TWO very important cricket squads were announced last week.
One was the much awaited squad for the Ashes tour of England, which reminded us of how underwhelming the current crop of Australian players are; the other was South Australia’s list for the next Sheffield Shield season.
Neither of these squads featured the name of the supremely talented Tasmanian Tiger Mark Cosgrove. Should they have? Could they have?
First, dealing with the national squad, the list reflected the errant and inconsistent selection policies of the past summer, not just limited to the recently completed series against India on the sub-continent but also home rubbers against Sri Lanka and South Africa.
Those of us with memories of English debacles during Australia’s dominance of The Urn that commenced in 1989 will recall inconsistent selections with players in and out of favour at the drop of the hat and others named past their use by date – think Mike Gatting, David Gower and Phil Defreitas, fine players in their day but embarassed by a talented Aussie outfit at the end of their careers.
And here is Australia naming Chris Rogers, a 35 year old with an enviable first class record, no doubt, and who may have been deserving of a Test cap well before now. However, at this point, Rogers’ selection is simply unimaginative and wreaks of desperation from the National Selection Panel.
Which is where Cozzie comes in. A bad attitude and a predilection for food has seen this Bradman Young Player of the Year winner shunned by Australian selectors, pilloried by fans and media and shunted from South Australia to the Apple Isle.
There is no doubt that the suspicions of a laissez faire attitude that have followed Cosgrove throughout his career have been fairly apportioned. However, Tasmanian fans have found little to criticise since Cosgrove’s transfer, suggesting to the rest of us that he may just have grown up.
What there is also no doubt about is that the 28-year-old is still young enough to make a difference on the Test scene.
He has become a consistent performer with Tassie since his transfer, scoring 806 runs at 53 in 2010/11, a year in which Tassie won the Shield , while he also knocked up 784 runs at 39.20 this season in another Shield winning triumph.
His current career first class average is 43, which has been made with two Australian states, plus, in what becomes a relevant point, County side Glamorgan. Cosgrove’s most recent English season in 2010 saw him play 15 first class matches, making 1187 runs at 49.45.
Cosgrove’s not going to magically become the player who shapes the Ashes, so why, given his past record, should he be given a Test cap?
Australia is well past being in a position to ignore players because of their weight or past training infractions.
This proud cricketing nation is now in a position that it hasn’t seen since players such as Greg Ritchie and David Boon were making their first runs.
Meanwhile, later in his career than he would have liked Darren Lehmann proved that there is a place in the Australian Test cricket line-up for a player with a less than svelte figure and who knows how to make big runs.
‘Baby Boof’, as Cosgrove has been known in the past, doesn’t have as many runs on the board as Lehmann, but with the national side in its current state, when so many others are being offered cheap caps as the revolving door selection policy continues, there’s no reason he shouldn’t get a shot.
On to the local scene and wouldn’t it be nice to see Cosgrove and South Australian cricket reunited.
Imagine how much he could contribute batting on the Adelaide Oval under the guidance of player’s coach Darren Berry.
With the Redbacks contracts already settled for the next season, let’s hope that Cosgrove is in the thinking for the future.
Rob McLean is the editor of grassroots cricket website www.wickettowicket.com.au