Aussie selectors under-fire ahead of World Cup
Criticism continues to dog Australia’s selectors in the run-up to the World Cup despite a comprehensive 6-1 one-day drubbing of England being wrapped up at the weekend.
The four-man panel headed up by lawyer Andrew Hilditch has been under almost constant fire for their perceived mistreatment of players and confusing selections, particularly during the Ashes humiliation.
The latest blast came from former Test player Ian Healy after captain Michael Clarke, Player of the Series Shane Watson and experienced quick bowler Brett Lee were rested for the final match in Perth on Sunday.
“I haven’t seen Cricket Australia this fragmented for a long time,” Healy, now a television pundit, said during the broadcast at the WACA.
“They’ve alienated some senior players, not just players in general, but senior players like Brett Lee and Michael Clarke.
“They’ve given the public some ammunition to have another go at Michael Clarke for wanting a rest even though it was 100 per cent the selectors that did it.”
Clarke, the acting captain while Ricky Ponting recovers from a finger fracture, has struggled to get the backing of the nation and was booed onto the field during the one-day series.
Hilditch’s declaration that the selectors had done “a very good job” during the Ashes perplexed many, as did his hailing of Brad Haddin as Australia’s best wicketkeeper in all forms of the game, only for the righthander to be dropped for T20 matches.
The rotation system has drawn criticism throughout the Australian summer even though resting Mitchell Johnson before the third Ashes Test looked like a stroke of genius when the paceman returned to skittle England in the hosts’ win in Perth.
In the matter of the choice of spin bowlers for both the Ashes and the World Cup, however, there has been little genius, or luck, evident.
Nathan Hauritz was considered the incumbent at the start of the summer but discarded for the Ashes in favour of the untested Xavier Doherty, who was in turn dropped for the little-known Michael Beer.
Hauritz was included as the only specialist spinner in the World Cup squad only to dislocate his shoulder in the one-day series against England with Doherty following him to the treatment room with a bad back.
Gambles on the fitness for the World Cup of Ponting and batsman Mike Hussey, who only started jogging last week after a severe hamstring injury, have also called into question the judgement of the panel.
Hilditch has said he wants to stay on the panel with Greg Chappell, David Boone and Jamie Cox when his contract expires after Australia’s attempt to win a fourth successive World Cup at the February 19-April 2 tournament.
The contrast with the success of England’s captain-coach team of Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower during the Ashes series, however, has prompted calls for a similar system to replace the selection panel, for the final team selection at least.
“It is high time the captain and coach had more responsibility selecting, running and organising the team,” former Test cricketer Dean Jones wrote in the Sydney Morning Herald last week.
“The captain should always have the final say. In the end, these are the people who receive the wins and losses next to their name. Not the selectors.
“Too many people have a say in the shape of the Australian cricket team,” he added. “That needs to stop now. The skipper is boss. Full stop.”
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