Where the Aussies get it wrong

 Neil Manthorp  – 10/12/2001

Whether it’s practise facilities, preparation techniques, domestic playing structures or even their psychological approach, it becomes galling to hear how much better the Aussies are than the rest of the world. Well, they don’t get everything right.

In time-honoured tradition the Australian 12th man during a Test is fully fledged member of the Test team ind remains with the team throughout the match. He is paid a full match fee and is involved in every aspect of the match from team meetings to a share of the bonus pool.

Infact, Queensland seamer Andy Bichel received an astonishing A$33,000 for his three consecutive 12th man appearances in the just completed series against New Zealand. On top of that, Bichel automatically qualified for an ACB contract after his three ‘Tests’. In South Africa a player also qualifies for a UCB contract after three Tests or six one-dayers – but only if he plays!

So Bichel collected A$33,000 for keeping the Gatorade cool and another A$90,000 for the minimum contract. Nice work if you can get it.

The money is only aspect of the problem, however. Actually, some people may argue that it is only right and fair that the 12th man is paid (although a full match fee is surely excessive!).

The main problem the Australian selectors are facing ahead of the Adelaide Test is that, should leg spinner Stuart MacGill not play, the team will have to endure the prospect of sitting in – or returning to – a dressing room containing a man many of them can’t stand.

Shane Warne, for example, can’t stand MacGill and doesn’t care who knows it. But with no flexibility in the Australian 12th man system there is nothing anyone can do about it. Ha! Ha! Imagine the atmosphere if the match gets tense. What a laugh. It makes a change to see the Australians taking aim at their own feet and pulling the trigger.

In South Africa there is plenty of flexibility. Boeta Dippenaar and Jacques Rudolph have both been introduced to international cricket as 12th men but, similarly, a youngster on the playing staff of the host union has also done the job when the 12th man was better served playing a domestic match.

Good to see we can still lead the way with common sense in some things.

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