When Australia's four selectors meet in Brisbane on Wednesday to determine once and for all the team for the first Test, they may be the final selection panel ever to do so for an Ashes side walking onto the Gabba in the baggy green. Every four years, Australian players are under a harsher microscope during the Ashes than any other time and it's worth noting that this time the selection panel of interim chairman Trevor Hohns, national coach Darren Lehmann, Mark Waugh and interim selector Greg Chappell is facing equally close scrutiny.
Should the current method of selection last until 2021, it will be in defiance of the strong opinions of the Cricket Australia (CA) team performance manager Pat Howard. Among many other battles, Howard has spent much of the past six years arguing strongly that the model of a selection panel is outdated and difficult to square with the lines of accountability set out in the Argus review of 2011 that spawned his own appointment.
ESPNcricinfo understands that Howard has petitioned for the disbanding of selection panels in the form known classically to Australian cricket on a number of occasions. His preference is to replace the present model with a streamlined set-up where the national coach has the final call on any tight decision, having consulted with a national selector who is the single point of communication for the labyrinthine debates over who should be in and out.
That would look like the model adopted six years ago by New Zealand Cricket (NZC), when the former Australian coach John Buchanan was acting as the Kiwi game's impresario. "The national selection manager would operate with the head coach to form a 'two man selection panel', with the head coach of the team having the final say on debated decisions," Buchanan said in 2011.
In Buchanan's vision, a large part of the role would involve working with first-class coaches to assess leading domestic players, as well as other high-performance staff and stakeholders, including the captain.
Drawn from a background in rugby union high performance, Howard is less wedded to the concept of a selection panel than others in the national game. He is also known to favour the use of deep statistical analysis and computer-based modelling to judge the suitability of players. In that sense, Sabermetrics, the concept championed by the Michael Lewis book Moneyball, is far more in line with his thinking than the anecdotal or visual evidence compiled by selectors watching domestic matches.
Sources : news24
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