I was amused and dismayed by the reported story from Steve Smith’s  book launch on the process of his appointment as captain following injury to Michael Clark.

It was reported that a conversation between Board member Mark Taylor, and vice-captain Brad Haddin at a bar post Adelaide Test match was where a decision was made.

 

According to the report, Mark Taylor told them both that he would make a few calls to the Board and get matters cleared. The following morning Chairman of selectors, Rod Marsh, called to say the elevation of Steve Smith to the captaincy had been approved.

Admittedly there was only some 4 days to the next Test in Brisbane, and the position of captain of Australia needs Board sanctioning – but if what is reported to occur, did happen, Mark Taylor’s intervention highlights the need for a selection panel to be a relic of the past.

I have suggested on many occasions that I believe selectors are no longer a requirement in Australian cricket.

 

For cricket to change as David Peever was outlining with respect to the ACA-CA contract negotiations dispute, then processes and systems must change.

When selectors were first ‘invented’, there were no coaches, no talent identification systems, no technologies that allow for capturing of all data and vision of all players, no support systems such as Academies, sports science staff and so on.

Professional sport has moved on.

 

Professional sport, in most codes, places the Head coach or Manager as the person responsible and accountable for team results.

If there are selectors, they perform more scouting roles, and report directly or indirectly to the Head Coach.

 

These Head coach positions rely very heavily on the input of the coaching staff in their system to make the best calls on players. There are few better examples than the ALL BLACKS system where all coaches are employed by the national body and work closely together to ensure the best management of athletes, as well as putting the best possible teams on the park.

With the NZRU, this approach flows down through second tier provincial competitions, to clubs and schools.

 

If Cricket Australia seeks to return to world cricket dominance again, then in a number of key areas, it cannot expect to keep doing the same things and get different results.

The current archaic selection system, utilising a band of selectors is one of those key areas.

 

Respecting tradition, paying homage to the past is important to the culture and performance of any organisation.

But clinging to relics only anchors the business or the organisation in the past, and does not allow it to move into the future with direction and confidence.

 

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What has become very evident in the first 3 ODI’s of the Women’s Ashes series is that there are very skilful athletes on show who are executing simple but well thought through plans.

 

Powerful batting is normally not associated with women’s cricket, but even despite the loss of Meg Lanning, there is a healthy dash of boundary finding as well from both teams.

 

However, there will always be a different power game in women’s cricket due to the ball being smaller and therefore lighter; the bat speed that women can generate will be less; and the pace that the quicker bowlers can deliver limits the pace off the bat.

 

Nonetheless, all teams adjust to this lack of power and pace with other skills and tactics.

 

The use of spin or slower bowling forces batters to hit the ball if they want to pierce the field.

Consequently, teams have worked assiduously on their fielding athleticism to back up the bowling strategy.

 

Wicketkeepers are more likely to spend little time back from the stumps, preferring to be hovering over the stumps, no matter who is bowling. This keeping skill is reminiscent of male keepers from the 30’s through to 70’s who might make as many stumpings in an innings as take catches.

 

Allthatcricket have examined what the current stats (see tables below) are telling us about the series and the tactics. Unfortunately, the women’s series is not being covered very comprehensively from a broadcast and a statistical viewpoint, but we can draw some conclusions from the first 2 ODI games –

  • When batting the highest scoring shot rate (i.e. number of balls scored from compared to the total number of balls bowled) shows England and Australia similar on this indicator at 48.1% and 46.9% respectively
  • When batting and looking at the ‘dash of power’ where one team finds more boundaries? Australia have set the benchmark so far with 50 x 4’s and 9 x 6’s compared with England 31 x 4’s and 3 x 6’s with 6 times consecutive boundaries, twice as many as England
  • For the bowling teams we are seeking the reverse of these numbers, and Australia has been striking regularly taking a wicket at after 29.2 balls while England have only been striking every 42.6 balls. England were averaging 40.2 in the recent Women’s World Cup!
  • Australia’s dominance in the first 2 ODI games from the bowling crease is evidenced through –
    • Taking 18 wickets – verses 12 by England
    • Bowling 28 times, where consecutive overs were 4 runs or under – verses England 20
    • Bowling 53 overs of 4 or less runs in the 2 games – verses England 46
    • Delivering 30 overs that had 6 or more taken from them of which there were 6 that went for 10 or more – verses England 38 and 14
  • An interesting insight to the tactics of the first 2 ODI’s is that Australia spinners have bowled 54.33% of the total overs while England have used their spinners for 28.5%
  • Unfortunately, it is not possible to view fielding data (as we cannot see dropped catches, misfields, saved boundaries, etc.), to highlight the athleticism in the field from both teams. A gauge at the end of the series may be the number of runouts per innings achieved by both teams.

 

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