Sunday, 23 October 2011

Ex-pacer Pascoe says include players in national squads after proven domestic performances

Former Australian fast bowler Len Pascoe has cautioned Cricket Australia to include players in national squads only after they have been tried and tested in the domestic circuit.

Pascoe, who played for Australia in the 1980s, said the current sport's "conveyer belt" era meant more young guns would follow the same rapid rise as teenage NSW fast bowler Patrick Cummins, but in the long term, cricket in Australia would suffer.

Pascoe described himself as an enthusiastic supporter of baby-faced Cummins, but said due importance must be given to competitions like the Sheffield Shield.

"Because of the pressure to get younger players, [performances in] the middle-tier competitions, like the Sheffield Shield, are no longer as important. Pat Cummins is the prime example. He's only played a handful of state matches and is being looked at internationally. In the past you'd have needed at least two seasons before you'd be considered to play for Australia," the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Pacoe, as saying.

He added: "Because the demand is now there for those sort of players, they won't need to prove themselves. NSW batsman Nic Maddinson is the same - it's not as though he needs to prove himself at state cricket ... he'll get the nod [for Australia] as a result of pressures to supply players for the three forms of the game. With the three formats we're now at the conveyor-belt production stage, and the pressures to [pick players are] overriding the actual performances."

A case in point is the selection of the NSW team for the Sheffield Shield match against Victoria, which starts in Sydney on Tuesday. At full strength, the NSW squad is normally regarded as one of the strongest in world cricket, however, it has been depleted of its battalion of Australian representatives who will either be heading across the Indian Ocean to prepare for the Test series or still in South Africa with the national one-day squad.

With Doug Bollinger, Michael Clarke, Trent Copeland, Cummins, Brad Haddin, Phil Hughes, Usman Khawaja, Steve Smith, David Warner and Shane Watson all unavailable, uncapped trio Manly batsman Tim Cruickshank, Sydney University all-rounder Scott Henry and Penrith left-arm seamer Josh Lalor were last night included in the 12-man Shield squad. Young paceman Josh Hazlewood is also back in the team.

From the team that lost first-innings points to South Australia last week, Khawaja, Copeland and Hughes have been called into the Test squad, while spinner Beau Casson, who missed the majority of the match after suffering heart problems, is out. Australian Twenty20 all-rounder Steve O'Keefe, who played alongside Cruickshank for Manly against Sutherland yesterday, will lead the Blues.

"Make no bones about it, the big shows are the internationals - that's what it's all about," Pascoe said.

He added: "It's not for the marketers to promote the second-tier competition, but Sheffield Shield cricket has been damaged; it's being devalued considerably by being drained of players."

Pascoe said: "It is getting to the stage where the public aren't assessing players for themselves any more; it's like a big taxi cab rank." (ANI)

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