The Argus Review: Axe falls for the men who sacked Katich

Courtesy of The Weekend Australian, 20-21 August 2011, ……Its come too late to save the Ashes or Simon Katich, but the men who axed the prolific opener two months ago have lost their jobs as part of the wide ranging Australian Cricket Review released yesterday.  Chairman Andrew Hilditch and talent development manager Greg Chappell are both gone from that selection panel and the last man on the panel, Jamie Cox, is no certainty to keep his job. Head coach Tim Nielsen is also left to consider his future after his job was redefined and he was told he could reapply for it.’s

Pic from AFP

Chair of the review, Don Argus, claimed yesterday that it “was not a witch hunt” and chairman of Cricket Australia Jack Clarke insisted that “it should not be seen as scapegoating”, but the report has clearly taken aim at the roles of selectors. The players, coaches and elite performance structures, however, do not escape blame for the failures of Australian cricket. Under the new selection set-up, which CA says it aims to establish soon, there will be a five-man panel with a full-time chairman.

Chappell, who is also the national talent manager, keeps that job but loses his role as a selector. In a surprising move, the new coach and captain Michael Clarke will join the panel. TheAustraliacaptain has not had such a role in the modern game, although until the 1997 Ashes he and the vice-captain were selectors on tour.

The controversial Hilditch was only part-time and has indicated he has no intention of reapplying for the redefined position. Hilditch said yesterday he supported the changes and believed he had done his best in the job. “They were always going to be difficult years as chairman with the exodus of so many great players but I have given it my all and always acted to the best of my ability to achieve the best outcome for Australian cricket,” Hilditch said.

The report, however, found that the selectors failed to communicate with players properly and did not have a good succession plan in place when the greats of the last era retired. The Weekend Australian revealed in June that players had told the review that they were extremely unhappy with the feedback from Chappell and Hilditch while Katich received almost universal praise for slamming their inconsistencies and indecision when he was axed.

Argus appeared to take this on board, claiming yesterday that it would be a “huge step forward” if the selectors could have an “adult conversation” with the players.”The NSP (National Selection Panel) must adopt best-practice principles for organisations of all kinds,” the report said. It went on to say that players needed to “know what is required to get to the next level” and “must be given appropriate feedback along the way. This is not the case at present across Australian Cricket, or at least not at the desired level”.

There is also criticism that players have not been held accountable for poor performances. The report lists in bullet points the reasons for the side’s decline in performance over recent years. It suggests, among other things, a “poor team culture”. It has been obvious to observers that the dressing rooms are rife with cliques, suspicions and jealousies.

Argus said that coming from a business background he was surprised to find there was a “lack of accountability” in Australian cricket. While few will weep for the selectors or coaches — and there is no association to speak up for them — the most controversial part of the report concerns player payments and the central contract system.

Argus and his panel suggest that there be a reduction in the number of centrally contracted players and also that the injury payment scheme be changed. The report calls for more reliance on performance in the pay scales, saying the current Memorandum of Understanding between players and CA is outdated.

“The panel has real concerns, shared by many stakeholders, that the MOU is not fully aligned with the current needs of Australian Cricket,” the report states.

“In particular it rewards relative performance among CA-contracted players, but not absolute performance of the team and its players against international peers.” The report says the current players are paid more than the past “despite inferior results”.

“A number of stakeholders have suggested that this is negatively affecting the culture of Australian cricket, in that players can make a very comfortable living without necessarily achieving excellence,” it states.

“Indeed more than one stakeholder described the emergence of an old style ‘county cricket mentality’ in pockets of Australian cricket.” The review proposes that individuals be paid according to their world rankings and earn more when they play better and the side is winning.

Controversially, the report calls for a move away from the current system of paying players from a fixed share of revenue.

Paul Marsh, the chief executive of the Australian Cricketers Association, generally endorsed the review’s recommendations but was not so sure about changes to the pay structures. “Any changes would need to be negotiated with us and I’m sure this will now become a significant agenda item for our upcoming MOU negotiations,” Marsh said.

The review made a number of other recommendations including retaining the Shield competition and reinstating grade cricket as a “vital part of the pathway”. It also calls for a review of the first class pitches and wants to ensure all decks “offer a balance between bat and ball”.

Leave a comment

Filed under Australia Cricket, Australian cricket, cricket and life, greg chappell, performance, player selections, politics and cricket

Leave a Reply