Graeme Hick is Australia Under-19's High Performance Coach © Getty Images
Graeme Hick is Australia Under-19’s High Performance Coach © Getty Images

 

By Gaurav Joshi

 

Abu Dhabi: Feb 18, 2014

 

Australia’s High Performance Coach, Graeme Hick has defended their selections in the humiliating defeat to Afghanistan in the ICC Under-19 World Cup 2014. Australia Under-19 had made three changes despite winning the first match against Namibia Under-19 by whopping margin of 101 runs. While skipper Alex Gregory’s didn’t play because of a stomach illness the other two changes seemed to indicate the rotation policy was still in place at the Under 19 level.

 

“Captain had a bad stomach, couple of guys that have brought injuries into the competition and there is only certain amount of workload that they can do building to the next part of the tournament,” said Hick

 

Further proof of the fact that Australia were still obeying the ‘rotation’ or ‘performance management’ was that the opening bowler Billy Stanlake only bowled an opening spell of four overs, in which he conceded only 11 runs, and wasn’t used again.

 

While Hick backed the captain decision stating, “That’s what the captain decided that pace is easy to hit. Also a bowler coming back with injury, even at worst or best, he would have bowled a couple more.”

 

The objective of the Under-19 World Cup is also a debatable topic with Hick stating the other reason for the said changes was the team management wanted each player in the roster to get game time.

 

“We wanted everyone to have an experience at the (Under-19) World Cup. We have [a] strong squad and we pride ourselves on that. We also felt couple of players deserved a chance to play,” Hick said.

 

When asked whether such plans put Australia’s hopes of winning the tournament in jeopardy, Hick said, “It’s the plan we have planned to play it. I understand what you are saying, but having said that we felt the squad we have got to win, we would have made two changes anyway. That was forced upon us. They didn’t seem like they were radical changes to us”.

 

Australia not only have to defeat group toppers Bangladesh on Wednesday but also hope their net run rate is substantial to ensure they progress through to the quarter-finals stage.

 

With Australia facing a tough situation, Hick was asked if Australia will still employ the strategy of playing all the members in squad or picking the best eleven.

 

“We will be playing with our best eleven. That’s what we will sit down and choose that tomorrow,” he concluded.

 

(Gaurav Joshi is an Indian-born Australian who played with Michael Clarke in his junior days. He coaches and reports for a Sydney radio station. Over the years he has freelanced for Australia Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) and is a regular on ABC cricket show Cow Corner. He is the author of the book “Teen Thunder Down Under” – The inside story of India’s 2012 U19 World Cup Triumph)