Thursday, 10 December 2009

I solemnly declare

Just a quick one - Tasmania has declared it's first innings closed half way through day three against WA. It's just they are 150 runs behind WA's first innings score! If anyone has a logical explanation for this I'd love to hear it. Every run WA make from now is another Tas has to get to salvage points when they were well on target to secure first innings points to begin with.

Me not get it

In other news Brad Hodge fronts for the mighty Vic for the last time in shield cricket starting today against the 2nd placed Redbacks. From the looks of it there's plenty of rain around Melbourne though which would be a shame for the match. Hodge is undoubtedly one of the greatest ever state players to have played so few test matches for Aus. One can only hope Andrew Hilditch is there to congratulate and also apologise to Hodge for being such a wanker and preventing a potentially illustrious career.

Wednesday, 9 December 2009

Test cricket the victor

And just it looks as though Indian curators have put another 'nail in the coffin' of test cricket, good old Les produces a beauty. All three results possible on the last day with lots of wickets and runs in the game - welcome to test cricket. No doubt with the result being a draw 20/20 heads will be saying 'what's the point' and I say to them 'you just don't get it'. Go eat some chicken.

With entertaining an esteemed colleague from Melbourne a priority I was less than totally observant of the day's play on Saturday. Really it wasn't a great day's cricket with both teams grinding it out a bit but an impromptu meeting with Joel Garner provided some relief from the sun. My colleague was adamant in his views on West Indies cricket and Big Bird received them well; albeit a little dismissive at times with a wave of his hand.

I continue to be proven wrong in my views on Aus' team with Watson making two good knocks at the top and less troubled by full and straight deliveries than he was in England. Johnson looked as good as he's bowled in months and brought up 50 wickets in the calendar year believe it or not! Bolly was great - I've been a big fan of his for a while and hope that he takes the rock a few more times this summer. Hussey looks very uncomfortable at the crease and Hauritz is fairly consistent. We may have to accept that he won't replicate Tim May's efforts in England in 1993 unless bowling on favourable decks but he is doing a job. While Benn toiled for a 5 for in the first innings he couldn't find rewards from a 5th day wicket so it's worth bearing that in mind when evaluating Hauritz's return.

Bravo demonstrated why Ponting rates him as West Indies' most dangerous player. I wasn't convinced of him but am now a convert. He bowls very very handy overs to complement Roach and bats with traditional West Indies' flare. This may be his undoing at times but will no doubt bring as many runs if not more than Flintoff ever did for England. Big Benn (or 'Suli' as he like to be known) performed miracles in the first innings. It wasn't hot but to bowl so many overs and remaining dangerous is an amazing feat. Roach bowls heat, consistently, and hopefully the WACA is more of the old variety so we see some fizzers past noses. I guess there's little point mentioning Chanderpaul and Sarwan which is a good sign for the West Indies as they were widely touted as their only chance.

Listening to AM radio late on day 4 the West Indies commentator was explaining that Gayle kept batting to ensure there would be no loss. This was because his team had been beaten so badly for so long that the West Indies would take a draw as a win. Gayle partly confirmed as much at the end of the test by stating preventing the loss was the first priority. However, surely when he had men all around the bat for the last session on the last day with 5 wickets to get he must have wondered if he'd made the right decision. The idealist in me says that West Indies cricket followers would have preferred their captain to put the onus on Aus to get a target and keep a result much more probable. If you lose giving it your all and being brave then that's admirable. I would have more respect for Gayle if he'd given Aus 100 overs to make 300 odd by throwing the bat earlier on day 4 and declaring. On the other side there's no doubt he did what he thought best for his team and was committed to the task. On this level, Mr Gayle, I apologise for doubting you.

With neither side making 700 over three days in one innings we had a real test match to watch and West Indies were the better side overall. Full credit to them for making Aus scrap a draw and it bodes well for WA since, while the trophy will remain in Aus, West Indies' pride will not.

Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Weekend Cricket

Didn't have much to do with the boys this weekend as I've been too busy with publicity and organising events for the launch of my latest book of poetry

However, it didn't stop me from getting hold of the scorebooks and getting results up on the website. A really difficult weekend as we had 26 regular players out across four grades and therefore it was remarkable we won two of the three grades.

First lost again and after three wins to start the season, they have followed with three losses. One day game (45 overs) in which they restricted Souths to 200 but then fell in several heaps and lost by 84. Our opening bowler took 5-27 in a performance that was mostly about wreckage.

2nds had a rare win and with 8 players who hadn't played the grade this season. A kid from thirds took 5-20 in an opposition score of 102. We struggled to get the runs, eventually passing them 9 down after being 1-45.

3rds lost narrowly. Their stand in Skipper was the only bloke in the team that had played third grand this year! They made 162 and were passed seven down.

4th got up thanks to some super subs. Rolled Souths for 146. A first game rookie with the confused Aussie/Chinese name of Lachlan Ng to 6-15 off five! We were seven down when the winning runs were struck by another first gamer who scored 78no.

I missed the opportunity to take the whites from the bag after I was selected in 4ths but declined. I did it for two reasons: I was too bloody busy and my wife bet me at the start of the season I wouldn't be able to resist the urge to play again. Having done so, the way is now clear!

Monday, 7 December 2009

With reference to referring

There is so much discussion about cricket currently; 4 days tests, day night tests, how few tests some countries are playing, Sledgie in Adelaide........

I've decided to pick the referral system and we may have the first resignation of an umpire as a result of central umpires being undermined. There are many points of discussion on the UDRS but I'll try to be concise.

Firstly, despite commentary to the contrary, I think the system has to be asked for by the players. By this I mean the players have to request the referral 'upstairs' otherwise we will see the same lack of confidence by umpires as we do with run-outs. How may times do we see a batsman out by 2 metres but the on-field umpire calls for a second opinion. In this current test we've seen a catch by Hauritz referred when he claimed it but the umpire weren't certain. I may be wrong but I thought it had already been established that cameras were rarely going to be conclusive enough for close catches. The umpire has to make a decision and then the teams decide if they want to challenge it. This by its nature is problematic. Billy Bowden has said if he got it wrong and his decision is over-ruled he's fine with that because the right decision has been made and he can get on with the next ball and decision; rather than have a potential mistake haunting him. I'm not sure all will agree with this sentiment. Perhaps there is an element of pride here that umpires' fallibility will be highlighted.

Secondly, the mantra that the system is designed to prevent 'howlers' already makes reference to umpire ability. The statement means referring and a subsequent over-rule is designed to correct a woeful decision by an umpire. I see little benefit in heading down this path of argument. Why not declare the system is there to enhance correct decision making and be done with it?

Thirdly, expect few batsmen 'walking' after snicking as umpires will be more inclined to give 'not out' for close calls as the fielding team can ask for a referral. I maintain that most technology will not make it clear whether there is a nick or not and so batsmen will be given 'not out' more often than not by the third umpire. Perhaps captains will learn that it is rarely worth referring for little nicks as if the central umpire says the batsman stays it more than likely going to be the case with the off-field umpire.

Lastly, I think there is an underlying and tacit assumption that the referral system will ensure the right decision is made far more often. This will not be the case. Firstly there is only a certain amount of referrals available. Secondly, unlike tennis' technology, cricket's is nowhere near able to present the necessary information 100% of the time to give a conclusive picture of what's occurred.

I must admit to be sitting on the fence somewhat on this issue. Generally I feel that sport ebbs and flows in it's delivering of justice. One day you'll smash one into your pad and being given lbw, others you'll get a life when you know you've just edged one behind and the umpire doesn't hear it. Similarly the opposition may give a life in the slips by dropping a dolly or they may snaffle a blinder. On the other hand technology should be used to improve the accuracy of decisions in the same way it is part of the evolution of other aspects of the game - eg equipment. BUT, the ICC can be very clear about the purpose of the referral system and outline what it will not and cannot do. The ICC can also better highlight the importance and role of central umpires in relation to the system or risk losing some of the best in the world so all we have left are umpires like Rudi.