Warnie’s five rules to make cricket great again
LIKE most Australians - I am feeling very frustrated and slightly angry with the state of Australian cricket.
I believe everyone involved has lost the true sense of what's important and what has made Australian cricket great over the years.
In years gone by every country copied what Australia did on and off the field.
In the words of Donald Trump, let's make cricket great again.
Cricket Australia is in disarray - fact. CA has lost control and sight of what it was trying to achieve, to make cricket Australia's favourite sport.
That was its slogan and it was right but it has lost its way and thankfully heads are starting to roll.
The way the TV rights were handled and the disrespect shown to Channels Nine and 10 was embarrassing.
So much has happened this year, and in the past 18 months. It's like we've all been living in a nightmare and can't wake up.
This has led to on-field performances that are possibly the worst they have been in the history of Australian cricket. Look at our rankings in all formats.
Player performances with bat and ball, and the win-loss record don't make for good readings.
There is so much pressure on the players. They are wearing the heat for everything that is wrong with Australian cricket, which isn't fair.
There's a lot of talent in Australia but we are not seeing that in performances. Why?
It's very easy to tell everyone what's wrong, but we need a solution, and quickly.
I believe the wrong people have been in charge at board level. The mentality had to change, at board level and with the players. All parties needs to unite.
On the field, international players needs to play Sheffield Shield cricket. No capping games, just play. Shield players need to play grade cricket too.
Get players back at schools inspiring young boys and girls to play the great game. They have the time.
It's not true that players play more cricket now.
They travel more, and have to adapt to different forms of the game more than ever before but the number of days played, the number of balls bowled is nowhere near what it used to be. Let's stop wrapping the players up in cotton wool. Let the players play and practice as long as they want on the basics of the game. Use the 10,000 hours theory. It works.
Get the scheduling right. This is a major issue and is hard to sort, but you can't be playing Test matches in Dubai then a few days later walking out to play a one-day game in Perth.
Players need preparation. Stop the Twenty20 greed.
Pay specialist coaches properly. Get the best - Dennis Lillee, Glenn McGrath - for the Australian team. Pay Shield coaches properly so they are on a 12-month contract and can coach and develop players all year round.
The Australian Cricketers Association and CA must work together as a partnership and lose the us versus them mentality. Offer Mark Taylor the chairman's role and put Tony Dodemaide in charge of the players.
This will be a wonderful partnership and the right things will start to take shape.
Stop the silly and costly reviews. Whenever CA think things aren't working, they do another ridiculous review, and don't consult or ask the right people and the outcome - how bad everything is, players have a bad culture, we're playing bad, everything is bad - the players are continually being told how bad they are.
It's so hard for the players to perform in this environment as they prepare and walk out to play with a survival attitude.
They think they have to play in a way that CA think the public want. The players are playing scared. They should be playing with freedom, instead of always looking over their shoulder.
Yes, sport is a performance based game, but you have to be in the right mental state and an environment that lends itself to some fun gives the best chance to perform.
Not just on the field, but off it too.
We all want to see our sportspeople show their personality and that they care, so let them.
At the moment the quest to say the right thing is stronger than playing well. The players have been told no more sledging, don't stuff up and have been forced in to ridiculous statements like the "Players Pact".
What is elite honesty? Does it mean you walk if you nick it? It's nothing short of verbal diarrhoea.
They've opened themselves up to be a laughing stock around the world. How many people are sinking the boots in?
How about just playing better cricket, a brand of cricket people enjoy.
There is so much peripheral noise and unnecessary rubbish in the game at the moment, people are turning off the Australian cricket team and cricket.
Please stop trying to be something you're not. Be Australian and just play cricket, enough of the nonsense.
CHARACTER - LETS FIND SOME
Australia has always played on the edge and played with spirit. Australian sides played with character, passion and a sense of larrikin fun. Occasionally, and I must say very rarely, Australia pushed it too far. But we were still the most popular cricket team in the world because we never pretended to be something we weren't. We played the Australian way; hard and tough but above all fairly. We enforced our personalities on the game. At the moment the players are too scared to be themselves, too afraid to express themselves, to let their personalities shine on the field in case they overstep the mark. They are pretending to be something they are not. That's coming from the top. Let's see some character and passion from our players as we know they care.
PICK AND STICK AND YOU'LL GET BETTER RESULTS
The pressure is so high on the players right now. It's so hard for them, they don't want to make a mistake. When you are going out and playing for your spot all the time, you don't play with any freedom. They need to be able to take risks and be aggressive. I want the selectors to stick to a core of eight players, the ones they believe are the best, and back them. There will always be a couple of spots up for grabs, or an injury here or there. But pick your core and stick with them. Tell them you are sticking with them. They may have a few bad innings, but stick with them if you think they are the best. When you're not winning you constantly search for the right combinations. Just bat people in their right position and support them. Pick your guys, give them a proper run at it. Mistakes will happen, batsmen will play bad shots, bowlers will bowl bad balls. It's how you come back and deal with it, rather than not do it at all.
KEEP IT SIMPLE
Cricket is a very simple sport, and it's getting so complicated. I heard the most ridiculous thing the other day from a player. Every day they get up and as they go to the ground they are asked how they slept, how many hours, rate out of 10 how they are feeling. I'm all for change if its for the better. But these guys are getting told everything and being treated like children. They are not thinking for themselves in any way. No wonder there is no match awareness in the game. I hope they decide to get back to the basics. Fast bowlers go and bowl in the nets, get match-fit, get match hardened. Batsmen too. You might not look as good in your speedos, but you'll be match-fit.
I think he had some great ideas, I just don't think they were suited to cricket. He was good at thinking differently and pushing the boundaries. But doing things differently just because they haven't been done before, isn't necessarily right. And in cricket, you can't re-invent the wheel. If you want to be a better bowler, then bowl more. If you want to be a better batsman, you have to face more balls. I don't think he quite grasped what needs to be done in cricket.
LEADERSHIP IS NEEDED
Spending more money on coaches is important at Sheffield Shield and grade cricket level too. But I would be spending more money developing leadership, cricket leadership. We are searching for a real leader. Get Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor, Allan Border, guys who have been great leaders, get them involved. I'm talking about developing on-field leaders, how you get the best out of players. I believe Aaron Finch could be a good leader, if he's allowed to be. I'm not talking about the coach as a leader, and I think Justin Langer will be very good. But the captain has to be in charge, it has to be his team. I want to see the captain stand up and say "I'm in charge, this is our style of play, come with me". I want the captain to inspire the team. I don't want the coach front and centre saying what the team is doing. Give me the captain please.