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Monday, February 04, 2008

Captain dropped

It hasn't exactly come as a surprise but Nathan Adcock has been dropped from the SA Pura Cup team:

The move had been anticipated for some time following Adcock's poor run with the bat - he averages 13.83 in first-class matches this year - but the selectors finally lost patience and left him out of the side to face Tasmania on Friday.

The Redbacks' chairman of selectors, Paul Nobes, said that Adcock remained in charge of the limited-overs outfit and the decision was purely based on his Pura Cup form rather than the players having lost confidence in him. "We pick the cricket team, then we pick the captain," Nobes told Cricinfo. "It's a theory that's been used in Australian cricket for a long time."

While it's not common, there have been times when a captain has been picked before the team, eg Bob Simpson was recalled to the Australian captaincy in the late 1970s when World Series Cricket threatened the traditional game; in 1959-60 Howard Mutton made his debut for and captained South Australia at the age of 35, and I seem to recall a time in the mid 1970s when Bob Blewett (Greg's father) was appointed captain ahead of some who thought they had better claims to both the office and to his position in the team.

Whether Adcock should have been appointed as captain in the first place is a moot point:

Eyebrows were raised when he was announced as captain in the off-season, given his struggle to nail a first team spot, and Nobes was reluctant to say when he thought he would return. "That's up to him about getting his form together and being ready to perform. We will give him opportunities to do that but it definitely goes back into his court to be able to perform.

"He still remains captain of our one-day side, because he still makes that team so it's nothing to do with anything other than form." In one-day cricket this season he averages 37.40 with the ball, at an economy of 6.23, and only 20.20 with the bat, whereas last year he was in the fifties. But he has overseen a handy run for South Australia in the FR Cup.

Whether [ replacement captain] Manou will also find the pressure of keeping, batting and captaining too much remains to be seen. His batting form has certainly picked up after he lost his position through most of last season, and he has made two of his three first-class centuries this summer.

SA's performances this season have been a hotch-potch of inconsistency. Apart from Darren Lehmann's and now Shaun Tait's retirements both batting and bowling departments, with some notable (and unexpected) exceptions, have underperformed. Contracted Australian players and spin bowlers Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey can't, as their coach Terry Jenner pointed out on tonight's ABC TV News, can't get a game, and this at a time when Australia's spin bowling resources are their weakest for many years.

It's all very well to talk, as Nobes does, if I follow his fractured English correctly, about picking the best team, but why doesn't the best team include at least one spinner? Couldn't the national selectors request that all their contracted players get as much top class cricket as possible? Even if that means letting them play for other states? Strings clearly have been pulled this year to allow Daniel Christian to transfer from NSW to SA after the start of the season. If it's OK for one, why not for others? Must as I like to see the Redbacks winning, I'm the first to concede that the needs of the national team must be paramount. Both Bailey and Cullen must be given a fair chance to show what they can do at state level and not left in limbo.

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