99-06- 12 batsmen scored 1000 runs.Yep.
I remember early 90s when it wasn't uncommon for 3 or 4 blokes to make more than 1000 runs.
I meant in a year.99-06- 12 batsmen scored 1000 runs.
Since then Katich and D.Hussey in 07/08, Klinger and Rogers 08/09 and Klinger and Voges 14/15.
Katich's massive 1506 runs is still the record for a year.
If you've ever got a spare 90 minutes, give this a read. :pIn his first season in charge, Wade Seccombe and his assistants began a quiet cultural revolution in Queensland, fusing past and present, and with all eyes on success for the future
November 25, 2017. Queensland coach Wade Seccombe is sitting in the dressing sheds at the WACA Ground in Perth. A few hours have passed since he watched his young team fight through the second day of a testing Sheffield Shield clash with the Warriors. Dusk has descended into night but the players are still there, reveling in each other's company as they converse about nothing in particular.
Seccombe, winner of five Shield titles as a player, is four Shield matches and a domestic one-day tournament into his tenure as Bulls head coach. He is learning on the run. But a handful of premierships has taught him plenty about the game, and about winning. And through cricket, business and life, he has also learned a lot about people.
He looks around the room, observing the group.
"It was just silly conversation," he reflects. "But there was a sense of, 'these boys are tight'."
And in the culture of Queensland Cricket, Seccombe knew tightness was everything.
That same day, on the other side of the country, Australia's captain Steve Smith had completed one of his finest Test hundreds in the Ashes opener against England. It would prove to be a match-winning, series-defining innings, and Smith would soon be exalted as his country's finest batsman since Bradman.
At the time, there were no rumblings of an 'erosion of team culture'. Australia went on to win the Ashes four-nil and as far as most were concerned, all was essentially rosy with the country's cricket landscape. Inevitably there had been talking points across the summer – the Glenn Maxwell selection affair, the form of the ODI team – but issues regarding culture had gradually dissipated in the mainstream media since the high watermark of 'Homework-gate' almost five years prior.
In fact, Smith had even spoken about his desire to imitate New Zealand's rugby union team, the All Blacks, in the way they take it upon themselves to clean up their changeroom after each match; a peripheral example of the culture underpinning one of world sport's most dominant forces.
"It's that little one percenter," Smith said. "It's just a respect thing."
Four months on from the highs of Brisbane, an anguished Smith flew home to Sydney from Johannesburg, his dreams of a Baggy Green dynasty in tatters. He bravely fronted the media, then made his exit, left to ponder how it had all gone so horribly wrong.
That same night, after a long, challenging season, Seccombe finally had a chance to rest. He sat back, watched his players collect their gongs at the Queensland Cricket awards evening, and reflected on how things had all gone so wonderfully right.
The appointment last June of Seccombe as Queensland head coach, to replace New South Welshman Phil Jaques, was met with instant and widespread approval. There was good reason for the sage head-nodding; Seccombe ticked all the boxes. A Bulls legend as a wicketkeeper-batsman, he had also dabbled in the coaching world, having been an assistant with Queensland and Brisbane Heat in 2011-12. What separated him from the pack of former players however, was his acumen and achievements as a businessman. After earning a Masters of Business (Marketing), he rose to become managing director of two sign manufacturing businesses. As a member of the QC board in his spare time (a position from which he resigned to become coach), he also had an intimate knowledge of the inners workings of the governing body.
"He's an educated guy," says Ashley Noffke, a former teammate of Seccombe's and one of his assistant coaches through 2017-18. "He's not someone who just came out of cricket, was looking for a job and decided to stay in cricket. He's certainly no one-trick pony."
Seccombe knew the way a successful Queensland squad operated – he had lived it through more than 100 first-class matches – and so he quickly set about replicating it. The top priority on his list was an increased emphasis on the development of his young group as people as much as cricketers. 'Better people make better Bulls' was the catch cry.
"He was softly softly, but very well planned," Noffke says. "And the guys really jumped on board."
The sentiment is perhaps a tired one in contemporary sport, trotted out as a cliché without considered thought, let alone a plan to enact it. But Seccombe has never been interested in appealing to the masses with platitudes, and had every intention of developing his winning way.
The shifts in behaviour he called for were subtle but designed to be pieces of something greater. He asked his players to ensure they were wearing the right team uniform at the right times. To be punctual. If they needed to communicate something beyond the trivial, he wanted them to pick up the phone and talk, as opposed to sending a text message.
"We have certain standards with things we do," the 46-year-old explains. "There's no rocket science. It's about trying to set a discipline and maintaining that."
As well as helping create better young men, the logic was that the discipline would naturally extend to cricket, and improved performances would follow.
"Everything around the game has changed a lot since I played but the actual playing of the game hasn't," Seccombe says. "At the end of the day it's bat versus ball, and whoever's the most disciplined along the way will probably end up winning the game."
Jimmy Peirson, who was named Queensland captain when Usman Khawaja exited for national duties, says Seccombe's modus operandi was a breath of fresh air.
"There were the right people in the right places, but 'Chuck' (Seccombe) just brought in a new way of doing things … (which) put us in a good space to have success," Peirson says.
"A lot of it is people skills, and making sure as a bloke you're doing all the right things.
"It's asking the guys to be adult about things, not just in the way we play and prepare, but also in society. There's a certain way that professionals hold themselves.
"Yes, we are young, but that doesn't mean anything – we wanted to make sure those things off the field were in place, and that helped us."
Part of the legacy of Queensland's highly-successful period in the second half of the 1990s and into the 2000s has been the transition of a number of highly-experienced first-class players into the coaching ranks.
Noffke and former Australia quick Andy Bichel, together with the more recently-retired James Hopes, were key planks in the Bulls' planning in pre-season in the wake of Jaques' exit. Together with the experienced mentor John Davison, their presence allowed those higher up to take their time in making the correct call on the head coach appointment.
When Seccombe did arrive, one of his first involvements was essentially as an observer on a three-day training camp at Tangalooma on Moreton Island, just off the Brisbane coast.
There the playing squad was put through its paces by high performance manager Paul Chapman, in his third season with the Bulls and a mainstay with Mumbai Indians in the Indian Premier League. After discussions with the coaches, he directed the focus of the camp on endurance; the coaching staff wanted their players fitter than their opponents, and still be producing their best cricket late on the fourth day.
"Our whole pre-season was framed around saying day three would be the hardest day of any match, and we're going to set ourselves to win late day four," says Hopes.
"So when guys were being pushed hard in pre-season, that's always what we had in mind – 'we need to learn how to win tough'."
The players were pushed to their physical limits as Chapman looked to tread the line between maximising their fitness gains in a three-day window while avoiding injury.
"The pre-season was harder than it has ever been," reflects Peirson. "That trip to Tangalooma broke a few blokes. But we knew we'd done the work physically, and we put ourselves in a strong position for the whole year."
All the while, Seccombe was in the background, studying the group dynamic and working out where and how he could make a meaningful difference.
"The whole pre-season for me was going in without preconceived ideas," he says. "I just shaped us how I felt we needed to be shaped along the way."
Shortly after his appointment, Seccombe had determined a major part of his task to be teaching a young, talented group the art of winning. Belief, he maintained, was a key part of that – in one another, and in their ability to prevail from any situation. The latter was almost Queensland lore; a long-held inner-confidence stemming from the against-the-odds successes of rugby league's Maroons in the early years of State of Origin, and their regular from-the-jaws-of-defeat victories through the 1990s and early 2000s, before a period of sustained dominance set in. The concept evolved as confidence within the playing group grew.
"When I first came into the Queensland side (as a player), we didn't come from nowhere to win games – we steamrolled teams," says Hopes. "So we've been trying to get our guys to think like that.
"The Queensland way in cricket, when the teams were strong, they were dominant. If we don't put that stamp on early in a game we know there will come a stage where we can put teams under the pump and we can dictate terms.
"These guys watch State of Origin and they think, 'We're Queensland – we come from nowhere and win'. We tried to show them that this was your time, you are the best young players in the country, and you can dominate – you don't have to scrape by.
"Then they started figuring it out for themselves. It only takes a couple of things to happen, and now they're like, 'No, we don't want to scrap our way through – we want to dominate a game from the outset'."
Seccombe's approach to winning and losing is an aggressive one, in line with the national side in recent generations, and logical given the points system in the Shield competition, which skews away from rewarding draws.
"You've got to put yourself in a position to either win or lose, and back yourself to win more than you lose," he says.
"Come Shield final time, when you look at the ladder, it doesn't matter how many losses you've had – it's how many wins you've had.
"If we're prepared to lose a game to win one, we're heading in the right direction.
"We had to expose them a little bit to that this year. There were games where we said, 'No, we're going for the win here'.
"And that's a process. They're starting to get there. They're starting to trust each other."
Central in match-based discussions were key performance indicators (KPIs) that put specific responsibilities on the batting and bowling groups. While the onus was on the individual to perform, the reality of the sport dictates players will not contribute heavily every innings, which the KPIs considered.
"We wanted three of the top five batters in each game to be from our side," Peirson says.
"We also want one of our bowlers taking the most wickets for the game."
All the while, Seccombe's remit came back to the creation of a winning culture. His players were becoming respected, professional young men, but there was something else he didn't want them to discard along the way.
"The one fundamental for us is you've got to enjoy what you do," he says. "That's put the fun back into everything we do. And if we're doing all those little things right, we're going to be a happy bunch."
Seccombe describes his support staff as "possibly the best in the world" and is at pains to point out he and the players have been the major beneficiaries of their expertise.
High performance manager Chapman is a case in point; after success in Queensland, he has won three titles with Mumbai Indians in the past six years and is considered one of cricket's leaders in his field. Where in the pre-season he worked on the players' endurance, he shifted his focus to the use of technology to improve performance once the season began.
Chapman zeroed in on a Cricket Australia study that has been ongoing for five years, which uses an algorithm to differentiate the level of intensity of a bowler in their run-up and at the crease via GPS. The Queensland squad is based out of the National Cricket Centre, which means they have the advantage of those world-class facilities, however the technology employed by Chapman has been made available to all states, with CA providing support and funding.
"The main thing within the Queensland environment is the uptake, and the innovative coaches," he explains. "They've been phenomenal. We're able to generate data that the coaches are interested in, that the playing group are interested in, and that makes a massive difference.
"The introduction of bowling intensity through GPS has made a big impact. It's a way we can review and manage those players.
"We identify their normal match-base intensity, then we can look at clusters of balls – so spells over a game – and we can compare intensities between games, and we can also look at bridging the gap between our training and playing environment.
"We've always reviewed bowling workloads, but we've never been able to quantify the actual intensity before."
Chapman cites Bulls Player of the Year Michael Neser as an example. The fast-bowling allrounder left Brisbane during the KFC Big Bash to join up with Adelaide Strikers, where he played a key role in their title success.
When he returned to Shield cricket, his run-up speed was noticeably slower than what it had been prior to the BBL, and he was struggling to find the same rhythm.
"It's good to get that objectivity, because it had been a subjective opinion of some of our bowling coaches and also of Michael himself, that he wasn't feeling quite the same as he was before BBL," says Chapman.
"So to be able to have something tangible to show him, meant we could get on top of it and get him back to how he wanted to be."
The technology was also beneficial in injury prevention and management, as Queensland's use of just 16 players through the season underlined (tellingly, this was equal with fellow finalists Tasmania for the fewest players used).
In fact, had it not been for a broken finger to Neser, and a non-cricket related injury to Feldman – which saw Cameron Gannon and Nathan Rimmington called in for one game each – the Bulls could have fielded as few as 14 players.
"Getting a group of fast bowlers that are as fit and strong as they can be, and managing them well throughout the year is a major focus," says Chapman. "If you look in the second half of the season, to have the quality of fast bowlers we did is a great testament to what was happening. They were managed well."
A fully-fit, maturing fast-bowling group, with the added young blood of exciting prospect Brendan Doggett, then took it upon themselves to push one another harder.
Collective ambition within the bowling group and an environment of mutual encouragement was a direct result of Seccombe's cultural shift, and the end product was spectacular: Neser claimed 39 wickets, Feldman 34, while allrounder Jack Wildermuth and rookie Doggett took 29 and 28 respectively. Together with leg-spinner Mitch Swepson (32 wickets) and the back-up of Mark Steketee (11 wickets in five matches), it was a title-winning combination.
"The last few years I don't think they understood how good they could be," Noffke says. "This year they made a conscious decision they wanted to be right up there in the wicket-takers columns for the year as a group and as individuals.
"That's something we wanted; more guys who were going to change the outcome of a game with ball in hand. They've worked really hard on their skills – what they do with the ball, how they stand the seam up, where it pitches, and it's paid off."
A recurring theme throughout the Bulls' successful 2017-18 Shield campaign had been the regular cameo appearances of former players. Seccombe wanted the pre-existing culture within the state's set-up to help form the backbone of what he was building with the current crop; a seamless merging of past, present and future.
He regularly contacted old teammates, and other former players who had become friends through his involvement with Queensland Cricket or the Bulls Masters program – a non-profit organisation that utilises the goodwill of past players to foster cricket, provide community support and assist charities all over Queensland.
They would come to a match for a cap presentation, attend a team barbecue, or lend a hand at training.
"They're old mates of mine, people that I trust and I love," says Seccombe. "If we can surround these guys with good people, they'll understand what we're all about."
It was a revolving door of players: Matthew Hayden, Michael Kasprowicz, Matthew Mott, Dirk Tazelaar, Greg Rowell, Adam Dale, Peter Drinnen and Scott Prestwidge.
Hayden offered his insights to the group about batting at the Gabba; the former left-handed opener scored more than 5,000 first-class runs there at an average of 56.
"Haydos being Haydos, he had some really cool one-liners," recalls Peirson. "One of them that's really stuck with us is, after tea is 'butter-and-jam time'.
"So as batters, if you can find a way to bat all day, after tea, break out the scones and the butter and the jam, because that's cash-in time.
"And that was one of our catch-cries as batters: 'hang in there for butter and jam time'."
It was another means of tapping into that intangible Queensland 'spirit', and when Seccombe saw Ian Healy, Carl Rackemann and Jimmy Maher celebrating his team's Shield final triumph in the changerooms, brothers in arms with his young players, he knew the bonds had been created.
"From my end it's very deliberate to get a lot of these people in and around the group, but it happens very naturally anyway," he says.
"Somehow it's in our DNA."
At a time when Cricket Australia is planning a cultural review into the national men's teams, they might well consider looking at the revolution that's taken place north of the Tweed across the past six months.
The playing group is an eclectic bunch; an Englishman, a country copper, a tee-totalling physiotherapy student and a pair of South African natives among them. But under Seccombe, they've been united by a shared belief and a common cause.
"As a group we want to achieve what those guys in that golden era did," Peirson says. "I think we've certainly got the talent to do it. If we can keep this group together for as long as we can, and keep learning how to win, hopefully we can achieve something special in the next few years."
The lofty ambitions of the young squad have been noted by those around them.
"When you talk to the playing group, the discussion is about where Queensland should be, that we should be winning the one-day tournament next year, along with the Shield."
Seccombe is a season down as head coach and has achieved his initial objective of teaching his players how to win. But coaching is a fickle game; reputations can be built and destroyed inside a season. He is encouraged however, by the calibre of players he has at his disposal. With time, perhaps, a new Bulls dynasty could be forged.
"We're very fortunate with the ages of our players and their amount of experience, as well as the talent they've got," he says.
"They're starting to know what success is, and their games are developing. So it's just about letting them go out there and show their skill, because the talent within Australian cricket is sitting with us."