‘I know there have been some injuries, but it looks like strength and conditioning are picking the team, not the selectors.’
Shane Warne recently added his name to a long list of Australian cricket greats to slam the current selection policy by Cricket Australia, but what they’re doing may actually benefit the vast array of national hopefuls, and former skipper Ricky Ponting agrees.
‘I’m totally for it,’ Ponting told Fox Sport’s Inside Cricket.
‘The people that are making these decisions are making them for the right reasons. They’re making them for the betterment of the team and the individual players.
‘I can understand that the public sometimes can be a little bit disappointed that our best players aren’t playing every game. But I really think it’s impossible to expect the best players to play every game.’
On many occasions and certainly in recent times, young, quick bowlers have made their mark on the national squad before being forced out due to injury. We’ve seen it with Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson, who have both missed plenty of action whilst on the sidelines.
So the question you have to ask is, were they playing too much?
John Inverarity and his selection panel certainly thought so, and have taken action by introducing the rotation policy, though that’s not what they want to call it.
‘I’ve been around and seen it all and the track that we are on is definitely the right one,’ Ponting said.
‘We need to be giving every one of our young players in Australia every possible opportunity to become the best players they possibly can be.’
In the recent test series against South Africa, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus were forced to shoulder the load after Pattinson sat out much of the match with a side-strain. The two bowled more than 100 overs combined and with only a four day break before the next match, selectors thought it would be best to rest them.
That move seemed to pay off, with Siddle going on to take nine wickets in the first test against Sri Lanka over a week later.
But then there’s Warne’s argument, which points to the fact that the Australian team picked every time should include the best players on offer.
‘To me, the captain should always pick the team, in conjunction [with] the selectors to try and get the best team out on the park for Australia,’ Warne told the media in Perth last week.
‘Playing cricket for Australia is something special. It’s not just rotate around and give a guy a game and see how you go.’
‘There’s nothing like knowing you’ve performed well enough that you’re going to play the next game. That’s when you start performing at your best.’
Warne is making a good point when he suggests that when the players don’t feel secure in the team, they may not be playing at their best. Especially for the bowlers, who have been swapped almost every game since the new selection policy was introduced, it’s tough to work on your game at the top level if you’re not getting a consistent run.
Channel Nine commentator Michael Slater agrees with Australia’s spin king, telling News Limited that the players need to be picked consistently to build momentum.
‘Getting picked should be the hard thing, then once you’re picked and you start performing you know you’re going to get picked for the next game and the next game,’ Slater said.
‘The players have grown up believing this so if you keep changing the team its going to be very hard to keep creating momentum.’
The problem with this mentality is that selectors have too many top players to choose from, who are all capable of representing the country. This is what we’ve seen with the bowling line-up, with almost 10 players vying for selection.
But ultimately, it’s just too hard to please the public. If selectors chop and change the squad, then you hear the public and critics harp on the fact that the rotation is causing inconsistency. And if you keep the same line-up, then those same people argue that you’re not utilizing the depth of the squad. It’s a lose-lose situation for selectors.
For now, it’s probably best that several players are getting a run, especially in the lead up to two Ashes series later this year. You’d rather have too many players to choose from than not enough.