S R Silcox - Author

Blog updated 2-3 times a month.

Tag: Cricket Australia

Want to be proud to be an Aussie cricket fan? Start watching the women.

After reading about the recent review into Australian cricket, I wanted to write a post about how short-sighted Cricket Australia has been in their follow-up statements, and how I think they can start to ‘fix’ the culture around the Australian men’s cricket team.

When CA make comments about changing the culture of cricket, they’re referring to the men’s team. The men have always been, and apparently still are, the centre of CA’s universe. And although the language says ‘we’, what they’re really referring to is the men.

They seem to forget that as an association,¬†they actually encompass much more than just the elite Australian men in these statements, and really, they need look no further than our Australia women’s cricket team, the Southern Stars, for shining examples of what a cricket team should look like and play like.

While we seem to be unable to find a winning mix of players in the men’s team in all forms of the game, we have an abundance of talent in the women’s competition.

This is despite the fact that a majority of female players aren’t full-time professionals. Some of them are barely part-time semi-pros, but they’re toiling away for their clubs and state sides, hoping for a chance to get an Australian cap or a call-up for a WBBL team each summer.

The Aussie women are playing good, solid cricket, and are winning games and series overseas.

And not a scandal among them.

Imagine that.

What’s the difference?

Well, apart from the massive gap in pay, since the women have just recently been given enough funding for our top players to go full-time, there’s one massive difference I think the review has missed the mark on.

Our women’s players do a lot of work in their communities. They visit their old clubs (and play for them while they’re not on rep duties) and they visit schools and junior clubs to run training clinics. They stick around for hours after matches to sign autographs and talk to fans.

The majority of them also study part-time or hold down second jobs that they go back to in their off-season.

That’s another huge difference.

The women have an off-season.

Though some of our best players had a stint in the Kia Super League in England this year, most of our players came home or travelled for some much-needed time off away from the game.

How do I know? I follow a lot of them on social media and love seeing what they get up to in their downtime. (If you don’t already, you should seriously seek out some of the Aussie women’s cricketers and give them a follow – they’ll brighten up your social media timelines).

Off-seasons are few and far between for the men now, with overseas tours and stints in T20 leagues all around the world eating up more and more time. Off-seasons help with rest and recovery and provide time for players to ground themselves in other pursuits. It also helps with mental health, which is so important in elite sport.

So having said all of that, here are my top 3 things I think CA can do to improve the men’s team and make them more like the women’s team:

  1. Enforced off-seasons – CA already have the option to disallow players from playing in T20 leagues if they think it will interfere with their representative duties. I think CA (and player managers) can go further and require all players to have time off between tours and seasons. They should also look at how many games they’re trying to cram in each year and reduce them so that players are physically and mentally fit. I love my cricket but I’ve switched off from the men’s game because there are way too many games and series to try to keep up with now.
  2. Community work and charity work – Rather than just making players available for state and club duty each summer, they should be required to be available for much more charity and community work. This could be done during their off-season. Plugging things for sponsors is all well and good, but it’s the grassroots that matter most for a sustainable future in cricket, and CA could do well to get our top players to spend more time with those toiling away each week for the fun of it to keep them grounded. And finally,
  3. Semi-professionalism until players reach their mid-20s – Holding down other jobs and/or study early in their careers means players don’t get caught up in a cricket bubble so early. Steve Smith and many other young players who were pipped early for elite sides have suffered from this problem. When all you know is cricket, you don’t have any other context outside of sport for moral and ethical dilemmas, or for success and failure. Also, when you have a second career/job option to fall back on, it means the decision to train and play hard to reach the top levels of cricket is much more worth it.

So before you switch off from Australian cricket because you think the men aren’t redeemable (we disagree on that point if that’s what you think), start watching the women’s game. I will absolutely guarantee they’ll restore your faith in cricket in this country.

And if you have kids who love cricket, you need look no further for role models than our women’s cricketers.

They’ve played in obscurity for so long that it’s now their time to be elevated to our country’s favourite sporting team. (Along with the Matilda’s – but I’ll leave that for another post).

By the way, I reckon Meg Lanning’s got the best job in Australia.


Want to support the Aussie women’s cricket team? You can follow them on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. And look up your favourite players on your preferred social media platform. They’re fantastic value.

Second Ashes Test Wrap Up

Yesterday marked the end of the Adelaide test match, which was all but over for England on the second day when the Aussies declared with over 500 runs on the board.

It was great to see us finally get passed the early wobbles, and while Warner holed out again, he was on fire. I love watching him bat, and he’s the type of batsman that either gets out early or goes on to get a big score, and no matter which it is, he’s entertaining to watch.

On the bowling side, it was hard to pick a stand-out. Johnson again played havoc with the English heads, bowling fast and mean. Siddle, Harris and Lyon all played their parts, even though they didn’t all get the wickets they deserved. Watson and Smith also played cameos with the ball, and did well to tie the English down while our pacemen had a break.

It seems the English batsmen just can’t cope with the pace and bounce of our pitches. I’m not entirely sure why they’re not taking a leaf out of our play book and doing the same thing to us. I’m really looking forward to seeing how our quicks go on the Perth pitch, which is traditionally fast and full of bounce.

One thing that bothered me about the commentary during the match was a comment about Watson not contributing to the team. At current, he looks like a man who feels like every one else thinks he’s over stayed his welcome, particularly when he gets out. He’s had a lean series so far with the bat, with his highest score of 51 coming in the first innings in this test. He hasn’t been used with the ball much but he had figures of 1 for 0 (1 wicket for no runs) off 3 overs in the first innings, and 0 for 6 off 6 overs in the second. His economy alone when he’s bowling is a fantastic contribution. That’s exactly what you need from a part-time bowler, which he’s become over the last few years. And since when was 51 runs not a contribution in any innings?

Even though I was excited that we’re that much closer to bringing the Ashes home after the Adelaide win, I’m a little disappointed that we can’t seem to keep our mouths shut. I’m all for banter on the field, and I know I said in my last wrap-up that England give as good as they get (especially Broad, Anderson and Prior), but when we were looking like winning late on the fourth day, I really don’t know why Johnson and Haddin felt like they had to rub it in.

I saw Broad go after Johnson at the close of play on day 4, and I think that was uncalled for, but I think we really should be concentrating on winning matches instead of stirring up the opposition when we’re so far ahead of them both technically and mentally.

I’ve read on some of the news blogs that the reporting of the Stokes/Johnson clash has embarrassed both camps, and I really hope we can all go to Perth with clear heads and better manners. By all means, banter away, but the players have to remember that they’re not playing in a bubble, and the cameras are everywhere.

Having said all of that, bring on Perth. If England found it hard to play against our quicks on a batting pitch like Adelaide, I can’t wait to see how they go on a bowling pitch like Perth.

 

The Ashes – First Test Wrap-up

Balance has returned to my world, thanks to the Aussies’ thumping First Test win against England on the weekend.

After our dismal first innings batting performance, improved only by Brad Haddin’s and Mitch Johnson’s partnership, I thought ‘Here we go again’. And while we still have questions to answer in the top order, what really impressed me was the fact that our bowlers stood up to be counted. They worked as a team throughout the test match, and though Mitch Johnson failed to find his mojo early, he certainly had it in spades by our second innings in the field.

In all honesty, Mitch Johnson wouldn’t have been in my team. In the past, though he can be a firebrand (as he was in this match), he’s been too inconsistent. When you put him up against Siddle and Harris, who can both consistently hit a five-cent coin on pin-head, Johnson can be wayward and unpredictable. And though he started off in a familiar fashion – spraying balls wide and down leg-side and misusing bouncers – he didn’t take long to come into his own in this match.

His bowling style was suited to the Gabba pitch, and I’m glad we have some menace back in our bowling stocks.

Michael Clarke captained extremely well in this match. I particularly liked how he would chop and change bowlers whenever he thought it necessary instead of leaving any of them on for too long to try to play themselves in. He also played a fantastic knock in the second innings along side Dave Warner to break the hearts of the English bowlers.

What’s great to see is that a team previously (seemingly) acting like individuals is starting to play as one unit. Everyone’s bound to have a bad game at some stage, and in the past, that meant the rest of the team could crumble around them. Now, however, our batsmen stride to the crease with confidence, looking to score runs, and our bowlers work in tandem, harassing England’s batsmen with Clarke setting aggressive fields, looking for wickets.

I’m looking forward to seeing how the game progresses in Adelaide, as it’s historically been a wicket for batsmen. Our bowlers will have to be tighter in order to not let England get away too early, particularly if they bat first. I’ll also be interested to see if the selectors stick with the same team all round. Barring injuries, the only change I could see would be to rest Ryan Harris so we have him fit for Perth. As to who would replace him, I’d love to see James Pattinson back, but any one of Mitch Starc, Jackson Bird or Pat Cummings would be a fine replacement for Harris.

As for our batting, I don’t think there’s any need to make any changes. We need to allow the boys some confidence in their positions. We’ve seen how the axe hanging over his head affected Phil Hughes – before he was dropped the last time, he always seemed to play like a man in his last match. That’s not how you want players preparing mentally.

As for the latest sledging controversy, I think Clarke’s been hard done-by with his 20% match fee fine. I don’t condone what he said, but as with everything, it’s one line taken out of context of what appeared to be a very heated exchange. And don’t for a minute think Jimmy Anderson hadn’t given as much as he got.

The thing that disappoints me though is our media throwing these things out of proportion, and not backing our own team. England are in our back yard now, playing in our conditions. You don’t go to someone else’s house disrespecting their stuff and expect to get away with it. I have no doubt our boys would have copped a lot of lip from a chirpy and over-confident England team when they were on top in the previous series.

The should expect nothing less from us when they come to our house.

 

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