Friday, 20 March 2009

Ouch, what just happened?

Let this be a lesson to selection of overseas touring parties: ALWAYS pick backups for each area of your team. This means: batsman (middle order), keeper, pace bowler and spin bowler. Obviously this depends on the depth to choose from; for instance if the spinner you're talking about couldn't turn the ball to save their life don't bother. I know that David Boon used to take the gloves on occasions but with the tendency for keepers now to be more than half-decent batsmen too, I think there's even more reason to include Wade or Manou. When a pace bowler breaks down obviously there needs to be someone to take their place; same goes for a batsman. It begs the question; what were the selectors going to do if Katich or Clarke broke down. With the latter this was certainly going to be a risk. What if it occurred two days before the start of a test (which it has)? Contingency plans are indicative of good preparation. No doubt if North had not eaten some rancid wild boar there would be nothing to say on the issue. But because Aus danced with the culinary devil the great debutant is lying in a hospital bed and the first 11 is missing a number six.

It must also be acknowledged that day one of the third test highlighted how close South Africa and Australia are. If one team is not quite on the ball this is exploited ferociously by their opposition. I would ask, however, if Macdonald is picked as an allrounder then why would he bat at seven while Haddin is put up to six. That being said your top order is picked to do a job (ie take the shine off the new ball and make runs!) and your number eight should be getting bonus runs: not required runs. Whereas it appears RSA has made good changes; at least with their opening batsmen so far, Aus has looked short with the bat and no options that could have prevented such an event .

RSA came out with more purpose and fire than in the previous two tests and the Aus batsmen were not up to the task (save Katich, Haddin and Johnson). This was to be expected as pride is on the line for RSA. Hughes will hopefully have learnt another lesson about intent and respecting the bowling, the selectors will hopefully have learnt a lesson about picking a touring party for England. And Hussey will ideally have learnt a lesson about one's place in the team before the first test of the Ashes when he is dropped.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009

Sir Vivian Richards unfit to play

The ICC have finally reacted to the absolutely pathetic conditions of the Sir Vivian Richards Antigua ground!

Given that a test against England had the pin pulled on it because the surface was deemed unsafe for players in February, it seems quite hopeless that it has taken this long (over a month- the test was on the 13th) to actually implement any action. The alarm bells must have been ringing well before the test but somehow it was allowed to start... and then be forcibly finished after only 10 balls!

It is all good and well to be developing an academy and training facilities in Dubai, but when an important cricketing region like the West Indies has this happen, is it any wonder athletic kids there chase the dollars in the USA through sports like basketball, when they see "premium venues" in conditions unfit for international contest?

Let's hope the ICC follows up on this debacle with some grass roots support of the area and a commitment of assistance to providing a world class playing venue and surface; not just for cricket, the people of Antigua, or the kids that should one day be the next Windies stars, but to honour again the great man whose name hangs on the gate!

stoph verismo
down the wicket brief explination detailed from the ICC

Monday, 16 March 2009


What a whirlpool of emotions and theories has erupted in the last few months around Australian cricket. Careers have sadly ended , others have shot off into oblivion and sensationally some have ignited. And yet after all the turbulence of these last months we find our much beloved team in much the same place as they were before it all began. The same place, but in a vastly different vehicle. We now find ourselves talking excitedly about our new crop of youngsters not nervously chewing our nails wondering if the old hands can somehow manage one more foray into battle dragging the weak and weary through the trenches. For so long the wisened cricket community had talked up our second tier Sheffield Shield players with bravado suggesting that an Australia A side would probably be the second best team in the world and possibly believed it. That theory was tested and then blown to pieces by a rampaging South Africa hell bent on crushing a hoodoo that had existed for too long. Their series win seemed almost like fate and was helped along by some scratchy Australian form with the bat, ball and worst of all the field. I watched with a mixture of exasperation and disappointment as Australia systematically ruined a second day position of power and wondered the whole day if the game was following some sort of script. Had the ghost of Hansie Cronje righted a wrong? No, it was cricket plain and simple and it was not pretty to watch if you follow the baggy green. But it was good for world cricket. The Australians had been knocked from their high horse and a new sense of opportunity was realised by the struggling and challengers alike. They can be beaten and it could be us. Even the Australian victory in Sydney did nothing to quell the rising confidence of the rest of the world. It was hardly convincing, once again we struggled to finish of a team that should have been dead hours before. A broken handed Graeme Smith almost held on. The feeling was confirmed, the Aussies are ripe for the picking. You just knew some old aristocrat in the UK was polishing up a new batch of OBE's ready for the team once they took back The Ashes.
And then we went to South Africa. And the rest of the world waited for the bloodbath that would surely drag us from our throne once and for all. No Lee, no Hayden, no Symonds, No Clarke. The most inexperienced team to tour in a long, long time. Three debutants in the same test first up. Who would make the runs? Who would take the wickets? It was time, it was destiny. But the rest of the world had maybe not read enough Australian papers to have taken in the cold hard facts of the situation. Our Sheffield Shield is the best domestic competition in the world. An Australia A side could probably be the second best team in the world...