Australia’s selection of Tim Paine (L) and Shaun Marsh caused much discussion. (AAP: Dave Hunt)
Cricket Australia (CA) chief executive James Sutherland has reminded Australia’s Test squad there is pressure to perform in the Ashes after backing the contentious selections made for the series opener.
The naming of middle order batsman Shaun Marsh and wicketkeeper Tim Paine in Australia’s XI, in addition to the axing of opener Matthew Renshaw, caused heated public debate last week, and discussion has not dissipated now the first Test in underway at the Gabba.
Sutherland, while admitting he had his “views and thoughts” on the make-up of the Australia XI, backed the selectors despite the criticism they received from media commentators and cricket fans.
“It wasn’t necessarily obvious what the team would be,” he told Grandstand.
“I think there were three positions that were open and up for debate but when you hear the process that they worked through you gain some confidence, so now it’s up to the players.”
But Sutherland said Australia’s squad needed to perform to repay the faith shown by selectors.
“They’re the ones playing on the big stage and that’s what it’s all about,” he said.
“It’s about the cricket so from that perspective. We’re delighted with the preparations that they’ve had, so now it’s up to them to go out and perform over the next five Tests.”
The benefits of an Ashes series on home soil are not lost on Sutherland, who highlighted CA needed to “put on a great show”.
CA, however, was not looking at the financial ramifications of a series loss, according to Sutherland.
“We don’t even look that far ahead,” he said.
“We’ve in an Ashes series and it’s a day-by-day proposition. It’s about doing the best we can and the players doing the best they can and the administration, all of our events staff and what have you.
“If you don’t focus on the process and what you’ve prepared for, you’re getting way too far ahead of yourself. So we’re focused on the summer of cricket and that includes winning and other things.”
Sutherland points to ‘real positives’ from Women’s Ashes
Australia retained the Women’s Ashes despite not winning the series outright. (AAP: Lukas Coch)
Sutherland hailed the recent Women’s Ashes a success, with the series enjoying unprecedented media coverage.
Australia retained the Ashes but did not post a series victory following the seven matches played across the three formats of the game.
“It’s the first time we’ve gone on sale with tickets,” he said.
“Last time the Ashes was here we had about 1,500 people come, we had 30,000 people this year over the course of the six short-form games and the Test match.
“We’ve seen some great cricket. Increased coverage of the women’s game. Two very evenly matched sides.
“Unfortunately, while we retained the Ashes we didn’t win the series overall, but at the same time there were some real positives and I think women’s sport generally and cricket in particular is on a really strong trajectory.”
Sutherland said he felt women’s Test cricket would have a “very limited” program in the future, but was still a “very important part of an Ashes series between Australia and England”.