Over the past month heads have been rolling among the top echelon of the Cricket Australia administration following the cultural review into the organisation which branded cricket’s governing body as ‘bullying’ and “arrogant”.
Firstly, Chairman David Peever blamed himself and the Board for many of the Australian’s mistakes and less than a week later he fell on his own sword.
Secondly, former Australian captain and possible heir to the Chairman’s job, Mark Taylor, resigned for a number of reasons, mostly because of his commitment to broadcasting on Channel 9.
Thirdly, came the resignation of High Performance Manager, Pat Howard, a former gifted rugby union player, but with little background in cricket.
Howard was planning to finish his tenure next season, but quickly got shown the door with little sympathy from many former greats who were never in favour of his statistical method of running the game.
Pat Howard is the experiment Cricket Australia can never repeat, said Ian Healy on Sunday, declaring it was madness to have put a rugby player in charge of the Australian team’s high performance unit.
Howard, who is set to depart his job earlier than planned as part of a CA cleanout, was a polarising figure during his tenure – most of all because of his adherence to ‘workload management’ for players.
Prior to all this bloodletting, Cricket Australia sacked Steve Smith and David Warner for 12 months, and Cameron Bancroft for 9 months over the infamous Cape Town ball tampering issue.
A week later Australian coach Darren Lehmann resigned in the aftermath of the South African debacle.
Strangely, throughout all this mayhem, not one word has been mentioned of the failure by our Head Batting Coach, Graeme Hick (Warnie’s bunny) or our Head Bowling Coach, David Saker to produce better technical batsmen, or bowlers capable of a lot better than Sunday’s pathetic performance at Bellerive Oval.
Hick took on his role in September 2016 after a highly distinguished career in English County cricket and a modest performer at Test level (65 Tests – Av. 31.32). Over two years later the same players are making the same mistakes eg Travis Head who plays across the line from his crease just as he has done for the past few seasons. It would seem inconceivable that Hick can retain his position into the future.
Saker coached English bowlers to a rout over the Aussies in the 2010-11 Ashes series before taking over the head role with Australia in September 2016. In his arsenal he has three of the fastest and, arguably best quicks in world cricket, but they are mostly underperfoming, and surely the bowling coach must take some of the responsibility.
Watching South Africa’s Lungi Ngidi and Kagiso Rabada jam the Australian batsmen with yorkers when they were supposed to be hitting out in a last-gasp shot at winning the series last night was seriously impressive.
The Aussies could do nothing; it was a masterclass in death bowling. Australia made 55 runs in their final 10 overs in Hobart; South Africa made 130, as Shane Warne openly wondered in commentary why on earth no Aussie bowler could land a yorker.
Even Mitchell Starc, who on his day owns the world’s most lethal sandshoe crusher, copped an absolute pasting from the likes of du Plessis and David Miller at the death; he went for 20 runs in the 48th over, blowing out his figures to 2-57. Starc and his mates kept peppering the South African batsmen with slow long hops and half-volleys as they filled their boots in the final overs.
Make no mistake: Australia’s poor bowling at the death (combined with wonderful batting from the Proteas) just cost them a series win. The stakes will only be higher come World Cup time, in 2019.
The Proteas are not the highest rated one-day team in the world, far from it actually, but their batsmen and bowlers show far more discipline and consistency than their Australian counterparts.
Why is it that the Australian batting and bowling coaches continue to escape unscathed after what has been a disastrous few months on the world stage?
Maybe it’s time for some more heads to roll!