Wednesday, 26 August 2009

The barriers of age

So, we are in a transition phase, then it's over and then we're in it again. Seems like Australia's progression is dependent on results.

I've gone over contracted and other players in Australia and put this against the ages of players generally around the selected 11. I want to point out that I don't think a player's longevity should be primarily judged by their age for two reasons. Firstly, performances count. They do need to be balanced with moving forward, however. Secondly, batsmen can be just as effective later in life as they are when young. Older batsmen know their game well and bring solidity and consistency - ideally! Bowlers will always struggle to maintain pace and be injury free as the tolls on the body are magnified.

To ages:

Stuart Clark - 33 years and 332 days
Ricky Ponting - 34 years and 250 days
Michael Hussey - 34 years and 91 days
Simon Katich - 34 years and 5 days
Brett Lee - 32 years and 291 days
Brad Haddin - 31 years and 307 days

As has been said previously a repeat of the Chappel/Lillee/Marsh debacle could be devastating to Australian cricket. The problem always is, however, that at some point a player has to be thrown in the deep end and you never can be completely sure how they will go. It has become more popular to give established shield players a call-up and retain them - eg Hussey and North. There is great merit in this as younger players can find the transition exceedingly difficult - ala Hughes. Trott likewise showed great maturity when he debuted for England. This also gives young players ear-marked for the baggy green time to develop their game so when their time comes they are better prepared. Perhaps Aus should give Hughes at least two more seasons of shield cricket before putting him up against Steyn, Harmison and co. Although, he didn't too badly in South Africa - did he!

My list of those worth looking at closely this summer and beyond are:

Callum Ferguson
Shaun Marsh
Phil Hughes
Brett Geeves
Doug Bollinger
Cullen Bailey
Dan Cullen

My big two here are Bollinger and Ferguson. Both know their games well and have proven themselves in international cricket. I have little faith in the spin options in Australia overall but as I am in Adelaide I've seen alot more of the Cullen's than anyone else. Both have promise but a lot of development to go. Marsh was disappointing last summer and has had a bad run with injuries but he's worth looking at this summer to see what he's learned. Geeves is still improving but can rip through a batting lineup.

So, the next point is how to 'phase out' players while introducing new ones. I hope that ODI cricket is NOT used as a test bleeding ground but I'll concede it is an opportunity for players to experience facing or bowling to the best in the world. 20/20 contributes nothing at all in my view. Bowling 4 overs to sloggers or reverse sweeping your first ball is bollocks - plain and simple.



  1. Sorry - should have mentioned keepers. I think it's clear that Manou is popular with the powers that be and looks the goods doing what a wicket-keeper is there to do - keep wicket!

  2. I agree, too much importance has been placed on the keeper being able to bat. Gilchrist harvested this and while he was a solid keeper he was by no means the best in the land. Berry laid claim to this title for years but sadly did not have the batting ability. I doubt we will ever go back to the old days of picking the keeper for his abilities with the gloves. Haddin is not even as good as Gillie behind the stumps and he doesn't even have to keep to Warne.

  3. Gilchrist didn't start the trend. Keeper batsmen started with Rodney William Marsh. When he was chose 70-71 v the Poms, he was not the best keeper in the land: HB Taber had that mantle. The selectors wanted a deeper batting line up against the Poms so Marsh got the nod. In that first series, he dropped five or six vital chances and so earned the title Iron Gloves. There after, batting keepers were always looked for.

    World wide, I think Les Ames of England in the thirties was probably the first notable lower middle order keeper and then Clyde Walcott of the West Indies in the fifties and Denis Lindsay of Sarth Efrika in the sixties. After that there was a rash of them (Engineer, Dujon etc) but Marsh was the first Aussie in that vein.

    Gilly was probably the best (world wide) of all, although Andy Flower might give him a run for the title, difference being, Gilly was a keeper who batted whilst Flower was a batter who kept.

  4. "So, the next point is how to 'phase out' players while introducing new ones."

    I think the majority of the selection conundrums falls on this issue; and to me the answer is easy.
    If you are not performing according to what your agreed contribution must be, back to the magoos!

    I'm very (obviously) pro new blood, but i conceed the risks that entails. And i also like the prospect of introducing tried and true 1st class players into the team. A middle ground is the answer and is obtainable when 'dead-wood' is not permitted to accumulate.

    let's say newbies are made aware of what is expected of them BEFORE getting a cap- you will be given 3 matches or 6 innings to achieve an average of... (to be assessed on role)
    at the end of which time should you perform up to or beyond that requirement your position is assured while you are giving us XYZ reults. four tests or 8 innings without XYZ results will see you back in the queue while you show us you can achieve XYZ at 1st class level. Same goes for the last part should a player not achieve their required expectation average in their first 3 tests/6 innings.


    With this, you will get hunger, and a clear understanding of what is expected/required. And players on the fringe wil have the belief that they can get a chance in the side; and not be left wondering how long the person whose position they covert will be lingering.

    Team stability is one thing, but it is not even remotely possible in the real world.
    Injury and retirement will constantly change every team, form must come into this equation and be accepted as a vehicle for change too.

    Does anyone know how many consecutive tests have been played by the same XI. I doubt it would be many!

    stoph verismo
    down the wicket

  5. i should add, that i believe this telling a new player BEFORE they play their first test responds to the critisism that young player get 'damaged' when dropped.
    This way, there are no nasty shocks or spectres of being dropped hanging over their heads- they know where they stand and what they must do. And that they can get another chance should they not make it first time.

    likewise, anyone that is crushed by being dropped doesn't have the fortitude required in my opinion. The greats DO come back because they want it and appreciate it more.

  6. 5 tests in a row on three occassions.