“You free on Thursday?”: Interim Australian selector Greg Chappell at the Gabba on Thursday. Photo: Jason O’BrienThe re-appointment of Greg Chappell as an Australian selector could spell danger for older players in the Australian set-up and those vying for inclusion in it, according to Mike Hussey, who has warned against turning automatically to youth as an answer to the national team’s woes.
Cricket Australia have gone back to the future with Chappell’s re-entry to the fold and the elevation of Trevor Hohns to the full-time selection chairman’s role after Rod Marsh’s resignation on Wednesday.
Both are on an interim basis but the presence of Chappell, CA’s national talent manager, on the panel again prompted bewilderment in cricket circles on Thursday, given he had lost the same position as a result of the Argus review five years ago.
The strong suspicion is that the former Test captain’s return as a selector, albeit temporarily, is another sign that Australia will look to the next generation of batsmen in a bid to turn their fortunes around after being thumped by an innings and 80 runs by South Africa in Hobart, their fifth straight Test defeat.
“His philosophies are certainly more aimed towards getting more younger players so I guess that spells a bit of danger for some of the older players in the Australian set-up,” Hussey said. “The other side is he’s only one voice in that selection party.
“But certainly, having been in the Australian set-up when Greg Chappell was a selector, he was certainly pushing harder for younger players.”
Chappell was largely responsible for age restrictions added to the national second XI competition, which was re-labelled the Futures League, and later panned as a “glorified juniors league” and discredited by the Argus report.
His re-appointment to the panel has furthered the belief that Chappell’s youth-oriented mantra will be translated into the Australian team turning to younger players for next week’s dead-rubber third Test against South Africa. If that is the case, then Chappell is the right man for the time. He at least knows the kids around the country better than anyone else.
Hussey, who made his Test debut at the age of 30 before enjoying a brilliant career that featured 19 hundreds in 79 matches, argues against an automatic shift towards players in their early to mid-twenties, however, despite the depths to which the Australian team has sunk.
“Certainly from a batting point I’m a little bit different to Greg,” he said.
“He likes to get them in there and see if they can handle it. I know I’ve heard him say it before ‘how are we going to find the next Ricky Ponting?’ But I’m sure Ricky Ponting would have come through anyway because he was just so good.
“To be ready, I just think you need to go through the process. I sort of believe that it takes a fair bit of time to learn about the game and become a hardened professional. You need to go through the ups and downs and learn how to score runs.
“I found personally that international cricket, part of the battle is knowing your game, but also it’s the external stuff. There are lots of people that want your time – fans, media, sponsors. I just feel for a young guy that doesn’t even know his own game yet and is trying to come into Test cricket and deal with all the external stuff as well, you’re on a hiding to nothing.”
Under Hussey’s ideal formula, batsmen in their late twenties were at the prime age to be thrust into the Test arena. He doesn’t name names but Glenn Maxwell, who averages north of 50 over the past three seasons in Shield cricket and has played loads of limited-overs international cricket, would at 28 appear exactly the kind of candidate for an Australian spot that he is talking about.
If the latest development in a tumultuous start to the summer could be bad news for the thirtysomethings of Australian cricket, then Hussey has implored them not to lose hope.
“They will certainly feel a bit more disheartened I’m sure,” he said. “But I guess all they can do is try and pile on the runs in Sheffield Shield cricket and try and make a case like Adam Voges (in the 2014/15 season) did so they had to pick him.”
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