Sydney: To help revive the Australian Test team’s fortunes which is on a downward slide, Queensland captain James Hopes has appealed for the retention of older players in Sheffield Shield cricket.
Voted the players’ association’s shield player-of-the-year, 32-year-old Hopes made a strong case for veterans at a time when Cricket Australia has pursued a policy of encouraging younger state squads.
Hopes said veterans were needed as mentors to the new breed as Australia looks to rebuild its Test status after the Ashes series disaster.
Earlier, skipper Ricky Ponting had said that the biggest problem facing the Australian cricket team is the falling standard of Sheffield Shield.
Ponting had a Shield batting average of 57.6, after 29 matches, when he earned Test selection just before his 21st birthday.
He said the lack of young players with similarly compelling figures signposted a problem with how they are coached.
“The biggest thing I’m worried about is how much of the long version of cricket kids are playing these days. It’s no coincidence to me that some of the techniques you see in state cricket are nowhere near what they need it to be to play Test cricket,” he added.