Cricket Australia's national talent manager Greg Chappell couldn't understand the "negativity" directed at the CA XI competing in the domestic one-day competition before their courageous win over Tasmania.
The CA XI is a team made up of fringe players from each state and when they were dismissed for 59 by NSW and then 79 by Victoria in their first two games the critics questioned the team's place in the Matador Cup after watching two international-class bowling attacks terrorise them.
However, they struck back with a three-run win over a Tasmanian team which boasted six internationals at Bankstown Oval on Saturday and Chappell took plenty out of the win.
"It was a gutsy effort at the best of times but especially after what they'd been through," said the former Test captain. "They got a bit of a shock in the first couple of games and would've been as disappointed as anybody. I missed the first two games because I was in Brisbane for the under 17 national championships but I was pleasantly surprised by the spirit in the group. They were still upbeat and talking positively about what they wanted to do and went out and backed it up [against Tasmania] with a gutsy performance."
Chappell said the early negativity stunned him. "I just don't get it, I only see positives," he said. "Whatever happens in this tournament there'll be three or four kids who'll come out the other side as better players because they'll have seen what the better players do; they'll have seen how they prepared and [the CA XI] would have found themselves in pressure situations and had to have found ways to deal with it. What we have to accept is they played the two toughest teams in the first two games. Mitchell Starc is one of the best players in world cricket, [New Zealand captain] Brendon McCullum barnstormed his way through the World Cup and looked like the best player ever until he came up against Mitchell Starc.
"James Pattinson, as well. He bowls around the 150 km/h mark, and that's why they have to play in these tournaments, if they're going to make it to the highest level of the game they'll face bowlers of that speed. As a player I didn't know how to handle fast bowling until I was subjected to it."
Chappell said the critics also needed to appreciate that Cricket Australia was no different to any other organisation that needs to invest in its future, and he said that's what they'd done by entering the seventh team, with an average age of 21, into the Matador Cup. "There's a number of points," he said. "The worst thing you can do is keep someone at a level at which they're already competent for too long because they go stale, aren't getting challenged and not necessarily improving. They don't get better in the nets, what they need to do is play."