I watched a few of the Victorian Matador Cup matches this year and noted that Cameron White, the winner of the previous 2 player of the series awards didn't look like the player I had come to know. It’s not an easy thing to pinpoint, especially as I have never met the man, but I’ve seen a similar look to many players at other levels of cricket before. In short, he looks like he’s just going through the motions and that the drive to go higher and succeed has diminished as has the love of the game. If this is truly the case, then he won’t last much longer at first class level.
At his best he was a very damaging batsman, a clean striker of the ball and an astute captain who could, when his self confidence was high, bowl some pretty useful leg-spin. He has also been an excellent slips fielder and a mainstay for Victoria for such a long time I tend to think that he’s older than his thirty-two years. At his worst however, he looks awkward and his lean time at the top was not given as much leniency as was afforded to some other players who have been through similar lean periods.
As stated above, White is 32 years old. This is no longer a reason to discount a player in regards to selection and we saw Chris Rogers forge a competent “late in life” career at Test level when given the chance so hope for him should not have completely vanished. Having said that, there would appear to be a focus on youth at the moment which would count against White when combined with his results last season and in this year’s Matador Cup. Players like Peter Handscomb and Marcus Stoinis have a longer career ahead of them and have recently broken through in to Australian touring squads while White now can’t hold his place for a crucial must win final in a Domestic One Day comp.
Perhaps he has come to the realisation that he won’t be getting that chance to play Test Cricket again, which I can understand would be deflating after 144 First Class games which began with a debut in 2000/1. It must be hard to stay “up”, or “switched on” or focused on your performance in order to reach a goal which seems to have slipped beyond your grasp.
Perhaps it’s a case of a lack of enthusiasm for the 50 over comp in its current format. I’ve heard that the players don’t enjoy the Matador Cup being played in a condensed time frame on little grounds all in NSW. Once a showcase of State talent, the domestic fifty over game is now the disliked step child of Australian cricket; given little chance to shine at a time when people aren't all that enthused for the sport.
Perhaps he’s just in a slump, which all cricketers go through in their career. Perhaps he’s actually reached the end of his time as a front line First Class Cricketer. He’s been a good player, sometimes a great player & at one point good enough to play for his country, which means you’ve been given something very special that can never be taken away. He should remember that, no matter how he finishes up.
I’d like to see him double his efforts in the search for success, but if the love of the game is gone, then cricket can be a lonely and unhappy place to dwell. I hope my assessment of his batting and body language is wrong and that he shows his class again soon, but I fear that the “Bear” may be becoming an endangered species.