I recently wrote about the lack of depth in quality Australian test players. The Australian test squad has turned to choosing inexperienced players not properly tested at international level. However this apparent problem does not seem to be affecting the ODI or T20 sides. A trend appears to have emerged for players to look to the shorter forms of the game for representation, rather than the traditional centrepiece of international cricket, test cricket.
The emergence of cricketers such as Australia’s new T20 ‘sensation’ David Warner is clear evidence of a trend that is affecting Australia’s cricketing landscape. The ‘Rock and Roll’ nature of the shorter forms of the game are incredibly alluring for young sportsmen, and this is certainly having an effect on the amount of players concentrating on this form of the game. It wasn’t that long ago that the first split between test and ODI players began to take place.
Following the initial split in the World Series Cricket the national teams merged, until ODI specialists such as Michael Bevan emerged. These days it is not unusual for almost the entire team to be changed depending on the format. As a result certain players are realising that if they focus on one particular format they are more likely to be picked.
ODI specialists in the current set-up include the likes of Cameron White, Dave Hussey, Luke Ronchi and Nathan Bracken. Bracken is perhaps the most interesting of these examples. He is currently the leading ODI bowler in the ICC rankings and has 142 ODI wickets at a tick over 21. However he has only represented Australia at test level 5 times. There is no doubt that certain players benefit from focusing their attention on one form. Of course the other factor in this equation is the fact that a player’s likelihood of making a career out of cricket is greatly advanced by steering their skills into the limited overs versions of the game.
As we have seen recently, test selectors are loathe to regularly changing the test squad. Players are given often far too long to show themselves, a trait that is not found in ODI or T20 formats. Therefore, as an emerging star one would assume that the shorter forms are more likely to provide an opportunity for regular income.
Further to this is of course the T20 phenomenon. Players such as a David Warner or perhaps a Shaun Tait are now seen as predominantly T20 players, and thus are likely to garner much interest in the IPL and ICL auctions. These competitions mean big dollars, far greater than a State or English County contract.
The results of these shifts in cricket are already becoming clear in the availability of quality players in the respective national squads. The test team has looked very light on in quality depth. However, the ODI and T20 squads are brim full of players immediately suited to the bash and crash style of play. Warner and Tait have already been mentioned, but throw in Bracken, Hilfenhaus, Shaun Marsh and State players in waiting Michael Klinger and Chris Rogers, and you can see a trend emerging. I’m not sure if any of these players, perhaps Hilfenhaus excluded, would seriously be threatening a test place at this stage, however they are already experienced Australian representatives in the limited overs forms.
The ‘Baggy Green’ is seen as the Holy Grail, but the ‘Golden Cap’ is emerging as just that…a snug fitting Golden cash cow.
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