Monday, 4 January 2010

Lessons For The Cricket Punks

Among many other things, today was a day of lessons. Certainly, it was a day in which Australia played well but not well enough and of the lessons taught, one key lesson must be learned if Australia are to escape what appears inevitable defeat. It's an old fashioned value that three year old have little of but mothers emplore them to apply.

Patience. As they say, it's not rocket science but for two sessions, Australia was shown how to bat on this lively Sydney wicket. For under such circumstances, one has to play the real Test cricket of our forefathers and its therefore even more astounding that a young group of players raised on the money grabbing fifty over game and the filthy indecency of Twenty20, could show Australia's corn fed, high intensity, high calibre, academy bred elite how its meant to be when the pitch is willing and the conditions against the men who stand in pairs.

But they did and the did for two long sessions - long enough to gain control. By tea, Pakistan's position at 2-190 was several suburbs, let alone streets ahead of Australia's over and time eqivalent all out for 127 yesterday. In fact, so disciplined did they scrap with the Aussies, that it took until two hours into the day for a brain explosion to be apparent, when Farhat danced Watson, missed in an ugly swing and then wandered back at his own pace and was almost stumped by a throw from Haddin.

There after, it was back to the grind.

How Australia would have valued losing 0-71 yesterday in their first session. The second was more expansive, both openers leaving with the addition of 106 runs. Australia won the last session by taking seven wickets but the last four hardly counted as Pakistan's batsmen had been given the instruction to crash or crash through. So whilst they lost wickets, they also piled on the advantage in adding 141 after tea, swinging like a middle class couple in the sixties.

The day started badly for Australia with North playing dropsey at first slip to Farhat. The opener continued to play and miss but so did all in the top six with the exception of Yousuf, who just looked the classy batsman he is. Salman Butt top scored and if Pakistan win this, I hope someone is smart enough to figure his name in the MOM calculations. His 22 runs in the first session made Tavare look like a swashbuckler but like real estate, position or occupation was everything. His application of the backcut is such a rarity in the modern game that watching him execute it was a real treat.

When they missed, it was mostly to the luckless Peter Siddle who finished low on the wicket count and must surely wait for another day when the cricket gods will watch him bowl badly but give him a bagful. Siddle finished the day with more misses than an aging Sheik but kept on coming and apart from one wayward over just before tea, he was clearly Australia's best. The worst was Hauritz, who bowled darts at up to 95km/h, on a poor line and a poor length and at a time when Ponting and I were in strange agreement about the need for him to bowl.

He let us both down.

Bollinger was honest and quick and intimidatory. I still don't get the Johnson rush and thought he was disappointing. For mine, Bolly and Mitch should be buying Siddle the drinks tonight. Yousuf was distressed when he ran the ball off the face of the bat to Haddin. Yousuf was in complete control with his 46 off only 56 balls. I threw my head back too. Umar was in a terrible hurry and did little wrong in his rapid 49 and was out lbw on referral. He managed to turn Hauritz into Australia's latest four wheel drive - going 4x4 with the first four balls he faced! Australia fielded well.

Apart from Haddin's five catches, Watson held two beauties - one invoking the ghost of John Dyson but looking into the sun and another skier that would have been coming down between solar flares. He just keeps doing good things. Elementary, I suppose.

It dawned on me near the end - Ponting and Hughes only need a thousand runs to have a 1000 runs in a calendar year. Things to look forward to but not for my eyes. Sated, for now, my thoughts are turning to 12 months hence and England and I wonder ... will I get a ticket?


  1. Will you get a ticket? Do you mean because they will be so hard to get or that you wouldn't be interested?

  2. Last time England came, cricket Oz put up so much hype, tickets sold out within six hours in Sydney. I had two computers and two phone on the task but was unsuccessful. I vowed I'd never go again but that was just spite.

    At this stage, I'll be calling in markers trying to get a ticket.

  3. At last! I got to watch the whole day!

    Bollinger was good I thought, Johnson bowled some crackers but was nowhere near as tight as the first dig in Melbourne. I thought he may have finally turned the corner after that innings but alas he doth spray again. You just can't release the pressure and it's not fair to the guy at the other end to leak the way he does at times.

    Siddle will be the Aus Darren Gough. Bowling his heart out but not getting the poles next to his name on the score sheet. Hauritz was fairly poor. He was turning it square at times and looked good when he gave it loop but he bowls too fast too much. Maybe that will be his next big lesson; bowling tight when that's required. He's shown he can bowl a team out in the last innings but there's more to spin bowling than that.

    Watson was good I thought. I'm liking him less and less as time goes on for his lack of humility but his bowling is improving.

    It appears deep point is the new thing in town. Then throw a guy out at deep midwicket and you have the 'Ponting Plan'. The fact that two catches went to the deep point region infuriates me as so many 4s went threw vacant third man.

    North has put a bit of a noose loosely around his neck so it will be interesting how he responds when the chips are down. It won't be like Cardiff where there's stacks of runs already on the board for you to make a ton. Early on in his career I thought he wasn't the man for runs when you needed them most. Then I felt he proved me wrong but of late I'm not so sure.

  4. we did the same trying to get tix: 3 blokes, each with 2 phones and a computer trying to get them. the system crash 3 times when i was in the process of paying!

    lunch, day 4...WOW!
    Huss and Hey-diddle, i takes me hat off. what a wonderful example of concentration, compossure, as well as luck, and just good old fashion GUMPTION! (love that word!)

    with 5 sessions of the test to go- potentially for Pakistan to bat through- i don't think anything under 500 is a win... and that is what i LOVE about this game.
    Australia will NOT make a 500 run lead, but now at a 167 run lead and the hope that these 2 can see the better part of the next session through, dare we dream?

    not only has this knock eaten up time, created a small buffer, but more importantly, every ball and run that clicks over builds aussie self belief and conversely chips away at the Pakis.

    someone that claimed to be a friend and did love cricket told me not long ago test cricket was now boring... i wonder which series he was watching!

  5. He was watching India vs Sri Lanka.

    Pak 5 for 86.

    No need to dream boys. It can be done.