It should be mandatory for all of Australia’s young talents to play in the Sheffield Shield, says Shane Warne

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Warne is concerned about Australia’s Test future

Former Australia leg-spin maestro Shane Warne believes that it should be mandatory for all of the country’s young talents to participate in the Sheffield Shield instead of allowing them to run wild and build their careers off domestic Twenty20 tournaments like the Indian Premier League (IPL).

Warne’s comments come ahead of the Champions Trophy in England next month and the first leg of the back-to-back Ashes series in July.

The former leg-spinner is concerned about the decreasing standards in Australia’s domestic circuit and feels that if youngsters start playing in the Sheffield Shield at an early age, it will hugely benefit the national team in the future.

During last season’s Sheffield Shield, there was an obvious absence of younger batsmen scoring vast amounts of runs since the top three run-scorers in the 2012-2013 season were ex-skipper Ricky Ponting, Mark Cosgrove, who has been playing first-class cricket for more than a decade and 35-year-old Chris Rogers.

With no younger batsman taking charge and forcing the national selectors to keep an eye on him, they had little choice but to include Rogers in the Ashes squad.

“I think we’ve got a lot of talent at the moment,” Warne said. “I think if we pick the right players, we stick with them, we back them, and they have to then perform and repay that faith too.

“If they don’t, well, sorry, [you’re] out. And that’s a fine balance between what’s long enough and how long do you stick with someone for. But I think we have got the talent there.

“We’ve got to get the infrastructure right at domestic level. In any good business we need those foundations to be strong at the bottom and … we’ve always prided ourselves on [the Sheffield Shield] being the best first-class cricket in the world. Now I’m not sure we still have got the best first-class cricket in the world.

“I think we have got a pretty good system, I think we have run a very tight ship. And I think we’ve got a lot of good young players. We just need to fast-track them and get them experience at domestic cricket and learn how to play the four-day game. I think if you can play the four-day game you will adapt to one-day and Twenty20, not the other way around, play one-day cricket and Twenty20s and try to adapt to four-day cricket – it’s completely different.”

The introduction of the Big Bash League (BBL) has allowed many youngsters to stamp their authority on Australia’s Twenty20 side, but with more and more youths interested in the financial gains to be made from the shortest format, Warne believes Australia are in danger of slipping further down the Test rankings, in which they currently sit in fourth place.

“I think we’ve got it there but I think it’s going to take a good 12 or 18 months,” Warne said. “We’ve got to get the structure right, we’ve got to get the process right, we’ve got to get selection right. We’ve got to get that mantra … put the fans first. Be the best players we possibly can. Be entertaining. Play with passion.

“I think the players love playing cricket for Australia. They’re passionate and they would do anything for it. I’m just not sure we’re putting the fans first. I’m not sure we’ve got the structure right, I’m not sure we’ve got the process right, and I don’t believe we’re selecting the right players.”

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