Sweeping changes in Australian cricket, a welcome relief for fans

Melbourne: Though it took eight long months after the Ashes embarrassment for the Argus review to finally hand down its verdict on what corrective action needed to be taken to improve Australia``s cricketing fortunes, the fans would be a very satisfied lot with the sweeping changes made to management, coaching and selection.

The exit of chairman of selectors Andrew Hilditch, national talent search manager Greg Chappell and coach Tim Nielsen has been welcomed for now.

According to Fox Sports, their removal hasn`t come a moment too soon.

As foxsports.com.au user Slappinjax told us: "Why did it take over half a year to determine what every Aussie cricket fan already knew in the first place?"

When news of Hilditch`s redundancy was leaked early on Friday morning, the comments from foxsports.com.au users were those of unbridled joy.

"If this is for real, then you guys have made my weekend!" Zeus was quoted, as saying, while Alan, another user, said: "I woke up and thought it was Christmas!"

Viewed in isolation, these comments seem harsh and over-the-top, according to Fox Sports.

But they gave a perfect insight into the anger and frustration in the Australian cricket community, feelings that were warranted given the past 12 months of failure.

However, angry fans haven`t triggered this dramatic shake-up. Discontent in the playing ranks, exposed by Simon Katich following his controversial sacking in June, has played a major role in the sweeping changes implemented by Cricket Australia.

All players were asked to give their frank and honest opinions as part of the Argus review and the action taken on Friday indicates they were more than happy to speak their minds.

This is as close as it gets to a total player revolt.

For the fans, the changes made are justification for a humiliating summer and the resulting months of passing the buck from administrators.

Failure isn`t something Australian cricket fans are used to. Three World Cups, almost two decades of Ashes domination and 15 years at the top has set the bar high.

But even when the inevitable fall from grace finally came, most fans were happy to accept it as long as those responsible took the blame.

They were happy when Ricky Ponting certainly put his hand up for the failure last summer, even before the Ashes urn was lost for the third time under his leadership.

Fans felt a similar admission from Hilditch was the least what they deserved when the series came to a close in Sydney in January this year.

Hilditch, however, did not accept blame and did not back down.

He said after Australia`s 3-1 Ashes defeat Down Under: "I think we`ve done a very good job as a selection panel, but the reality is we were totally outplayed. We put a side on the paddock we expected to compete really well."

Those comments were the straw that broke the camel`s back in the already strained relationship between Hilditch and Australian cricket. There was little doubt that Hilditch and his panel had made their fair share of mistakes throughout the summer.

The selections of Xavier Doherty, Michael Beer, Steve Smith and Phil Hughes were, in hindsight, horrible decisions.

The players knew it, the fans knew it and England knew it, but Hilditch refused to admit it. That infuriated fans across the country.

It was then the cricketing public took a stand; they would not rest until those responsible either admitted their faults or were made accountable.

Simon Katich`s shock axing in June - and his scathing attack on the selection panel that followed - only created a further groundswell calling for Hilditch`s head.

At the time of Katich`s sacking, 86 percent of foxsports.com.au users demanded Hilditch lose his job.

Now that the axe has finally swung, fans feel justice has been done and the future looks bright once again.


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