Former Australian fast bowler Stuart Clark has passionately criticised Cricket NSW, voicing his belief that selectors are too fixated on trialling unproven teenagers rather than mature-aged players who have performed well at the premier level.
During the Boxing Day Test, Clark spoke on ABC Radio, saying Cricket NSW was “fascinated with picking 19-year-olds and not those who have earned the right to play.”
He's not the only one voicing their complaints either, one anonymous first-grade batsman told news.com.au they "felt like I wasn't getting an opportunity.
“I kept getting told ‘we're monitoring you', but without any feedback or movement.”
A top first-grade bowler also said: “I feel as though New South Wales won't offer me anything, irrespective of how I go this year.”
“I don't know what they want me to do."
This bowler said he was not contacted by Cricket NSW for four years before being selected as an emergency in a recent representative fixture.
“When they do pick players that are performing in first grade, it's only at the end of the season in dead rubbers or when a pathway player gets injured,” he highlighted.
“If you score a hundred at a national tournament against teenagers, you're practically a guarantee of higher honours or a contract.”
One first-grade assistant coach was strong in his dismay, stating “it's a disgrace at the moment”.
“Definitely pathways getting preferential treatment, grade results mean nothing.”
Another coach revealed that “there's loads of players in first and second grade that could play Big Bash or first-class cricket tomorrow, who aren't being seen because opinions about them are formed when they're 13, 14, 15 years old”.
These comments have ignited light on the issue, as the topic continues to feature on cricket-related media outlets, including the popular Grade Cricketer podcast.
Cricket NSW's Chairman of Selectors and Head of Male Cricket, Michael Klinger, has refuted all critical statements however, saying it is “very clear that if you're performing well in Premier Cricket, then those who are knocking the door down will get those opportunities”.
“We have a feedback system that every head coach has access to, to send back to me weekly, and most of the coaches are very good with it,” Klinger said.
“Every Monday I receive information from the head coaches – what I ask of them is information like the wicket conditions, who performed well from their team but more importantly the opposition.”
Klinger highlighted some players who were rewarded for quality Premier Cricket performances.
“Blake Nikitaras is the perfect example, smashed the door down with runs after he came back from injury, got picked in the second XI, got hundreds there and then debuted for New South Wales," Klinger said.
“Matthew Gilkes is another one I can throw up, he went back, made double hundreds in Premier Cricket – he even had a Shield game that finished on a Friday, then went back and got 200 off 150 balls to help UNSW win a game in a run chase, and has been back in the Shield team since, all with a broken finger.”
Klinger also pointed out the recent NSW Blues' side which played no one under the age of 23 in their match against Victoria.
“Where's the young in that?”, Klinger asked.