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Stagnating Oz cricket needs right management, coaching staff: Ex-player Berry

October 9, 2011 - Melbourne

Former Australian and Victorian wicketkeeper Darren Berry has said that cricket in Australia is currently in a state of stagnation, and called on Cricket Australia to speed up the process of appointing the right management, selectors and coaching staff for the national squad.

Berry who played for South Australia and Victoria in Sheffield Shield Cricket in the late 1980s and 1990s, and was part of the Australian squad in 1997, writes in The Sydney Morning Herald that: "The work starts now and cricket must chase the big names to revive Australia's Test fortunes."

"On the back of the long overdue Argus report, we should look with optimism to a much-improved performance by Australia's cricket teams and, more importantly, increased accountability from all involved at the elite level. Papers and boardrooms will never deliver the answers - only elbow grease and true commitment to the cause will," Berry adds.

He said that the Argus report has provided a much-needed and thorough investigation in its search for answers to last summer's Ashes debacle and the recent drop in overall standards across the country.

Berry said that the recommendations in the report "must now be implemented and carried out before we can truly judge whether the direction the report has suggested is correct."

"Our cricket has stagnated and we have become complacent after a decade of dominance as some of our greatest players have left the game. The past few years, in particular, have seen our grip slip from Test team powerhouse to middle-of-the-road team. Test match level is where we should always judge our standing in the game and, consequently, it should always be protected," the former player says.

While welcoming the advent of Twenty20 cricket, as it has produced big income streams and attracted new followers, Berry says it has also distracted players and administrators who have been blinded by the bright Bollywood lights.

"This claim will be denied in the halls of power but, having been involved in both systems, I can guarantee it is true," said Berry, who was the CEO of the Indian Premier League (IPL) franchise Rajasthan Royals for a period of three years.

He also said that the recommendation to appoint a new head coach or, more appropriately titled, a director of coaching to oversee everything, is good in concept, but it would be near impossible to manage.

"It will take a person with meticulous time-management and man-management skills to pull off this monumental task. It is too big a job for one person, and therefore, I believe the Australian coaching set-up must be shared by three men - one for each format of the game," Berry said.

"The new director of coaching must set the agenda, and oversee the three-man coaching panel. He must be a highly experienced, uncompromising, respected figure who will demand high performance," Berry adds.

He believes that former Australian Rules Football coach Mick Malthouse would be the ideal type of person to take on such a responsibility, provided his cricket credentials are in place and in tune with what Cricket Australia desires.

"I believe that the only person with the credentials and cricket pedigree who has the capacity to fill the job description is Ric Charlesworth. I believe he was sounded out for the role, but was unavailable due to his commitment as Australia's hockey coach, particularly with the London Olympics coming up next year," said Berry.

"I say get Charlesworth no matter what the cost to head up Australian cricket. He has played the game at the elite level for Western Australia, excelled at hockey as a player, and coached successfully at several Olympic Games and world championships. He is a qualified doctor and a highly intelligent man," said Berry.

"Charlesworth is renowned for his hard-nosed approach to elite performance. He is exactly what we need to awaken cricket from its slumber," Berry added.

On the role of individual team coaches, Berry said current Victorian coach Greg Shipperd should step up and mentor the Test team ahead of the highly fancied Mickey Arthur and captain Michael Clarke's choice and favourite Steve Rixon.

Little-known Tim Coyle has done some fantastic work with Tasmania in recent times and should be considered a serious contender as Australian one-day coach. If not Coyle, then perhaps recently resigned Sri Lankan coach Trevor Bayliss, from New South Wales, who is highly rated among those who know the coaching game.

He believes for the Australian Twenty20 team, former New Zealand captain and coach of the Chennai Super Kings Stephen Fleming would be the ideal choice.

The general manager of team should be someone of the ilk of former Wallabies coach and current Melbourne Rebels coach Rod Macqueen, Berry says.


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