Most of you would know that the Argus Report commissioned by Cricket Australia, brought about sweeping changes. I think most cricket fans welcomed those changes. Gone is the Chairman of Selectors, as are all the selectors. Gone is the captain and the coach. However, as in all cases when removing someone who is not performing, unless they are replaced by someone better, things don’t actually improve. We now know who most of the replacements are, and judging by last week’s performance, there are some challenging times ahead.
We found out quite some time ago, that the new Chairman of Selectors is John Inverarity. This is a full-time role. In the middle of last week’s Test debacle, it was announced that two of the other four selectors are Rodney Marsh and Andy Bichel. Bravo. Under the new regime, the other two selectors are the captain (Michael Clarke) and coach (as yet undisclosed).
While an innings total of 47 does not give one a great deal of hope, the new selectors do give me some hope.
John Inverarity played just six Tests but don’t let that cool your enthusiasm. I once quoted someone as saying that Andrew Hilditch couldn’t play cricket, so why would you expect him to be a good selector. I used the quote at the time because it suited my purposes and it was humorous. But the truth is that I didn’t really believe it. I have long held the opinion that a genius does not necessarily make a good teacher (in fact, usually the opposite) and I think a similar principle holds here.
Some of you may think John Inverarity’s greatest claim to fame is that he was bowled by Greg Chappell during a Shield match, the ball having deflected off a sparrow in mid-air! However, John Inverarity is far more than a major actor in a tragi-comic dismissal. In a career spanning 23 years (23 years!) he played in 223 first class matches, scoring over 11,000 runs and taking 221 wickets. At the time of his retirement he had scored more Sheffield Shield runs than anybody. He currently stands 13th on the list.
Inverarity is held in high regard as a captain. He was captain of Western Australia for five years and WA won the Shield on four occasions during that time. The WACA named a stand after him in recognition of his service and achievements. I have not noticed any Hilditch or Hohns stands. Inverarity moved to Adelaide because of a job opportunity and started playing for South Australia. That is not a reprint – in the eighties, cricketers still had to put their real jobs first! South Australia also won the Shield with Inverarity at the helm.
Since his retirement in 1985, Inverarity has held coaching positions in English Country cricket. I hope that Inverarity will bring strength, clear thinking, and direction to Australian cricket. In Rod Marsh, at least (I have no idea about Bichel), he will have an astute and bold partner. These selectors can start with a fresh slate and no baggage (well, Clarke and Katich aside). They owe Johnson nothing. They owe Haddin and Hughes nothing and those players should be concerned. They owe Ponting nothing but I expect that they will treat him with the respect that he has earned. That is, he should be told in private that it is time to retire.
I expect no major changes for the second Test in South Africa. But once back in Australia, expect some remodelling.