Hughes takes time out from cricket camp in Warrnambool to back national rotation policy for bowlers

FORMER Australian spearhead Merv Hughes has hit back at criticism of Australia’s pace-bowling rotation policy.

Hughes, in Warrnambool as part of a Shaun Brown Cricket Camp yesterday, said Test selectors were doing the right thing by resting frontline wicket takers.

The policy has come under the spotlight again following the decision to rest in-form Mitchell Starc for the Boxing Day Test in Melbourne, in favour of Jackson Bird.

Starc returned as part of an unusual four-pronged pace attack for the Sydney Test a fortnight ago.

Hughes, who served as an Australian selector between 2005 and 2010, said criticism of the policy failed to take into account players’ loaded schedules.

“I absolutely agree with it. The players are Australia’s biggest assets,” he said.

“People have said it didn’t happen in my day, but we played six months in a year and had six months off.

“These guys play 12 months of the year. It has nothing to do with their workload in a six-week period.

“There has been a lot of conversation and negative discussion about how selectors have gone about it in the last six weeks.

“But looking forward you’ve got India in India, England in England and England here.”

Hughes also dismissed a suggestion from another former Australian paceman, Brett Lee, that the policy devalued the honour of wearing the baggy green.

Lee said that he had to “work my absolute butt off” to get into the Test team and when he succeeded, “I knew I’d earned it”.

But Hughes said Lee, who played 76 Tests and 221 One-Day Internationals for Australia, could have extended his career had the rotation policy been in place. “If the rotation had been in when he played he would’ve played a lot more cricket,” he said.

“I think it’s a slap in the face to everyone who has played in the last four months. The big thing is guys that play deserve to be there.

“Jackson Bird has deserved to be there, Mitchell Starc has deserved to be there, Peter Siddle.”

The Shaun Brown Cricket Camp featured 54 juniors aged between seven and 15 completing drills to teach them about Test, one-day and Twenty20 cricket.

The camp started at Russells Creek’s Mack Oval yesterday and will continue today.

Hughes said Australian cricket was developing its talented juniors better than ever before.

“The young guys in country Victoria have more opportunities now with all the pathways and junior development programs,” he said.

“You can argue Twenty20 has stolen the limelight but I think kids and parents have got to understand that you have to have the foundation.

“We see Davey Warner come on to the scene and he hits the ball everywhere and people get captivated by that.

“But they don’t notice how many dot balls he faces. That’s what makes him a dangerous player.”

Merv Hughes offers bowling technical assistance to 10-year-old cricketer Jack Trollope.

Merv Hughes offers bowling technical assistance to 10-year-old cricketer Jack Trollope.