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Don Argus says the job of fixing Australian cricket is not finished

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Desire to win 5-0 burns in Aussies: Clarke

Skipper Michael Clarke said the SCG was the pitch perfect for fast bowlers and desire for a white-wash burns in the hearts of players.

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Don Argus will not be prepared to call his review a success until Australia is ranked No.1 in all three formats, and has singled out succession planning as ''the big issue'' confronting the triumphant Ashes team.

Argus will be at the SCG in the coming days barracking as hard as any Australian for a 5-0 whitewash. But the man who penned the landmark review into Australian cricket in 2011 has cautioned the architects of the revival that they must not be fooled into thinking the job is done.

Argus, the former NAB chief executive and BHP Billiton chairman hired to chair Cricket Australia's Team Performance Review after the home Ashes debacle three summers ago, says there is no getting away from the goals written in black and white in his report.

One to go: Brad Haddin and coach Darren Lehmann in the nets at the SCG.

One to go: Brad Haddin and coach Darren Lehmann in the nets at the SCG. Photo: AFP

These included restoring Australia as the No.1 team in Test cricket within four years (2015), regaining the Ashes in 2013 (tick), and winning the 2015 World Cup and 2014 World Twenty20 titles.

Argus has been impressed by the ''solid and predictable leadership'' around Michael Clarke's Test team, even when it was losing in England last winter. After an incredible turnaround, Australia will replace England in third place in the International Cricket Council Test rankings regardless of what happens in Sydney.

''It's great that we won the Ashes. It will be even better if we win it 5-0 because I sat and watched the indignity over in London and read the London press,'' he said.

Work to do: Mitchell Johnson is a key to Australia's push for a 5-0 series win over England.

Work to do: Mitchell Johnson is a key to Australia's push for a 5-0 series win over England. Photo: AFP

''That hurt the guys too and the link between pride and performance is strong. But the overall objective, it would be great if we can get to No.1.

''… I think the big issue will be succession planning, how they do that. Sporting teams no matter who they are, aren't real good at that. Nor are corporations I might add.''

The Test team that has carried Australia to a 4-0 Ashes lead includes seven players over 30.

High expectations: Don Argus.

High expectations: Don Argus. Photo: Nic Walker

''I think there has been good leadership shown and I'm glad they have got the outcomes they have got because we're all five-second experts and we want results in five seconds, no different from shareholders,'' he said.

''They have delivered and that is good, but to me it's only half of the journey. The bigger part of the journey is whether they reach No.1 in all forms of the game.''

For Australia to climb the rankings, he believes state associations have to keep pulling in the same direction to create a national high-performance culture, with Pat Howard in charge. He admitted this process was rocky to begin with but believes progress has been made.

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Argus also praised the selectors for having ''adult conversations'' with players about their futures, and believes everyone from the players to Howard now understands what is expected of them.

''He knows what his key performance indicators are, that if he doesn't get us to No.1 in all forms of the game in a period of time then he could expect he would probably be replaced, that is what accountability is. I think the players understand that too.''

He said it was obvious when he and the other members of the review panel revisited their original report in September, 2013, that players were thriving under coach Darren Lehmann after the sacking of Mickey Arthur, even though they lost 3-0 in England.

''Whilst the court of public opinion was becoming impatient with the progress being made in performance and rankings, those of us who were engaged to undertake the reviews were encouraged by the demeanour which was emerging in the 'dressing shed','' Argus said.

''The players seemed to have begun the process of working together; respect was evident, they seemed to be prepared to take calculated risks with their cricket, there was obvious enjoyment in what they were endeavouring to achieve.''

Argus had no objection to Clarke resigning as a selector, despite the captain having a vote being a key Argus recommendation.

''Whatever you can do to make things work around people, sometimes that is a decision you make,'' he said.

''If Michael believes he can get more out of his team from standing aside from selection that is his choice. He has to captain them on the field and he has to help keep them together, and if that works, I'm all for it.''

Before the summer, the Australian Cricketers' Association listed players' concerns in their own 'state of the game report', and asked what difference the Argus report had made. Argus says it is too soon to declare it a success.

''If the players achieve the objective of becoming No.1 in all forms of the game, something the women cricketers have already achieved, we might reflect for a moment and conclude the exercise was worthwhile. One thing we are comfortable with, the report is not gathering dust in a cupboard.''

17 comments

  • No more Argus reforms please. I think the current success is despite the reforms, not because of it. I never saw the need for a high performance manager. Surely the shambles in India (aka HomeworkGate) was largely a result of this. Rotation has been a failure. Clarke as captain is now starting to work. The captain as a selector was another fail. As for the corporate changes I also have reservations (I can't say I like what the AFL has become. Who wants CA to be the same). Many of the poor performances in recent past could be blamed partly at least on foreign conditions & a drop in Clarke form (not unexpected after he had a stellar season or two). Sledging, in excess, doesn't endear the team to me. It's not "win at all costs".

    Commenter
    TMG007
    Date and time
    January 02, 2014, 8:57PM
    • Is argus serious? It would still be a shambles if the poms were not so attrocious. Pat Howard has been a farce while our selections continue to be baffling. There is a good article in the herald about the players that have been sacrificed since the argus report and Howard's appointment. So Don please don't treat us as fools. Why not admit that we have not progressed one iota since your report other than beating a terrible team in Australia.

      Commenter
      For the people
      Date and time
      January 02, 2014, 9:19PM
      • We have made a good start, and that is what it is, a start. England had started to slide as we showed in the series in England. We have to still prove ourselves against the top sides. Our bowling stocks are good with players like Pattinson, Starc, Cummins & Bird, we just have to keep them fit. It'd be good to see a young batsman like Maddinson blooded soon. Just on India much has been made of our 4-0 drubbing at their hands last year and it certainly wasn't pretty but wasn't that the same result inflicted on India by our side in the previous Border- Gavaskar series when they visited here, and weren't there 2 innings defeats involved?

        Commenter
        Pablo
        Date and time
        January 02, 2014, 11:53PM
        • The so called "Argus review" was an absolute joke. It was only after they dumped key policies recommended by Argus that the team finally started to see success. Where was Argus when team morale and player relationships had completely blown up in everyone's face? Now after the the team starts to see success after dumping Argus' policies, he steps up to claim credit? What a joke.

          In particular, the recommendation to re-install the captain as a selector led to the massive breakdown in player relationships as the captain was no longer seen as a captain of the team, but a representative of the men in suits. Clarke eventually saw this and resigned as a selector.

          I could not believe this was a recommendation of the Argus review. Did Argus not talk to Steve Waugh about the impact being captain AND selector had on him? Waugh's relationships with Slater, Warne and his own brother were never the same given he was part of the decision to drop them all from the team at some point.

          This was by far the most poisonous recommendation ever made.

          Don Argus should not be collecting any accolades, but should be condemned for the the previous Ashes series' losses.

          Commenter
          TN
          Location
          Sydney
          Date and time
          January 03, 2014, 12:32AM
          • I think Steve Waugh was no longer a selector by the time Mark was dropped. But this actually emphasizes your point. It was Steve himself who initiated the removal of selection from the captain's responsibilities, after the breakdown with Slater. It still seems like the last people CA listen to about improving the team are those who have been there and done that successfully.

            Commenter
            Stephen
            Date and time
            January 03, 2014, 11:47AM
        • The turnaround from the English series has been remarkable & that has only come about through an improvement in the whole squad. But we've been flattered by English ineptitude, (they are second to none when in it comes to this) but the real test will come in South Africa where I think we'll find no. 3 might just be our best position!

          Commenter
          Real advice!
          Date and time
          January 03, 2014, 12:41AM
          • Take out Mitchell Johnson's reinvigorated form and things would
            be looking very different.
            You cannot put that form reversal down to a review or someone removing themselves as a
            selector.(Bowling coaches more likely - let's have an article on them!)
            Put it down to the great intangibles involved in cricket and humanity.
            Argus has also introduced that lumbering rort of "performance bonuses" ....
            drawn straight from "executive" land,
            whereby someone on bazillions per year somehow needs a bonus to do better -
            stuff like that might have more credibility if pay was commensurately reduced for poor performances in the boardroom and on the cricket pitch.
            For the future of cricket I think that that "bonus" money would be better spent at the grassroots levels of the game;
            if these guys need "bonus" money to perform then they should not be selected.

            Commenter
            nkelly
            Date and time
            January 03, 2014, 1:00AM
            • Employing a Ex-CEO to inform CA about what every man at the pub already knows is a waste of time & money. .

              The report has not changed the Australians performance and therefore deserves no credit for any turnaround in this series of any other series in the future.

              (Mr Argus, you simply don't bring any real expertise to the table looking at the corporate decisions made at BHP / NAB under your stewardship - your report is a worthless exercise).

              The real reason for the turnaround is this;

              1) Warner is actually playing in this series / gaining more experience in the process. What a shame he was not deployed against England in the last series. The CA reaction to Warner in the UK was a predictably dumb over-reaction. A reaction also made post Argus report.

              2) Haddin has finally decided to play to his full potential.

              But most importantly.....!

              3) Mitchel Johnson has delivered the most hostile left armed pace bowling this country has ever seen bar none and, it has been a joy to witness. Bowling 145-155 left arm over the wicket accurately into the ribs / head of the opposition decimates their will to survive and play sensible cricket shots. Mr Johnson has been the brutal difference between the two teams and unless the report speared him into action here, the report deserves no credit.

              The report has absolutely nothing to do with Australia's hopes of regaining the number one ranking. If/when we do regain the ranking, the praise should only be for the players which are actually delivering to their potential...!

              Commenter
              Hat-trick
              Location
              Sydney
              Date and time
              January 03, 2014, 4:06AM
              • It's hard to judge how good Australia really is considering how diabolical England have been. With the Ashes won, why weren't these last two Tests used more to blood some younger players to help inject some needed new life into this team? There is something of a "Dad's Army" look about the current side. Certainly Australia has played with a confidence and determination in this series, but I'm not sure the same can be said about our opposition. Our opponents may have made us look better than we really are. If Australian cricket is on a journey, then we have a long, long way to go yet.

                Commenter
                Neil
                Date and time
                January 03, 2014, 4:51AM
                • And thereby lies the difference between the two teams, while England was happy to rest on it's laurels after it's recent Ashe's success, Australia will never be satisfied until it is number one in the world in all forms of the game.

                  Commenter
                  Grouch
                  Date and time
                  January 03, 2014, 5:16AM

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