After watching a smattering of Big Bash League matches, I have started to question the oft-quoted “shallow pool of talent” when discussing the Australian Test team selections.
Sitting on the Test team sidelines are several players who star in the BBL week in, week out and already have a baggy green, but with an X marked against their names. Not to mention a good number who haven’t yet and probably never will receive the cherished cap.
It seems ridiculous to have a wafer-thin list of “possible” candidates when a good number of Australian T20 players are earning mega contracts all around the world. They are highly trained, super fit, adaptable talented cricketers. Yes, I know T20 is not Test cricket, but there are numerous examples of Test match players around the world simultaneously succeeding at T20, Test and First Class matches.
The argument it is harder to get dropped than picked seems to have some currency. Is there a chauvinism about the issue of a baggy green steeped in the psyche of all involved, a kind of sanctity not to be questioned or tinkered with? You know, “the Don would be turning in his Grave”.
Why is team selection so fixed and the size of the squad so limited? The current structure of the Sheffield Shield as a key selection pathway is more often subservient to incumbency and selector bias, it is evidently not the answer.
A scrapheap of currently successful ex-Test players is a criminally wasteful situation for everyone. Better to have a pool of top-class players ready for a selection process which has no inherent barriers other than the player’s current readiness.
As an alternate example, Shield players are picked for a squad of 22+ players to undertake two weeks of three-day games with the coaching staff selecting and actually coaching sides to establish the first eleven. Incumbency does not override form during the trial games and all players are available for selection throughout the ensuing series/s unless performance says otherwise.
With all the advantages of analysis technology and sports sciences available to coaches and selectors, why so much fuss about justifying dropping players for a Test match? It shouldn’t mean killing their careers, of the current team selection orthodoxies are discarded as in the suggested trial match program.
Barriers to such a change do exist, principally the packed world cricket calendar. However, to keep doing the same thing and expecting a different result? Smells like chauvinism to me!