Leaders: Michael Clarke with ex-captains Mark Taylor, left, and Steve Waugh. Photo: Reuters
Former Test captain Mark Taylor, back at Cricket Australia as a board member, said Michael Clarke’s squad must use the next two weeks leading into the opening Ashes Test to foster a winning team spirit.
Taylor is Cricket NSW’s independent member on the CA board after former state chairman Harry Harinath resigned from his posts at the end of last season. He conceded an important part of his role was to oversee the rebuilding of the national team.
”Don’t get me wrong , I think we can do it,” said Taylor. ”But they’re going to have to get together over the next two weeks and forge a better team feeling that’s currently there at the moment.
On the front foot: Mark Taylor on the 1989 Ashes tour. Photo: Ben Radford/Allsport
”These next two weeks are crucial, I really hope the players get a feel for where they’re at – who’s going to bat where, who has the job of opening, who’s going to bat at four, five and six because at the moment I don’t know who that is going to be.
”Australia [in its two tour matches against Somerset and Worcestershire] has to get that right so hopefully by the first Test those people who are in the 11 feel reasonably comfortable and they go out and give it their best chance.
”It would only take someone like a Shane Watson, who has been struggling lately, and there’s been a lot of discussion about Shane and where he’s at and his leadership in the team. If he can go out on the first day at Trent Bridge and makes a hundred, things could change very quickly because he’ll feel comfortable, the team will feel comfortable and you never know where you go from there because we have the bowlers who can win the Test matches.”
Taylor said the issues being reported in the media were nothing new. He said the only difference between his era to now was the saturation coverage of cricket.
”You don’t like to hear these things but you have to look at it from a bigger picture,” he said. ”There is much more reporting these days on issues that happen off the field. I look back to my playing days and there were times when you didn’t like a player in the team – I’m not sure if you had a swing at him – but you had arguments with players.”
Taylor’s return to the board coincides with a time when the national team, once the world’s benchmark, is struggling but has commanded a multi-million dollar broadcast deal.
”There’s a bit of doom and gloom about the way the team played in the Champion’s Trophy but with three games, and one washed out, it’s not a reflection of where Australian cricket is at,” said Taylor. ”Australian cricket looks very healthy to me, it’s signed a television deal that provides funds and it also allows for cricket to grow and break into new markets.”
Taylor is back with CA with a host of issues in his notebook, including:
HIS ROLE AS A MENTOR
I’m always available, I speak to Michael Clarke at regular intervals and Michael has asked me to call him and chat with him whenever I have something to add and I’ll continue to do that. I’ll do that with any player and while I don’t think it’s part of being a director it’s something I like to do because I watch a lot of cricket.
There’s strong guidelines. Perhaps, fortunately for me, it happened just before I came back on the board and I’m sure it was discussed at length. I think his penalty was strong, quite harsh but fair. It’s cost him a Champions Trophy, he’ll have no cricket leading up to the first Test and no one seems to know whether he’ll play or not. David would’ve known he did the wrong thing. It’s been handled and hopefully he’s learned from it.
THE GAME TODAY
Australian cricket’s mantra is to be the nation’s favourite sport and there’s indicators that suggest that’s the case. The only way to stay the favourite is to ensure you’re a sport for every Australian including indigenous children, kids of Chinese descent, English, Irish or whatever. We have to give everyone the opportunity to be involved whether as a player or spectator. That’s Cricket Australia’s goal and it’s certainly mine.
THE BATTING CRISIS
At a national team level we need to look at our batsmen. No matter what happens in Australia – there’s always going to be good times and bad – we’ve always produced good batsmen because we have such a vast country and different wickets. When I look at state level, we don’t have the depth of batting and that must be improved.
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