Australia were bowled out for 85 and 161 in Hobart © Cricket Australia/Getty Images
Australia’s selectors were compelled to meet face to face in an emergency sitting as a direct result of the Test team being bowled out for 85 on day one of the second match against South Africa in Hobart.
ESPNcricinfo has learned that the panel, then chaired by Rod Marsh, had originally been scheduled for a telephone hookup during the Bellerive Oval Test to discuss the team for the third Test in Adelaide and also the squad for the upcoming ODI series against New Zealand.
However, the grim fortunes of the team’s batsmen on day one of the match, losing all 10 wickets for fewer than 100 runs for the third time in as many Tests, drove Marsh to have his fellow selectors Mark Waugh and Trevor Hohns join him to discuss the team in person and begin charting a new direction for the side. Four consecutive Test defeats and the seeming inevitability of a fifth in Hobart meant a change of course was imperative.
Marsh followed up the meeting by choosing to resign his commission as chairman more than six months ahead of his contract expiry, stating “fresh thinking” was required and effectively handing over the reins to Hohns, who was approved as interim chairman by the Cricket Australia board. A significantly recast team was then unveiled for Adelaide, featuring three debutant batsmen in Matt Renshaw, Pete Handscomb and Nic Maddinson.
Hohns has said previously he was given a mandate to revamp the side significantly, but also that the discussion to do so had begun in Hobart before Marsh’s resignation. Captain Steven Smith was canvassed extensively regarding his preferences, while another change agent in Greg Chappell returned to the selection panel – a decision that irked some players.
Coach Darren Lehmann, also a selector, said that while no lines had been drawn through the names of older players, a preference for youth who can be built into the next long-term Australian side was now clear, from the board and CA management down to the selectors and the coaches.
“Pretty much. That’s not putting a line through those players who missed out, obviously they can do an Adam Voges – who had a 1000 or 1100-run year at about 32 – and get back in,” Lehmann said. “It’s a case of those guys [needing] to do that, or get wickets or whatever it may be.
“But the results dictate that as well to be fair. We’d been playing ok before the Sri Lankan series, obviously we were No. 1, but we had to inject some new players. Players who can grow and play for 10 years. Probably that’s the challenge for the selection group. And then the players to grow out on the ground as well.
“You’d love to have continuity all the time, in this day and age sometimes that’s not possible. But you’d love to keep a group together, a younger group especially with David Warner being our oldest at 30. If you can keep the group together for five years or so, or whatever it is – until the older guys go – it makes it easier. But then you’ve got different conditions and blokes in and out of form. So you just have to sum it up along the way, but yeah it’d be lovely to do that.”
Lehmann said he had not been the one to speak to the CA board or the chief executive James Sutherland about future selection philosophy, but understood their broad advice. “You’d have to speak to the chairman to be perfectly honest with that,” he said. “I don’t know the exact words, we’re just going down a different path. For me as a coach first and foremost it’s about getting the right group of players together.
“I think the selection panel did a really good job of that. Steve’s got a young group he can work with, which is really important for a captain. He’s addressed the guys – how he expects us to play moving forward. I think we’ve got a young group who is going to be exciting. There’s going to be ups and downs, as for James and that question – I don’t know exactly what was said.
“I’d imagine it would have been – go down a young path and develop a side who can grow for a long period of time. That’s what you do when you lose, you need to change. So there’s no problems or qualms with that. That’s just the way it is.”
Daniel Brettig is an assistant editor at ESPNcricinfo. @danbrettig
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Source: ESPN Crickinfo