Aussies set for Ashes overhaul

Former Australia captains form triumverate charged with reversing trend of Test defeats to bitter rivals England.

    Australia were regarded by many as the best Test side of all time under Steve Waugh's captaincy [GALLO/GETTY]

    As the limited-overs Cricket World Cup continues in South Asia, cricket chiefs in Australia are taking emergency action after losing three of the past four Ashes Test series to England.

    Former Australia captains Allan Border, Mark Taylor and Steve Waugh will join a review panel charged with finding ways to make the national team more competitive following their latest humbling defeat to England.

    The English retained the urn after handing out three innings defeats in the five-Test series that ended in January, stunning the national side and sparking calls by media and pundits for an overhaul of the game's administration.

    The panel would be chaired by prominent businessman Don Argus, a former chairman of resources giant BHP Billiton, with former International Cricket Council and Australian Cricket Board chief Malcolm Speed deputy chairman.

    'Not about individuals'

    "I do want to stress that this review is not about individuals," CA chairman Jack Clarke said in Melbourne on Thursday.
     
    "It's about setting up processes, structures, systems to give Australian cricket the best chance of sustained future success. It will not be a witch-hunt.

    "We normally do a review anyway, but not such a high-profile review. We haven't done it for some time.

    England captain Andrew Strauss with the urn after winning the latest Ashes series [GALLO/GETTY]

    "Australians don't like losing, I don't like losing either I've got to say.
     
    "And I think to lose the Ashes twice in a row in Australia – and we lost it pretty badly – I think any corporate business, whether it be a sporting business or whatever should look at its systems at some stage.

    "There's no point sneaking behind a bush to do this, we'd much sooner be up front and tell the public what's going on."
     
    Border, who took over from Kim Hughes in 1984/85, helped Australia turn their fortunes around after a lean patch in the early and mid-80s, before handing the reins over to Taylor who cemented Australia's status as the world's top Test side throughout the 1990s.

    Waugh carried on Taylor's success from 1998/99, captaining a team many regarded as one of the best of all time, while leading Australia to a record streak of 16 Test victories before his retirement in 2004.

    Although enjoying initial success under current captain Ricky Ponting, Australia have struggled to replace a golden generation of players including bowling greats Shane Warne and Glenn McGrath, who retired in 2007.

    The team has slumped to fifth in the Test rankings, but are still holding onto their top ranking in one-day cricket and are in the process of trying to defend their World Cup title in the subcontinent.
     
    Clarke denied the review was a concession that the game's administrators had failed to manage Australia's transition.

    Prudent

    "I don't think it's an admission of anything. I think it's just prudent corporate practice whether you're running a cricket organisation or running BHP, to be quite frank."

    "At no time in history have we had so many great players leave at once. Australia's been in this place before, but has always got out of it.
     
    "We want to make sure we get out of it very quickly and have a rosy future."

    The panel's findings were expected to be passed onto the board in the second half of 2011, Clarke said, adding that separate reviews into the governance of the game and into CA's finances would be carried out concurrently.

    Australia's struggles in the Test arena have seen pundits and former players line up to criticise the game's custodians over issues ranging from team selection to talent development.

    England won back the Ashes in 2005 after a lengthy drought, but were whitewashed 5-0 in Australia 18 months later.

    They regained the urn at home in 2009 before stunning Australians with a 3-1 win Down Under in 2010/11.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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