Star signings fail the woodenspooners Thunder

ANDREW WU
Last updated 06:40 17/01/2014
Michael Clarke
THUNDER STAR: Michael Clarke wasn't able to turn up for the Sydney Thunder in the Big Bash.

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Sydney Thunder have conceded the decision to sign Michael Clarke and David Warner was ill-advised because of their limited availability for the team.

Clarke is yet to play a game for the western Sydney team, which is anchored to the bottom of the table despite snapping a 19-game losing streak on Tuesday, after being signed in 2012.

Warner has lined up in just one match this season. He was only made available by Cricket Australia for that game, on December 21 against the Sixers, as Australia had already won the Ashes after just three tests against England.

In an 1153-word open letter to their members responding to concerns over another poor season, Thunder boss Nick Cummins said the decision to sign the test stars had backfired.

''While both these players were signed before I started at the Sydney Thunder, these were well-intentioned decisions that have not proven to be successful,'' wrote Cummins, who joined the Thunder in August.

''In relation to the Clarke signing, Michael's passion for the Thunder runs deep and he was genuinely keen to play for the club when his international schedule allowed.

''However, in the lead-up to the Ashes, Michael's back injury prohibited him from playing for Australia, and there was genuine concern from Cricket Australia that this injury may see him lost to cricket altogether.

''Winning test cricket is Cricket Australia's No.1 priority and they have taken the view that all other forms of cricket must come second in regards to managing Michael's fitness.

"This has meant that he was not made available to play for the Thunder at any stage during the season.''

Cummins reminded members that Warner was not playing one-day internationals for Australia when signed in September.

The explosive opener was also not considered a certainty in the test side either after a tumultuous winter, but his standing has risen dramatically in both forms of the game after excellent performances in the Ashes and the Ryobi Cup.

''We went from expecting David to play as many as all eight BBL games to only having him for one,'' Cummins wrote.

''The Brisbane Heat experienced a very similar reversal of fortune around Mitchell Johnson.''

Cummins dispelled suggestions Warner and Clarke had eaten up big chunks of the Thunder's salary cap like the underperforming Chris Gayle had done in seasons one and two.

''While I will not discuss players' personal contract details, it is important for you to know that both players signed contracts significantly below their market value and that rumours of what they are being paid are vastly exaggerated,'' Cummins wrote.

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''The net effect is that we have been deprived of two senior players for the duration of the season and when injuries to the likes of [Tillakaratne] Dilshan, [Usman] Khawaja, [Luke] Doran and [Andrew] Tye hit, our depth has been exposed.

''I can assure members that we will be reviewing how we structure the contracts of our Cricket Australia-contracted players going forward.''

Cummins has pledged an ''aggressive'' off-season recruitment drive in a bid to build a stronger roster for next season.

Cummins did not name recruiting targets but Fairfax Media understands western Sydney products Pat Cummins, Ben Rohrer and Doug Bollinger are high on their hit list.

''We recognise that our list is short of experience, that our older players are being asked to carry too much of the burden and our younger players are being thrust into roles that has tested their experience,'' Cummins wrote.

''However, we have a list of players that we are targeting, that we think will profoundly improve the Thunder. I am not going to speculate on names, but understand that we will be aggressive in our recruiting.''

- Sydney Morning Herald

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