By Lee McDonald
Last week, Cricket Australia announced John Inverarity as its new National selector. The new full-time role was recommended by the Argus Review and replaces the part-time chairman of selectors role occupied by Australian Andrew Hilditch.
The appointment of Inverarity to head the five-man selection panel was somewhat of a surprise, as to most people, the man they call “Invers” is a bit of an unknown entity. In order to help educate the masses, I thought I’d piece together all of the key details you may or may not know about the new overlord of the Australian national team.
John Inverarity was born in January 1944 – for those of you playing along at home, that makes him a sprightly 67 years old – and is a former captain of Western Australia. He played 223 first-class matches, including six Tests for Australia. He was a right-hand batsman who drifted anywhere from opener to the lower middle-order and a handy left-arm orthodox spinner. Inverarity was not quite good enough, but better than average in scoring 11,777 first-class runs at 35.90 and taking 221 first-class wickets at 30.67.
Probably fuelling much of Inverarity’s anonymity amongst the Australian public is the fact that five of the six Test Matches he featured in were part of a drawn series in England. His sole Test match at home came against the West Indies at the Gabba during the 1968-69 Australian summer. There is no truth to the rumour that his lack of home Test was due to him experiencing an allergic reaction to the sun that turned his hair silver.
Despite his lack of Test match pedigree, as the numbers above suggest, Inverarity had a long and successful state cricket career. He captained Western Australia for five years and won the Sheffield Shield four times during that period. This has lead many to profess that Invers is a born leader, insightful cricket theorist, and a great communicator.
Since ending his playing days, although he has had stints as coach of both Warwickshire and Kent in English county cricket, Inverarity has mainly focused on his career in education. This includes a period where he was Headmaster at Hale School in Perth. However, the fact that he is not a career cricket man is seen as a positive. Cricket Australia CEO James Sutherland is quoted in the official press release regarding Inverarity’s appointment as saying: “His achievements outside cricket as an exceptional educator of young people was a significant value-add.”
This skill of cultivating of young minds is certainly transferable to the National Selector role but the people at Cricket Australia who appointed Inverarity appear to have overlooked the reports that he was a militant headmaster. Those reports rang true when, in an attempt to assert his new found authority, Inverarity’s first order of business was to decree that anyone in the Australian cricket team with a visible tattoo had to scrub it off with sandpaper if they wanted to stay in the side. In reaction to this, Mitchell Johnson went to his room and cried for two straight days. Though it is possible the two events could be unrelated.
For the most part Inverarity’s appointment has been praised by the Australian media. However, there have been small pockets of the press that have criticised the appointment based on Inverarity’s age. Sixty-seven is seen as an age more for sitting in the members with tea and scones, rather than traversing the country assessing and nurturing cricket talent.
It must be said that John Inverarity will not be the great saviour of the Australian cricket team. But maybe, just maybe, with all his experience, he will be a cool and learned cricketing man to shepherd the side through some turbulent times.
(Lee McDonald is a stodgy opening batsman and competent captain for the 3rd XI of his local cricket club in an “Almost beers on the field” league. He writes about cricket to get his mind off his batting. The above article is reproduced with permission from AlternativeCricket.com where it was first published. AlternativeCricket.com is currently developing a scholarship for young Afghan cricketers. You can follow them on Facebook (facebook.com/alternativecricket) and Twitter (twitter.com/altcricket)