Game needs true believers

Chairman of selectors John Inverarity says the progidal Shaun Marsh’s return to international cricket via the 20/Twenty hit-and-swish could lead to a return in other longer forms.

Commentator James Brayshaw waxes poetical, lyrical and every other al about Glenn Maxwell’s batting ability in short forms of the game during Australia’s last one-dayer against Sri Lanka .

Marsh’s return is seen as a big deal; the Western Australian sandgroper getting his formerly ill-disciplined life back on track, and citing coach Justin Langer as a major influence.

Back on track and his reward is a 20/Twenty appearance?

Maxwell is complimented for his range of strokes and body-and-head positioning, honed from 20/Twenty and one-day appearances.

Knowing where to be and what stroke to play, according to the delivery. Skills specific to limited-overs cricket.

Like Marsh, Maxwell is an Ashes tour candidate..

All this recalls the late, great Norm O’Neill’s comment when seeing players running up hills in pre-season training: ‘‘But will it help their cover drive?’’

In the surreal world of rotating selections, what relevance has the six-or-out and ephemeral got to do with the real thing?

What sort of a trial for bigger things is 20/twenty, or Maxwell’s skills as qualification?

How would they help facing Holding-Roberts-Garner-Marshall-Ambrose-Walsh-Akram-Younis-Donald on a sticky wicket?

Or Anderson-Steyne today?

Or Swann-Panesar on a turner?

Or having to dig in for hours if the situation demanded? Extravagant styles superflous to requirements?

It’s two years since the Argus report, a report any cricket lover could have knocked over in five minutes.

They would have dashed off a note, saying the Australian structure had stood the test of time and had always been envied.

Junior competitions, leading into junior-representative and then grade cricket, where the promising youngsters could learn from old hardheads.

Next up the Sheffield Shield as a crucible, and then the international sphere for those who passed the test.

Limited-overs and 20/Twenty games as necessary commercial evils but strictly for support.

Instead, the Sheffield Shield is shunted away, often starting midweek with players flitting in an out, according to their other commitments, including 20/Twenty commitments.

The lure of overseas 20/Twenty riches outranks the shield.

There is a simple solution to this.

Current Australian-and-state contracted players should be banned from hit-and-swish competitions. There are plenty of whack merchants about to hit sixes.

This would be a restraint of trade and would never stand up in court.

Wouldn’t matter. Players who went for the money could have their cards marked.

That would sort the true believers from the chaff and have them padding up quick smart.

***

Cricket crises are of nothing compared with the disaster that has befallen Australian netball, however.

England has beaten Australia in a series for the first time in history.

Bad enough that the Poms excelled at the Olympics, hold the Ashes and won the Tour de France and just about everything else in the past year.

What humiliation next? Marbles?

Heads must roll and an Argus report is called for.

***

Nova Peris might have been a deadset freak, worldbeater, legend and icon as a sportswoman and an admirable  choice as a federal ALP senate candidate.

But there was an even bigger deadset freak, worldbeater, legend and icon Julia Gillard overlooked as a captain’s choice.

Anthony ‘Moses’ Mundine was the obvious one, regardless of the result of his coming bout against Danny Geale.

And given Mundine’s love for his people, or ‘my people’  as he calls them, the lure would have been strong.

Then again, Moses Mundine might prefer to lead his people out of the wilderness by starting his own party.

It’s still unclear if Geale qualifies as one of his people.

Should Geale win, it would be Moses Mundine magnanimity of the highest order to start his own party and have his conqueror as his deputy.

That would be a knockout.

***

When the going gets tough, the tough get going.

Before her loss to Sloane Stephens at the Australian Open women’s singles, there was the annual speculation about whether Serena Williams was the best of all time.

Well, the answer is in.

Monica Seles remains unchallenged as the world grunting champion.

Even with ankle or back injuries, Seles would have played through the pain and found a way to maintain her decibel levels.

Perpetual pretender Maria Sharapova’s effort in her semi-final? Imposter.

Also-playeds Williams and Sharapova at least settled the question about whether the likes of Margaret Court and Martina Navratilova could have competed in today’s game.

Sadly no. Barely a grunt between them.

And they called it tennis.

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