Tuesday, 15 November 2011

When it's time to panic

Start panicking. Australia's test team is littered with seemingly self-entitled egos unwilling to look themselves in the mirror.

Upon reading Haddin's comments about his shot selection and claiming he'll 'continue to play my natural game' I was struck by the lack of contrition. I doubt what 'got him there' in the first place was swiping wildly at 5 for not many. If you can't assess that batting time is demanded then you should not be there.

To those who claim 'this is no time to panic, don't make major changes' I ask 'how can it get any worse?'

47 all out does not demonstrate a new low but it does reflect the unbalanced nature of the team. You have one opener that cannot justify his place in the team and the other batting out of position. The number 4 refuses to retire until his wheelchair prevents his taking guard. The strike bowler actually bowls first change and bowls rubbish at a ratio of 50 to 1 to his good balls. The keeper's skills behind the stumps are deteriorating so who cares how he bats?

Just like the retirements of Chappell, Lillee and Marsh together left gaping wholes in the 3 facets of the game (plus captaincy), we can expect letting Ponting, Hughes, Haddin and Johnson to require some adjustment. Of course, not all 4 of these players have been 'greats' of the game and in that way are more easily replaced.

Watson filled the opener's gap in England in 2009 but his remaining there has been an avoidance of a problem rather than a solution to one. He has two hundreds to his name and several 50s; openers go on from these positions. He bats like a middle-order player and is currently required to find a wicket because Johnson doesn't know where they are. Admittedly dropping Johnson and getting a consistent bowler may ease Watson's load but it's difficult to see him not being required with the ball.

As much as I'd like Hughes to make the opening spot his own the work he's done on his technique is not enough to secure a place. Perhaps this work will translate into big shield scores and weight of runs will get him back in. This is what should have been the case to begin with. With 3 out of the top 6 shield scorers this season being openers it's not like there's few choices as replacements.

Ponting has been an incredible batsman but his stubbornness is only hurting his legacy, not enhancing it. It's difficult to understand what exactly he's trying to prove by hanging around ungainly. While Dravid peels off runs on different surfaces Ponting looks ill-equipped on every surface. Now his exit will be a sad one but this was always likely with Aus in a far from dominant position. Not every player can have the send off Waugh had.

Johnson is the most infuriating bowler I've seen for a long time. One quote from a punter sums it up 'if Johnson could bowl he'd be an allrounder'. Too true for too long. Match-winners at worst win you matches once in a while. Between the Ashes in 2009 and now he's done it once in Perth. With so many young quicks (and old - think Bollinger) available how can CA seriously keep giving this guy a game? If he goes back to shield cricket and takes bags on Adelaide Oval then fine, pick him. But the fact is others already are so in the mean time pick them!

Of course Marsh's (recurrent) injury is terrible timing but my ideal 11 would be as follows:

Liam Davis/Rob Quiney/Chris Rogers

An esteemed writer commented that Voges is as unlucky as anybody not to have featured in the test set up. I scoffed at this at the time. Voges is 2nd on the runs list in this season's sheffield shield. Perhaps Khawaja is occupying his spot?

Monday, 14 November 2011

Peter & Me

With apologies for not reproducing the article here but perhaps the intense personal nature of it make it inappropriate on a site which is not my own. The link provides you with my reflections on Peter Roebuck's death and in providing it, I'm giving you a choice of whether you wish to read it.

Peter & Me - thecricketragics