As Australian cricket this week tried to exorcise the demons of Johannesburg, Faf du Plessis might look back more fondly on the last time the Aussies were in town.
I’m going to get straight to the point here: school cricket is killing the future spinners of Australia. Now that’s out of the way, I can explain why.
Being fresh out of school myself, I can look back onto those early Saturday morning starts and preparing for another 50-over game against a school I generally have quite a lot of hate for (note: playing in Brisbane cricket is tougher than understanding a Hindi conversation with MS Dhoni and Bhaji).
Now I was a left arm wrist spinner and I could, and still can, turn the ball. However, being all teenagers, we were prone to mistakes. Honestly, I made a few.
Since these games were only one dayers, I would be taken out of the attack for a military, boring, run sapping medium-pacer.
See the problem? No matter how many wickets I could (and would) take, one bad over apparently ruined seven overs of hard work. And it is this negative attitude towards spinners that is slowly killing the quality of them.
One such issue that is a direct influence of this is that all matches, at least in my competition, were one dayers. No two, or even three day games (which I enjoy a lot more).
Just your stock standard, keep it tight, boring 50 over games.
There’s no real confidence spinners can get from getting into a rhythm of bowling aggressive, flighted, turning balls, because there aren’t enough overs to do it.
In the same way, impatience can be blamed on the lack of long form cricket 14 to 17 year olds play.
It’s not like we don’t want to play a few three day matches, but playing in shorter forms is only promoting the hack and scoring quickly, as grafting an innings is generally frowned upon among your peers.
I feel like kids are too influenced by T20 and its ‘wow’ factor, and hence develop their game around big hitting rather than quality cricket shots (in saying that, if anyone can teach me how to hit a proper cover drive, I will pay rather handsomely).
Can Cricket Australia make a change to the current system and have a genuine blend of long form and short form games, and nurture our young, talented spinners/batsman into something that is more than describing them as having the dreaded ‘P’ word?
Ultimately, I don’t think the administrators are smart enough to implement this, but hey, maybe they read The Roar often (if you do, I suggest you have a good read at what side we want; you might learn a thing or two in selecting the better player after a while).
So let me know what you think Roarers, whether or not change is needed in lower, younger levels of cricket to eventually grow prospects into starts.
On a side note, I was eventually dropped for refusing to change my bowling to left arm orthodox, and took 14 wickets in two games for the second XI. Serves them right.