My love of the game never dwindled, but I must admit, it took the Argus Review to wake me from a winter slumber.
Bear with me if my opinion on the Argus Review takes some time to understand.
Like Will Smith waiting for first dawn, with baited breath I have waited for the creatures of the night to finish the feeding hours.
Winter is a good time to lay low in Melbourne. Australian Rules is an excellent bookend, but merely a prop in my sporting library.
Today is the last day of Australian winter, but for me Summer started with the Argus review. The Argus review answered a few questions; however, it could also be viewed as a masterful Houdini, dazzling us with one hand while robbing us with the other.
The three major causalities of the Argus Review were the incumbent national selectors and coach – Hilditch, Chappell and Cox – with Nielsen given the opportunity to re-apply. These were obvious choices, in particular the moronic Hilditch who needed to be pushed rather than walking with any credibility left. Any man who gets out three times hooking to a set field in a Test series, obviously has issues controlling their ego.
On organisational restructuring, the creation of a new senior management position; a general manager responsible for coaching, selection, the Center of Excellence and talent management may well be too broad of a role for any applicant to devote his time sufficiently in all capacities. I envisage this role similar to that of the scapegoat in a John Wayne spaghetti western. An innocent man with a clean record, hauled before the courts to defend himself against the allegation of sheep stealing (sheep in Texas?). The real perpetrators offer to pay off his debt to the poker table, promising everything will be would be OK as the judge has been given some back-hand royalties. Expecting to walk free, he is ordered to death by 5-horses, dragged out into the middle of the town and noosed at the 5-points. The last thing he hears is a crack of a whip and cantering cloppers. Vale the scapegoat.
The introduction of a five-man selection panel, in particular giving the Australian team captain and coach a say in the matter, raises a range of serious ethical dilemmas, in particular conflict of interest. Simply put, coaches should not be selectors. How could a player, out-of-form or faced with career defining technical issues approach a coach-come-selector for advice or counseling without fearing of losing their position in the team. Sure, there may be an argument that a players form is public knowledge and reflective of what they achieve on a match by match basis, however, shouldn’t we be encouraging the young players to work on improving their weaknesses hand-in-hand with the national coach, rather than covering up any perceived flaws?
In addition, the captain should be there to foster a sense of team unity and unabashed honestly; I fear giving him selection powers will only lead to a more insular set of cricketers than we currently have, just look what happened to Andrew Symonds. Furthermore, Clarke is only human and it could be assumed he will undermine selection of anyone who is a threat to his position in the team and/or his captaincy.
The Argus Review did get some things right; but unfortunately, at the sake of smoothing over a range of other very serious issues facing Australian cricket. Unfortunately, it is not only cricket which suffers this fate in Australia, our political system is much the same. So much credence is given to the personality of issues, it is often dramatised to the point where the original questions are left unanswered. Let’s just hope this is the tip of the iceberg and a more progressive state of mind is adopted moving forward.