Oz selectors have no balance or flair: Benaud

January 1st, 2009 - 8:19 pm ICT by ANI  

Sydney, Jan.1 (ANI): Australias cricket selectors have been accused of ignoring the decline of opener Matthew Hayden, and believe this is to the detriment of Australian cricket.
John Benaud, one of the architects of Australia’’s revival in the late-1980s and early-1990s, believes the current selection panel lacks both balance and flair to lead Australia into a new era.
Benaud sat on the panel chaired by Lawrie Sawle, who worked with coach Bob Simpson and captain Allan Border to lead Australia out of the darkness following the retirements of Greg Chappell, Dennis Lillee and Rod Marsh, and the South African rebel tours.
In persevering with Hayden for the Sydney Test, Benaud said the selectors had missed a chance to introduce 20-year-old opening prodigy Phil Hughes in a dead rubber in preparation for tours of South Africa and England.
“I”m not sure how the selection for this next Test fits into the rebuilding program unless they have made a decision that Matthew Hayden is going to be there in the long term and that Nathan Hauritz is the answer to their spin-bowling problems,” he said.
“Katich has assumed the senior opening role and I think they have missed an opportunity to use a dead Test to trial an opening batsman. It seems they are being nice to Hayden because he’’s been a great player. Well, that is putting the individual ahead of the good of Australian cricket. It shows the players or the sentimentality are being put ahead of the hard-nosed approach that’’s needed, the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Benaud, as saying.
“When you have a heroic team, it is like the West Indies, people get edgy about leaving heroes out even if those heroes might be in decline. There is a sense of that about this selection panel,” he added.
Some players and Cricket Australia officials are dissatisfied with a selection panel that has shuffled spinners through a revolving door, tolerated under performing senior men and picked an injured Andrew Symonds for the Boxing Day Test knowing he would be unable to bowl his seamers, a decision exposed when Brett Lee broke down.
Some believe the selectors should be full-time, given selection chairman Andrew Hilditch is notoriously busy running his Adelaide legal firm, while Jamie Cox is a high-performance manager for South Australia and Merv Hughes leads tour groups around the world.
Benaud was on the panel that picked Warne for an underwhelming debut in 1992 and said the current panel of Hilditch, David Boon, Hughes and Cox had been too conservative.
Greg Chappell, head coach of Cricket Australia’’s Centre of Excellence and a former selector, was also involved with the panel that gambled on youngsters such as Boon, Geoff Marsh and Steve Waugh in the mid-”80s. He said the current selectors faced a choice.
“The big difference between now and then is that in the ”80s, the next level of experienced players went to South Africa for the rebel tours so it forced their hand to go with youth and go to the next generation. I suppose that is the challenge now: Do they try and hold it together or go to the future?” Chappell said. (ANI)

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