‘They need to stop’: Watson slams Australian selectors
Former Test vice-captain Shane Watson has warned that reactionary Australian selectors are running the risk of creating selfish team environments by chopping and changing sides too often.
Watsons criticism comes as another senior state administrator called for greater transparency in national selections and dumped one-day all-rounder Ashton Agar suggested communication to players as to why they were not making teams was “vague”.
Many commentators have bemoaned a lack of consistency in recent national team selections. While this may be the case, Watson – a polarising cricketer regularly at the centre of debate about his position in teams – implored selectors to give more than one-game assurances to players.
“They need to stop doing what they're doing because it's not getting the best out of anyone,” Watson told the Herald when pressed on Chris Lynn's non-selection in the one-day squad. "The easiest thing to do when things aren't going well is to drop someone. The hardest thing is to have faith in the skills and judgment of a player when things aren't going to plan.
"Not everyone kills it from the start and all the way to the end of their career. We can't let the media and public fuel the need to make changes.
"You need to stick with people and build their confidence, not just for the players under fire, but the others who are looking over their shoulder and seeing what's happening to their mates.
“When the [selectors'] actions are to chop and change all the time … it will cause everyone to play for themselves so they can keep their gig to play for their country.”
While there is merit in Watsons thinking, the issue itself of picking the wrong players has come into sharp focus after Australias 2-1 series defeat to India.
Outgoing Cricket NSW boss Andrew Jones said last week he felt the best players were not being selected out of the Sheffield Shield for higher honours and transparency is something Cricket Tasmania boss Nick Cummins wants to see more of.
Tasmanian batsman Matthew Wade has plundered 571 runs at an average of 63.44 to top the Sheffield Shield runs list at Christmas, while Alex Doolan and Jordan Silk are also in the top nine run-scorers.
There have been some funky selections across the summer and it is understood there is plenty of disillusionment in state ranks.
“Were a little bit confused at the moment about what the players need to do to press their case for selection,” Cummins said. “We accept that there is a transition with Pat Howard departing and looking for a new high performance manager but certainly wed like to see criteria be a little more transparent.
“As a guiding principle it was clear that runs were the currency and I guess wed like to see transparency around that.”
Meanwhile, after missing out on Australias 14-man one-day squad for a three-match series against India, Agar has sarcastically suggested he must have not run the drinks well enough in last years coloured clothing matches against South Africa.
“Recently [communication] has been pretty vague to be honest,” Agar told reporters. “Pretty much it was that Nathan Lyon is bowling really well and Zampa gives us a leg-spinning option. I guess that probably had nothing to do with me as such.
“I got told pretty much just keep trying to get better. I guess I mustnt have run the drinks well enough last time, because I didnt really get a crack at that before.”
It comes as Australian Cricketers Association president Greg Dyer indicated players were frustrated by communication issues, which prompted Shane Warne to tweet that runs and wickets were most important and that Dyer should "move on".
Australia has a three-man selection panel featuring Trevor Hohns, Greg Chappell and Justin Langer but there has been discussion as to whether giving a coach all the power is a better way to go.
Cummins shares that view, one also expressed by Jones last week.
“We have the same philosophy as Cricket NSW,” Cummins said. “We believe that the decision-making and the consequences sit with the same person and in that case, its the head coach.
“I wouldnt want anyone else to hire my staff at Cricket Tasmania and I dont think anyone should pick the players apart from the coach.
“If he wants to pick his favourite players and his favourite players perform then it doesnt really matter. The coach is never going to self-sabotage and pick a team he doesnt think is going to win for him. If they try and keep their friends happy they probably wont be a coach for very long.
“Thats where the coaches need to have the power to do that because ultimately theyre the ones who suffer the consequences. I dont know any coach who would pick a mate who isnt making enough [runs]."
Tom Decent is a journalist with Fairfax Media.
Christian covers rugby league for The Sydney Morning Herald.