Former Australia ODI captain and current Tasmania batsman George Bailey is set to become the third member of the national selection panel alongside chairman Trevor Hohns and head coach Justin Langer, adding the contemporary voice that Cricket Australia has been searching for in their deliberations for the national team.
Bailey, who is widely respected in Australian cricket circles, will be a departure from tradition by taking on a selection role while still a player, though numerous cricketers have been selectors either as captain or in the summers immediately after retirement, including Hohns, Peter Taylor and Greg Chappell. It was Chappell’s retirement from his role as selector following the Ashes series this year that opened up the place taken by Bailey.
CA had previously flirted with the concept of having a current player as a selector when Hohns floated Darren Lehmann as a candidate prior to his retirement, before the concept was thwarted at board level. Usman Khawaja, the Queensland captain, spoke favourably of the prospect of choosing a current player as a selector when asked about it on Monday.
“I think there is always an option there. I think there is no one more involved and more relevant in the game than people who are actually playing the game,” Khawaja said. “I think players are one of the biggest stakeholders, sometimes the most under-utilised and undervalued stakeholders in the game. I think it’s always important to have someone in the skin of the game.”
Communication between selectors and players has improved over the years, but it is believed that the players have suggested it can get better still, something that Bailey will be keenly aware of. Equally he will bring along the perspective of a cricketer who has played more or less his entire career in the Twenty20 era, leading Australia to the global tournament in Sri Lanka in 2012 when they reached the semi-finals.
Other candidates to make the final three included the former Victoria and South Australia batsman Michael Klinger and also Greg Shipperd, presently the coach of the Sydney Sixers. Langer had also spoken positively of wanting to find a role in Australian cricket for Trevor Bayliss after the conclusion of his time as England coach this year.
“Really pleased with the people who put their hat in the ring for that role,” CA’s head of national teams Ben Oliver said on Monday. “There will be some people who are really disappointed no doubt [at missing out on the role] but they should all take great encouragement and they all have a lot to offer. Really looking forward to getting to the end of that process. Not quite there yet, but we’re not far away.
“The panel, and all three, will be responsible for all Australian men’s teams. What we’ve tried to achieve in this recruitment process is adding in some complementary skills to support Trevor and Justin, and one of those is a consideration around short-format cricket.”
Oliver explained that the national pathways manager Graham Manou, who had previously worked closely with Chappell in his role as national talent manager, would have a major linking role to keep the selectors abreast of developments in junior and pathway competitions, though like the national captains Tim Paine and Aaron Finch he will not be formally added to the panel.
“It’s important for our selection panel to be across the talent that’s emerging through domestic cricket,” Oliver said. “Graham Manou as the national talent and pathway manager has a key role to play in connecting the domestic system but certainly we’re looking for this particular role that we’re recruiting for now, to have a close connection to Graham and to our domestic teams and our domestic coaches.
“Sticking with three and Graham’s an important conduit between the panel and domestic cricket. He’s been helping throughout this period as well. At the moment sticking with three [selectors].”
Bailey has retorted to questions about bias by saying “I’m not going to pick myself”, while Paine revealed during the Gabba Test against Pakistan that he was firmly in favour of the appointment. “In last week’s Shield game he was batting at five, I was batting at seven, so we were both sitting in the change rooms and set up a mock interview,” Paine told ABC radio. “He’s ready to go, so hopefully he gets the nod, I think he’d be ideal.”