Tag: Hilditch

Where does the buck stop…
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Where does the buck stop…

Amid the furore surrounding the much awaited handing down of the Argus Report, one person has escaped the hairy eyeball of the former BHP chief. I haven’t read the report in full (I will do that bit of homework soon I promise) but there seems little doubt it will rank alongside Stewart and Crawford (a couple of times) as seminal sporting exposes that, if implemented will see Australian cricket once again flourish from top to bottom. Such reports, hard though they are hasten change and heighten competitiveness quickly. And they work – it took a similar one (the Schofield Report) to propel England to it’s present incumbency at number one Test playing nation.  Front and centre for Argus were the selectors and coach. Hilditch, sallow of cheek and with the undertaker’s demeanour had been a dead man walking and Greg Chappell was entirely miscast as developer rather than expert. Like expecting him to open the bowling when he was one of Australia’s greatest batsmen.  Tim Nielsen, affable and popular is a living embodiment of the Peter Principle where people rise to their level of incompetence. He will return from Sri Lanka jobless. Others have been singled out of course however no one seems to bring up Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland’s name. He is after all the head honcho who has presided over all those mentioned, overseen Australia’s decline to fifth best Test nation and seen the once healthy participation numbers of Australia’s national game drop. It is he who permitted the bloated contract system to become focussed on pay rather than performance and it is he who allowed the lines of communication to break down. Perhaps his Board are awaiting the governance report due imminently before turning the harsh glare on Sutherland, perhaps not? Whilst Argus, and his phalanx of former skippers have done a magnificent job in bringing many issues to the fore, it is the implementation of the recommendations that will dictate Australian cricket’s future. A potent batting order will be required for the job but it remains to be seen whether Sutherland should have the © next to his name?

This post first appeared as Mondays’s Expert in the Northern Star.

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Katich Demolishes Attack

All is not well in Jolimont Street, the home of Cricket Australia – a well struck cover drive across the road from cricket’s spiritual home, the Melbourne Cricket Ground. There have been rumblings and grumblings for some time, well before the most recent Australian summer when the home side succumbed in the Ashes to a far superior English team.  Much conjecture has focused on structural and administrative issues with a review by a phalanx of former players and business elite in process. Most stakeholder invective has been reserved for selection, the selection panel and the hapless head of said panel, Andrew Hildtich.  But the proverbial hit the fan on Tuesday when the 25 recipients of CA central contracts were announced. Few were content with the team selected, none more so than NSW Blues skipper and Test opener Simon Katich. ‘Kato’ as he is affectionately known was overlooked for the largesse and saw his test career disappear in a single press release.  Katich fumed but he is not some intemperate rookie full of bad manners and little sense. He considered his options as if weighing forward or backward defence. He chose the former and cut loose with a withering attack on what had been served up.  In this age of insipid press shows, full of mouthed platitudes and falsity his front foot demolition was something to behold. He was as passionate and proud as you’d expect from a man who has played anything for Australia and stressed that the loss of the money that accompanies the lucrative contract wasn’t the issue. You know what? I believe him. Unreservedly. He desperately wants to keep wearing his baggy green on that first Test morning, he wants to be an integral part of the inevitable revival of his sport on the world stage and he wants more than anything to score runs for his country. It’s what he does.  But all that has been taken away from him by the selection panel and a four minute phone call. His reasoning is sound – he’s scored more runs than everybody bar the profligate Alistair Cook in the past three summers and just because his career is past tea-time doesn’t warrant him being consigned to State cricket alone. Many will agree with the sentiment expressed but many more will love Katich for one of the finest innings of his life last Friday.

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