A good mate of mine is a national coach of an Olympic sport for an overseas country. We used to share a house many years ago. He wrote to me on Saturday night asking what is the problem with Australian Cricket. Below is my reply.
Dear National Coach (name deliberately left out),
Yesterday’s cricket was woeful. The performance is following on from the Perth test which was only marginally less woeful.
What’s the answer to Australian Crickets decline in performance is the key question. The players seem to be lacking application and the willingness to adapt to the conditions. Yesterday was a tough day for batting, but it’s called Test cricket for a reason; it is a test of all the players’ skills.
Warner’s dismissal in the first over was a disgrace. Channel 9’s commentators, in particular, excuse him by saying, “that’s the way he plays”. Warner should have known the conditions were going to be difficult so he had to minimise any chance of being dismissed. Instead he gifts SA his wicket.
In some ways Warner’s dismissal is symbolic of the woes of Australian cricket. They believe their own publicity and aren’t prepared to adapt and work hard when required.
Over the last number of years the Australian team has gained the reputation of being flat track bullies. They win easily at home, but can’t win overseas. Now they’re flat track wimps as well.
Is it coaching, cultural, the Sheffield Shield, CA’s High Performance staff, or some other reason? My thoughts are the first three are the main reasons. Sheffield Shield matches are played primarily batting wickets so the batsmen rarely get tested in difficult conditions.
In cricket players have a massive say in how the team and squad runs. My feelings are there is not enough internal pressure within the Australian team/squad to dig in when required. It’s like everyone sits in a circle and asks each other “are they all right?” and everyone replies “yeah, we’re all right”. Don’t rock the boat and you stay in the squad. Lehmann probably contributes to this happening. He wants to be one of the boys and there isn’t that important separation of coach and player. As such he doesn’t have the imprimatur to demand the required changes.
There in lies my brief summary of the problems with Australian cricket. Feel free to pass it onto James Sutherland, CEO of CA.