Sunday, 3 November 2013

Yesssssssssssssss welcome back

Well the deciders have given us 3 back-to-back shield games prior to the first test in Brisbane with Aus A playing while ODI specialists toil in a pointless and context-less series in India. Following a domestic one-day tournament played exclusively in NSW we are finally playing long form cricket and have a batsman putting his name up for test selection. George Bailey? No, although the whispers have put his name at number 6 and deservedly so. With questions around cry-for-me Watson, Bailey may find himself in regardless. A fellow Tasmanian by the name of I-can-Doolan has started the shield season as he finished the last - in form. All eyes are on Khawaja after a great Ryobi cup to see if he can make some harder runs; Warner probably only needs one ton for NSW to grab a spot and Rogers has got off to a great start too. Smith should be a shoe-in. Cowan needs a miracle and Hughes, well, he's Hughes. So,

Warner
Rogers
??????
Clarke
Smith
??????
Haddin
Fawad/Lyon
Siddle
Harris
??????

To me there's 3 spots up for grabs if Watson pulls up Watson. The batters have been covered so we turn to the last quick's spot. Clearly selectors are keen to see how our man MJ goes in the last 2 shield games before Brisbane. With most other quicks who have played for the test team previously (excluding Copeland) out injured there's one bloke who could not be doing much more to prove he's got fitter, faster and is bowling like a demon. That's right folks, the Rug is back. Dougie 'Champers' Bollinger bowled like a man possessed in the Ryobi cup and got a bag in the recent shield game. The man looks ready for 25 overs so if he keeps the form going; and if MJ bowls 2009 Ashes tripe, I reckon he's a smoky for the third spot.

There's some quiet but constant pushing of the worth of the Aussies; Eng won't have forgotten how poorly they themselves played to win the Ashes (3 nil if you remember). While there's not much to be bullish about it's hard to see Aus getting trounced again. Like Nospmas I can't see Aus playing enough good cricket to get up but I'm predicting a 2 each result.

Thursday, 26 September 2013

It's Been a While

Hello cricket fans. It certainly has been a while since I visited this site, much less posted on it. For those that know it has not been an ideal year for Nospmas. I was barely interested in my beloved Magpies having only wathed a handful of games, and even then with only a fraction of my usual vigour. I can honestly, and sadly say I watched barely any of the recent Ashes series in Notubland.

 With so many other things invading my thoughts I found it hard to be invested. From all reports there were plenty of things to like about Australia's performances, but plenty to make you nauseated also. Ashton Agar's effort from number eleven being the highlight of the whole series.What a joke that test would have been without his heroics. Something tells me he won't be batting in McGrath's spot ever again.

 And so friends, as I turn a huge corner in my emotional developement I look forward with some hope, both personally and sportingly. I can sense good things on the horizon. A test victory in Brisbane and plenty of runs for a young player in the Australian side. I won't go so far as to say we will win the series. I find it hard to mount a case for anything but rained out draws in both Adelaide and Sydney.

Perth could be the spirit level for the whole series. I am tipping either an easy victory for the baggy green, or a close loss. So I move to my prediction for the series.

 England 2-1. Top run scorer - Alastair Cook (Eng) Usman Khawaja (Aus)

Top wicket taker - Anderson (Eng) Siddle (Aus)

Monday, 1 April 2013

Batting woes and age old foes

After being able to claim few sessions as 'won' Australia have been soundly beaten by an Indian team deserving of a 4 nil scoreline. Even their two quicks did their job well in every test. Whereas in 2004 (and without Ponting for the bulk of it) Aus had clear plans and executed them well, in 2013 their batting could not withstand pressure for long enough periods often enough. Despite winning all tosses and thus getting first use of crumbling pitches, Aus could only mount one total over 400 in the first innings and collapsed in every second innings. The batsmen should be buying the bowlers (Starc beers and Siddle sherberts) drinks for life for salvaging some pride.

Counted as a learning experience it's hard to disagree with Ian Chappell that little learning was evident during the series. While Pujara and Vijay gave a free lesson on accumulating then cashing in, what were Aus' batsmen watching? Footwork is key against spin bowling on turning tracks yet time after time Aus' batsmen rushed from the crease, swept the wrong ball or even played across the line. While ignorance and stupidity can been different things, most of Aus' top 6 possessed both while in the middle. No amount of centre wicket practice on the playing surface seemed to do much for anyone except Cowan and perhaps Hughes. Cowan should go to England but he has to convert scores as Trott and Cook do. Part of me thinks Hughes got a bit lucky late in the tour but I'll give him the benefit of the doubt for at least developing a plan.

Watson should be given an ultimatum; bowl or retire. I'd even be tempted to say 'we're getting lower order runs anyway so why would we pick you?' His modes of dismissal were unforgivable. Martyn was exiled for 6 years for one shot poorly thought through. Watson got given the captaincy. Go figure.

Nothing has happened to change my view that Lyon is Aus' best spinner and and is improving. He's far from the top 6 in the world but he'll do. Maxwell must be cracking jokes and the selectors are in on it if they all think he's a test cricketer. Picking guys like him devalues the baggy green. Whereas Henriques could be considered in hindsight to be an inspired choice as it worked out, we're unlikely to see much of him as his bowling just isn't up to a standard to be considered an allrounder. Starc continues to be inconsistent and so having a Hilfenhaus or Bird around will be important for the back-to-back Ashes. Pattinson maybe even surpassed already lofty expectations and one can become delirious contemplating him and Cummins in the same team. Siddle perhaps didn't sparkle but how can you stay angry at the guy?!?

Khawaja must feel like he is part of some quota policy carrying drinks all tour. Why he didn't get a run when almost everyone was failing is beyond comprehension. Taking him away from shield cricket to be permanent 12th man will have done little for his development. Warner is on borrowed time; he looks out of depth when required to dig in whereas Cowan looks at home. We've seen the great knocks like the one against NZ but occupying the crease must be learned to be a successful opener. Otherwise he may as well bat down the order where he can be more effective. There's plenty of openers after all.

So, my 15 for England - the first 11 being the playing 11.

Cowan
Warner
Hughes
Clarke
Khawaja
Doolan
Wade
Siddle
Pattinson
Cummins
Lyon

Starc
O'Keeffe
Sayers
Watson

Tuesday, 26 February 2013

Days 1 to 5 of the French Open

This year the French Open was moved to Chennai and like the annual tournament Australia was unable to adjust sufficiently to be more than 'competitive'. Dhoni's demolition of the attack was no doubt one of the most precise and inspired batting seen for a few years; however, that should not act to gloss over Australia's ineptness against spin. The pitch was prepared to assist the home side, which in this author's view it should. To be a test cricketer one must be able to adapt and surely if the new bloke, Henriques (with one first class ton to his name), can work out a method to handle indifferent bounce and turn others should too. But of course this side doesn't have the experience that previous touring sides have had. How Clarke must have been begging Hussey to reconsider his retirement. Hayden formulated a plan ahead of 2001 which brought him a joint man of the series award. I wonder how Cowan, Watson, Hughes, Wade and Warner prepared? Traveling to New Zealand or South Africa so soon after a home summer with little acclimatising may be sufficient but for most of those who batted in Chennai I doubt they'd seen anything like a classic dust bowl breaking on day one. Welcome to test cricket in the subcontinent boys. Ask Moises how it's done. Selection for the 2nd test will be over-discussed because so much of it will feel moot. When Dhoni went after him Lyon responded with full tosses and half-trackers but would you drop him? No. Doherty is in the touring squad; drop a quick and pick two spinners? Aus won in 2004 with the same approach it's taking now; albeit with more experience and Warne. I think it's worth taking the when in Rome approach. Of the three it seems Siddle was least effective but I'd wager Pattinson will be rested and that is a shame. Arguably the best bowler of the test for the tourists there is anxiety about his loading. Watson could well be given a cup of concrete too and given the ball; reminded he hasn't exactly proven his worth as a specialist batsman. Much talk surrounded capitalising on starts and several batsmen failed to do so. There's every chance India will drop a quick and pick Ohja so Australia needs to be make a trip to Paris and get on a clay court or else it may find itself 2 zip down.

Saturday, 29 December 2012

Boxing Day Massacre

For those who attended day one of the second test they can proudly claim they saw nearly half of the entire test. What a shame. Sri Lanka's bowling was always going to be challenged; however, more was expected from a batting lineup with experience and determination. With Mahela looking out of sorts and Dilshan unable to curb attacking instincts, only 7 wickets to protect in the second innings were never going to be enough to prevent a win inside three days. With Sangakkara out for the rest of the summer Mahela will be looking forward to giving up the captaincy to Angelo Mathews or Samaraweera. With other injuries to key players Sri Lanka are so up against it heading to Sydney Aus could hand out 3 or 4 baggy greens and still be confident of winning. This is not meant to sound arrogant but Sri Lanka's indifference to test cricket has been exposed; as has the lack of depth. So much depends on Sangakkara and with Mahela looking distracted at the crease; uncharacteristically feeling for the ball outside off stump, it's hard to see how Sri Lanka can rebound. What have we learnt about Aus cricket this summer? If the series against South Africa had been 5 tests South Africa may have well have picked up two more wins; such was their improvement as the series wore on. A soft landing was provided by Sri Lanka's arrival. After an impressive introduction to 'Invers' this author has made a u-turn of opinion and is now scratching his head at two very different decisions. The first is the selection then non-selection of Quiney. 'Protecting' Hughes suggests one is afraid he is unable to handle the best attack in world cricket. How on earth can you then argue he is good enough for test cricket if you hide him against certain teams? So, Quiney was good enough to bat in the top order for his country BUT he was keeping a seat warm?!? Sorry, Invers, irrespective of one's view on Hughes's ability (and Lango is right about his back leg moving to leg-side; that's a terrible flaw to have against the moving ball) you have done a huge disservice to Quiney and sent a message that selection does not come with continuity. The second issue is bowlers being picked by conditioning experts rather than a panel paid to serve this role. To keep things simple; if a guy has a great game, improving as the game goes on and pulls up ready for the next challenge - why would you ever, ever not pick him for the next game? Do you want to bowl him out of form? What message are you sending this guy and all pace bowlers? 'Regardless of how you perform you're missing the next one, son'. Siddle missing the test following Adelaide was perhaps justified if he was doubtful he could perform his role. However; what is happening to Starc and Johnson is far from a horses for courses approach. What's next? Telling Clarke how many overs the bowlers should bowl? I wonder what Trent Copeland is making from all this. Did everything asked but it seems he was the bowling equivalent of Quiney. It appears picking the best 11 is secondary to warming seats so I hope players' bums don't burn. Leftriteout DTW

Sunday, 23 December 2012

Backyard Champions

On indulgence but one I think you'll enjoy ...

 Christmas Day Test Matches

Have a great day in the lead in to the "G" all you DTW types.