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“I think there is a little shift in the mindset more towards Twenty20 and the one-day game and the faster forms of the game”
Newly appointed high performance coach at the Centre of Excellence Graeme Hick has announced that the Australian batsmen need to shift their mindset from Twenty20 cricket to Test cricket if they are to have any chance of beating England when they visit the Land Down Under in November.
Even though Hick will not be working directly with the national team, he will be in charge of ensuring Australia’s future batsmen are more accredited to Test cricket as the majority of them are starting to slide towards Twenty20 cricket due to the huge financial rewards up for grabs.
Hick believes the first stepping stone is to help the batsmen keep their focus throughout long stays at the crease.
“I think there is a little shift in the mindset more towards Twenty20 and the one-day game and the faster forms of the game,” Hick told ESPNcricinfo. “I don’t know if they’re not willing, but players don’t seem to be spending as much time at the crease in the four-day games. We’re not seeing as many big scores as we used to. That’s something I need to have a look at and hopefully I can make a difference.
“In England I think maybe the younger players come through in the first-class system and play more four-day cricket. They’ve got more fixtures. Here you get your 10 Shield games and that’s it, so that may have a little bit to do with it. I just think in general, everyone is wanting everything to happen a lot quicker.”
Hick, a former England Test batsman, seems to be the perfect candidate to whip Australia’s batsmen into shape as he scored 41,112 first-class runs over a 25-year career.
He is currently 15th on England’s all-time first-class run-scorers list and is one of only eight cricketers to register a quadruple century as he smashed an unbeaten 405 for Worcestershire against Somerset in 1988.
In comparison, the Australian batsmen have definitely struggled to post high scores over the years as no batsman has scored a double century since Jason Gillespie’s magnificent 201 against Bangladesh in 2006.
“I think it’s maybe just educating them on the decisions they’re making during their innings,” Hick said. “You can certainly play both [short and long formats] quite comfortably, it’s just the decisions you choose to make during your innings. When you’re approaching 30s and 40s it’s about making sure you carry on.
“That was highlighted in this Ashes series and maybe the difference in the result was that England had the bigger innings. I’m not saying those players can’t do it, they maybe just need to look at their decision-making when they’re out there.”
Hick is also in charge of organising a national batting programme in Sydney later this month.
“That’s very exciting for me,” he said. “If I’m able to be sitting and watching a Test match in five or ten years and realise that I’ve had quite a big influence on some of the players walking out on the park, that will be great. If that is the case I’ll feel very proud of it, but at the end of the day you can only guide them and they have to do the hard work.”
Despite working for the Australians now, Hick still believes England will be a tough side to beat, especially since they managed to record a 3-0 win at home.
“I’m a little bit surprised by one or two of the comments that have come out from the Australian team, because at the end of the day England scored more runs and won the series 3-0,” Hick said. “That was without all their batsmen firing. There might be a bit of banter going around pre-Ashes, sowing a few seeds there. Cook, Pietersen and Trott didn’t really fire – KP scored the one hundred but he wasn’t at his best. That could be worrying for Australia.”