Howard's way is not without risks

Cricket Australia's strategy to rope in a rugby union man as a manager of their cricket team is certainly an interesting move, but it is also fraught with peril because in modern sport, knowledge of the game is important.

Powered by automated translation

What do they know of cricket who only cricket know? Well, judging by the denouement of the Argus review into Australia's Ashes demise last winter, not as much as some people who mainly know about rugby.
Having analysed where it all went wrong, in a series in which they lost three matches by an innings to a side they had whitewashed four years earlier, Cricket Australia turned to a rugby union man.
A new role has been created and Pat Howard, a former Wallabies centre, is about to start work as the new general manager of team performance.
Cross-pollination in sport is not new, but it remains rare. The success stories are rarer still.
When England lost 5-0 in Australia in 2006/07, they conducted an exhaustive inquest, led by someone from another sport, Ken Schofield, a noted golf administrator.
Given their subsequent rise to the top of the world, including two Ashes wins in the process, it obviously worked for them.
With the roles reversed, Australia, too, looked outside cricket. Following his investigation, Don Argus, a mining executive, decided a new role was required, leading to Howard being imported from rugby.
From next month, almost everyone in Australian cricket, including the captain and head coach, the selectors, and the centre of excellence manager will be answerable to the 37-year-old Howard.
Bearing in mind his first jobs will be to appoint a new selector and head coach, the task facing him is significant.
So what does he know about it? Does it matter that cricket is not his area of expertise?
There are few precedents to judge by. At his introductory press briefing, Howard pointed to the Rugby World Cup for a positive example.
Martin Snedden, a former bowler who played 25 Test matches for New Zealand, has been piloting the administration of rugby's showpiece as the competition's chief executive.
Snedden's remit, though, has been more about bricks, mortar and logistics than on-field performances, which is where Howard will be judged.
Perhaps the most prominent example of a coach, or performance manager as the lexicon seems to prefer it, switching between sports has been Sir Clive Woodward, the former England rugby union coach.
Like Howard, Woodward is essentially a rugby man whose fertile mind - and self-regard - compelled him to broaden his horizons.
Both have succeeded in other walks of life. While cutting his teeth as a rugby coach, Woodward managed an IT leasing company. Howard, a qualified pharmacist, was also held in high esteem in the business sector for his work as an executive with a property company.
In their primary sport, both have been highly successful. In 2003 Woodward became the first and so far only person to coach a northern hemisphere nation to victory in a Rugby World Cup.
However, when he started to get itchy feet, his success rate began to diminish. Woodward swapped sports to become performance director of Southampton football club in 2005.
It was a manufactured position, which had no precedence of success or otherwise in a notably inward-looking sport.
After Woodward had a go at it, performance directors hardly became must-haves for football clubs. He was quietly ushered out of the door, and the sport, barely a year later.
Howard knows all about success from his time in rugby, but whether he can do the same in cricket remains to be seen.
Knowing a little about life tends to lend perspective when it comes to sport, as CLR James asserted with his challenge about people who know only cricket. But in modern sport, a little knowledge of the game goes a long way, too.
Follow The National Sport on @SprtNationalUAE & Paul Radley on @PaulRadley