Former Australia batsman Michael Hussey has targeted improvement in the areas of skill development, player recruitment and facilities as key planks in his report to the Cricket Tasmania Board regarding the state’s male pathways and high performance programs.
Hussey, who was appointed to lead a review of Tasmanian cricket in March after a sustained period of underachievement, most notably at Sheffield Shield and List A level, delivered his full report to the CT Board on Monday night.
"Mr Hussey's brief was to consult widely and through all sections of the Tasmanian and Australian cricket community," said CT chairman Andrew Gaggin.
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"He has followed this brief and we now have a blueprint for our structures and programs moving forward.
"Some of Mr Hussey's recommendations involving the structure of our Cricket Operations department have already been implemented.
"The Cricket Tasmania Board and Management will now work our way through Mr Hussey's report and remaining recommendations and look to implement those as much as possible within the obvious financial restraints.
"This is an important document for Tasmanian cricket both for the present and the future."
Hussey’s recommendation that 'an experienced head coach or otherwise an experienced assistant coach' be employed has already been acted upon. Western Australia bowling mentor and former Tigers quick Adam Griffith was appointed as the state side’s new head coach last month, while former South Africa batsman Gary Kirsten was appointed as Hobart Hurricanes’ head coach in March.
Griffith and Kirsten replace Dan Marsh and Damien Wright in their respective roles.
Hussey also outlined the need for the creation of another main practice facility nearby to Hobart's Blundstone Arena due to excessive training at the venue, while six other recommendations were identified by CT as priorities (listed below).
The importance of recruitment appears to be a particularly important one for the Tigers, given they represent comfortably the smallest state in Australia, with a population just over 500,000.
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Last season, just nine of their 21 senior state contracted players (including Australia contracted players George Bailey and James Faulkner, who have since lost their national deals) were local products, while Hussey’s emphasis on the need to find some bowling talent looks a direct result of the Shield side’s struggle for wickets last season.
The Tigers’ 137 wickets were the fewest of any side in the competition and with the exception of Test seamer Jackson Bird, no bowler who took more than 10 wickets averaged under 35.
"From my experience going through similar transformational programs, it can take two to three years before you start to see success," said chief executive Nick Cummins, who was appointed to the role in January.
"It can happen quicker than that and with the player roster we have and staff around them we hope it can happen relatively quickly.
"There's no doubt the scoreboard has shown we haven't been performing to expectation.
"We've come off the back of an outstanding era where we've punched above our weight and now we're in an era where we are, as the ladder would show, if not on the bottom then down near the bottom.
"If we get those foundations right then we can push our way back up the table again."
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In April, CT announced that as part of Hussey's review into high performance, the existing role of general manager of cricket be narrowed in focus, with the creation of a general manager of high performance, whose focus is solely on high performance matters while cricket operations is moved to another report.
Hussey’s review incorporated interviews with more than 50 people, including past and present players, coaches, high performance and operational personnel and those involved at the grass roots level, together with those from AFL, NRL and the wider business world.
Hussey’s top-seven recommendations to Cricket Tasmania:
1. Implement the Right Organisational Structure
a. Employ an experienced Head Coach or otherwise an experienced Assistant Coach
b. Encourage diversity of experience in the coaching staff
c. Employ a full-time HP (High Performance) Coach and Talent specialist
d. Restructure the Cricket Operations department with changed responsibilities
e. Employ SSSM (Sport Science and Sports Medicine) Manager and fully incorporate SSSM into pathway programs
2. Improve Player Development
a. Introduce Academy squad
b. Encourage use of past players as coaches in the pathway program
c. Support club cricket to ensure an appropriate level of resources and expertise are provided, to ensure players are playing the best standard possible
3. Improve Coach Development
a. Integrate coaches in all levels of the pathway - from u13s to the Tigers/Roar/Hurricanes
b. Invite club coaches to be involved in the youth pathway
4. Improve Recruiting Strategy
a. Target for recruitment the 10th-15th best players in other states
b. Identify and look to recruit the best uncontracted under 19-21 players from around Australia, especially bowlers
5. Improve cricket infrastructure in the North and North-West
6. Define the Futures League Role and Selection Philosophy