Selectors on right path in overhaul despite bumps in the road, says Argus
"Everyone is going to have to hold their steel here": Don Argus. Photo: Wayne Taylor
Don Argus, whose review of Australian cricket charted a course back to world domination, says there is no quick fix for the problems laid bare in India, and implored selectors and administrators to ''hold their steel''.
Though largely supportive of Cricket Australia's efforts to implement many of the recommendations in the Argus review of team performance, tabled in response to the 2010-11 Ashes disaster, the former BHP Billiton chairman cautioned against panic, expressed concern about the lack of emphasis on spin bowling in the coaching structure and warned that the schedule of the Big Bash League must not detract from Australia's Test objectives.
In an exclusive interview, Argus said the report's ultimate goal - to restore the Test team to No.1 by 2015 - was ''absolutely'' still achievable. He said the harrowing results in India - defeats by eight wickets, and an innings and 135 runs, in the first two Tests - demonstrated how deep-seated Australian cricket's problems were.
''They have been quite bold in implementing a lot of the stuff and going down the recommendation path in the report. Everyone wants instant success whether they're in corporations, football clubs or cricket clubs and the trouble when you go through a transition or succession phase is that impatience manifests itself [as] emotion,'' Argus said.
''Up until this series, the guys have done pretty well in trying to unearth new talent and things like that. Everyone is going to have to hold their steel here to get the ultimate outcome because if you start thrashing around in water then you drown, and up until now I think they've held it pretty well. I think India is probably the toughest environment of all to blood new talent and that's what is happening.''
Almost two years after the Argus report was released, its architect backed CA's controversial injury management methods, and called on former players who criticised to ''give up their day jobs to offer their services to go and help''.
On selection, he said John Inverarity's panel had ''by and large'' adhered to the Argus philosophy that dictated: ''Players must earn their positions in the time-honoured way of making runs, taking wickets and showing that they are ready to play at the next level.''
But he said the selection of Xavier Doherty for the second Test after taking two Sheffield Shield wickets at 80 this season was an exception.
Of the need to reduce the impact of the Big Bash on the Test summer, he said: ''If you deviate from your priorities, if you compromise on your plan … you'll always get caught out. If Test cricket is the No.1 game, and we say it is, that's the way it is. Scheduling sporting events is one of the toughest things there is, but we've got to take the self-interest out of it, and make sure we are all aware of what the objectives are. If we fall into the self-interest test, of we need more money or something like that, then we are in disarray.''
With captain Michael Clarke set to move up the order to paper over the side's batting woes, Argus added CA could only have prepared for the retirements of Ricky Ponting and Mike Hussey by resting star batsmen, which would have provoked an even greater outcry than rotating fast bowlers.