Redbacks return to training without a head coach
The South Australian men's team hit the training park as pre-season commenced, with Mike Hussey's review into the state's performance still going
25 May 2020, 01:32 PM AEST
South Australia's elite male cricketers returned to training today with the dreaded 2km time trial, but without a head coach while a wide-ranging review into the state's cricket takes place.
Australia's white-ball gloveman Alex Carey says it’s a perfect time for the Redbacks' players to "take a bit of ownership" of their fortunes with an emphasis on improved results in the Marsh Sheffield Shield.
Former Test star Mike Hussey has been commissioned to undertake the review and is expected to report to the South Australian Cricket Association Board before the end of June.
Only after this has been completed will the state look to recruit a new head coach after parting ways with Jamie Siddons earlier this year after five seasons in charge.
Redbacks assistant coach Greg Blewett, a former Test batsman, is leading the state's training that is being kept low-key with running and sports science screenings this week before skills sessions pick up in June.
Allrounder Daniel Drew, the West Torrens club captain who is hoping to pick up a Redbacks contract for the 2020-21 summer, topped the 2km time trial with a time of 6min 15secs, ahead of the likes of Carey (6:43), Chadd Sayers (6:43), Kane Richardson (6:59) and Travis Head (7:01).
Carey said he hoped things would move quickly adding: "Now the group is back together we will need a head coach pretty soon.
"We want to move forward in the Shield. We were in back-to-back Shield finals (in the 2015-16 and 2016-17 summers) but we haven't seen that form over the past few years, so a bit of fresh air would be good for this state.
"The group we've got has been together for a while and it's time for the players to take a bit of ownership as well.
"You can put a new coach in but we need the senior players to stand up."
Carey said he had spoken at length with Hussey and "told him how I though the group has been going over the last couple of years" and paid credit to Siddons for developing Carey's game.
"Jamie Siddons did a great job for my cricket, I give him full credit for my development," Carey said.
"But as a group we need to move forward and start playing finals cricket."
The Redbacks have finished last in the Sheffield Shield for the past three seasons and parted ways with Siddons after what turned out to be the final round of Shield cricket for the season as the coronavirus pandemic put the game into lockdown.
Hussey detailed the scope of his review with The Unplayable Podcast last month.
"It's been really interesting, delving deep into the way South Australia go about their cricket from a range of perspectives," Hussey said on the podcast.
"It's quite broad … their Board has sent me a long list of questions of areas they want explored from culture, to the systems through to the high performance.
"Then they also sent through a big long list of people they'd like to be interviewed. I added on a few other people that I think would be relevant.
"And just try and build a bit of a picture of what best practice looks like, and then have a good look into how South Australia are doing it.
"If there's any gaps or holes or areas that perhaps could be improved, then make some recommendations along those lines."
Adelaide Strikers coach Jason Gillespie has been mooted as a leading contender, while former Test cricketers and Cricket Australia high performance staff Chris Rogers and Ryan Harris, and Tasmania coach Jeff Vaughan have also been linked with the post.
"I've worked with Jason Gillespie for a number of years with the Strikers and also at Sussex and he's well-loved in both teams and everywhere he goes," Carey said.
"He'd fit in really well, he's a South Australian legend.
"His name has not been pulled out of the hat yet but he's got the odds of Phar Lap. He's a good man for the job if he does get it."
Carey said the extended pre-season with the state's national stars involved would likely benefit the team.
With the international schedule unclear amid the coronavirus pandemic and with state borders closed and the Bupa National Cricket Centre in Brisbane shut, Australia's nationally contracted stars have been told to remain with their states for the time being.
Carey said he would have no qualms about travelling to England for a mooted white-ball tour in September if the professional medical advice cleared it.
"As much as I love pre-season, I love playing cricket more. I'll listen to the professionals and if they say 'Jump on the plane and you'll be fine', we'll do that," Carey said.
"If we get to go over to England later in winter that would be a great result for everyone, we all want to see some sport back."