Former Australian Test greats such as Ricky Ponting, Steve Waugh, Glenn McGrath and Simon Katich can expect high paying short stints as consultants for the national team in the wake of assistant coach David Saker’s sudden resignation. Such flexibility is necessary, said the Cricket Australia chief executive Kevin Roberts, in light of the lucrative career options now available to former players, who receive fat pay cheques to share their expertise as commentators and corporate speakers.
Ponting has previously been involved with the Australian team on this basis, successfully helping to coach the T20 side during last year’s triangular series with England and New Zealand, before an Achilles tear sustained while shooting a commercial prevented him from also doing so in the UAE against Pakistan. During the home summer, he was preoccupied by working with the broadcaster Channel Seven.
“There’s no doubt that the remuneration in cricket for players is far higher than the remuneration for coaches,” Roberts told ESPNcricinfo. “And that’s something that’s not without its challenges. We don’t have an unlimited pool of funds to invest in coaches, but certainly we want to be investing as much as we can, and navigating those challenges as best we can. I think there’s opportunities to utilise some of those ex-players in shorter bursts if you like, given they’re not all in a position to be a coach 52 weeks of the year either, given their other commitments in other parts of the game.
“I think it’s really important that we do involve those ex-players in the game more and give them a stronger voice, embrace their perspective to a greater degree, and whether that means that’s just in open forums where we invite their feedback on some of cricket’s big questions or whether it’s involving them in a mentoring capacity or in a formal coaching capacity, we want to be covering all those bases and utilising all the expertise they’ve got.
“Not all of those ex-players will have a desire to be coaches, so [for] those that don’t have a desire to be coaches, there’s other roles outside the commentary box that they can play too. So we do have the opportunity to involve them for shorter periods of time rather than all or nothing so there are a bunch of different solutions to that challenge but it is an ongoing challenge.”
Roberts, who played first-class cricket for a strong New South Wales in the 1990s and formed numerous alliances with the aforementioned players, also discussed his close relationship with Waugh, a consistent source of counsel and blunt advice. Waugh and Roberts share a common grade club in Bankstown, while he and Gilchrist were housemates for a time during their younger days.
“I’ve got a really good relationship with Steve Waugh and I’ve been fortunate to have had that for I guess 25 years now, and he’s one of the most universally respected people in our game, respected for his performance on the field, for his leadership, for his integrity, and for the fact that he’s such a straight shooter,” Roberts said. “He’s a person you call when you want the truth rather than wanting something to be sugar-coated. You know you’ll get the truth when you ask a question of Steve.
“That’s one of the beauties of what he brings to cricket, one of the things people respect so much about him. So I’m really looking forward to his ongoing involvement – he’s been more involved in the game in the background than people would realise in recent years, mentoring a number of players and I hope that continues, and that young players really benefit from his mentorship ongoing, and I certainly benefit from the relationship and the ability to call on him, and also on many other former players and team-mates of mine.
“Adam Gilchrist, Glenn McGrath, see them regularly around the commentary boxes, played quite a bit against Brendon Julian and various other commentators, Greg Blewett and I were in the Australian Under-19 team together with Adam Gilchrist, Damien Martyn and Kasper [Michael Kasprowicz]. So to be able to just get a sense check of how they’re feeling about the game, Ricky Ponting I played quite a bit against, and unfortunately he ran me out one day with a direct hit run out, so I don’t remember that fondly but I do really respect Ricky’s views on the game as well.”
The full ESPNcricinfo interview with Kevin Roberts will run next week