The recent debate over the non-selection of Brad Haddin for the 3rd Test has shown the dissatisfaction of Boof Lehmann with Head selector Rodney Marsh.
However it is painted by way of technological incompetence, there is little doubt Boof wanted it to be made clear that he disagreed with the outcome – an outcome for which he is and was a signatory.
In my opinion, Boof has a selected the wrong issue to bring to the table for debate.
What should be in debate is the outdated and outmoded Cricket Australia (CA) selectorial system. Of course are not alone here as most, if not all cricket countries, and cricket franchises all use a similar selectorial system.
This system fundamentally sees a group of selectors presiding over who goes into and out of a team. In some cases the coach of that team sits on the selection panel; in other cases, the coach sits outside the selection panel and is communicated with by selectors about the makeup of teams but has no vote.
And of course then there is the captain who is consulted by coach and selectors.
In some cases there is a High Performance manager who will not have selectorial rights, but does exert influence into the conversations.
And other voices that can enter the selection process, at least through conversations with selectors, is the team manager, the CEO, and the odd Board member due to personal friendships.
How would Sir Alex Ferguson like this arrangement? Or Arsene Wenger? Steve Kerr Head Coach Golden State Warriors NBA Champions?
As High Performance Director for New Zealand Cricket, I took the decision to eliminate all the noise and voices that were coming into the team – at least from a formal, structural and procedural perspective. I eliminated the selectors and appointed a General Manager for National team selections.
At the same time, I developed what was the beginning stages of a National Core Skills framework so that all players, male & female, u/17 program through to opens could be assessed against. We looked to appoint a Head Coach for each program or team with no formal selection panels.
I replaced the selection panels with those people who knew more about the players than anyone else – the respective team coaches.
It was then the National Selections GM role to coordinate feedback from all the relevant coaches, based on performance and Core Skills to the team or program Head Coach. In this way, we would be able to gradually deliver an EPL or MLB approach to the development & consistent delivery of skills for NZ Cricket.
I then placed total accountability on the Head Coach for the success or other wise of the program. I was very determined to significantly increase the role and importance of the coach.
Some coaches thrived in this environment, other struggled. This was part of the platform on which I was appointed – to overhaul NZ Cricket’s High Performance system.
Unfortunately, a new CEO, along with a strident Players Association convinced the Board this was the wrong approach……………..however, that is a story for another time.
Back to CA, and Boof selecting the right issues to address.
In my time as coach of the Queensland Bulls and Cricket Australia I was fortunate to have very good people in selection roles who in the main saw eye to eye with what we were trying to achieve.
Coaching is still a relatively young profession in Australia with paid fulltime coaches only commencing in the mid-80s or later.
But as the game has advanced in so many ways – facilities, skills, support staffing, technologies, new game formats, money, and so on, the management of the onfield game is being ignored.
There is little doubt in my mind that cricket needs to move in the direction of the Head Coach becoming the Football manager’s role, taking greater control of the main team as well as the development program directly below it, commonly referred to as the “A” team program.
Such a structure should also be replicated at the national domestic competition level as these coaches become the national team’s Manager/Head Coach eyes, ears, delivery arms of Core Skills, and potential succession plan candidates
Remove the myriad of voices such as selectors who impact teams cohesion and culture.
And let coaches like Boof, get on with winning an Ashes, or at least be totally accountable for whatever the result, and not have to spend time on social media defending or explaining his actions!