Unavailable for Test Consideration

By Sean Curtain

I’ve now officially made myself unavailable for consideration in the Australia Test team.

I’m not sure how I let the Australian selectors know this though.

I’m sure John Inverarity has a bit on at the minute coming up to speed with the team, his new work colleagues and those available in Shield cricket. Andy Bichel is probably going to concentrate more on the bowlers and I think there are a fair number of good quicks around, so I won’t bother him. And Marshy strikes me more as a developer of younger players.

Peter Young, the spokesman is always busy over summer and I can’t guarantee that the ACB receptionist will pass messages on.

My concern there I must admit is not that the message gets delivered to those who need to know, but that it may get misinterpreted.

That’s because I haven’t said I can’t be selected for the two shorter versions on the game. I’d hate the understanding of my position in the eyes of the selectors and this voluntary act on my part, (selfless some may say), to stop my chances of wearing the coloured clothing of an Australian cricket representative.

In advising that I don’t want to be someone who is part of the selectors’ consideration to help represent my country in the traditional form of the great game, I wouldn’t want that to look like I was showing any disrespect for Test cricket, in return for the quick cash of the other forms.

It’s more that a combination of work pressures and a realisation that my skills may lay elsewhere has resulted in me not wanting to do the wrong thing by my country.

I’d hate to have an unexpected run of injuries mean that the selectors needed to look deeper than they had planned, go to the trouble of considering me, only to have me RSVP in the negative and have them waste their valuable time.

Flattered as I would be, I think it is time that the country not relies on the unpredictable availability of a 44 year old untried middle order batsman, who is good in close at short leg or silly mid off, and potential part time bowler in the partnership breaker mould to step in at short notice when his country called.

This decision to stand aside isn’t for the reasons that many other older players have admitted to in recent years.

It isn’t a desire to merely get fast cash in the IPL, or due to arguments that can’t be resolved with the ruling body of the sport.

I can also confirm to anyone curious that this isn’t a push from outside influences in officialdom that have indicated that I was no longer a possibility. In fact, the Australian selectors and I have always kept a respectful distance, with extremely limited communication, should any unexpected selection be seen by some in the media as not completely transparent.

To set the record straight, there’s a few quite simple reasons that the 5 day format doesn’t suit me right now, and I thought it best to advise those who needed to know to put a line through my name as they do on the electoral roll on polling day, just before you exercise your democratic right and grab a handy snag with onions and consider a cake at the local primary.

In no particular order:

  1. A fear that I could turn into a one match representative and join an uncomfortable group of Australian Test players either noted for being the answer to a trivia question, subject to rumours of why they didn’t go further or lamented as being born in the wrong era. If there was ever a reunion for only the single test reps, it just seems to have the potential to be awkward. I am sure Matthew Nicholson and Simon Cook are pleasant company but I am not sure I could carry on a chat for long with Shaun Young. Bryce McGain strikes me as a bloke who came to terms with his one shot fairly well but I’d be hesitant to interrupt the table where Chris Rogers and Wayne Phillips were bagging Hayden, Langer or Boony.
  2. An increase in responsibility at work and more team members to manage means that disappearing on a number of Thursdays and Fridays over summer and having my return on Monday dependant on a good spell from a new quick or a collapse of the opposition is simply not fair on my employer. I’ve got a fair amount of leave owing, so I don’t think it’s about getting the time off, but projects can lose momentum as the working week progresses, and I think the distraction of me being on TV and being unavailable to take their e-mails would push important things back a bit for the group.
  3. The added media responsibilities and promotional commitments mean that I could also have to set aside a few Wednesdays before a Test, which could easily start to turn my employer’s pride in me playing for my country and hoping I could sneak on the field for the final session in a cap with the company name on it, into frustration and test our good relationship.

The one day matches and Twenty20 seem to fit my stage in life and other interests a little better. The weekend games select themselves of course, and the mid week ones would just mean a departure after lunch for the one day matches, and I could probably get in a good 8 hours at work by starting early if I needed to kick off a Twenty20 commitment in late afternoon.

I’d like to think it is my respect for Test cricket and a desire to maintain only the highest standards for those that achieve a baggy green cap that has caused me to do this. I am what I would call a traditionalist and once I realised that my full attention wouldn’t be on the team and the game, I just didn’t think it was fair to be part of the large group of people vying for a spot.

That’s not to say that I don’t believe that games over one day in either format don’t have a place in the game or players involved in that haven’t earned their spot.

But it’s clear that there’s less need for time away from other pursuits in something that I could participate in during the time you could watch the Directors Cut of Apocalypse Now rather that the time commitment for Test cricket that is something that takes as long as a John Isner Wimbledon match or a Kardashian marriage.

Saying no to the potential to represent your country in its summer sport and join the ranks of those just over 400 men to have played Test cricket is what I’d call a brave decision, and one, once made, I wouldn’t renege on.

So, with the full appreciation of what this decision means for my future, my dreams and any possibility of my baggy green Australian cap one day selling at auction to fund my grandchildren’s education, I wish to formally advise that I no longer wish to be considered for selection in the Australian Test Cricket team.

If anyone could pass that along to those that need to know, that would be great. I’ve got some pressing work e-mails that have got to be addressed before Monday.

Comments

  1. Don’t be too hasty Sean. I believe Mo Matthews remains on alert.

  2. Whilst on the surface this seems a selfless sacrifice of form for function, in reality it does rob the true cricket fan of the opportunity of seeing an athlete in the mould of Ray Illingworth or Dilip Doshi cutting a figure out on the hallowed turf, and in what is now a sport for professional “athletes” who can actually “play cricket” that is a tragedy.

    I would have to say that as a batsman Curtain is much more suited to the 5 day form of the game. Not only because you get 2 chances, but more so due to white clothes being more slimming. (Thanks for that contribution to the game Warnie.) In the shorter forms of the game with the emphasis being on “making runs” and “taking wickets” Curtain’s real value is diluted somewhat. I weep for the traditional form of the game where players of Curtain’s unique skill level are forced into the sidelines at the relatively middle age of 44.

    As a bowler Curtain was an uncanny mix of 2 former test bowlers Chris and Greg Matthews, having the ability not only to not hit the pitch but doing so without any pace or spin. You can’t teach that level of deliverability of a cricket ball, John Howard can attest to that.

    As for silly mid off I would have to say that a more natural extra cover has never graced a cricket field. Clive Lloyd? Colin Bland? Mark Waugh? Amateurs. If Curtain was in the covers and you were batting with a dodgy hamstring,and the ball went straight to him you probably wouldn’t come back for a second. If you were fit 3 was on. This is the essence of how he put doubt in the batsman’s mind. You always knew he was there. Often you didn’t know what he was doing, or whether he was even paying attention, or even why he was wearing nothing but Speedos and a harlequin cap but you always knew he was there. Mostly due to him yelling “how is he?” as the bowler was turning at the top of his run, but you always knew he was there.

    Thanks for the memories Sean, at least we have Phil Hughes to laugh at these days.

  3. Ray

    Had tears of laughter reading your accurate account, and a combeack for the true fans is potentially on the cards.

    It was a turned down LBW on the basis that, whilst in line, the umpire couldn’t have been sure my delivery would have made it all the way to the stumps or have teh velocity to dislodge a bail, that set my mind thinking about test retirement.

    Nice to see the word Bland and my cricket ability in the same sentence for positive reasons for a change

    Sean

  4. Sean
    Brilliant stuff.
    You’re a fraction young, but on your next birthday give me a ring. As a 45yo I made my “comeback” to cricket on Saturday, in the Clifton Hill 4ths with my 14yo son Daniel.
    And I managed a “first”. Batting at 6 (a bit high), I unfortunately crossed paths on the way out to bat with Daniel, who had worked hard for 7 in a partnership of 29 for the fourth wicket. The bowling was tight, but I felt OK, and was mightily relieved to tuck the leggie through midwicket to get off the mark. I prodded around for a few more balls, then got a leading edge to midwicket and departed in some annoyance. This turned to horror later when I glanced at the scorebook and noticed that they had missed my hard earned single. I had registered a duck on my return, despite clearly striking the ball and running to the other end. Now, had I made 11 and had 10 entered in the book, I would have let it ride. But as we all know, there’s a massive gulf between 1 and zero. I made some feeble appeals to my new teammates, all to no avail. The duck stood. Hard game, cricket. If I get a run on Saturday, I’ll be making damn sure the scorers know about it.

  5. Sean

    It warms the heart of a traditionalist knowing that whilst figuratively unavailable, literally unpickable and historically unplayable – and not in the good way – you have not given up hope of one day pulling on the (formerly) baggy whites.

    As Australian cricket legend Rodney Hogg once said “Mugs like me don’t retire, they just get dropped” and as Dean Jones cricket legend Dean Jones once said “That’s it I’m retiring from international cricket, unless you pick me again, but if not I’m definitely retired..hang on that could be Bob Simpson on the phone, just a minute I might be announcing a comeback, nope still retired …”

    Never say never Sean, but feel free to say probably not.

  6. Wouldn’t have been so quick to pull the pin if you were an opening bowler, I’ll wager. Across the country, ageing seamers awaken to the latest injury reports (physical and mental) and think “maybe just maybe”.
    Somewhere there is a hospital chockers with Australian quicks of the last 5 years – just not sure which ward is fullest – orthopaedics, cardiac or psych??? Mitch is on constant rotation.
    Lindwall was a hypochondriac – but never missed Tests. Garth carried the fast attack alone for years and never missed? Too much cricket now or too many advisers/coaches/gurus? Go figure.
    Lovely stuff, Sean. I haven’t laughed so much since I read JB’s article in the book on the Blues Eagles mid season. Read it last night. And the night before. And the night I got it. Must be off now to read it before bed tonight.

  7. pamela sherpa says:

    Don’t give up Sean , if the current injury crisis escalates, you might just be needed!

  8. John Butler says:

    Aw shucks PB. :)

    Sean, Ray, you two seem like the kind of double act we need to see more of round these parts.

    As a practitioner of decidedly humble standards myself, I feel acutely the lack of voice for the suburban everyman in this star obsessed society.

    MOC, with that form line the Almanac XI awaits.

  9. I am still officially available for Almanac selection (Tests, one-dayers and 20-20). Beer must however be part of the package.

  10. John Butler says:

    MOC, that is a standing condition.

    Non-negotiable. It’s the only way we could get a team together.

  11. JB – re your book piece on the Round 14 Eagles Blues clash.
    When it comes to your gallows humour writing we are laughing with you.
    When it comes to your nearly almost team – we are laughing at you.
    Definition of a good draw in 2012. 2 x GWS. 1 x JB for Blues home game in the Book.

  12. MOC

    Did you get asked back to fill in for the CH 4ths again?

    How was your duck, at least according to the sorecard (as to all your friends online here, it’s ben recognised and recorded as a gritty and unfotunate 1, out forcing the pace, sacrificing your own natural game, as the side went for an early declaration), go down with your son? Is he willing to play with you again, or pressing to see you dropped to the 5ths to regain lost form?

    Or, has Daniel grown in stature at the thought of topping his father’s sore?

    Keen to get an update on the return to the crease

    Sean

  13. Peter Zitterschlager says:

    Hi Sean,

    Very amusing read.

    IIf you are the Sean Curtain who worked for Fleur Daniel 10 or so years ago, hello form an old workmate

    Cheers

    Peter

  14. Hi TBone, one and same, still a cricket tragic.
    BT

  15. Peter Zitterschlager says:

    Hey Big Toe

    Figured it was you. Good to see that you’re still your mischevious self. And it’s the Australian cricket loss now that you’ve announced your unavailability. Though I’ll wager it’s to do with saving yourself for IPL more than anything else.

    PS. I have an article on this site myself. It’s to do with a new statistic I’ve tried to have recognised

    Here’s the link if you’ve got nothing better to do
    https://footyalmanac.com.au/?p=18993

    Cheers
    T Bone

  16. And Zitter, we’re still waiting for a follow-up piece!

  17. Peter Zitterschlager says:

    @Gigz

    Don’t have one in me. See you round one next season old chum

    T Bone (aka Zitter)

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