What future Aust sport?
By ADAM WRATTEN
AUSTRALIAN coach John Buchanan should be axed, the Super Series is doomed to fail and cricket needs a re-structure at the grass-roots level, according to former Test star Greg "Fat Cat" Ritchie.
Ritchie delivered his brutally frank assessment of the national game yesterday prior to being the guest speaker at the inaugural Salt Surf Life Saving Club's sportsman's lunch.
He believes Australia is wearing thin of quality bowlers and has not addressed the technical problems with misfiring batsmen and fielders highlighted in the recent Ashes defeat.
"(We have) still got problems with dropped catches and problems with the techniques of the batsmen which aren't being addressed by the people I believe should be addressing it, namely the coach," Ritchie said. "Without Warne we look very ordinary (in the bowling stakes) and when McGrath goes our resources will be even worse.
"My thoughts on the matter are it's time for a change."
He said supporters, who were still "smarting" after the Ashes shambles, would find it hard to get behind the Super Series.
"They're wonderful players (the World XI), but I don't think Australians will embrace a neutral side. We tend to want to fight a common enemy," Ritchie said. "The West Indies will generate more interest than the World team this year."
He said the game needed to be re-organised at the top level with Test players ordered to play more club cricket.
"I was appalled the other day (when) I saw Test cricketers jumping up and down with delight and doing a big promotion about the fact they were playing a game of club cricket," Ritchie said.
"Where has our cricket in this country gone when our best cricketers feel it's the club's privilege to have them playing.
"I can remember in years gone by, I considered it a privilege to play for my club and it was the basis of why Australian cricket was so strong in the world.
"The blokes playing at a grassroots level are not exposed to international cricketers. How can they learn? I learnt my cricket by playing against Geoff Thompson, Alan Border and other Test performers as a club player as a 17-year-old."
WALLABY coach Eddie Jones is the best man to lead Australia into the 2007 World Cup, rugby great Tim Horan said yesterday.
Horan dismissed speculation that it was time Jones and his skipper George Gregan were axed as the Wallabies prepare to reclaim the sport's biggest prize in France two years from now.
He backed Gregan to quieten his critics on the Wallabies' upcoming European tour.
"I think George showed against South Africa in Perth and the All Blacks in New Zealand that he still has what it takes at that level," Horan said. "It depends on how his form goes, if he plays well and warrants selection he will be treated as any another player."
He said emerging scrumhalf Matt Henjak was among a younger crop of players that should be developed on the upcoming tour.
"It's important we get the right balance between experience and younger players," Horan said.
"This tour is an opportunity for us. We are two years out from a World Cup and we need to see how they (the younger players) will perform. They have got four games over there. If they lose all four, it's not a disaster, you would rather those four games now than lose a quarter or semi-final of a World Cup."