Denis Pagan, Coach of North Melbourne’s Team of the Century, was a man well known for his no nonsense approach. There is no better illustration of this fact than a quote that is often attributed to him by his Premiership winning players. “Don’t piss on my back and tell me it’s raining,” he would succinctly bellow at any of his players who tried to pull one over him. It was a quote that sprung to mind again this week when the Australian selectors named their XI for the First Test against Pakistan in Dubai.
“He’s (Glenn Maxwell) had some good periods over the last 12 months or so, I obviously wasn’t in the chair after last year’s selection, but a lot has happened, they’ve been on a few tours last summer and we need more hundreds from him, pretty much simple as that.
Australian Coach Justin Langer – SEN RADIO September 2018
It is fair to say that Langer’s position on this one is pretty clear and easy to understand. Maxwell, who had the best average of the top ten scorers in the 2017-18 Sheffield Shield, does not turn his starts into 100’s often enough for the Australian Coach’s liking. Nonetheless, Langer elaborated further. “He just wasn’t picked in the test team for two tests against Pakistan and the reason for that, as I’ve spoken to him about, we need guys who can score hundreds in the Australian test team elevating the level of expectation of what it takes to wear a baggy green cap.”
A quick look at Maxwell’s conversion rate in First Class Cricket seems to support Langer’s assessment. The Victorian has scored just seven hundreds from 100 First Class Innings at a far from impressive rate of one every 14.3 Innings. Given Langer’s explanation of Maxwell’s omission “elevating the level of expectation of what it takes to wear the baggy green cap” it would be fair to assume the three debutants named in the First Test would have more impressive conversion rates, wouldn’t it? If you believe that, you might be in for a nasty surprise about that rain on your back.
Marnus Labuschagne: Four Hundreds from 67 Innings or One every 16.75 Innings.
Aaron Finch: Seven Hundreds from 126 Innings or One every 18 Innings.
Travis Head: Seven Hundreds from 130 Innings or One every 18.57 Innings.
Hang on, what? Maxwell has been left out because he doesn’t score enough 100’s and the three guys brought in are worse than him at scoring 100’s against the red ball? More surprising than the Australian Selectors explanations failing under any kind of scrutiny is the fact that we continue to be surprised by it. Last Australian summer Maxwell, an incumbent in the Test team, was left out of the Ashes Series because his form in the Sheffield Shield wasn’t good enough for selection, despite his replacement not performing as well as him. It is a history of consistent inconsistency that frustrates some fans as much as Maxwell’s lack of hundreds seems to frustrate selectors more than other players inability to convert as often as he does.
Given that they are liable for the slings and arrows that come their way on the back of the teams results, it is without question that the selectors should pick or omit whoever they see fit. They do however owe players and fans better consideration than they are showing them. Its time the selectors stopped telling us that its rain trickling down our backs.
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