(REUTERS) – Australia’s Adam Voges has retired from international cricket, signing off with a Test batting average second only to the great Don Bradman.Voges became the oldest player to score a century on his Test debut when he made an unbeaten 130 against West Indies two years ago, aged 35.The right-handed batsman scored 1 485 runs at an average of 61.87, ranking him second on the all-time list behind Bradman’s incredible 99.94.Voges lost his place in the Test team after the second of two defeats to South Africa in November and was treated for concussion after being hit by a bouncer when batting for Western Australia in a Sheffield Shield match the same month.Voges, 37, will lead the Prime Minister’s XI against the touring Sri Lankan team in Canberra today and has said it will be his last match against an international side.“This will be it for me,” Voges told reporters.“I’m certainly looking forward to getting out there and playing this game. I’ve had an amazing couple of years with Australia with the Test team and I’ve loved every minute of it.Australia have made wholesale changes to their team after a thrashing in Sri Lanka and home series defeat to South Africa.The Steve Smith-led team have since revived their fortunes by defeating South Africa in a dead rubber at Adelaide and went on to beat Pakistan 3-0 at home.
Lone Star playersAs the national soccer team, Lone Star, face another challenge abroad against the Warriors of Zimbabwe, the information is that someone somewhere at the Liberia FootballAssociation (LFA) is making selections for Coach James Salinsa Debbah, and this is not encouraging.And so while Zimbabwe is at peace and resumed camping early this week to prepare to welcome Liberia on June 11, Liberia is sadly complaining about someone usurping the job of the team’s head coach and selecting players without his knowledge.However, there are also reports that some sports journalists have recordings of Coach Debbah making an announcement of the same players that he now says he did not select.Some of the sports journalists have sworn that they can prove Coach Debbah may be hiding something with his denial of his own selection of 14 players for the match against Zimbabwe.So as we speak Liberia has not made a good selection of the best 22 players, at least, from the national league to participate in friendly matches as a way of keeping the spirit of the team alive, since majority of the players for the 2019 qualifying rounds of the African Cup of Nations would be mainly players from abroad anyway.Some interesting questions are: What is going on? If it is true that Coach Debbah did not know about the selection of the 14 players for the Nations Cup encounter against Zimbabwe, then who did it? Or is it because, as someone at the LFA told me, the LFA owes the technical team and therefore someone who is unhappy is blowing smoke against what was agreed upon?Though the LFA has remained mute on the issue, there is a report that the national team will welcome their Sierra Leonean counterparts, Leone Stars, in a friendly international match in Monrovia this weekend.The weekend friendly match is to help both teams in the wake of their respective encounters the weekend of June 11. Sierra Leone is set against the Harambee Stars of Kenya and they may use the game to smooth their players’ rough edges.What does Liberia get to gain from the friendly match this weekend, since the team against the Leone Stars may not be the ‘real’ members of the team against Zimbabwe?This is a tricky question because friendly matches are played for good reasons. For example, when FIFA and or CAF announced windows that provided all countries a chance to try their teams against stronger teams in friendly international matches, Liberia did not take advantage of it.Wasting that advantage, the technical team of the Lone Star does not know how good the best 22 players would fare in any match. And so without playing together enough, it goes without saying that the technical team will work from the blind side, as it is said in sports, not knowing what to expect from its own players.If Liberia has had to play friendly matches, like other nations, the coach could have by now know what is needed on the team to change or strengthen it. It could have made sense to play a friendly match to “see” the team’s response and reaction and then the coach could have devised a strategy to smooth what is necessary in attack or defense.I am convinced that the good Lord above rewards those who make efforts in their lives and request His spiritual support to win over adversities. If you don’t make use of your advantages, prayers alone cannot change a dream to succeed, and dreams simply become dreams. So, unless we change the lackadaisical means of handling important issues, we will not make progress like the rest of the countries make in developing their national teams.When that happens is our heroes will be Messi, Ronaldo, Neymar and those whose achievements on the soccer field are meaningless to our national pride.Share this:Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)