Matthew Hayden has questioned the culture of the national team, arguing Cricket Australia has been “led around by the players”.
Australian Test great Matthew Hayden has questioned the culture of the national men’s cricket team, arguing that Cricket Australia has been “led around by the players”.
Earlier this week, CA confirmed that several high-profile players would be rested from next month’s historic white-ball tour of Pakistan. Pat Cummins, David Warner, Mitchell Starc and Josh Hazlewood were not named in Australia’s 16-player squad for three ODIs and a T20 against Pakistan, which will occur after a three-Test series in the Asian nation.
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The one-day tour of Pakistan coincides with the opening stages of the Indian Premier League, which commences on March 26, but Australia’s contracted players will not be permitted to take part in the marquee T20 series until their annual leave period begins on April 6.
Last year, seven Australian cricketers withdrew from white-ball tours of the West Indies and Bangladesh following the cataclysmic first leg of the 2021 IPL.
Meanwhile, Justin Langer’s highly-publicised resignation sparked debate on whether players had too much influence over CA Board decisions.
The coronavirus outbreak has forced players into countless biosecurity bubbles over the past 18 months, and the packed schedule left many high-profile cricketers fatigued and frustrated.
But Hayden, who served as an assistant coach for Pakistan during last year’s T20 World Cup in the United Arab Emirates, has accused CA of letting the players “cherry-pick” which white-ball matches to take part in, arguing it will damage the team’s culture.
“When players are choosing not to play for their country it is a massive flag of concern for your high-performance set-up,’’ Hayden said, as reported by News Corp.
“I just don’t reckon it passes the pub test. The single biggest thing which ties everything together at that level is that you are all really keen to play for your country and if you haven’t got that, I actually question whether you have a high performance culture at all.
“It just makes it so hard to build all the things you are trying to have like team values, principles, giving a s*** about your mates.
“I just feel Cricket Australia is being led around by the players lately and that has created a unique set of problems.”
The former opening batter also suggested contracted cricketers should have their salary slashed if they opt out of an international series.
Hayden’s remarks come amid growing concern for the dwindling relevance of international white-ball cricket, which has seen lower crowd attendance since Fox Sports and Channel 7 secured the broadcast rights in 2018.
“You shouldn’t be able to cherry-pick when you want to play for Australia,” he said. “It doesn’t make any sense to me.
“We all know how important the IPL is and it has its window and I know it can be difficult for players and administrators to operate within the confines of modern schedules, but I still think you can’t have your cake and eat it.
“If you are unavailable to play for Australia, there has to be some accountability. You shouldn’t be paid for work you don’t do and should have to salary sacrifice.
“People will say that I played IPL which is true, but it never had an any effect on my availability playing for Australia.
“I couldn’t wait to play for Australia because I spent seven years where I couldn’t get in the bloody team.’’
Hayden, who was ruled out of a West Indies Test tour in 2008 due to an Achilles injury he sustained while representing the Chennai Super Kings earlier that year, had previously called for players to have more influence on decision-making after former Australian captain Steve Smith was rested from a one-day series against Sri Lanka in 2016.
“The players have got to actually wrestle back some of their own power from within rather than listening to your physios, your strength and conditioning coaches, your high performance manager and even your coach for that matter and actually dig in as a group and build the culture,” he told Triple M at the time.
“That’s the fabric of the baggy green, that’s what you’re passionate about, and I’m not seeing some of that at the moment and I’m disappointed.”
Speaking to reporters on Tuesday, national selector George Bailey explained that resting multi-format players was a “pragmatic” solution to their busy schedule.
“One of the things we are really keen to ensure is we have our best Australian players playing for Australia for as long as possible, medium and longer term,” he said.
“So we are constantly working with them around their own personal situations to make sure they get what they need and we can continue to get what we need.
“The NSP will continue to be quite pragmatic about how we approach each series.”
Meanwhile, Test captain Cummins rubbished claims that players were responsible for Langer’s highly-debated departure.
“Certainly our feedback was heard, as I think it should be,” he told SEN 1170 Breakfast on Friday morning.
“But to say that we are decision-makers is quite far from the truth. It’s a high-performance set-up, there’s the board that makes decisions, so of course, people within the environment get consulted, that includes senior players, staff members, which I think has always been the case.
“I think that’s the right way to do things, it’s healthy. Nothing untoward, for sure.
“It was okay, I felt for Justin as much as anyone else, but I knew when I became captain I was going to cop it for different things.
“If anything, it kind of reminded me I’ve got to look after the team and do what’s best for Australian cricket.
“All the noise and things that might come with it come from a good place, but I can’t let it affect me too much.”
The Australian Test squad will travel to Pakistan this week ahead of the first Test in Rawalpindi, which gets underway on Friday, March 4.
Australia’s tour of Pakistan
March 4-8 — First Test, Rawalpindi
March 12-16 — Second Test, Karachi
March 21-25 — Third Test, Lahore
March 29 — First ODI, Rawalpindi
March 31 — Second ODI, Rawalpindi
April 2 — Third ODI, Rawalpindi
April 5 — Only T20I, Rawalpindi