Friday, 24 July 2009

It's more than official!!

Brad Hodge must surely have jiggered Merv's wife in the ring gear and wiped it on the curtains on the way out!!
How can a man of that talent, with a CA contract not only be overlooked for the Ashes tour but also for the 30 man preliminary list for the Champions Trophy tour?
Am I missing something here?
They are all preaching about "picking teams for the future" but we need to be winning now!!
The batsmen in Notubland have no significant threat if they fail. Imagine the pressure on the top to middle order if they had to look at Hodge chomping the bit as they strode out to bat? Who do they have there now, Watson? McDonald? Scary.....

Thursday, 23 July 2009

got something to say?

A dirty word to some, a tactical element to others; and it is back in the media.

S.Watson has come out and called for this part of Australia's game -that has fizzled out of general use almost as fast as player integrity- to come back to the fore.

But will it have an effect if used in the next test when it will be seen as so obviously a contrivance?
If Australia just walk out and start up being lippy, won't it just come across as a big put on to build up their own confidence?

It was one thing for CA to state (to the team) that players must be seen as role models; it is another to limit the teams ability to win. I'm not condoning a "win at all costs" attitude, i think everyone here will appreciate my sense of sportsmanship, but until talking to the opposition becomes outlawed, what is wrong with getting in to some ones head?

There are already rules to safeguard against racial vilification (although clearly only to be used against, not for Aussies!), so if a player can say something that is not vulgar, what is the problem?

The rest of the worlds whinging about Australia past use of sledging is quite frankly pathetic!
As the request was, 'make sure you know where the line is' from CA, what would be the issue in reminding Freddy that his bung knee is the result of having to carry his over sized ego? Or suggest to KP that he made a good decision moving to Blighty for a game as he would still be lucky to get a spot in RSA behind Prince and Duminy. Onions and onions make the rest of England cry... etc.

Until there are laws preventing on field verbal gamesmanship (let's hope this is NEVER the case), open slather i say!
That being said, if i was playing in the next test, i'd just ease into it just so as not to look like we needed it.

stoph verismo
down the wicket

Hold The Phone

The news overnight that Kevin Pietersen has had surgery on his injured Achillies tendon and will miss the remainder of the Ashes series changes the balance yet again. Pietersen, Collingwood and Strauss form the nucleus of players the Australians most fear with the bat - the ones who could bat a Test away from you. With the most dynmic of the trio sidelined and likely to be replaced by Ian Bell, Flintoff's knee now goes under even more pressure.

Bell is an interesting character, a man with talent at the crease but often a self-destructor against the sternest opposition, especially Australia. He played with moderate success last time out in Australia with 300+ at 33, including four half centuries and it is his failure to convert fifties to hundreds that has been his constant boggey. He was recently dropped after failures in India and the West Indies but he can have greater hope if given another start in the 3rd Test because in his twenty Ashes innings, he has been out fifteen times to the missing trio of McGrath, Warne and Lee. Like others before him, Cullinan included, his natural ability has not yet overcome the confidence and mind dominance of his Australian or Indian opponents.

Lee is unlikely to play in the 3rd and must be a liability whenever.

England now have some problems and the balance has swung more towards the centre than it was twenty four hours ago.

Interesting game cricket!

By the way, a lovely anecdote I had never heard before from Alderman's bunny, Graham Gooch. Apparently after the 1989 series, he had a message on his answering machine, "sorry you missed me. I'm out ... probably lbw Alderman". Apologies if you've heard it before.

Wednesday, 22 July 2009

He's A Modern Stonage Hero

You can argue over replays and chastise umpires for mistakes but the real truths were clear for all without green and gold coloured glasses to see over the past five days at Lords.

England outplayed Australia and right from the first call of “play” on day one – perhaps even before that when Ponting called incorrectly. By lunch, the game was virtually gone as Strauss and Cook flogged the Australian opening attack so badly that Hauritz had to bowl before the tucker break. From there, the Lions controlled the game with Strauss’ first innings hundred setting the game up for his side. When Australia had its turn, not even a suggestion of a return to form from Hussey was enough to save them from a large deficit which only got impossibly larger when England batted again.

The fifth day started with a majority of Australians believing that miracles can be performed by their cricketers after Haddin and Clarke had batted heroically on the fourth afternoon. Instead, we were privileged to watch one of the truly great modern sportsmen this noble game has seen. Andrew Flintoff, like all heroes do, stood tall and accepted the burden of his countrymen and bent his back into one of the best spells of fast bowling I can remember. For a hundred minutes, this man with a knee so badly injured it requires constant pain killing injections, steamed in and bowled consistently in the high-speed bracket. He was fast, he made the ball swing and cut and no one was happy to be facing him. Hauitz watched his fate with his bat resting on his shoulder and others ducked and weaved to avoid the red leather missiles he was still delivering at ninety plus mph an hour and a half after the start.

All of it – fire and brimstone, swerve and swing – delivered with a smile, a smirk and a laugh with his opponents. I liked this guy in 2005 as he took the time over a valiant opponent and crouched with Brett Lee and consoled him before going to celebrate with team mates. I liked him when he was overawed and out of his depth as England captain in Australia 18 months later. Tonight, with England leading 1-0, I like him even more. Here is a man for our kids to examine and emulate. We’ve been missing his type since the late 1970’s.

Swann bowled as was expected of him. Don’t swallow this guff about Clarke missing a full toss to end the Australian charge. He was duped by a dipping ball, bowled with more air and a lot of swerve created by spin on the ball in much the same way as Warne often achieved. His four wickets were deserved and for those paying attention, expected.

We could continue to quibble about umpiring decisions but that would be to miss the point. Umpires have had no hand in the form of Johnson or the non-selection of Stuart Clark or our Jekyl and Hyde batting line up which scored 600 plus at Cardiff but took twice as many innings to do the same at Lords. England are getting starts against our attack in which only Hilfenhaus has been threatening but in the reverse, we are losing early wickets as Phil Hughes has been worked out and over by an English attack which will hope he keeps being selected. If he’s to be dropped – he probably has the third Test left – who opens? Two choices from where I sit in my lounge room: Watson, whose only attempts in first class cricket at the top of the order were a long walks separated by short spaces of time; or Hussey, still struggling for the form that made him the Wonderkind in his first twelve months under the Baggy Green he had waited for and deserved for such a long time.

Umpires don’t captain England or Australia. Pity – we couldn’t be any worse off. This is our biggest problem and one we won’t fix until Ponting retires. I have said many times, he is a genius of a batsman, a brilliant fielder probably only outdone by Andrew Symonds and Mark Waugh in the last fifty years ... but, he is a stiff-necked, one dimensional captain who plays the game plan well past the point where it is exhausted by the real action on the field. He has no instinct, a by-product of the over management of the modern player from all quarters off the field. He can’t think for himself and even his talk is clich├ęd and straight-lined. Pity, because it will take the gloss off what has been a sparkling career.

In the preliminaries of the series, I called on England to win 2-1. Now, I can’t see where or how Australia can win a Test.

Probably a good thing for cricket.