Australia’s selectors have taken yet another left turn this summer, recalling Cameron White for his first ODI appearance in nearly three years, after the former national Twenty20 captain was highly critical of recent policies favouring youth over performance.
Having dropped Glenn Maxwell and Matthew Wade in large part to a spate of Australian middle order collapses in 2017, selection chairman Trevor Hohns and his panel lost their first batting preference when Chris Lynn pulled out of the limited-overs squad to face England due to a calf strain.
Rather than recalling Maxwell, or going with the younger D’Aarcy Short, they have returned to White, who last played in the lead-up to the 2015 World Cup, and has been extremely consistent for the Melbourne Renegades. “He’s in very good form as his figures demonstrate, he’s playing very well,” Hohns said. “He’s one of the leading run-scorers in the BBL, he’s experienced, he’s a very smart cricketer and he’s a good fielder. He ticks all the boxes for what we need at this stage.”
White’s scores of 79*, 51, 3, 49*, 35* and 68* for the Renegades followed innings of 66, 19* and 82 in two Sheffield Shield appearances, while he had made 199 runs at 49.75 in four Domestic One-Day Cup appearances at the outset of the season. However, he has in recent times been on the fringes of the Victorian squad, playing far less consistently than Maxwell, and had widely stated his belief that his international days were over. In many ways, the selection of White from the edges of the Victorian set-up mirrors that of Tim Paine when he was not keeping wicket for Tasmania.
In addition to thinking he was no longer going to be considered for the national team, White had been arguably the most ardent critic of the selectors for choosing younger players on their potential rather than more experienced operators with a better track record. The choice of Sam Heazlett for last year’s ODI tour of New Zealand was a particular sore point, and White had also pointed out that it now seemed possible to be picked for Australia out of the Big Bash League, regardless of what format it was for.
“I grew up watching and dreaming of playing for Australia and thinking how hard is it going to be to get a game for Australia and to earn the absolute right,” White said on RSN radio in January last year. “Now, it sort of seems like the Australian team at some stages is a development team. For me, playing for Australia isn’t about giving you a chance to develop. Domestic cricket is where that happens, and Futures League. I just want to see the best players playing, I don’t care who they are I’m not against young players playing at all, but I’m just not sure about bringing people into the Australian team to develop.
“We’ve seen with selection over the last period of time that the Big Bash seems to be the be-all and end-all. You can get picked to play for Australia in any format out of the Big Bash, really. It doesn’t make a lot of sense. I’m just a little worried, to be honest, on the importance the selectors are putting on domestic cricket. For years, the strength of the Australian game has been the domestic game. I’m just not sure that there has been much importance put on that, and it worries me for the future of Australian cricket and the strength of Australian cricket.”
Andrew McDonald, the Victoria coach, has already indicated he is “shocked” at White’s recall ahead of Maxwell.
More to come…