Bichel appointed national selector
HAVING carried the drinks for the Australian Test XI 19 times, Andy Bichel knows more than anyone what it means to be on the edge of national cricket selection.
It is that experience that has helped earn him the job as one of Australia's new three-man selection panel, joining Rod Marsh and John Inverarity.
The Laidley product revealed to the QT yesterday that he was approached by Cricket Australia to take the job.
"I was at the point where I had finished coaching Papua New Guinea and had some time off from the Chennai Super Kings (the Indian Premier League team Bichel coaches) and I was looking for new challenges.
"I always thought one day I would get involved either as a cricket board member, a selector or whatever.
"I've had that period out of the game and the timing was right."
Bichel provides the perspective as a bowler with recent playing and current coaching experience at the highest level.
His Twenty20 experience is unique among the trio.
"Cricket has come a long way in a short space of time," Bichel said.
"There's three clear visions now and there is a totally different approach for teams and individual players. It is an exciting time because there are more opportunities for everyone."
The 41-year-old Bichel feels the players' lot is better now than it was when he was fighting for a spot in the Test team.
"We were pretty lucky through that period," he said.
"But this group has sat back and said 'which way do we want to go?' I'm pretty pumped about it."
Bichel played 19 Tests for Australia and was 12th man another 19 times.
He found out the hard way that being 12th man could be the worst thing for a player's aspirations to the stating XI.
That is no longer the case and Bichel is determined to make it easier for current players to deal with disappointment than it was in his day.
"The fall from grace as I would call it," he said.
"We need people hitting the ground softly. There are more opportunities for players now.
"If you are 12th man, you get to go back and play state cricket.
"Never again will there be the weak excuse 'you haven't played, so how can we select you?'
"I got that plenty of times."
Bichel hopes that poor communication will no longer be a reason for players becoming disillusioned, not that it ever affected his commitment to the cause. The appointment of Pat Howard, the former Australian rugby union player, as high performance manager will ensure that.
Bichel insists form will be rewarded and players will be given the opportunities to prove themselves.
"The best way you can turn it around is by doing it," he said.
"There will be opportunities for players to perform.
"The stats in front of us are what we want to see. Players who have been discarded will still get a chance because the opportunities will be there."
- Queensland debut: 1992-93.
- Test debut: January 25, 1997 v West Indies at Adelaide.
- Test bowling: 58 wickets at 32.24.
- Best figures: 5-60 v West Indies in 2000 at MCG.
- First-class bowling: 769 wickets at 25.98.
- 1996-97 Sheffield Shield player-of-the-year.
- International one-day bowling: 78 wickets at 31.57.
- Best figures: 7-20 v England, 2003 World Cup.