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South Australia cricket is falling over itself once again

Roar Guru
4th February, 2015
11

The relationship between supporters of South Australian cricket and the SA Redbacks is like the relationship between Peanuts characters Charlie Brown and Lucy.

Charlie Brown always wanted to kick a football and would get Lucy to hold it. As Charlie ran towards the ball, Lucy pulled it away at the last second causing Charlie to fall over.

Each time Charlie fell over he vowed never to let Lucy hold the ball, yet she still convinced him to give her another chance from which she repeated her actions.

In the world of cricket, fans of the Redbacks are Charlie Brown while SACA and the team combined are Lucy.

Every few years, fans are enticed to buy memberships to help support SA cricket because a new culture SACA installed will bring success.

Yet time and time again, the bottom falls out of the team followed by the SACA management using members’ money to clear the decks and bring in new people, with management once again promising a new culture.

It happened this week when SACA announced that captain Johan Botha will be released at the end of this year, with 21-year-old South Australian Travis Head appointed the new skipper. Coach Darren Berry is on personal leave at the moment but the fact he was not consulted on this change suggests that he will be the next person dismissed.

It has been difficult season on so many fronts for the Redbacks, and once again they languish near the bottom of Sheffield Shield having also collected the wooden spoon in the One Day Cup.

To compound the misery, the Adelaide Strikers finished top of the Big Bash table but were listlessly bundled out by the Sydney Sixers in the finals.

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These results are symptomatic of South Australian cricket.

In the last 20 years of professional sport in this country, SA Cricket has been Australia’s most disappointing sporting organisation.

Since last winning the Shield in 1996, the Redbacks have collected the first-class wooden spoon 9 times in the last 18 seasons. SA’s only trophies in 20 years have been a T20 victory in 2011 and a One Day Cup win in 2012.

The state has failed to produce any worthy Test cricketers since Darren Lehman and Jason Gillespie, while the grade cricket system is bloated and outdated (SA grade cricket has 13 teams for 1.5 million people; Victoria in comparison has 18 teams supported by 4.5 million).

In this period, noted alumni of Australian cricket such as Wayne Phillips, Greg Chappell and Rod Marsh have been tasked with resurrecting the fortunes of an ailing system. All three ended up leaving the state with no trophies, payouts and a squad in disarray.

Rod Marsh’s time with SA cricket was eventful as it saw Greg Blewett, Jason Gillespie, Darren Lehman and Ryan Harris severing their ties with the state. Lehman, Gillespie and Blewett all became successful coaches, while Harris moved to the Queensland Bulls and became Australia’s most consistent bowler.

Adding to the horror story, SACA’s appointment of an inexperienced player as Redbacks captain is the repetition of a nightmare already visited by the board.

In 2007 management gave the prestigious role to Nathan Adcock; a player who was barely keeping his position in the first XI. Saying it didn’t end well is an understatement with Adcock sacked as captain midway through the season before being delisted by the Redbacks at season’s end.

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It’s this continued failure to succeed that makes it hard for me to believe that there will be change in South Australian cricket anytime soon.

American playwright Eugene O’Neill once wrote, “There is no present or future, just the past happening over and over again.”

This statement encapsulates South Australian cricket and its ability to lurch from one disaster to another.

SACA chief executive Keith Bradshaw’s intentions are noble but, based on history, I get a feeling that in 18 to 24 months all croweaters will once again be saying “Good grief!”

Follow John on Twitter: @JohnHunt1992

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