Saturday, 8 January 2011

Couldn't Be Said Better

Robert Craddock in Herald Sun today.

I think this article highlights EXACTLY what is wrong with not just Australian cricket, but cricket in general.

Forget number one nations and who is where, this article makes me wonder if the standard of test cricket throughout the world is falling. Not just batting but bowling too.

Tendulkar is feasting on bowling that is not fashioned around the line and length that undid Australia in this series but exactly the opposite in the hope a terrible shot will result in a wicket.

T20, as repugnant as it is to the game of cricket that I love is now also eroding the skills of once great cricketers and limiting the skills of emerging players that need the money and exposure to survive. The saddening prospect of test cricket fading into obscurity is now becoming a genuine reality, not through lack of support but lack of suitably skilled players.

The lopsided nature of the tests in this series should be recognised as a warning to the powers that be that this great game is being torn apart by petulance and impatience from young players that are not being educated properly.

England exploited it this series and as you read this article it becomes clear that it will be much worse by the next series in August.

Six months of T20 and one dayers will erode the memory of what happened here this summer. Sins will be forgiven and mistakes forgotten. How do you pick a test side based on short game form?

Friday, 7 January 2011

From the abyss to the..................

You could always go for 11 new faces for the next series but that's not realistic. When Clarke has dug in he's looked good but every time he loses concentration he gets out. Trott and Cook never lost concentration and therefore got huge tons.

I haven't heard Skull talk about Hughes but I think the guy can do it, whether his temperament can improve enough I'm not sure. He's worked on his technique but shot selection has brought his downfall - like most of our batsmen - and therefore I don't think you can be harder on him than anyone else. Watson is infuriating; more often than not gets Aus off to a great start but throws it away either by edging or running himself/others out.

My 15 going forward for the next 2 years:

Shaun Marsh
Mike Hussey
David Hussey
Peter George
Mark Cameron
James Pattinson

Hughes is obviously a contentious issue but in my view there isn't many opening options around the country at present. Cosgrove could be one of few others.

I think Haddin is important and Paine has time to make his mark. Keeping some senior players is vital which is why I've included Mike Hussey but fear he'll retire before 2 years is up. David Hussey is 32 and could well do what his brother did upon entering the Aus set up.

Quicks are around - who knows who will stand up and grab some poles? If Johnson wants back in he has to find consistency. Noone is expecting him to bowl like McGrath but bloody hell he can't keep bowling like an uncoordinated under 10!

Spin is a major issue and I fear the main role for a spinner for the next 2 years will be a container rather than a strike bowler. I guess Swann didn't take the game apart during the Ashes but still bowled well as the series wore on and played a part keeping pressure on.

Watson, Khawaja and the Husseys form a group you can plan your batting around. If Marsh can open you can have Watson, Marsh, Khawaja, Hussey and Hussey as your top 5. Not bad in my view. Obviously Clarke would not bat at 6 but if he's not in form anyway...........

As Border did, time to draw a line in the sand and move forward. Honest appraisals and determination to do better. If the bowling is good it may get you out but you just cannot gift it to them. Too often Aus' batsmen have succumbed to the pressure by England's bowlers by fishing outside off when there was no need to play a shot. Our bowlers lacked pressure and innovation, getting into modes of just putting it up there without any consistency. You may not win many test matches against a team like England with the personnel Aus has got but you can fight and 3 innings losses in a 5 test series smacks of folding when it gets hard.

Well done England who deserve the rewards for excellent planning and execution.

Thursday, 6 January 2011

new day new post

no point talking about the England batting, that has been covered.

Ok, the run out. Clearly Australia need a LOT of work in the skill of calling and communication.
Last season i played with guys i'd never met and had barely spoke to prior to the middle, but it is a basic skill, call loud, be decisive. Never involved in a run out, It isn't that hard.

Hughes... I like the idea of giving him a run at it, but to be honest, i doubt he has the temperament. I'm not saying that as a negative thing, but just maybe, Test isn't his thing if he always wants to go after it but can't keep his head down for longer than 15 overs.

Now i'm watching Tremlett (liking his style a lot, aggressive with the ball, the odd look, but no histrionics) just working hard for his teams cause. And Clarke and Khawaja (future cap?) batting. They are looking good and business like, doing what needs to be done. Nothing wrong with Swann's bowling, just good sensible batting from heads that KNOW they must be there at stumps. For once i'm seeing good leaves.

As a final point, i want to say something that is not related to the play on field.
We all acknowledge the atmosphere and sense of fun the Barmy Army add to the game, but it shouldn't be under rated how much their voice adds to the players confidence. What is one of the first things players do when getting a 1/2 or tonne or a match victory...thank the Barmy Army.
The Fanatics have been remiss in their developing a counter punch to the pervasive chants of the Army.
I know Aussie collaboration is harder than herding cats, but the desire is there, the direction is NOT.

stoph verismo
down the wicket

Tuesday, 4 January 2011

SCG day 2

Lunch day 2- 8/230

Jono batting well, but you can bet it will be over soon after lunch. But if he can get Australia to 270+ at least Beer can be used for attacking.

With the track flattening out England could still be batting late on day 4!
Here's what HAS to happen.
Smith must get some wickets to justify his inclussion, he has not kept his head down while batting so i hope he can hit the spot.

Jono and Hilf must get wickets too otherwise they'll just have to wear the label of "conditions" bowlers.

I hope the players have a bit of self belief because i think this next session is the one where Australia either lose the Ashes or square the series.

a dry one from me, but that was
stoph verismo
down the wicket

Sunday, 2 January 2011


There is drizzle outside and 85% humidity. Its 7:30 on any other Sydney Sunday night and in Bondi Junction my wife is doing a quick shop for food for our first three days - a quick shop which started a bit after six. She waved encouragement from behind the checkouts about ten minutes ago and then disappeared and I'm wondering if aliens perform abductions in Coles and if so, where will I find find a pizza joint. Not my real hunger anyway.

Its not just any Sydney Sunday night because five minutes down Oxford St into Moore Park Road my digs at the Paddington Barracks are waiting to try and console me into sleep because tomorrow isn't just any Sydney Monday morning. Tomorrow, Australia has its last chance to recover pride and respect lost completely to a rampant mob from England. Even their spectators have outperformed us.

Where I'll sleep tonight, British soldiers once marched and polished and paraded and "yes sirred" and earned only two rewards - a small quoter of rum each day and some time off to wander down to the cricket which was being played at their recreation ground only 300m away. They would sit around the Paddington end of the ground and would yell loud encouragement to the cricketers there and often offered disparaging comments to the "colonials" who were attempting to play their game. They became known as the barrackers and so a term was born which has found its way to sporting events world wide.

Its raining slowly and might do so through offs and ons for the next twelve hours but I'll not provide the weather with the satisfaction of altering my anticipation.

For the Australian captain, Michael Clarke, the pup becomes the Big Dog from the toss, with a head full of allegiance to old man Ponting and little desire expressed to make the job his own. Given the rise and rise of the powere of the coach, any chance of Clarke expressing his thoughts or personality in the decision making processes on or off the field seem less than the role of dice, an activity which his selectors have fared poorly at. Then, if you play with marked cards and loaded dice, outcomes are devoid of chance.

Australia enter their fifth encounter with England this summer, with their hands not just behind their backs by tired firmly there like convicts rounded up Red Caps. There is still no Hauritz and the chosen interloper, will be a Beer opened on the ground for the first time. Australia's leading spinner before the series and the second most successful spinner in terms of first class wickets in Australia this season (Swann has only 3 more) was not invited because the selectors are never wrong. Bollinger is back. Do you think they are picking players solely to amuse sub-editors ... "Australia starts with Bollinger before a Beer chaser" ...

Still, a new face is good thing when the old ones have lost their smile, lost the sparkle from their eyes and issue only tired old men's oaths in the heat of the battle. Another is Khawaja, the brightest star to graduate to the Baggy Green heavens in many an evening wondering if the Southern Cross would sparkle like nights of old. He is as Bill O'Reilly would have described, a good 'un and the confidence being invested in him is clear in his immediateelevation to the most important point in a batting order which has moved like it was fresh from a soaking in liquid nitrogen.

England need no introduction with no changes to the side which blew Australia away in Melbourne. Bresnan and Tremlett were superb and along will Anderson will swing the ball far too dangerously for the Australian and talk of a like fear to be felt from Mitchell Johnson has been without foundation, baring on spell in Perth. Such things are not likely to cause tremors to an English batting line up which has pounded everyone who has stared them down from 20 metres. Hilfenhaus has been unlucky and deserves more English wickets than 4 at plenty+ but the truth is, his swing starts from the hand is easily managed by men well used to such red ball tricks.

England's only weakness is Collingwood, who will swap with Bell in Sydney. It says a lot about their domination that his constant craving for runs has gone on unsated and yet it hasn't hurt England. His brilliant catching has played its part in match turning moments and his loyal service through darker years gains its reward this summer as loyalty returned from a grateful Captain Strauss, when Morgan, a better player, could have taken his place after Perth.

Despite new blood, a new captain and new expectations from a result starved Australian public, nothing but an English victory seems likely.

Now, if I can only get to sleep. After all, I have that long 300m trek to make in the morning among the ghosts of the barackers and then the Barmy Army to great me on the concourse.

No, not just another Sydney Monday.