In fairness to Klinger, his appointment, when McDonald joined the Australian set-up, came on November 26, just 23 days before the season began, and after he was due to have been the Melbourne Stars’ batting coach. CV at the time listed his attributes as being “well-prepared, well-structured and an excellent man manager” but such a late decision left the coaching novice – despite his rich playing history – on almost a hiding to nothing.
However, that he had no head coaching experience has not been lost on those who keep a close eye on Victorian cricket. Experienced coaches Trevor Bayliss and David Saker were overlooked, as was Brad Hodge.
“Imagine if this was an AFL side, and they appointed a coach who had never even led an under-19 side – they would never hear the end of it,” one player agent said.
Veteran spinner Cameron Boyce declared it was up the players to emerge from the slump.
“It’s not a blame game. We are not pointing fingers individually. We are all trying to do the right thing – at the moment it is just not going to plan,” Boyce said.
On raw data, what makes this campaign particularly frustrating is that the Renegades have two of the top-four run scorers in the competition. Veteran Shaun Marsh, lured from Perth on a multi-year deal, has 319 runs at 35.44 with two half-centuries but his modest strike rate of 116.84 has been an issue.
“They need to bat around him so he can take it deep but he gets out too often in the 30s and 40s,” one close observer said. Marsh has been dismissed in the 30s and 40s four times. Eyebrows were raised when he was caught at deep mid-wicket for two against the Perth Scorchers in Geelong after Aaron Finch was out for a golden duck.
The emerging Beau Webster has 310 at 62, also with two half centuries, and has been one of the few successes. He has a year to run on his contract and will be offered an extension. The Renegades will also pursue Will Pucovski should he opt to play in the BBL next summer.
Finch, now in India, had 191 runs at 27.28 but never really got going. Twice he fell on 50. Club sources suggest Finch hasn’t been able to concentrate on the Renegades as much as he had wanted to this summer because of his commitments as Australian white-ball captain. There were preparations for the three-match one-day international series in India, while attention has already turned to the Twenty20 World Cup later this year.
Sam Harper, without a consistent home in the order, has 200 runs at 22.22 but only one half century. Marcus Harris, a major disappointment this season with 89 runs at 14.83, and Harper have the shots required to succeed but former batting star Mark Waugh was critical of the pre-meditated shots they opted for against Adelaide on Sunday.
Some suggest the Renegades should have worked harder to retain batsman Cameron White, who could also have been an assistant coach and mentor, and fast bowler Chris Tremain. Both were championship winners last year.
Paceman Kane Richardson, now in India, has been the pick of the bowlers, with 10 wickets at 18.10 in seven matches but the Renegades have been dismal whether with ball or bat in hand in the power play. Boyce, with seven wickets at 38 in nine matches, has had his moments but the return of import spinning all-rounder Mohammad Nabi is seen as a boost.
The Renegades missed out on West Indies superstar Andre Russell and Pakistan ultimately did not let Usman Shinwari and Faheem Ashraf join, leaving English pair Richard Gleeson and Samit Patel as the initial imports. Both were disappointing. Gleeson, with only seven wickets and having conceded more than 10 runs an over in eight games, is said to have been shattered by his performances.
Close watchers have noted that stand-in skipper Dan Christian (95 runs at 11 and without a wicket) and fellow veteran Tom Cooper (42 runs at 6) have not had the same impact as last season. Christian, 36, still has a year to run on his contract, while Cooper, 33, is off contract this year but has been offered a new deal. Christian’s frustration has been obvious, and this was on show in the dressing room after the loss to the Melbourne Stars at Marvel Stadium on Friday.
Jon Pierik is cricket writer for The Age. He also covers AFL and has won awards for his cricket and basketball writing.