Home » Sports News » 2011 » June » June 8, 2011

Cricket Australia contract list signals priority shift

June 8, 2011 - Sydney

The composition of Cricket Australia's elite contract list for the next year is the first step in a significant shift in selectors' priorities.

According to The Sydney Morning Herald, their focus, evidently, is changing from recognising who has performed the best in the previous 12 months - internationally and domestically - to who are their big hopes for the next 12 months and beyond.

Despite Australia's quarter-final elimination from the World Cup, selection panel chairman Andrew Hilditch is largely comfortable with how the team is positioned in both limited-overs formats. Test cricket, however, is a "big concern" for him and his colleagues.

Simon Katich did not deserve to be dropped based on his stoic performances in the past few years, but the decision to ruthlessly discard was nevertheless the right one, due to his age (36 in August) and the necessity to allow his successor as long as possible to settle in before the Ashes.

Katich's dogged 43 on one leg in last summer's Adelaide Test was a sad way for him to end his international career but a fitting one, as he was putting the team's cause above his own.

When looking for Test reinforcements with bat and ball, selectors are placing less emphasis on Sheffield Shield performances.

Only two of the top 10 run-scorers from last season earned a contract (Hughes was sixth and Khawaja seventh), and only two of the top 10 wicket-takers as well (Peter Siddle sixth, Ben Hilfenhaus 10th).

The selectors are, Hilditch said, trying to unearth "two or three champions". That explains the elevation of pacemen Patrick Cummins and James Pattinson, who, between them, have played eight shield matches.

Hilditch admitted Cummins, who turned 18 last month, was an unconventional selection because he had not been chosen "through weight of runs or weight of wickets".

Get ready for more. Such a policy could be argued to be unfair for players, particularly those in their late 20s and beyond, who have performed impressively with bat or ball for many seasons.


Comment on this story