Ashes 2010: An Open Letter to Greg Chappell

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Daniel Gray invites Greg Chappell to shake things up now that he is on the selection panel for Cricket Australia

Dear Greg, congratulations on the new role. I was pleased to hear of your promotion to such a key position in the Cricket Australia hierarchy, and I am relieved to know we finally have someone involved in the selection panel with the experience and the bravado to make the big calls.

I am sure Sourav will not disagree with me here.

As a long time supporter of the Australian cricket team, I am writing to humbly offer you some advice on a key revamp of the current landscape that I feel the media has been ignoring. It is glaringly obviously that there is something rotten in the state of … well, whichever state the National Selection Panel (NSP) are convening in this week.

While I was planning on writing an article pointing out all the shortcoming of the selectors in the past 5 years and how they have essentially failed in their rebuilding task as a group, instead I have decided to write something constructive, with a plan for the future to ensure Australia remains at the top of the cricketing world for years to come.

To put it bluntly, the makeup of the NSP is flawed. It is one-dimensional and therefore limited in its ability to not just pick the right side for this match, but one that shows the panel has both eyes on the future as well.

With the wealth of unique perspectives in the sporting world, is it not a little narrow-minded to have a selection team made up entirely of former players? I think it’s time Cricket Australia moved away from this old and failing model to something fitting the present and future of the great game.

Without further preamble, here are my recommendations for revamping the NSP.

For years, the AFL has been awarding the Brownlow medal to its best and fairest player of the regular season. Who is behind the voting for this prestigious award?

It is the umpires of each match. Not a group of former players. Those closest to the action are considered the best judges of performance, and rightly so.

With this in mind, I feel the NSP would greatly benefit from the inclusion of a former or current international umpire. Being out in the middle with players for hours and days at a time surely puts umpires in a great position to judge temperament, consistency and the like.

This could also be linked to state level by the appointment of an umpire who reports on shield performances directly to the umpire appointed to the NSP.

The next change I would make is the inclusion of a cricket writer on the panel. While journalists are not currently involved in the selection process in any sports I am aware of, they are frequently included in selecting the best on ground in numerous sports and are therefore used to critiquing performances and closely scrutinising players.

They would arguably watch as much cricket as anyone aside from players, coaches and umpires.

Thirdly, I would suggest the inclusion of a sports psychologist on the panel. This may be too much for the purists to handle, but hear me out.

Sports psychologists travel with the team and have constant contact will all members of the squad. They know players’ mental strengths and weaknesses, and therefore can assess their current state of mind and offer a unique perspective most likely not included in the current selection process.

As all state teams would employ a sports psychologist, they could report to the NSP member on potential state players being considered for elevation to the national level.

No former cricketers, you ask? Well, not necessarily.

A number of international umpires are former cricketers, as are a high percentage of cricket writers. While you remain in your current role, Mr. Chappell, we have a former Test captain on the panel, which is a huge strength and provides a wealth of experience to the process.

One last point, as I know you’re a busy man. The recent appointment of Troy Cooley to the Centre of Excellence appears to have left the national side without a bowling coach.

With the recent performances in India in mind, particularly of one Nathan Hauritz, could I suggest you keep this appointment in the family and appoint your brother Trevor? If the figures of our bowlers are any indication of what they were serving up on the sub-continent, I think rolling the ball along the pitch lawn bowls style may result in more success in the immediate future.

Yours hopefully,

Daniel Gray

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