Thursday, 12 March 2009
So here it is, the downthewicket scoreboard:
Scores for POTD (play of the day).
5 points for POTD awarded every day.
50 points for introducing a new member
25 points to person who introduced a new member, when that new member introduces someone else.
10 points when your post gets 10 or more comments from others apart from yourself.
15 points for getting a post on another cricket site or blog that you sign off with, or mention/link downthewicket
The prize will be either a latest release or classic cricket book or cricket DVD of your choice. If the person with the highest score has over 1000 points i'll double the prize!
To allow for new members to accumulate points this will run until the end of the ODI series of the 09/10 Australian summer cricket season.
Play of the day will reset as a new day after a POTD has been awarded- this will allow for all of us living in different timezones/lifestyles.
There are literally hundreds of cricket sites and blogs around the world, so go get 'em tigers!
Mark Taylor was handed the most important job in the country and a team that had talent and confidence, he was a ruthless attacking captain that backed himself and his team and exploited it talents perfectly.
Steven Waugh is perhaps Australian cricket's luckiest captain, presiding over arguably its best team ever and with Australian cricket's best brain standing in the slips on hand to turn to if and when needed.
We will never know if he was any good as a captain because my Sicilian Great-Grandmother (who's only knowledge of cricket was how to roast them when times were tough) could have led the side with as much distinction.
Ponting took over a hugely successful team with massive amounts of experience to draw on and like any astute and wise leader was not backward in seeking advice both on and off the field.
The team bears no resemblance now to the great teams of the recent years and hundreds of tests worth of experience have been lost. As any-one would expect the team had to go backward before it went forward again.
After a fantastic battle in Australia that could have gone either way and success in the first two tests in South Africa (unexpected by most) a few things have been noticed.
Ponting seems now a General on the field; Gone are the on field discussions between overs and out come the attacking field settings and bowling changes with an authoritarian wave, point nod or word. Ponting is a man in control of his team and his destiny, he has his "own" team now and has had a large hand in shaping it.
Watching on the news at training, he was standing in the umpires position watching both bat and ball, giving encouragement, dispensing advice, "feeling his team", watching, thinking.
Hearing him arrive on the Afican continent with words like "confidence", "attacking" and "positive" it was clear to see that he is taking on the challenge ahead of him when others might have hedged by saying things like "re-building" "inexperienced" and "green"
We are on the way to learning just how good he is and the evidence is looking good.
Tuesday, 10 March 2009
With Pontings quick declaration on day 4, the question begs to be asked, can the Aussies make the definitive statement- WE ARE BACK!
The SCG test win may have just been the RSA displaying that typical anomaly- the dead rubber loss. The first South African test displayed to me that the more complete changes made by the selectors have created the nucleus of a competative team; made all the more impressive by Johnson's continued ability to lead the bowling attack, and with Siddle just getting better innings by innings too.
So now we have had the aforementioned players performing, Hughes with back-to-back tons and the team poised to take the series if they can take 7 wickets on the last day. It looks like nearly everyone in team is pulling their weight; a nice change from having bowlers batting better than most of the batsmen, and part time bowlers taking wickets!
Day 4 was hardly the best for cricket viewing: 244 RSA runs and 2 wickets. With Smiths mangled hand, day 5 needs either 302 runs or 7 wickets must fall. On the face of it (if you use the previous day as a benchmark as to how the wicket is playing out), the match looks like fizzing out to a draw... unless this new found Australian bowling structure takes control. There is still plenty within the RSA batting line up- particularly with Kallis and DeVilliers at the crease- but this match, and the series, is really there to be won by the Aussie bowlers, in 3 session or less.
As an Australian, and one that has pushed for team change, i would like to think they can produce a win- preferably in the last session, just to tease it out for viewers/fans/and to break the hearts of the South Africans!
Sunday, 8 March 2009
The "green Mamba" pitch at Durban strikes again and its venom is clearly getting stronger as the days click over.
Australia's lower order folded at 352, a score that at any other time would be considered the bare minimum to defend and stay competitive. With all the talk of Johnson now pushing all-rounder status, a duck seemed to burst that bubble and one could not help but wonder if some of the hype had gone to his head... then he was given the ball!
Johnson, showing that he is now well entrenched as an international cricketing superstar, battered South Africa into a bloody pulp! With able assistance from McDonald, and another super tight and constrictive bowling effort from Siddle, Australia truly appear to have the bowling formula and combinations required now to take twenty wickets. Of course a front line spinner is the one key element missing, but unless Hilfenhaus takes it up another notch his position may well be used as the interchange bench. As previously stated, clearly it is desirable to give him as much test experience as possible when England will offer him the best conditions for his talents.
Where as in the Sydney test with Smith missing due to his hand injury Australia felt they had a real chance, his absence again (thanks to a 151km/h Johnson missile) looks unlikely to be the decisive factor in a match where more Australian batsman compiled some sort of score than South Africans. Hussey must consider his 50 a career saver given his recent test form. McKenzie just doesn't do enough regularly and one can't help but wonder how he keeps his spot when RSA cricket looks so good now!
Still, given the momentous turn-arounds all summer between these sides, only a fool would write South Africa off at this (or any!) stage. With two days to go, it once again seems likely that the competitive nature and skills of these teams will provide a full five days of test cricket.