Domain Tests v India
Make Paine a selector: Ponting
Former skipper would like to see a return to ways of old, when captain had official involvement in selections
8 January 2019, 09:00 PM AEST
It's not something Tim Paine sees himself doing until his playing days are done, but one of his predecessors, Ricky Ponting, believes the current Test captain should be a national selector.
India's historic series victory on Australian soil, sealed after rain ruined the final two days of the Sydney Test, has swung the spotlight not only towards the hosts' misfiring top order but also the panel tasked with picking it.
Nathan Coulter-Nile and Ashton Agar respectively labelled the communication from selectors as "poor" and "vague" this week following their omissions from Australia's one-day squad.
Paine, who is consulted on selection matters but is not part of the three-man panel, made it clear it's not something he's interested in while he's captain.
"I've got enough on my plate at the moment," the 34-year-old said when asked if he'd like to join the panel that currently consists of chair Trevor Hohns, coach Justin Langer and national talent manager Greg Chappell.
"I'm happy when I'm asked my opinion and will give it. As for down the track, I wouldn't mind a crack at it in four or five years."
But Ponting, who praised the selection of Marnus Labuschagne for the final Domain Test and admitted selection remains a "thankless task", reiterated his long-held view that the national skipper should have a say at the selection table.
"I said when I was playing, as captain I was desperate to be an actual selector,” Ponting told cricket.com.au.
“More (for) communication reasons than anything else, it wasn't because I didn't always get the team I wanted.
"To be accountable and to be able to communicate well among your players, I thought it was vital that the captain could pass on his views to the players directly.
"I don't know if that's happening now or not.
"I'd like to see the captain become a selector.
"It just makes communication easier, it makes it clearer, if the players know it's coming from the captain, someone who's there working with them on a daily basis.
"You'd like to see whatever he had to say to the players would be honest and to the point. I've said it for years that I'd like to see it that way."
Ponting was never a selector during his tenure, but both his immediate predecessor Steve Waugh and his immediate successor Michael Clarke had the extra responsibility on their hands at various times during their tenure.
Waugh and his deputy had votes at the selection table during overseas games before a call to leave Michael Slater out of a Test in 2001 led to Waugh asking for the captain to be discharged from selection duties.
On the back of urging from Ponting and a subsequent recommendation from the Argus Review, the Test captain was reinstated as a selector in 2011, by which time Ponting had handed over the reins to Clarke.
But Clarke resigned from the panel in the wake of coach Mickey Arthur's sacking two years later and the skipper has not been a formal member of the panel since.
The common rebuttal to the selector-as-captain conundrum is that players should not have a say on deciding their teammates' futures, something Waugh had found hard to grapple with when he had to drop Slater in 2001.
But given Paine already has informal input into who is in the side, Ponting believes formalising his role would make the panel more accountable.
"He's doing that (having a say in selection) anyway," said Ponting.
"The selectors are still asking him what he thinks of them (players) and their futures.
"It's no different (if Paine was a selector), except he has full accountability around the group then.
"I'm sure it probably gets to the stage (currently) at times when Tim might not get a certain player in the team that he wants or there might be someone in the team that he might not want there – how does he then remain honest with them?
"But if he's a selector then he can be honest with them. That's what I've always felt about it.
"It would be a much more open and honest environment if he was a selector, I think."
On the back of Agar and Coulter-Nile's comments, Ponting said communication and feedback on how selectors believe players can improve remains critical.
"It's a pretty tough job to be selecting Australian teams," he said.
"From reading between the lines, the thing that seems to be disappointing the most seems to be the lack of communication or the communication channels between selectors and players – and maybe even selectors to the media on certain players – either selections or non-selections.
"I just hope the communication between the players and the selectors is as good and as it can be.
"If someone's been left out or not picked for a certain tour or squad, the first thing you do as a selector is get on the phone and let them know the reasons. How else as a player do you improve?
"Let's hope that's right – I've had a lot to do with Greg Chappell and Trevor Hohns and Justin and Tim Paine over the years. They're all terrific people working their backsides off trying to do the right thing by Australian cricket."
Domain Test Series v Sri Lanka
Jan 24-28: First Test, Gabba (D/N)
Feb 1-5: Second Test, Canberra