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Who will the fab five choose as Australia’s next Test captain?

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Roar Guru
25th November, 2021
22

It seems the hardest job in Australian cricket at present is choosing a men’s Test captain, so much so Cricket Australia have decided they need five people to make the decision.

What’s not clear is why they stopped at five. Perhaps that’s current board chairman Richard Freudenstein’s lucky number. or maybe it’s a feng shui thing?

Nevertheless, he decided this was such an important task that he would be on some sort of panel which comprises himself, Cricket Australia CEO Nick Hockley, occasional chairman of selectors George Bailey and newly appointed (and still bewildered) selector Tony Dodemaide.

Sadly, Freudenstein decided not to ask Joe Public to join them, presumably because they might actually come up with a really good option. Instead he chose to include Mel Jones, an excellent choice for her sound common sense.

The process that is supposed to be completed quickly will include several features Freudenstein considers innovative.

The first is to ask candidates to complete some homework and submit it back within 24 hours.

The Cricket Australia chairman knows how well this worked for Mickey Arthur in winnowing out players, so against the better judgment of those who have actually played the game, this will be adopted.

Generic cricket ball

(Steven Paston – EMPICS/Getty Images)

The second task is to get all of the candidates into the kitchens at the MCG for a televised round of Masterchef: The Professional Cricketers. Each contestant will be given a mystery box and asked to come up with something they could serve at afternoon tea instead of the Iced Vo-Vos or melted Tim Tams most cricketers bring to matches.

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The third and final part will be an interview with each candidate – well, it’s more of a quiz really.

In something of a coup, I’ve seen advanced copies of the questions, none of which bears any relationship to cricket or team captaincy.

A few of the more difficult ones include:

  • Where’s the best place to buy a pie floater in Australia?
  • Are you a fan of Vegemite sandwiches?
  • Was Peter Brock really King of the Mountain or was it Dick Johnson? Holden or Ford?
  • What are the words to the first verse of Khe Sanh?
  • Which is the better sport, Aussie rules or rugby league?

Following this exhaustive and completely meaningless selection process, these are the likely candidates each of the panel members will come up with.

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Richard Freudenstein will choose Dave Warner, and I can imagine him saying, “While I cannot speak about the original decision-making in 2018 (to ban Warner from any leadership role in Australian cricket) … with the benefit of all relevant information about this matter, Cricket Australia would not make the same decision today”.

Warner has clearly repented, which is great. He’s pulled his head in, which is also great, and he hasn’t written a tell-all book dumping on Cricket Australia.

This nomination will surprisingly not be supported by Nick Hockley. George Bailey will go the safe route and choose Ricky Ponting as captain. This will come as something of a surprise to, Punter who won’t have actually nominated himself, but George will explain his thinking.

“I’ve watched over and over again, the Roar video of those cover drives Ricky was playing after he’d retired and I reckon he’s still got it,” he’ll say.

“I’d also have to recuse myself if I had to vote for anyone else and I’d really like to be allowed back into Tasmania, which is not an option, according to the Cricket Tasmania chairman, unless I choose a bloke from the Apple Isle. Boonie’s a bit past it, so that leaves Ricky – or Tim Paine.”

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The new kid on the block, Tony Dodemaide, not wanting to upset anyone, will come up with a few simple choices – Pat Cummins or Steve Smith – but his suggestions will be met with raucous laughter: “Why do you think we’ve got a panel of five people to make this decision, mate? You’ve gone the easy choices and we already know they’re no good. If they were, you, Bailey and Mr Elite Honesty could have picked one of them and everyone would have been happy”.

Mel Jones will then declare her choice: Meg Lanning. This will be met with stunned silence because it’s a really sensible call.

  • Lanning has been Australia’s women’s cricket captain since she was 23 and for six years has been leading a team used to winning;
  • she’s recognised worldwide for her cricket brain and her astute, aggressive leadership;
  • her nickname, ‘Megastar’ is totally earnt, as she’s outstanding in all formats;
  • she could easily slot into the vacant No. 6 spot, which will stop the questions about whether Travis Head or Usman Khawaja should get the nod;
  • she’ll keep the boys in line and get them focused on winning the Ashes, which would be a certainty under her leadership;
  • Australian cricket will gain huge kudos for its inclusive approach to men’s and women’s cricket; and
  • she’s the only candidate likely to pass the background screening checks.

We’ll just have to wait for the announcement now.

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