Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Short Pitch: Squeezing responsibility from stones

Brad Haddin's second wind seems less gusty than his first.  During his near-game winning innings on Saturday and Sunday, the Australian vice captain batted with a responsibility often lacking during his first tenure in the Australian side and during his initial stint as the national team's vice-captain.

The tweet above is absolutely correct: Haddin batted with a responsibility and dedication notably lacking in antipodean cricket over the past two years.

It was a product of a man of pride, vintage and one who aspires to cricket like Ashes series above all else.  It was also the result of responsibility earned and logically bestowed, rather than endowed with hope.  Placing his faith in the wrong people led to Mickey Arthur's downfall, not vague implications of racial discrimination (though in all honesty his nationality probably didn't help).

As Australian cricket attempts to wander from the wilderness, hope - and therefore responsbility - has been placed in promise rather than runs or personality.  Arthur installed the likes of David Warner as cornerstones for the future and was repaid with bar fights and homework-gates, the symptoms of players who have taken opportunity for granted.

After being (deservedly) dropped, be assured that Haddin - who should (deservedly) suspect that Matthew Wade is now Australia's superior batting 'keeper - now takes nothing for granted.  Similarly, post-censure James Pattinson.  One can suspect that the likes of Watson, Warner, Phil Hughes and even Usman Khawaja could have been seen as expectant rather than determined in years past.

The secret to inspiring responsibility is not to bestow it arbitrarily, but to encourage players to seek it out.  If Darren Lehmann has indeed figured this out, Australia will automatically become a far more fearsome proposition.

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