All your pointy questions about the revamped 2018-19 Tassie Tigers Men’s Squad answered by their Head Coach Adam Griffith…
What’s your rationale or thinking around the Tigers list changes for next season?
I think improvement will come first and foremost with the experience that the players – the younger players in particular, have gained throughout the season they’ve just played (reaching the Shield Final).
So I think that will hold us in good stead for the season to come.
And we’ve invested in some young talent onto our list to try and bring a level of development through that younger group and we’re really excited with some of the guys that we’ve got on the Tigers list this year.
Didn’t Cameron Boyce have another year to go on his contract?
Yes so we had a conversation with Cameron and we came to an agreement from both sides that it would be best for him to look to play his cricket elsewhere and that was a discussion that we had with him.
It went over a period of time and both parties decided that it was best for him to ply his trade elsewhere.
Why was that?
Just opportunity for him. I mean we’ve got some really talented young spinners coming through our list that we’re really excited about.
We saw Jarrod Freeman play in Sydney and we think there’s some potential there to play a lot of cricket for Tasmania and also Australia.
So it’s an opportunity thing for Cameron to look to play his cricket elsewhere.
Was Ben Dunk in the same boat?
Yeah and performance with Dunky as well. You know it’s been a pretty lean year and a half to two years for Ben.
He’s been a great servant for Tasmanian cricket and we really appreciate all the work he’s done for us and the time and effort he’s put in.
Yeah, but it’s performance for Ben and unfortunately he’s missed out.
Obviously Andrew Fekete is returning home to Victoria to be closer with his family, but will the other uncontracted players remain in Tasmania?
I haven’t really discussed that with a lot of them. I know that Ben Dunk will probably stay in Tasmania.
You will see that most of the guys that came off are all interstate guys, so they will make their decision on what they want to do.
I think it’s a pretty big thing to lose your contract so we’ll give them some time to see what they want to do and they’ll make those decisions as they see fit.
If Ben Dunk scored mountains of runs would you have him back?
We’ve said all along that performance is a really big indicator for us so it would have to be a lot of runs for Ben to make his way back in.
But we’ve shown with selection – not only with him but with anyone – you know in Futures League this year, we were selecting guys out of grade cricket who were performing well.
But you know our batting group performed really well this year so it would take a lot of runs for anyone to make their way back into that group.
How hard was Gurinder Sandhu pursued and why is he such a vital part of the squad?
We only pursued him over a day or two actually.
I’ve got a relationship with Gurinder from the Under-19s Australians from about five years ago when I spent a bit of time with them, so that was in the background.
I think he was keen for a change so contact was made there and we went up and met with him and his manager and had some good discussions.
We talked about where he wanted to go with his cricket and what our program looked like, and the opportunities we could provide him to improve his cricket and he jumped at the chance to come down.
Do you see him as a long-term player for Tasmania?
Yes – Gurinder is 24 and he’s been around awhile and played some high-level cricket.
You know he’s played a little bit of cricket for Australia and he’s played 30-odd First-Class games at only the young age of 24, so we’re really excited for his long-term opportunities here in Tasmania.
Isn’t Gurinder more of a white-ball cricketer?
No, I don’t think so. He’s had his most success in white-ball cricket absolutely.
But like I said, he’s played 30 First-Class games of cricket as well.
We want to develop cricket holistically and make the players viable options in all forms of the game, so we’ve recruited Gurinder to play all forms of the game.
Now he won’t be just walking into the team. He has to earn selection just as everyone else does, but we’ll look to develop him with both the red and white ball.
Will Gurinder be here for the pre-season?
Yep – he’ll be down here from the start of pre-season.
Will he potentially play for the Hurricanes as well?
Well he’s still on contract with the Sydney Thunder but with the Hurricanes, we’re still working through our list there at the moment.
There’s plenty of local Tasmanian talent on the Tigers list. Is that a conscious decision or are you just picking the best players available?
Just picking the best players. I got asked that question when I spoke at one of the Cricket Society luncheons.
I think at the Melbourne game we had nine Tasmanians playing and they asked was it a conscious decision.
And I actually hadn’t looked at that in too much detail. We just picked the best team possible.
And for these guys on our list, obviously it helps that we see them all the time, and they’ve been in our system.
I think it’s a really good indication that we’re really starting to develop the guys in our pathway.
The fact we’ve got five Tasmanians that have either been promoted off the Rookie List, or come back onto contract, or onto the Rookie List – so that’s pretty exciting for us.
How’s James Faulkner? Are you expecting a big summer out of him?
Yeah he’s going well. I’ve just had a session with him in the nets.
He’s getting himself ready for his little stint of Twenty20 cricket over in Lancashire.
You know, he’s excited and he’s looking to get his body right.
He can’t wait to get started and get over to England and play, then come back here to play for us.
Staying fully fit is part of the education for James. It’s Twenty20 cricket – not County cricket, and it’s only for a short period of time over in England.
That’s why he’s in the nets now – he’s been training for a period of time already. He actually started early before the rest of the guys.
So when he goes over there, making sure that when he’s there he’s preparing himself – not only to play cricket there, but to play cricket for us when he comes home.
And then he’ll have a period of time when he arrives back in the country to get himself ready.
So we’re really confident that he’ll be good to go.
I think he’s learned a lot over the years about when he’s on tour and preparing himself for what’s to come over the next few months and we’re pretty confident that he’ll be right.
Is this a really important ‘pivotal’ season for James in terms of his career?
Yeah I think it is. But I think it’s an important season for a lot of the players. James, as I’ve said plenty of times in the past, has been a great servant for Tasmanian cricket and he’s still in his twenties.
So, our challenge as a coaching group and staff, is to make sure we give him every opportunity to continue that on for years to come.
I just see the excitement in his eye and the glint in his eye and I’m really confident that there’s a lot of cricket left in James.
I think we’ve got a really good handle on what those physical issues are now.
Before, there was always a little bit of uncertainty about what it was and how bad it actually was.
But I think we’ve got a really good take on it now and how to prepare him as best as we can.
What about Alex Doolan still being on the list after his mixed season?
‘Dools’ had another year to go on his contract – he played a lot of cricket for us last year.
You know if you speak to him, he would be honest that he wasn’t happy with the amount of runs that he produced last year.
But he’s a very integral part of our group from a leadership perspective.
I also think we’ll change the way he approaches his pre-season this year a little bit.
We’ve got a few little tweaks that we want to put in there to hopefully get him firing at the start of the year.
George Bailey has been the captain for a long time – is there any succession planning happening there?
Yes we’ll sit down and look at that.
George has been an outstanding captain – I think he’s been the best captain in the country for a long time now, and we’d be silly to just walk away from that.
Where we are at the moment, we’re still building this group and we’ve still got a lot of development and a lot of learning to go.
I will sit down with George, but I can’t see a reason why he wouldn’t captain this year – but that decision hasn’t been made yet.
I mean, he had a really good year last year and he won the Ricky Ponting Medal as captain.
I do know at some stage in his career that he does want to just focus on being a batsman and free himself up a little bit.
And as part of our succession planning, for the next person who comes in, it would be great to have George around for a period of time to help ease that person into the role and educate them on all the little things that he found and learned along the way.
So that’ll come at some stage – but when that actually happens – we’ve still got to work that out.
Has anyone put their hand up at this stage or is anyone earmarked for that role?
We’ve got some outstanding young leaders in our group, but we’ve also got some senior guys in there that could do the job.
So it’s probably more a long-term thing for us.
The next captain will be someone who’s not a ‘stop-gap’ measure - it will be someone that we see as a potential future leader for years to come.
We’ve got a really good leadership program that we’re running with our guys to help them learn at the moment.
So when we make that decision – whoever that person is – they’ll be ready to step in.
Is it important that the next Tigers captain is Tasmanian?
Again, as long as it’s the right person – being Tasmanian would be important – but it’s not the ‘be all and end all’.
It’s the right person in the role, and if that player can show the characteristics that we want, then we’ll pick that person.
Justin Langer is now Australia’s new Head Coach and you’ve obviously had a lot to do with him. Has he been on the phone to you looking for a new national bowling coach?
(Laughing) I’m very happy here in Tasmania.
I actually caught up with ‘JL’ for a coffee over the holidays about a month ago – and this is obviously before his appointment happened, and there was no discussion around it.
I’m really happy here in Tasmania. I’ve been here for a year and we’ve only just started the process of getting to where we want to get to.
And there’s a long road ahead for us and I’m really excited.
Is there a long-term ambition for our players to play for Australia?
That’s with everything - with our players and our staff - we want people that have got ambition. People that want to go to the next level.
And it would be remiss of me if I was just happy plodding along where I am.
I want to be the best coach I can possibly be and go as high as I can go.
The ultimate is to coach Australia one day and that’s always the goal of a lot of coaches.
How that happens – I’m not sure. Whether I’ll ever get there – I’m not sure.
But I need to do a really good job here in Tasmania first. I want to continue to learn. I’m still a young coach with a lot to learn myself.
And if I can continue to do that, then we’ll see what happens.
2018-19 TASMANIAN TIGERS MEN’S SQUAD
Cricket Australia Contract (1): Tim PAINE – Test & ODI Captain
Full State Contract (19)
Jackson BIRD – From Cricket Australia
Caleb JEWELL – Upgraded
Hamish KINGSTON – Re-Contracted
Riley MEREDITH – Upgraded
Gurinder SANDHU – From NSW Blues
Matthew WADE – From Cricket Australia
Rookie Contract (6)
Jack WHITE – New from Tasmania
Jarrod FREEMAN – New from Tasmania
Lawrence NEIL-SMITH – New from NSW
New Players (5)
Jarrod FREEMAN – Lindisfarne/Mowbray Cricket Clubs
Hamish KINGSTON – South Hobart/Sandy Bay Cricket Club
Lawrence NEIL-SMITH – New South Wales
Gurinder SANDHU – New South Wales Blues
Jack WHITE – North Hobart Cricket Club
No Longer Contracted (7)