Friday, 13 November 2009

...but first, the news

interesting week in world cricket we've had.

Australia retain top ICC ODI pozzy, with the series win over India. If i was in doubt as to whether i was remiss in my writing about these games, the lack of comments from all tells me a contribution was not required.
That said, from the nothing i actually saw and the news reports/scores etc it appeared to have had a lot going on in a well fought contest.

Obviously the first point was the Australian attrition rate: while calls of 'too much cricket for the players' are bandied about, i take the other point- players WANT to opportunity to play, and earn.
It could be said that players will not self-enforce a rest for fear of losing their place, and while this argument has some substance, i can't see how an in-form player that needs to miss a game will not be re-included... then again, we are talking about CA selectors, so anything is possible!

Best of all was the new inclusions lifting and the team pulling together for the result, and credit where it is due, CA did the right thing by both giving new players a run, and bringing in some experienced but little used blokes. Big congrats to Doug the rug on his successful return, what a great way to get ahead of the pack for the upcoming summer.

As a post script on the series, does Daniel Brettig really believe that 50 over cricket has come "Roaring back"? I think not!
Just because a player says it, doesn't mean people want to watch it! With many venues in India holding less than 50,000 people, a full house is not a massive achievement in a country with such a population and purports to be "cricket mad!"

Back. Back, and not going any where.

Good to see one of my favourite players -big Dan Vettori- back after a knock to the bonce by M. Aamer in a match against Pakistan brought on the release of several lawn tigers and a general feeling of poorliness! It must have been a bit of a wack as it hit the grill and concussed the match winning eastern islander!

Roy - i was just watching the rugby and somehow ended up drinking- Symonds is back to prop up the Bulls for the upcoming one day game against SA. Lefty, if he gets a bowl (he is in to replace paceman C.Swann) can i suggest getting down to the ground and attempting to handicap the wayward champ with the offer of a cold one or 20 from over the fence. That is poor of me given my previous supportive remarks of Symonds... sorry, but given he sees the rest of his career as a T20 player, if he gets a slog on or his gear going with the ball or in the field, the croweaters may need to do a Phar Lap and poison the strapping workhorse!

Punter has assured us (again!) that he is not entertaining the thought of retirement yet. This comes in the wake of Hilditch burying his tongue up the Taswegians blurter with the remark that Ponting going would leave a gulf as wide as that left by the retiring S.K.Warne! Without a doubt the apple islander is an incredible batsman and strangely enough not a terrible ODI captain, but in the wash up how did he change the game of cricket? He didn't! If anything, he has hindered his chance of being a greater batsman by digging in his talons to a captaincy
that as the 'best batsman' he received by default. When CA realize that being a great batsman is not the best credential for holding the position of captain, then we may see better cricketing brains running the show out in the field.
With this in mind i will give Ricky one compliment, at least holding the position hasn't had an major adverse effect on his batting, like many better captains before him; still, how much better could he have been without the chore he is not equipped for? well as.

It looks like the Poms will get Ashes cricket back on free-to-air tv now that it is considered a "crown jewel". Up yours Murdoch!

...and some thoughts.
Watson has expressed an desire to stay at the top of the order, clearly he is effective there, but with Marsh a hard-nut specialist back and batting way down the list, and Ponting having moved himself out of #3 to open (who'd have thought he would budge from that spot?) do Australia need to re-evaluate the order a little? I propose keep Watson opening, Marsh at 3 and Ponting at 4.

Is Lee's latest break down the last at an international level? Hilditch appears set to pursue a bowling squad without the quick.

Fidel Edwards from WI looks to have strained more than his injury prone body by playing truant on his remedial program designed to get him right for the Australian tour and playing Champion League cricket only to pick up a further injury. The action has forced WICB to withhold a contract for Edwards and now has me posing the question, will T20 competitions be filled with recalcitrant, retired and raw players only?

The 'Master Blaster' King Viv has given Gayle a verbal touch up about his attitude. As someone that is a HUUUGGGEE fan of Viv and struggling to cop Gayles anti test opinions i couldn't love this more! Not just content to tell Gayle to get his head right, Viv has even offered up an alternative for the captaincy during the Australian tour in the captain for Trinidad and Tobago. Smokin' Joe must still be a bit mad-for-it as his mans name is Ganga!

...and one i forgot, and a fresh one this morning.

What about the ICC proposal for a play-off test series every other year for the top of the ranking teams. i presume this is by way of an alternative to having a test world cup. The logic being that people from other countries (regions) will be more interested in the results of tests and series that their country is not involved in as everyone jockies for the top positions.

And as if Sachin wasn't already the greatest, he confirmed it overnight by taking a press conferance to talk about his 20th anniverary in the game at international level, and graciously let the 2 hour event go for 6 hours so he could answer all questions in many languages even if they were repeats from another language. This in itself is not great (generous, patient and articulate), what is great was the Master letting it be known his desire for more tests to be played, even pointing the finger at the goliath of the BCCI!
Go Sachin!

Sunday, 8 November 2009

Windies Storm Back To Gayle

What's the individual wisdom on the squad of fifteen chosen to tour by the West Indies?

Tendulkar - The Best I've Seen

For once, I take no risk in making a definitive statement. For once, common sense, fact and emotion sit in the stands, happy to share three adjacent seats watch and talk the game and reach the same conclusion ... Sachin Tendulakr is the best I've seen.

I might successfully argue Tendulkar is the best there has been but I couldn't be bothered splitting cricket hairs with you.

I watched his debut hundred against Australia at the SCG just days before I began serving my eight year sentence in a remote country hell. It was only his second century and the glue was still wet on the lad's pubic hair as he drove through the on side and unleashed cuts and drives whilst Ravi Shasti made a celebrated double century. Reid had broken down (again) and McDermott and Hughes were plundered but his sternest discipline was reserved for the tubby, blond rookie bowling leggies. In the years which followed, it was a position of ascendancy - a mastering - he never once gave up. His dominance of the game's best bowler is one of the truest marks of his greatness.

Another is his ability to lift the boring and mundane from its collection of medium pace trundlers and fielding restrictions and coloured clothing and repetitive tactics and outcomes and suddenly blow a handful of Tinkerbell's magic dust over the event and make it memorable. Even the highlights of his 175 this week are unforgettable, the stuff of breath taken away.

Yet, he waves this magic wand with little fanfare and almost embarrassing humility. He takes the spotlight but never wants to talk about anything but cricket as the camera's click and whirr, gathering more moments to sell. He smiles occasionally but mostly sticks to talking about this game or the game but is rarely cornered on his game. He understands the game is more important than any of its players.

I watched the last outing of that old red hankied warrior. I applauded him to and from the wicket on his last day, numbing palms and fingers in the doing. I revelled in his last ditch stroke play and was disappointed as he left, proud as he should have been, for a job well done. Despite my affection for Waugh, despite my admiration for his style, his grit, his contribution to the Baggy Green's legend, its Tendulkar double century which was the remarkable achievement during those few days at the SCG. I doubt I'll ever watch better batting.

When Waugh slog/swept one last, career-ending time to forward square leg, my love of irony was sated again. It was Tendulkar who took the catch. It was as though something more than a cricket ball had passed between them.

The Little Master ... you'd better believe it!

Read what my mentor Roebuck says ...