Leg­ends con­fi­dent of smooth tran­si­tion

Townsville Bulletin - - Sport -

CUR­RENT and for­mer Aus­tralian crick­et­ing greats are con­fi­dent the na­tional team’s tran­si­tion will not be like the dark age of the mid1980s.

The un­ex­pected re­tire­ment an­nounce­ments by Damien Mar­tyn and Shane Warne mean Aus­tralia are now sud­denly fac­ing the end of an era.

Add the un­cer­tainty over Glenn McGrath’s fu­ture and Aus­tralia have not been pre­sented with such a turnover of tal­ent since 1984, when Den­nis Lillee, Rod Marsh and Greg Chap­pell re­tired.

The rebel tour of South Africa fol­lowed soon af­ter and Aus­tralia took years to re­build their stocks of topflight tal­ent.

Speak­ing yes­ter­day on Syd­ney ra­dio’s 2KY, McGrath said he was look­ing for­ward to hope­fully play­ing in next year’s World Cup, but also gave no in­di­ca­tion of what the fu­ture held be­yond that tour­na­ment.

Com­pli­cat­ing McGrath’s de­ci­sion is the fact Aus­tralia’s next Test af­ter the Ashes se­ries is not for an­other 11 months.

Mean­while, Lillee and Marsh were con­fi­dent the Aus­tralian team would sur­vive with­out Warne and McGrath.

Marsh, who has ex­ten­sive coach­ing ex­pe­ri­ence here and in Eng­land, said Aus­tralia should set up a spin bowl­ing academy.

‘‘I think we’re all right for fast bowlers, there’s two or three that are ready to play now,’’ he said.

‘‘I’d like to see a bank of 10, it’s such an im­por­tant part of the game.

‘‘Even with all the fast bowlers, some of the pitches to­day, you need some se­ri­ous spin­ners as well.

‘‘I know Cricket Aus­tralia is look­ing closely at a spin pro­gram, just as it has a fast bowl­ing pro­gram headed up by Troy Coo­ley.

‘‘I would to­tally en­dorse that.’’

Gen­er­ally, he thinks Aus­tralia has enough depth to cope, but ac­knowl­edged Warne and McGrath would leave gi­ant holes.

‘‘I don’t know how you can re­place Shane Warne — I don’t think he’s re­place­able,’’ he said.

Lillee was sim­i­larly up­beat, say­ing Aus­tralia had enough re­serves of tal­ent to en­sure a strong team for the next Ashes se­ries in 2009.

‘‘(In the early 1980s), they prob­a­bly should have pen­sioned a cou­ple of us off, bit by bit, so that there wasn’t a mass ex­o­dus,’’ Lillee said.

‘‘This time, it’s just hap­pen­ing and the guys who come in are very ready for it now — it’s very good tim­ing.’’

CHAM­PI­ONS . . . leg-spin­ner Shane Warne and pace­man Glenn McGrath have

been the pil­lars of Aus­tralia’s bowl­ing at­tack for well over a decade

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