Friday, 21 November 2008

Ball Bounces Back (or is it the Track?)

Who said test cricket was boring? With 16 wickets in a day the crowd at the GABBA certainly have got value for money. Except if they'd turned up to see some of the best batsmen in the world play their shots!

the normally uber cool Mike Hussey showed why umpires are rapidly making themselves redundant (and genuinely hated!). While I'm a dedicated traditionalist, it surely can't be long before the umpires become nothing more than message boys for directing the players in what has been deemed the correct decision by the 3rd umpire. To those that think this is not the way to go, and that decisions are "swings and round-abouts", whatever happened to the benefit of the doubt going with the batsman?

That being said, it is nice to see a match where the ball is dominating... or is it the pitch/conditions? with thunderstorms each night and sunny mornings, the groundskeepers have done a great job at providing entertaining conditions, even if it is over in 3 or 3 1/2 days with the loss of 40 wickets!

Anyway, enough of the platitudes, now for the axe!
with another failure, I'm sad to say that for mine Hayden is finished; if he isn't dropped, i hope he goes on to some really hefty knocks in Perth and Adelaide, but at his age, with this form, it is unfair to the young guns (Marsh, D. Hussey etc) waiting in the wings to hold onto him. He has been awesome, but if Australia is to seriously rebuild, it has to start at the top of the list.

And while we are at the top, when is Ponting going to lift?
123, 17, 5, 2, 87 ,24, 8, 4, 17, is not much of a scorecard for the season so far from such a prolific scorer. If he isn't to be dropped, then why not have a "rest" from the captaincy? Just to allow him time to think about his batting. Tony Jones from cricket seems to think it is only tall poppy syndrome... that must be a euphemism for unaccountability! Why should Ponting be untouchable when his decision making is... dubious at best. Jones also states that Allan Border's criticisms are unfair and that he should be more sympathetic as he was captain during another rebuilding phase. What rubbish! Australia aren't rebuilding, we are continuing on with this stupid "stop-gap" policy. That is, only blooding new players when we need to fill a position, not when players aren't fulfilling the duties of their position.

While having a go at, how is their heading "Black caps on top despite Katich...". No wonder no one put a name under that title, it is bordering on ridiculous! In such a low scoring match, how can the Kiwis be on top when they fell short by 58 runs in the first innings (their top scorer was still 18 runs less than the deficit -Taylor with 40). Even with Australia at 6 for 131 with the pitch getting better for batting, it is hard to see the Kiwis making the 189 they need now, let alone more than that.
It looks like Lee has found his rhythm, Johnson has continued his good form, and Watson and Clark are right in there too.

With zero hope of this being a 5 dayer, the best result would be to see Katich and Haddin put in a good knock, NZ to bat for the last session tomorrow with no wickets lost, and then a grinder on day 4... i hope!

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

swingers are grinners

Why can't the Aussie bowlers get the same amount of swing- particularly reverse- as the teams we are playing?

The Cooley influence, it seems, has failed to get the same effect he had in England in 05, why?
Apart from Binger, no one seams (sic) to be able to get any sideways movement through the air in the Aus side, and Lee is doing it frequently faster than science says it can be done. Why do the others- namely Johnson and to a lesser degree Siddle and Watson (who got good reverse swing in one session of the last test before being taken off due to the over rates fiasco) fail to achieve this when they bowl more within the range that causes substantial swing? I have not included Clark as it is obvious his role is much more line-and-length with subtle use of cutters. That being said, everyone can benefit from a few more strings in their bows.

Johnson, who i think worked his heart out in India- would be so much more complete if over the wicket to the right handers he could in-swing some yorkers, there would be a bag of LBW's as well as clean bowled in that for him. Around the wicket he could still expect a lot of sandshoe crushers to topple the stumps, even at the loss of the LBW decisions. As it stands, the constant over after over of balls just moving away towards first slip off the bounce just isn't enough, if he could also swing it away...well, it is obvious everyone would be clamouring to get into 2nd and 3rd slip. This question of swing, is really aimed at him. He is the one to most benefit from developing these skills.

Hopefully Lee feels a little happier being back at home now, as the GABBA should be as steamy as the curry that took him out over in India and he has spruiked in the media over the last few days that he will get faster through his 30's; unlikely, but with the maturity he developed last summer, a settled head could be horrendous for NZ.

Certainly with the green-top and all of the rain and humidity, the lesser bowlers should start to find a bit more shape and movement... if not, what has Cooley been telling them? Or, given Marcus -i don't care about the rules, it's funny coz we got away with it- Trescothics admission of ball tampering, have the Australians decided not to "come to the dark side" and make the black art of reverse-swing happen due to ethics? If that is the case (and Pakistan were always suss in the 80's and 90's[and how did Z Kahn do it so early in this last series?]) we still need to be able to swing the ball AWAY from the shiny side.

But given how obvious it is that in the same day and with similar conditions, some countries manufacture swing and Australians can't, it must be said something is suss! And because CA won't say it for fear of upsetting whoever it is they are scared of, that is to say that there are cheats on the field! Someone should say it, so i will as it is just so blatant something is happening! Some would say this is sour grapes from me. NO! it is not! i can handle being beaten by a better side- when they play better cricket and deserve to win, but as a traditionalist, i say ball tampering is rank, and if that is the only way to win... you suck and are unworthy to play test cricket.

The genuine swing bowler is probably THE most effective weapon in cricket. let the skill be attained through practice and good captaincy giving the ball over at the best possible time to achieve swing! Not through cheating and ball manipulation!

It is one thing getting the guy that (partially) cost us the Ashes on side, it is another to see his results... which we haven't yet! If it was only a throat lozenge that got the 'no-better-than club cricketers' Anderson and Hoggart to be so effective, Cooley should pack his bags now and CA should apologise to D.K.Lillee and beg him (yes BEG!) to come back and teach the finer points of pace bowling; which is unlikely given CA's arrogance and J Sutherlands "futuristic" outlook!

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

2 allrounders?

Well, now that Andrew "Roy" Symonds has served his time for the fishing fiasco- conveniently relieving him from a trip to India and the tensions that would have created- the jostling to get him back in the side has begun.

Steve Waugh has stated that there is no reason why Australia can't have both Watson and Symonds in the side, and given how well Watson played in India, he certainly deserves to keep his spot. I wonder how Waugh would have reacted though, if when he was captain someone suggested he have two designated all-rounders in the side.

Symonds is a proven match winner and would be any captains dream pick due to his aggressive batting, medium pacers and the missing Indian tour option of a legitimate finger spinner. These points and the fact he has proven now without a doubt that he can concentrate on long test innings batting mean he must be considered a walk up start back into the side.

So is it worth trying something new with two all-rounders? my thought is... absolutely! Why not try something different? Not that NZ will lie down easily, but it is fair to say they fear Australia coming out and getting some form back at their expense. This is the ideal time to play around with the concept of how many all-rounders fit in a side. Who ever said there was room for only one anyway? When both Watson and Symonds can score runs, and when between them we get a quick, a medium pacer and an offey, it gives Ponting bowling options right through the life of a ball and innings. Let's do it!

***new poll below***