With much of the cricket season behind us it's time to reflect on the year that was...or in my case launch a scathing attack on Cricket Australia. As a cricketing nation we have fallen from invincibility to mediocrity. We lost to all the nations that matter; losing to India, South Africa at home and losing the Ashes AGAIN. Then we complain about the lack of competitiveness playing the West Indies and Pakistan. Maybe we should stop complaining and just be glad we're winning for a change. The truth is Australia is not as great a cricketing nation as we once were. That is to be expected after the exodus of legendary players, Mathew Hayden, Shane Warne, Adam Gilchrist and Glen McGrath who contributed to Australia to wining 16 consecutive test matches.
Since their departure cricket Australia has adopted a 'building for the future' policy. In theory, selecting skilled youngsters to fill the void left by cricketing greats. It is not exactly a policy i agree with. Cricket Australia should select players who are best suited in their roles, regardless of age. Instead older more experienced players like Jacques, Clark and McGill were overlooked for selection because they were 'too old'. McGill would have been the logical replacement for Warne but was often selected reluctantly or overlooked all together until he retired. Clark who served Australia so well after being groomed as the next McGrath was over looked this summer and likely never to play for Australia in another test. Phil Jacques who scored 171 for NSW last week should have been recalled instead of Watson for the Ashes (not that Watson hasn't been doing a good job) or replaced Katich at the SCG this summer when he was injured. Just imagine the bowling attack with Lee and Clark with the new ball. Clark is always consistent with line and length and Lee scary has hell with his speed then Johnson as the first change bowler. Then Hauritz and Lee with the old ball for spin and reverse swing.
The building for the future policy, however is not without its merit. In England Ben Hilfenhaus really established himself as Australia's premier swing bowler. In Australia we saw the emergence of Doug Bollinger and Hauritz cement his position as Australia's Spinner. But Cricket Australia has been inconsistent with it selection. Graham Manou who played during the Ashes is 30, two years younger than Haddin whom he is suppose step in for when Haddin retired or Ryan Harris who despite being very skilled is 30 and only just starting his international career. If your going to over look great players such has Nathan Bracken in the one dayers and cite 'building for the future' atleast choose players who are in their 20's, like Henriques or Steve smith.
We have also come to expect nothing less than perfection, a very high expectation for inexperienced youngster. As soon as a player doesn't get a high score or a bunch of wicket in consecutive games we're calling for them to be dropped. Hughes, North, Ferguson, Siddle, Hauritz and Hussey have all faced such criticism this summer. Can you imagine the calling for Shane Warne or McGrath to be dropped because they've had a few dry spells. This sink or swim approach is not conducive to developing young players. Experienced players like Hussey can put it behind them but younger players don't have the same mental toughness. For example Phillip Hughes has the technique and ability to make it as an international opening batsmen but mentally he can't deal with the pressure of having to perform every time he steps on to the pitch. Hughes and North didn't make it much easier for themselves with blistering debuts, only increasing the weight of expectation. If Cricket Australia is adamant on this building for the future then they should give these kids a go and take the axe away from above their heads. As with all professional athletes they respond better when they are confident. We should trust in their ability and let them find themselves on the pitch without expecting them to be Mathew Hayden or Glen McGrath.
So Cricket Australia, either select the player that is performing the best or be consistent in selecting young blood for the future and staying with them. Since i have alot of free time i have compiled two squads for you. The first squad including a test and one day team is selected on who i believe should be playing for Australia because they are the best suited for the job regardless of age (and injury), selecting experience over youth. All those selected have represented Australia at some point. The second squad i have selected is based on the 'building for the future' policy. Most of these players will be in their 20's and full of potential. If they haven't played for Australia already they probably will in a few years.
Click the table to actually read the names.