Take a credentialed and well respected South African coach. Add a captain with the ego the size of the BCCI’s power, superb ability and a role on the selection panel. Speaking of selection panels, let’s head this particular one with a man who could never lose touch as it wasn’t there in the first place. Stir in a fractured relationship with the teams ex vice captain. Perhaps this broth needs a wayward opening batsman who likes to punch the least insulting member of the opposition. Let’s not forget a douse of missing homework, a baggy green production line that Henry Ford would be proud of, some famous Manifestos, an overweight chain smoking ex middle order batsman cum coach and a media and fan base looking for blood.
This can only end well.*
This week’s sacking of Mickey Arthur and the subsequent standing down of Michael Clarke from the selection panel is ultimately the culmination of ignoring the recommendations of the Argus report released in 2011. That report was commissioned to blueprint a way forward for the Australian team to ensure Ashes success this coming series. Instead, what we have is perhaps the worst possible preparation ever seen by a touring party in the history of Test cricket.
So, that’s the summation. Let’s now look at some of the interesting angles.
- Shane Warne asked for this – Recently the subject of ridicule for his 3 part manifesto, Warne’s insights have proven more accurate than an octopus predicting World Cup soccer results. He called for Clarke to remove himself from the selection panel and for Lehmann to become assistant coach. Lehmann has obviously done better than that, but the question is how much influence does Shane have in Cricket Australia?
- Clarke v Watson – More destabilising than a Kevin Rudd leadership challenge. The battle of ego’s here has been tremendous, with factions being formed and public statements and actions displaying horrible leadership. How did it get to this situation and why is Clarke under no scrutiny for his failure as a leader of men?
- Under what process was Lehmann chosen? – Publicly, the façade that Cricket Australia are showing is that this was quite a quickly made decision with a quick solution. The reality is that these things take time to work, given Arthur was still contracted and the risks that needed to be considered. Lehmann is not the only decent coach available to Australia. I question the due diligence of the process. Was Tom Moody interviewed? How about Dav Whatmore? The Cricket Australia board have bet the house on the fact that they have got this decision right. If it fails, the board will have run out of chances.
- When does selection policy get scrutinised? – So far, the only public backlash against the faults of Australia’s selection policies has come from the Channel 9 CEO who suggests that it impacts ratings. John Inverarity’s rotation model has proven to be an abject failure. It has created a short term outlook within the players, encourages up and comers to chase the dollars of T20 and does not allow players to grow into their positions. Khawaja is probably the headline act in this circus, with him following the team through India for no game and being selected for only one ODI during the previous Australian summer. We also recall Siddle being rested from the Perth test against South Africa when the #1 Test ranking was up for grabs. Inverarity holds the decisive vote on selection matters during the England tour, with Marsh and Lehmann being the front men for now. This situation needs a long term strategy and not constant tinkering
Only time will tell whether Australia will rally from this or fall further into the abyss. No-one doubts Lehmann’s abilities as a people manager. However, the rest of the organisation seems scattered and agenda driven. Perhaps the biggest challenge now is the political battle to allow for proper change and leadership, rather than a one man fix all solution as we have just been presented with.
Please let me know your thoughts in the comments section below. I will respond to them all.
*(that sentence is sarcasm. Please Google it!)
Originally published at The Armchair Selector