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Oddly, I read the article at The Old Batsman, not in our own Age. TOB has a few germane thoughts, too.


It feels to me at times like the playing group is being assessed based on some future event with The Ashes being the only time we seem to focus on the here and now. However, current form will still have little to do with the selections for at least the first 3 tests (injury notwithstanding) as the side for this summer was selected after Sydney and everything that happened in between was just part of the preparation.

Selection feels too much like players are picked on what they might be or what they have been instead of they are right now.

I also hate the 'youth' argument from footy fans as if it were a virtue in of itself. They usually also talk about future All Australians they are nurturing, while all rival clubs' young lists are full of spuds. How many times in the last 30 years have Richmond had the youngest list, and where has it got them?


I think there is a few things going on here, and Roebuck's article is spot-on:
- Shield sides are older. Professionalism has created a class of cricketers who play Shield into their late 30s instead of retiring earlier when their test prospects (and that of making a career in cricket) had passed by.
- Older (centrally-contracted) shield sides means there are fewer old stars at grade level, and less prospect of blokes in their late 20s making a shield side. That, in turn, has meant quite a few players have left grade cricket to make cash playing for local club sides.
- The academy system pulls youngsters out of club/grade cricket and into u17/u19/u23 cricket, which diminishes the chance to get owned by a canny, apparently slow and unfit 40 y/o (but learn from the experience). Other sports have the same problem.

I think the first problem is the root cause. We need more Shield sides - and can afford them given the greater cash flow, larger population, and longer careers of players. At least two (but as I've said, I'd prefer to merge with NZ and create two 8-team divisions. Two sides would add four games of four-day cricket (a good thing), and throw up more opportunities for young players to play at Shield level.


There are several things wrong with Spanky's approach. The article seems to have been written in one afternoon after Spanky wandered down to the Eastern Suburbs nets and listened to the old bastards at the club have a good whinge to each other, which is what old bastards like to do. Both of his examples are NSW players, showing a lack of research. "Coaches from other states say the position is worse in their jurisdictions," he says, trying to make us believe that he actually asked any of them. Obviously he's been worded up by the local yokels to stick the knife into the NSW state selectors for not playing their favourites as a way back into the baggy green.

On the wider issue, there is certainly a bit of a problem at Shield level at the moment. Apart from the increase in player movement, which I'm not sure is good for development, it doesn't help the comp that WA, Queensland and SA have been sh'ouse for several years now, going with Richmond-style youth policies that aren't working. One wonders if the increased emphasis on recruiting by the AFL is having an impact by making cricket conform to the AFL model with its camps and whatnot, with Alex Keath being the lone recent exception in choosing cricket over a football code. It also might explain part of why NSW produces so many more cricketers these days, as it's the one state that the AFL hasn't really cracked yet. But Spanky didn't mention any of that.


Ben Hilfenhaus:

Noted for his out-swing a la Craig McDermott

Was Craig McDermott noted for his out-swing?


Really the problem is a lot more simple than that.

Australian balls don't swing and our pitches are very bouncy. The bowlers who succeed in this type of environment are those like McGrath, Johnson, Siddle, etc. Seamers. Guys who don't hit the pitch hard get tonked, and spinners don't get a lot of turn so they are used in defensive roles. We take good swing bowlers when they come (eg Hilfenhaus), but there are so few of them that our chances of finding a great one are much lower. If Damien Fleming was still playing he'd be Australia's best bowler.

All this is fine when we are playing in Australia or South Africa. But when we play in places where Swing and Spin is better than seam, we get flogged because we can't take wickets. McGrath was just a stroke of luck because he was that good he could take wickets anywhere. Also, he had a mate called Shane Warne.

Our batting on the other hand is just as good as the batting of any other team in the world. They just have to face better bowling than our opponents do.


"One wonders if the increased emphasis on recruiting by the AFL is having an impact by making cricket conform to the AFL model with its camps and whatnot"

Its not that the AFL recruiting policies are affecting cricket, it's the AFL salaries that are affecting cricket.

If you were 16 and had to choose between cricket and AFL, and chose cricket, you'd be a retard. AFL players who can't crack a league game get paid more than guys in the state cricket side.



The Ashes: England to hunt in pack

England will go hunting as a pack on Australia's turf so they won't have to say a word to bring home the Ashes.

And as the leader of that pack, wicket-keeper Matt Prior has called on his team-mates to fly out of the starting gate to make the Aussie batsmen feel uncomfortable - without resorting to mindless sledging.

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