media manager for the WACA for seven years and is the Canberra Bureau Chief for Fairfax’s Agricultural Media.

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    The Crowd Says (18)

    • January 9th 2013 @ 9:43am
      Christo the Daddyo said | January 9th 2013 @ 9:43am | ! Report

      Michael Clarke – injured hamstring. So no problems leaving him out.

      Matthew Wade – let’s be honest, if it wasn’t for his century we would all be calling for his head due to his sub-standard keeping display. No problems giving him a rest.

      Michael Hussey – leave sentiment out of it. He’s indicated he is on the way out, so the selectors have clearly decided to just cut the cord completely. That’s fine for me.

      David Warner. I’ll grant this is one omission that is a little odd. But his ODI form hasn’t been all that flash, so why not give him a few days R ‘n R?

      Inclusion of Brad Haddin – he’s in form. There’s probably a valid case for giving Tim Paine a go, but maybe the selectors want to see him play a bit longer at domestic level before he gets selected for international duties.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:22am
        Paulie said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:22am | ! Report

        Well said, and for me i am looking forward to seeing Hughes, Khawaja and Finch show their stuff as they have been run machines in the Ryobi cup

      • January 9th 2013 @ 10:33am
        A1 said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:33am | ! Report

        Well said!

      • January 9th 2013 @ 5:00pm
        Josh said | January 9th 2013 @ 5:00pm | ! Report

        David Warner – I assumed he had been dropped – his one day record for Australia is beyond poor – averagiong 30 is not what is required from an opening batsmen – once he deserves his place then it might be a different story but at the moment he is in one day cricket all promotion but not up to the level.

        The only one who legitmatly should have been thier is Wade and lets be honest Brad Haddin is a bigger name star then Matt Wade.

        Clarke, Watson are both injured, Hussey announced his retirment last week, Warner has shown he isnt good enough at ODI level for Australia

        • January 10th 2013 @ 12:17pm
          Dan Ced said | January 10th 2013 @ 12:17pm | ! Report

          There are valid arguments for Warner ‘being dropped’ with his ODI average.

          Wade being dropped for Haddin due to Haddin batting and keeping better recently

          Clarke being rested due to hamstring soreness.

          Playing tests this summer has kept them out of the limited overs eye. We have Hughes and Khawaja who are two of the better Ryobi scorers this year. We have Finch who has dominated the BBL. Cutting who was next in mind for test selection after Bird and is more suited to shorter formats (supposedly)

          My issues with the team are the omission of M Hussey, and the inclusion of Mitchell Johnson. Johnson is so erratic he could lose matches for us, his form can even out over a test but in a shorter game he is a poor choice.. I also think Starc and Johnson are too similar to be in the same team.

          There are a few incumbent players that I can’t argue with including (Mckay, Doherty for instance0) because the team is so fresh those incumbents will provide SOME national experience.

          • January 10th 2013 @ 3:22pm
            King Of Swing said | January 10th 2013 @ 3:22pm | ! Report

            What I don’t understand is that they give the excuse of leaving out M Hussey because they are focusing on the future and looking toward the 2015 World Cup and then they go along and pick Brad Haddin.

            Now I don’t have any vendetta against Haddin and will admit that he has been in pretty solid form so far in domestic cricket but if the selectors are really fair dinkum about this they would have picked Tim Paine, Phil Neville or even Chris Hartley and at least given them a few games at international level, or are the selectors seriously thinking about bringing along a 38 year old B Haddin for the World Cup. Give me a break!!

            • January 11th 2013 @ 10:08am
              lou said | January 11th 2013 @ 10:08am | ! Report

              Brad Haddin hasn’t retired. Mike Hussey has. We have another ICC tournament coming up much sooner than the World Cup which Haddin would be eliglble for.

      • January 10th 2013 @ 1:59pm
        Colin Bettles said | January 10th 2013 @ 1:59pm | ! Report

        Clarke – made it through Test match so must be fit
        Wade – first choice keeper
        Hussey – made himself available to play
        Warner – coming off a 2.5 day Test at MCG and 3.5 day Test at SCG, so already had four rest days, with full pay. I don’t get such luxuries if I file my stories early, on far less pay than these blokes.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 10:48am
      Matt F said | January 9th 2013 @ 10:48am | ! Report

      Nobody is forcing people to go. If they don’t think the team is worth their time and money then they can choose to not go. I’m aware that some people have already booked tickets but that’s really their own problem and one of their own making.

      They should have realised that:

      1. Resting players from ODI’s isn’t a new phenomenon. It’s happened for a while now.
      2. ODI’s rarely sell out (especially at bigger grounds like the MCG) anymore so they could have waited until the team was announced before buying tickets. There was no need to book early
      3. The only players being rested are Wade and Warner. Clarke and Watson are injured and Hussey was dropped, not rested.

      • January 9th 2013 @ 12:41pm
        Train Without A Station said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:41pm | ! Report

        Well said. The test and one day teams have been split due to certain players suitability since the 90s. At times it’s almost 2 completely different teams. If players are injured, nothing can be done about that. Also as said, even David Warner hasn’t got great 50 over form. Limited overs isn’t Clarke’s strength either. Haddin is playing great in limited overs so he deserves a chance. Siddle isn’t a one day player. Some of you people need to get the fuck over it. It’s been happening for years and a lot of it has to do with the players’ suitability to 50 over cricket. Every decision is justifiable when you consider them individually. Hussey is probably the only player who could have been picked on one day form alone and he has retired.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 12:47pm
      Pope Paul VII said | January 9th 2013 @ 12:47pm | ! Report

      Dean Jones is giving the lads some tips on facing Malinga. If ODI goers are looking for a thrill look no further, the Aussie lads have a challenge and a half and will relish it. I must say Malinga looks like he could bowl 45 overs a day. What a great shame he’s chosen to turn his back on test cricket.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 2:48pm
      David Heidelberg said | January 9th 2013 @ 2:48pm | ! Report

      I like watching Australia A play, just don’t tell me that it is Australia, and don’t expect me to pay as if it was.

      • January 10th 2013 @ 3:38pm
        King Of Swing said | January 10th 2013 @ 3:38pm | ! Report

        Remember in the early 90s, when the tri-series pitted Australia, Australia A and a international opponent against each other. A recent phenomenon seems to be leaving Australia out of the equation completely, which is a bit strange because I thought they would have been the top drawcard.

        Now I have no problem giving a few young & talented players a chance to prove their worth during these upcoming ODIs but don’t expect people to pay top dollar to watch what is essentially a second rate product.

    • January 9th 2013 @ 3:52pm
      Rohit said | January 9th 2013 @ 3:52pm | ! Report

      Finch and Khawaja will have big games with the bat and Cutting and Doherty with the ball

    • January 10th 2013 @ 1:39am
      Kristin Carville said | January 10th 2013 @ 1:39am | ! Report

      I for one am getting seriously tired of this carry on of a ‘second string’ Australian side and people complaining about wanting money back. I dont know about the rest of you, but I go to the game to watch my national team play, and to cheer them on to a win over the opposition. I really dont care who they are, if they pull on an Aussie shirt I will cheer them on.

      It is also disrespectful to guys like Aaron Finch, Phil Hughes and Usman Khawaja to say they are a second string team. Does this mean that when other players are injured or retire and they are permanent members of the team, we wont ever cheer our national team on because we feel they are second string? Please. Finch has been dominating the domestic scene like nobody else ever has, Hughes and Khawaja have also been scoring a ton of runs, and they were both members of the test team/squad this summer. So they are good enough to play a test for us but not an ODI?

      So many people complain that cricket has become commercialised – well listening to this argument so have the fans.

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