Friday, June 29, 2012

Discards Deserting the Blues Ship

It's been a busy 24 hours in New South Wales Cricket, with three of its recent Australian cast-offs deciding to test the waters in different states in the 2012/13 domestic season.

Phil Hughes, the much maligned former opening batsman, has decided to throw his lot in with South Australia for the next three seasons.
On the face of it, it isn't a bad decision. He has a good record at the Adelaide Oval, which possesses a flat batting track and narrow square boundaries that will accommodate his penchant for playing square of the wicket. He will play all forms of the game, and will no doubt be groomed for a role as a senior player along the way. He will join other former New South Welshmen like Daniel Christian, Tom Cooper and Aaron O'Brien. No doubt he will feel some of the pressure will be relieved by leaving his home state, given the number of players pushing for top order positions in the New South Wales squad, that even despite the retirements of Simon Katich and Phil Jaques. The Redbacks have been looking for an opening batsman for a couple of years with minimal success. All in all it looks to be a good decision for both sides.

Another of those top order batsmen and former Test player, Usman Khawaja, has apparently agreed to terms to move north to play with Queensland. On the surface this appears more unusual than the Hughes decision. Khawaja has enormous support still, despite failing to nail down his Test position, and his move can only come down to one motivating factor. Queensland no doubt was looking for another top order batsman, as much in the same way as South Australia they have searched without success for a long term solution there. Again, Khawaja is assured of playing all forms of the game in his adopted state, and follows the path of Peter Forrest from last season, a decision that has led to forcing his way into the Australian ODI team.

Nathan Hauritz is a native Queenslander who travelled to New South Wales to revitalise his career, a move that saw him return to Australian colours for a couple of years. Selectors indecision and injury helped to cost him his place in the team, and since his return he has had plenty of competition to get game time for New South Wales, even despite his improved batting. Last season he played for the Brisbane Heat in the KFC Big Bash, and with Queensland still not able to confirm a regular spinner (though to me Cameron Boyce is one of the best prospects around) he obviously feels a return to Queensland will give him the game time he needs. No doubt he will be the number one spinner in the 50 over format, but will he be able to play in front of Boyce in the four day variety?

All of this has been brought to the forefront by the fact that Australian contracts have been cut from 25 to just 17 this season. That means players like Hughes, Khawaja, Steve Smith and Brett Lee, just to name a few, suddenly are back on State contracts as their main income, which means that New South Wales have something like 16 current or former national players in their squad. That means the dollars have to be squeezed out to everyone. These three players have obviously decided that not only will their career get a boost by changing states, that their back pockets will as well.

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