Amol Rajan: Hilditch's selection sleave Aussies in the gutter looking for stars

Rajan's Wrong 'un: Australia's fans are getting impatient. They need selectors capable to thinking clearly

After the boom, the bust. And after the bust, the struggle for recovery. A few years ago the economies of the Western world experienced a crash after years of plenty and are now on a long hard road back to respectability. Similarly, Australia's cricketers dominated the game for the best part of two decades, then crashed, and are now experiencing what Brett Lee described this week as a "transitional phase". By that he means they're transitioning from bad to worse. What he didn't mention is that this process is being aided by erratic selectors and a lack of first-rate talent coming through the domestic game.

Their former glories are well known. A record string of victories in Tests and World Cups made Steve Waugh's side [much more than Ricky Ponting's] one of the greatest ever. In the 1990s they won 54 Tests, lost 25, and drew 29. In the following decade they won 79, lost 18, and drew 18. Since the start of last year, however, they have won six, lost six, and drawn one.

It's argued that the 2005 Ashes loss to England was the turning point, though that obviates the fact that for 18 months after that they were still dominant. It is true, however, that the 2005 series exposed crucial failings and marked the peak of many very distinguished careers.

Richie Benaud said that captaincy is 90 per cent luck, and Waugh was blessed with uncommonly talented players. They are now gone. The curiosity is not how hard it's proving to replace them but what a palaver the Australian selectors are making of grooming potential successors. That is because the selectors are a funny bunch.

Andrew Hilditch may be coming to the end of his term as chief selector and, from Australia's point of view, that end cannot come soon enough. He has failed to gel with Greg Chappell and former Somerset captain Jamie Cox [Merv Hughes was sadly sacked], and made some baffling decisions.

Simon Katich was sacked despite being in decent nick. He called his sacking "absolutely ridiculous", a judgement Ricky Ponting and Shane Watson concurred with. Indeed, Katich's opening partnership with Watson was the only functioning part of Australia's batting line-up. Cameron White, David Hussey and Brad Hodge were dropped without being given a proper chance.

Hilditch said he wanted to test young blood, as part of a long build-up to the 2015 World Cup, but now he's stuffed the current side playing one-day matches against Sri Lanka with golden oldies. Ponting hit 90 not out and Michael Clarke 58 not out yesterday as they went 2-0 up in the series.

The selectors' crime is twofold: not just inexplicable decisions such as the Katich dumping, but inconsistency and bizarre pronouncements with all the instability that engenders. This is especially damaging just now because few of the emerging players seem destined for greatness.

Aaron Finch, Callum Ferguson, David Warner and Shaun Marsh are capable but not exhilarating batsman. James Pattinson – brother of Darren who was plucked from obscurity to play one Test for England – John Hastings, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood and Trent Copeland are all promising bowlers, and 18-year-old Patrick Cummins could end up as quick as Shaun Tait or Brett Lee. In the spin department, off-spinner Nathan Lyon looks a better bet than Xavier Doherty, Michael Beer or Nathan Hauritz.

But evidence of star quality is not yet forthcoming from any one of these, and Australia's fans, who are used to a conveyor belt of great players, are getting a little impatient. Now more than ever they need selectors capable of thinking clearly, and with the character to nurture young talent at the highest level. At the very least that means dumping the eccentric Hilditch, and restoring former chief selector Trevor Hohns, currently wasting away at Queensland.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Daily Quiz
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services

Day In a Page

General Election 2015: The masterminds behind the scenes

The masterminds behind the election

How do you get your party leader to embrace a message and then stick to it? By employing these people
Machine Gun America: The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons

Machine Gun America

The amusement park where teenagers go to shoot a huge range of automatic weapons
The ethics of pet food: Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?

The ethics of pet food

Why are we are so selective in how we show animals our love?
How Tansy Davies turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

How a composer turned 9/11 into her opera 'Between Worlds'

Tansy Davies makes her operatic debut with a work about the attack on the Twin Towers. Despite the topic, she says it is a life-affirming piece
11 best bedside tables

11 best bedside tables

It could be the first thing you see in the morning, so make it work for you. We find night stands, tables and cabinets to wake up to
Italy vs England player ratings: Did Andros Townsend's goal see him beat Harry Kane and Wayne Rooney to top marks?

Italy vs England player ratings

Did Townsend's goal see him beat Kane and Rooney to top marks?
Danny Higginbotham: An underdog's tale of making the most of it

An underdog's tale of making the most of it

Danny Higginbotham on being let go by Manchester United, annoying Gordon Strachan, utilising his talents to the full at Stoke and plunging into the world of analysis
Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police

Steve Bunce: Inside Boxing

Audley Harrison's abusers forget the debt he's due, but Errol Christie will always remember what he owes the police
No postcode? No vote

Floating voters

How living on a houseboat meant I didn't officially 'exist'
Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin

By Reason of Insanity

Louis Theroux's affable Englishman routine begins to wear thin
Power dressing is back – but no shoulderpads!

Power dressing is back

But banish all thoughts of Eighties shoulderpads
Spanish stone-age cave paintings 'under threat' after being re-opened to the public

Spanish stone-age cave paintings in Altamira 'under threat'

Caves were re-opened to the public
'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'

Vince Cable interview

'I was the bookies’ favourite to be first to leave the Cabinet'
Election 2015: How many of the Government's coalition agreement promises have been kept?

Promises, promises

But how many coalition agreement pledges have been kept?
The Gaza fisherman who built his own reef - and was shot dead there by an Israeli gunboat

The death of a Gaza fisherman

He built his own reef, and was fatally shot there by an Israeli gunboat