Greg Chappell will relinquish his position on the national selection panel when his current contract expires in September.
He has seen the writing on the wall: Trevor Hohns admitted last month that “everything is up for review” in the face of questioning from a media scrum that admires England’s progressive approach to selecting its selectors.
The ECB revamped their panel by appointing 28-year-old former batsman James Taylor to it full-time last July. The thinking is that Taylor, not long out of the game, has his ear to the ground – he’s had recent, tangible experience as a cog in the current English cricket machine and has played either with or against most of the players he’ll be choosing from.
He can relate to their plights and help bridge the generational divide so often present between current players and the ones long retired who are hanging onto a role in the sport they can’t let go of.
Whether Chappell sees the bumbling mess made by his selection panel this summer for what it is, however, only he could say.
In November, they ended Aaron Finch’s Test career before it began, asking him to open the batting for his country despite not being trusted to do the same for his State.
When it all went pear-shaped, he was cut loose before being given a single chance in the middle order, where he whacks them for Victoria. Then, a blistering summer of batting from Matthew Wade was denied a squad spot by the same selectors because “it would be nice to see him bat a little higher up for Tasmania.”
It’s this perpetual shifting of the goalposts that must drive fringe players up the wall. One player is picked but played in a foreign role, yet another won’t be looked at because he’s batting a spot or two lower in the middle order than they’d like.
Aaron Finch may well just not be up to it as a Test cricketer, but he’d feel rightly aggrieved that the only opportunity he’s been given to prove himself as one was in unchartered waters against a sizzling Jasprit Bumrah-led new-ball cartel.
Another name to add to the list of mismanaged Victorians already featuring Finch, Glenn Maxwell and Brad Hodge over the trip, is William Pucovski.
Pucovski’s situation is uniquely delicate. At barely 20-years-old, he’s talent-laden but has twice been badged by short balls which have caused his brain to rattle around inside his skull.
More recently, he spent six weeks away from the game to deal with mental health concerns that had him struggling to get out of bed. If there’s ever a player who deserves to have a dot on every ‘I’ and cross on every ‘T’ when it comes to his management, it’s Will.
But when he was flung into the Test squad for the Sri Lankan series, just one game into his return, it stunk from the outside of the result of a, “G’day mate, how ya feelin’?”, “Yeah good”, “You’re in” kind of scenario.
Still, at that stage, you could’ve afforded the selectors the benefit of the doubt. Then Kurtis Patterson happened, his twin tons leaving Pucovski to run the drinks in Brisbane despite his family flying in to watch him and Tim Paine singing his praises in a newspaper column in the lead-up.
It must surely be the case that Pucovski’s situation calls for stability when in any doubt, which doesn’t equate to the promise of reaching a life-long boyhood dream and the subsequent ripping of the carpet out from under him when the wind changes.
At the very least, the Pucovski fanfare should have been stifled if there was any possibility of someone jumping the queue.
Realistically, he shouldn’t have even been considered in the first place. Now, Will’s chosen to return home early to continue managing the condition that he’d been receiving ongoing treatment for in Melbourne before he was picked.
And under no circumstances should the team’s success against Sri Lanka serve to justify the circus that’s preceded it. When a batting line-up that goes an entire year without scoring more than one century suddenly knocks out three in an innings, you’re probably better off looking at the other end of the pitch for answers as to how and why.
Joe Burns and Patterson have booked their tickets to England, but who’s to say Finch wouldn’t have done the same if brought in after the Indian series to beat up on this attack?
When Jimmy Anderson trundles in under the clouds at Edgbaston, there’ll be the same, if not more, unanswered questions than when we began this dismal summer.