- Fruit Cake
- The Sport of Rings
- The Midwinter Draft
- Day One
- Down Syndrome
- Day Two
- The Writing's On The Ball
- Casualties of Lore
- Day Three
- Goad Warrior
- Day Four
- Roll Player
- Day Five
- Spin Shitty
- Bucken Dickhead
- Tired and Demotional
- Protest Match Special
- Blubble Standards
Snowtown barrel, that is. And welcome to Adelaide, Michael C. Hall of teevee's Six Feet Under.
So, India will have the same side, give or take a spinner and an opener. Straya will have the same side, give or take a spinner and an opener. The difference being that the changes might unbalance India whereas they should re-balance Straya. Still:
- Straya $1.85
- Draw $2.50
- India $7.00
The bookies obviously don't take bets from India. Those odds seem rudely weighted towards the home team. Sure, Perth will be a huge spur for Straya and they will have their selections and pitch awareness sorted. And I'm positive they won't let India win by bowling part-timers to pick up a mishandled over rate. Still can't get my head around that. Again: to protect Ponting from suspension Straya let India win. Bizarre. If that happens again I will agree with Spanky: Ponting must be sacked. But while I see Straya playing better, India are enormous confidence players and front runners, so Perth should be a huge fillip for them.
Either way, SACA pitch doctor Lally Burdett should serve up another belter with a garnish of day five action. So I just hope Straya shelve the stupid and grind out some big runs, because India will like batting here, too. Straya can't afford any Agarkar dumbness like day four in 2003.
FRUIT CAKE #
Speaking of Spanky, he's taking the piss, right?
AUSTRALIA must not be waylaid by nauseating nationalists convinced that the defeat in Perth was caused not by a combination of absent friends and wayward bowling but by a sudden bout of politeness. Nor must it take heed of backslappers arguing that India's celebrations and appealing at the WACA Ground matched Australia's excesses in Sydney.
That is to confuse joy with rage. Likewise, the umpiring was acceptable and even-handed. Only lamingtons imagine otherwise.
Funny how most of his sh1t-stirring occurs in the privacy of his own boudoir. Surely, he'd be reluctant to be so flagrantly antagonistic in the commentary box.
THE SPORT OF RINGS #
Nothing to do with cricket. Not even current. Connolly and Bruckner in a cage match over the Olympic games:
THE MIDWINTER DRAFT #
Scyld Berry says England should load up on spinners and prepare dodgy wickets for next year's Ashes. He also suggests England should draft in Bowled Sacky Sacky Bowled Mushtaq.
In planning their strategy for 2009, England need to think about slow, turning pitches, negating Australia's advantage in pure pace and playing to their own strengths of swing and left-arm spin. If Panesar needs a second spinner, the possibilities are Graeme Swann, maturing as England's first-choice spinner in one-day cricket, or Saqlain Mushtaq, Pakistan's off-spinner who has become a naturalised British citizen and offered his services to England. But that would depend on the lengths that England's new selection panel are ready to go to in pursuit of the Ashes.
Why should England be the only country to "benefit" from bringing in players from other countries? Sure, we had Keppler Wessels, but I didn't want him. And England have picked Basil Dolly, Alan Lamb, Robin Smith, Kevin Pietersen, Tony Greig, Andy Caddick, Marty McCague, Graeme Hick, Alan Mullaly, Gerain... anyway, you get the picture.
Charlie Croker: "I've got a great idea."
Whenever a player who has played first class cricket in one country wants to play for another country, he must enter a draft in which he must go to the bottom team on the ICC Test Ladder. For instance, KP should have gone to Bangladesh. If a player wants to leave the bottom side, he must go to the next one up the ladder.
This draft will be called the Midwinter Draft in honour of Billy Midwinter who played for both England and Australia from 1877 to 1887.
DAY ONE #
Just one more wicket. Just. One. More. Wicket. That was all it would have taken for Straya to claim the upper hand on day one. But thanks to Flatty's bumbled sitter off Dhoni late in the day, India can claim day one honours. Gilly's shocker was contributive, too. In one respect it allowed Laxman further time at the wicket, sucking Strayan momentum; and in another more general respect, dropped catches eat at the fielding side. And its supporters: f*^k! It's a testament to Strayan professionalism that they rarely let drops affect their performance; they just cost.
India 5/300? Well, that looks about par for a first day in Adelaide, but it could be better than it seems. If India knock up what everyone seems to think is a respectable Adelaide score of 400+ then Straya will be under some real pressure given their troubles with both the swinging AND spinning ball. India has a much more potent and varied attack than many touring predecessors. Now their clever use of Irfy at the top of the order means they have an attack of five bowlers, all who have been handy-to-excellent at different times in this series, so they present a major threat when Straya bat.
And with TLM and Dhoni Kebab still at the wicket, 400 will be the very least India are aiming for.
So it will be up to the Aussie bowlers to try to cut through the last five Indian wickets. Here's hoping the excellent Lee, the almost excellent Johnston and the weirdly under-bowled Clark can do the business. Hogg, too. The Tongue went for plenty off TLM yesterday, but oddly enough, I reckon he bowled alright. Strayans might pine for the Warne days, but even Warne struggled against India; they eat spinners.
Should I comment on the umpiring? Well, alright then. They seem to be playing a numbers game on elbees. Ganguly was stiff, although I can see why he was given out. I read somewhere that he hit it, but on the replay last night, the ball clearly hit his pad before it flicked his glove. Still, if the Raj was out, then so too were V-Slog, Wall and TLM.
For the record: It is theoretically easier for an umpire to judge an elbee when the ball hits the batsman on the crease because the umpy has a better idea of where the ball is going in relation to the stumps.
DOWN SYNDROME #
The very last line of this article by Sambit Bal says it all:
"This is not the first time India have out-caught Australia."
Permit me direct to you to a post I wrote in January 2004:
DROPPING IS CATCHING
After watching Stewart MacGill in klutz overdrive, this might be the right time to link to an article in today's Telegraph on Australia's catching woes:
MAYBE it's just bad luck. Maybe it's because Australia have remodelled their slips cordon. Maybe it's just the pressure. Whatever the reason Australia have succumbed to a rare dose of butter fingers in their Test series against India and it is threatening to prove decisive.
What the online article doesn't contain is the following chart:
Ponting....Laxman....65, 138 ( 148)
The last two were added by me after today's clown fest.
No matter the reason - lack of practice, bad technique, pressure, injury, suspension, luck - the article reveals a poor record that seems to tie in with Scott Wickstein's observation that John Buchanan might be doing something wrong because the article goes on to say:
The Australian team does not train as hard as it used to but this may not necessarily correlate to poor infield catching.
But it may.
I'm of the opinion that over the last few years of dominance, Australia has taken it's catches whereas the opposition have dropped theirs.
When it comes to costly misses, I always think back to Steve Waugh in the West Indies in 1995. As we all know he made 200 in the decisive test, but what's often forgotten is that he was dropped an absolute sitter by keeper Courtney Browne (he was about 40). At that stage Australia were three down and still trailing and it's debatable whether they would have managed a big enough lead to snatch the series.
On the flip side, in recent losses Australia have dropped a bundle in Sydney against England, Martin Love dropped a sitter in slips off Omari Banks in the West Indies record chase and now against India, Australia have been nigh on inept.
It shouldn't be forgotten that Rahul Dravid took a blinder to get rid of Martyn in Adelaide. The kind of catch that can - and in this case has - gone a long way to decide a series.
Australia's attack will weaken over the next few years and the team will struggle with the increased pressure inferred by the expectation of fewer chances. This means that they must firstly remember that "catches win matches" but more importantly that "dropped catches LOSE matches". And do something about it!
With respect to Wicky's comment above, here's Bruce yesterday with a paved paradise, a parking lot, a pink hotel, a boutique and a swinging hot spot.
I am adding to my push for Brazen Hussey to be introduced with a call for the return of Bobby Simpson as the fielding drills coach. Sure this baseball fella has them cutting off balls better and throwing harder with more accuracy - but I don't think there is a baseball equivalent of the cordon.
Part of the bad old days malady was the dismal slips catching that followed the retirement of Greg Chappell. Then Bobby flogged AB, Tubby, Junior and others until they became as close to the backyard cricket automatic wicky as I may ever see in my life.
*strains of Big yellow taxi should accompany that last part*
Straya certainly have to do something. It seems to me nothing has changed since 2004. Don't forget they put down some costly howlers in the 2005 Ashes. In fact, Strayan catching has been deplorable for pretty much the whole 21st century.
Anyway, on to this series. Now might be the time to avert your eyes. Or in the words of a newsreader about to read a footy score: "If you don't want to relive the pain, look away now."
First Test: First Innings
7.1 Johnson to Dravid, no run, dropped, the batsman pushing forward away from his body and a thick edge flies low and hard to Jaques at fourth slip who can't hang on with his right hand.
Dravid on 0, made 5 (5)
Second Test: First Innings
18.6 Clark to Laxman, FOUR, dropped, Laxman tries to pull a short ball down leg side and gets an edge on it, the ball flies towards Gilchrist's left, he dives and gets a bit of glove on it but the ball beats him and runs to the fine-leg boundary, it would have been a spectacular catch.
Laxman on 49, made 109 (60)
24.4 Clark to Dravid, no run, did Gilchrist drop that? Dravid jumped back and tried to glance a slow short ball down leg side, he might have got a bit of glove on it but Gilchrist didn't collect a simple chance, it did come off the glove
Dravid on 18, made 53 (35)
30.6 Lee to Laxman, 1 run, dropped, Gilchrist has put down another one, a genuine nick low to his right and the batsman gets a life, Lee will be disappointed after finding the edge from a press forward
Laxman on 77, made 109 (32)
102.3 Clark to Harbhajan Singh, 1 run, dropped, Gilchrist lets another one go, Harbhajan tried to pull another short ball, the ball lobbed in the air towards Gilchrist who pedaled backwards and got both gloves to it, he still couldn't hold on
Harbhajan on 29, made 63 (34)
Second Test: Second Innings
14.2 Johnson to Dravid, no run, dropped, Symonds grasses a sitter at first slip, Johnson hit the perfect length and line across the right-hander, Dravid was squared up on the back foot as he fended at the ball, the outside edge flew comfortably to Symonds who is at first slip because Hayden is injured, the ball popped in and popped right out
Dravid on 18, made 38 (20)
35.1 Symonds to Ganguly, no run, dropped, Michael Clarke at first slip, that one just flew to his left, but was a genuine chance
Ganguly on 43, made 51 (8)
Third Test: First Innings
27.2 Lee to Dravid, no run, oh Clarke's dropped it! Dravid goes fishing way outside off stump, gets a thick outside edge, very late into the shot as the ball comes onto him quickly, but Pup drops it at first slip, squeezing at it as he moves to his left and spills a sitter!
Dravid on 7, made 93 (86)
Third Test: Second Innings
16.5 Lee to Sehwag, no run, dropped! Regulation gully catch as Sehwag flashes a driven edge off a wideish one, and the usually reliable Michael Hussey crouches to catch, but spills it
Sehwag on 43, made 43 (0)
69.5 Lee to Laxman, 1 run, oh Clarke's dropped another! Laxman flashes a square-drive, having a real go at a wide half-volley, and Clarke cant hold on above his head at gully, jumping and getting fingers on it but letting it go
Laxman on 60, made 79 (19)
Fourth Test: First Innings
63.3 Lee to Laxman, no run, Gilchrist drops a sitter! Laxman poked his bat out at one outside the off stump and a healthy edge flew through at a comfortable height for Gilchrist who moved to his right to take the catch, it popped in and popped right out, Hayden looks bewildered at first slip, the crowd lets out a loud groan
Laxman on 37, made 51 (14)
80.6 Johnson to Dhoni, 2 runs, now Hayden drops a sitter! Dhoni drives hard at one that angles into him and gets an outside edge that flies at a very comfortable height to Hayden at first slip, he can't believe he's dropped it himself, it dipped on him at the last minute and he only got fingertips to it
Dhoni on 3, made 16 (13)
96.4 Lee to Kumble, no run, dropped, Kumble gets an inside
edge on to the thigh pad as he tries to defend off the back foot, the ball goes quickly towards Jaques at short leg and goes straight through his hands
Kumble on 7, made 87 (80)
136.5 Clarke to Sharma, no run, dropped again! Clarke bowled the loosest full toss which Ishant patted back tamely at head height towards the bowler, Clarke got his hands up in time but grassed a sitter, Ponting is not amused
Sharma on 4, made 14 (10)
141.6 Lee to Sharma, no run, dropped but it was a difficult chance, Ishant pushes at the ball away from his body and the outside edge flies to Ponting's right at second slip, he dives full length and low to his right but can't hold on, on a better day it might have stuck, fantastic effort
Sharma on 10, made 14 (4)
150.5 Johnson to Sharma, no run, dropped, but another difficult chance, Ishant drives hard and away from his body, the outside edge flies quickly to Hussey who jumps up and gets both hands to it, he can't hold on and the ball runs towards third man
Sharma on 14, made 14 (0)
Fourth Test: Second Innings
2.2 Lee to Sehwag, no run, dropped, Sehwag slashes away from his body at a wide ball and hits it with the toe end of the bat, the edge flies straight to Clarke at second slip, it's a sitter and he grasses it, it came right at him at a comfortable height too.
Sehwag on 2, made 151 (149)
Far as I can remember, the only catch India have missed in this series is TLM dropping Clarke in Perth. And yet, here we are, once again boasting about how great our fielding is compared with the dreadful Indian fielding. Excuse me while I have a momentary tantrum: BOLLOX!
It's almost got to the point where we should dump our fielding drills and have round-the-clock catching practice. Or maybe there is a wider, yet seemingly absurd implication: India have it right for Test cricket. It could be that our fielding is now so heavily geared to the one-day format with the running and the diving and the sliding and the throwing, BUT with the expectation something is always about to happen, that we have neglected to work on our Test match waiting game where you need to take a chance out of the blue.
DAY TWO #
Our catching was rubbish, a lot of our bowling innocuous our tactics inflexible and the India tail wagged, but you know what? Apart from the catching, which really, really, REALLY! makes me fume, I'm not upset. After all, we've retained the BG trophy, which is something I thought we'd struggle to do at the start of the tour. If the honchos had scheduled India a few lead up games, like Kumble reportedly asked for, we probably would have lost the series. Sucked in, BCCI.
Nor would it be just me who is sitting sanguine. I'll give it London to a brick there are heavy-hitters in CricAussie who doubted our ability to hold onto the BG. Why? Well, because of the obvious retirements, that's why.
We are smack bang in the guts of a rebuilding phase and here is seriously depleted Straya, missing guns and trialling up-and-comers, still capable of matching it with a very good India containing Tendulkar, Kumble, Dravid, Laxman and Ganguly.
And therein lies an all too often ignored fact: India are about to cop it in the arse from retirements, too.
Parolerboy, only playing by the grace of the judiciary, is in the papers today boasting about how good India are, how "no team has challenged the way we have challenged Strayans" and skyting about how they are world champions because they won the T20 World Cup even though it wasn't the world cup, and yet they are also about to lose their greats.
Enjoy the rebuilding, pal.
I mean, how good will India be without those five champions? And even here in Adelaide, if Straya had held their catches, India's very strong batting line up would have been out for under 400 on a road.
Sure, India have got a billion people ready to step into their retiring champions shoes, or so we are repeatedly told, but you don't readily replace the kind of experience they are about to lose. What's good for the mallard is good for the muscovy. If Straya are currently doing it tough without Warne and McGrath, how good will India will without their champs?
Who would you back to get their actor together quicker? Crazy India and their bizarre structure that is just as likely to wreck a player's career as it is to develop a potential champ, or Machine Straya and their robust club, state, Test pathway.
THE WRITING'S ON THE BALL #
And I don't mean Kookaburra, A.G.Thompson, approved, 156g, solid hi... ahem.
It means I agree with Nick. It was ordinary the way Gilly laughed off his bumbling. Maybe that's what's wrong with the Strayan catching: they are too busy laughing and f**king around on the field and not busy enough concentrating on the business of catching.
And just by way of supposition. Are the Strayan catching problems down to Gilly? I mean, does the keeper set the tone? Could it be Gilly's Party Patel imitations are rubbing off?
Anyhoo, just by way of getting-the-first-one-in, two weeks ago here at the AGB:
Wee Wee wouldn't have got to 100 if Gilly had his sh1t together. After performances like yesterday, he's running the risk of being compared with The Grates: Party Patel, Geraint Jones and the down-and-going (as opposed to up-and-coming) Matt Prior. Lucky Wee Wee didn't make 200 or you'd be comparing Gilly to Courtney Browne who once dropped a sitter off Steve Waugh, or the bloke who dropped Brian Lara when Lara made 500.
Gilly is at an awkward stage of his career. Apparently he wants to go to England in 2009, but is that feasible? Well, if he scores big in the near future, and doesn't drop any more sitters (don't bank on it) he'll hold his place. But at 36 going on 38 by 2009 he isn't getting any younger, or more importantly, better.
The selectors need to ask themselves whether Gilly will be better in 2009 than, say, Brad Haddin? That's unlikely, both for batting and keeping. Gilly's career path is on the way down, while Braddin's is on the way up. Have those career trajectories crossed yet? I suggest they have. They certainly will have by 2009.
There is nothing worse - apart from lots of other bad things in the world: drought, flood, bushfire, Silverchair - than sports people hanging on too long. Does Gilly want to hang on too long? Will the selectors allow him to hang on too long? He has a few credits in the bank, although he cashed a few in yesterday, but not that many that the selectors can afford to have him clogging up the chain of succession. At some point soon they will have to make the big call: "Mate, we need to have a chat."
Unless Gilly the famous walker, walks.
The papers have caught up. Jonny Pierik in the Hun:
WICKETKEEPING legend Ian Healy yesterday warned Adam Gilchrist he must retain his high standards or his glittering career could soon be over.
Gilchrist's future has become a major issue after his stunning blunder on day one of the fourth Test against India in Adelaide when the champion gloveman grassed an easy catch that should have dismissed V. V. S. Laxman.
Alex Brown in the Age:
ON THE day he broke the world record for Test dismissals, Adam Gilchrist found himself under immense pressure to defend his place in the team following a difficult series with the gloves and a strong challenge from long-time understudy Brad Haddin.
Just before accepting a catch from Anil Kumble to close the Indian innings "his 414th dismissal in Test cricket, passing South African gloveman Mark Boucher" Gilchrist's predecessor Ian Healy told Channel Nine that Australia's incumbent keeper was racing the clock to improve his game.
CASUALTIES OF LORE #
Richard Hinds in today's Fairfax (thanks, Amanda) puts a sensible perspective on the Sydney hysterics, but leaves no doubt as to who are the main hystericalists:
Of all the changes that have taken place during my time away (a period in which the editor tells me this spot was occupied by "some decent journalism for a change") the most unexpected was the sudden division of Australian sports fan into two distinct categories.
There are, on one side of the great divide, those bellowing ultra-nationalists draped in their Cronulla capes who say the only thing wrong with the behaviour of the Australian cricket team in the Sydney Test was that Brett Lee didn't give the Indians a bit more chin music.
On the other are the guardians of the Spirit of The Game or, disregarding more than a century of abuse, cheating and bloody confrontation, what they imagine that spirit to be. Those who cringe at the sight of the baggy green and spend their spare time kneeling apologetically outside the Indian Embassy begging for forgiveness.
If you choose your cultural stereotypes from the opinion columns or the letters page, there are no longer shades of grey in the grandstand. Just black and white. Which comes as a bit of a surprise to those of us who regularly watch sport with passionate, knowledgeable and (in the pre-Howard sense of the word) are patriotic Australians who fall into neither camp.
People who have risen to their feet to applaud Sachin Tendulkar at every venue this summer.
People who harbour suspicions that the sacking of umpire Steve Bucknor after extreme pressure from the Indians will influence subsequent decision-making. Not because they are irrational, flag-waving fools who would never acknowledge that Australia got the best of it in Sydney. But because they have hands-on experience in how the political process works.
People who shake their heads when the occasionally abusive and recalcitrant Harbhajan Singh is described as an "intemperate Sikh warrior" when some equally abusive and recalcitrant Australians are cast as low-lifes and cheats. Not out of some reflex jingoism, but because it is just so blindingly obvious to them that there are hot-heads and clowns in every team.
People who just laugh when Adam Gilchrist, a man who has done more than his fair share to resurrect the image of the Australian team, is accused of cheating because he appealed for a catch, which he was supposedly well placed to see, that came from Rahul Dravid's pad. No better placed, they'll say, than Anil Kumble was to see Andrew Symonds nick the ball on to his pad in Perth before the Indian skipper launched the heartiest of appeals.
They cringed when the Herald's esteemed columnist Peter Roebuck wrote this week - facetiously, you pray - that immigrants should be the only ones allowed to vote because they love their adopted country more. No doubt his mail bag is overflowing with bile from the Oi, Oi, Oi crowd after he declared the Australian captaincy vacant. But, even in jest, that suggestion was offensive to the very many reasonable Australian fans.
And, as rapidly as things change, those fans are still not as hard to find as recent debate suggests.
DAY THREE #
What do you say about a day in which Straya scored 3/250? Graft? Ok then: day three was a day of graft.
You are probably wondering why Straya didn't graft it last week. Well, we've covered that. Straya strolled out to bat last week in Perth and all of a sudden the WACA nut case, sorry, the WACA pitch started playing tricks and the bowlers started zinging the ball around all over the place. In short: the Aussie batsmen were bushwhacked. However, once they realized what was going on, they got their collective heads and arses at the recommended elevations for due diligence and ground out a pretty reasonable score in their second innings.
The same approach seems to have carried forward to Adelaide. (Carried forward? I hope that doesn't sound too nu-business.) The ball isn't moving around as much in the air as in Perth, but ever since V-Slog's first over before lunch there's been enough spite evident in the SACA tracka to encourage the Aussie batsmen to go the graft, rather than go the doctor.
The three batsmen out yesterday were bowled. I wonder how often in the history of Tests all batsmen out on one day were bowled. There was probably one day when there was one wicket which was bowled, but... but this is a pretty stupid reach for stats. Anyhoo, only one of the bowleds was down to the track, and even that dismissal required the assistance of a dumb shot. The other two bowleds came courtesy of superb reverse swingers.
Whatever the situation, though, you'd hope the Aussie batsmen keep on grafting on. There is a long way to go before Straya are anywhere near in a satisfactory position. Quick wickets this morning are a possibility against India's good bowlers and sensible fields which indicate India are once again playing to Straya's hubris, so here's hoping the Aussie batsmen don't do anything stupid. For the anatomically inclined: heads down, arses up, noses to the grindstone, backs into it, minds on the job.
That said, the great man Gilly will do whatever the great man Gilly feels like doing. A rapid hundred, chock full of sixes would be a fitting farewell, but he's just as likely to go out there and get bowled through the gate for a teary-eyed duck. Be interesting to see if Spanky leads a three-cheers from the commentary box as Gilly comes to the wicket. Quite a gig being an opinionista. Imagine having to call a bloke cheat one week and a champion the next. I mean, you can look like a tool, can't you.
GOAD WARRIOR #
With the aforementioned hubris in mind and its implication that India have been successful in goading Straya into stupid cricket, you would be right in assuming that this article snagged my attention:
A day of attrition was followed by a round of verbal volleys with both camps criticising the other for not pushing for victory. While Virender Sehwag criticised Australia for their defensive approach Matthew Hayden felt India's bowlers had been too negative with their lines. Sehwag said Australia were "scared of defeat" but Hayden countered that by referring to "India's wide tactics".
"They're not going to win, they're scared," Sehwag said on a day when Australia managed 260 runs for the loss of three wickets. "They are playing so defensively. They just got 260 in a day on a flat track; that's not like Australia. Last time they scored more than 400 in a day at Adelaide. I think they're scared of defeat."
Were India surprised by Australia's approach? "Yes, it was a surprise," he said without hesitation. "There is something wrong in their batting line-up or thinking. It didn't matter whether we set a field for attacking or defensive cricket, they were not playing too many shots. It was very frustrating with the wicket being so flat. We were waiting for the bad shot."
Good to see a bit of colour and movement on the sledging side. Ponting and Parolerboy were at it again yesterday, too. It just wouldn't be right if Straya and the Injuns weren't getting stuck into it.
But! As Spotty Cake Pat mentioned yesterday: "Australia do not have to win this Test."
If V-Slog sucks Straya into going the tonk, I'll chuck a fit.
DAY FOUR #
What is it with the Channel Nine commentators? They are experienced cricket people. They know the difference between a leg bye and The Long Goodbye. As players and captains they were successful, some famously so. Yet their prognostications yesterday bordered on madness.
Heals was adamant Straya should declare on or about India's score. Heals, Mr Tubbs and Slatts recited "it's time to up the run rate" as if they had speech impediments. The whole commentary team fixed on this or that declaration target. The overall tone was one of great urgency; that Straya were racing against some imaginary clock to post India with a target from which to mount a last day charge.
FFS, why? Why was Straya under any obligation whatsoever to do anything other than bat for as long as they could, thus putting India out of the match? Australia don't have to win this match. India do. And the longer Straya batted the less chance there was of India doing that do. Big deal if Straya batted into Monday, steadily building a daunting lead. The further they went ahead, the more likely it was that India would have just one option: defend for a draw, like they DIDN'T do in Sydney.
Still, the stupid commentary wouldn't have bothered me too much if it didn't look as if their corrosive fumes hadn't somehow permeated the Strayan dressing room. Sure, Gilly might have tooled out, smacked a rapid 50 or 100 and we'd be away. But he didn't. In fact, Gilly's batting, like Roy's, Johnston's and Clarke's (I didn't see Lee get out) was cavalier. You'd have thought Roy in particular would have taken the hint to pull his head in after numerous accidents trying to cut too close to his body. Johnston tried to clear Instant at long on. Clark tried to clear mid-wicket. Maybe they were just sick of batting, but they didn't need to go about it the way they did in the hour after tea. Yes, the bowling was good and most of the remaining batsmen were tailenders...
Almost every other tail-ender in the world has his ears so clogged up with testosterone that they ignore the batman-at-the-other-end's supplications for sensible shot selection.
"Look," says Recognised Batsman, "I'm on 94; can you just defend this next over for a bit, mate?"
What the tail-ender hears:
"Lash 'em around the park. You the man! You the man! HONK! HOOONK!"
... but they were taking a cue. If Ponting had said to play it steady, they might just have, you know, played it steady. Instead, what we got was a dopy blend of hit and mis-hit as Straya chased unnecessary quick runs.
And where are we now? India in with a chance, that's where. Not a huge chance, but still a chance. That's more than they would have had if Straya hadn't, for the sake of this explanation, got sick of batting.
Now the destiny of the game is in India's hands. Again: they have to win. So there's every chance they will go out there tomorrow, knock up a lead of around 200, declare and stick Straya in on a day five Adelaide wicket. Or they might get all out with a lead of 200. Either way it amounts to the same thing: India setting a day five target. A target that Straya will be obliged to chase hard after, perhaps recklessly, because "they are doing it for Gilly".
How many of you lot want to see Straya bat in those circs? How many of you want to see Straya bat at all? Some commentators even had the bare-faced to give it the "today is the last time you will ever see Gilly bat" treatment.
Then, just to garnish this sh1t sandwich, Clarke goes and drops another sitter. I couldn‘t believe it. Did he even get his hands to it? Did he bother to watch his own dismissal as sticky-fingers Laxman comfortably snagged a difficult wide one. If I hear another commentator blab on about how "Straya set incredibly high benchmarks for fielding" I'll be forced to pen a menacing letter.
Thing is, the commentators are not imbos. They are worse. They are intentionally selling us a lemon. It's in their interest to have Straya make a game of it, not have them play India out of the match and cruise to a draw, or possibly an Aussie win. They would like nothing more than for India to make a game of it on day five.
Tony could then sell another picture, $500 unframed: Sydney Reversed!
ROLL PLAYER #
At the Straya v. India Test in Adelaide in 2003, the SACA booked Greg Mahatma Coat Ritchie to provide light entertainment. Do you think they've still got the same booking agent?
A SPECTATOR wearing a monkey mask is facing charges after sprinting on to the Adelaide Oval during Andrew Symonds' innings yesterday.
His intrusion on to the playing surface temporarily halted play and came moments before Symonds was dismissed.
"This is a police matter," said Cricket Australia's anti-racism officer Peter Young. "Trespassing is a serious issue. No one wants a repeat of the (Terry) Alderman situation where a player ended up hurt."
The intruder ran between India's fieldsmen and rolled across the turf before being restrained by security personnel.
DAY FIVE #
What goes around runs aground.
V-Slog might care to prostrate himself before the time-honoured excuse: "I was taken out of context."
"I think they're scared of defeat."
Who wasn't absolutely certain that India would declare around tea around 200 in front and then hope Straya would self-implode "doing it for Gilly" as they chased an ambitious target?
Certainly it never crossed anyone's mind that India would toss the chance of drawing the series 2-2 and would bat out the whole day before Kumble meekly conceded "We'll call it a draw." Yet when I came in to check the television about an hour after Tea, firmly expecting to see Straya at the crease, I was astonished to see that it precisely what happened.
Even Bruce, who was closest to the pin, wouldn't have thought India would bat on and on and on and on and... who is the wuss now Sloggy?
Then there were fatheads ringing up radio stations - I know, I know - and making the odd comment around the blogs that India's conservative batting on day five should somehow be equated with Straya's conservative batting on days three and four. There was even one honker rung up SEN suggesting that the reason Gilly suddenly retired was because he had had an argument with Ponting over the way Straya batted.
That's not to suggest the day's cricket was entirely dull. Things were livened up substantially by a brilliant exchange on BJ & The Boys when AB asked Ravi Shastri about Rollerboy's upcoming appeal hearing. Ravi stepped towards the camera, looking as if he was going to punch someone as he went ballistic nationalistic about the pride of being an Indian and how they have a long history of fighting racism, but didn't come close to mentioning Rollerboy or any details directly relevant to the case. I can't recall exactly how AB closed off the topic but it was somewhere in the vicinity of "ummm, yeah" while Flemmo backed away squeezing out a slightly scared giggle. Gold.
Speaking of the appeal: how do you think it will go? My earlier suspicions were confirmed when it emerged from the hearing documents that Tendulkar hadn't heard the exchange. What's the bet the reason India don't want the stump mike recordings presented as evidence is that if the stump mike didn't hear anything, then Tendulkar couldn't have heard anything either.
Still, you should never get between Big Cricket and a squibb. Rollerboy will either get off, have his penalty reduced to a reprimand or accept a charge that is altered to general abuse.
SPIN SHITTY #
The ballyhoo this week is rightfully all about Gilly. No problem with that; it’s a deserved ballyhoo. But what the Gilly rumpus has done is slightly, although not completely, obscure another more pressing issue for Aussie croquet: spin.
VIRENDER SEHWAG has saved India and his career with a century in Adelaide yesterday that raised serious questions about Australia's spin bowling and catching.
Gilly has been a lesser force for around three years now. It’s no great disaster that he’s no longer there to get Straya out of the sh1t or apply the gracey coup to a flagging attack. Now Braddin is playing better cricket than Now Gilly, so the keeper swap is not going to unduly hurt Now Straya.
Not so the spin department.
Warne’s loss is still the greatest problem for Straya and nowhere is it more obvious than in a comparison between this Adelaide and last Adelaide. Straya won against England in 2006 because Warne imposed himself on the contest. The match should have been a draw. This time around we lacked Warne the Enforcer. Not that he would have been able to push India around the way he pushed England around. The Poms squibbed it. A couple of quick wickets and they were in Shark G.W. territory. This India would not have choked like that England choked.
Warne’s ability to crowbar a wicket on the dullest pitch is the greatest reason we will miss him. Not one of our spinners since has looked even remotely like scaring enough batsmen to collapse an attack. Stuey MacGill was rubbish against the Shrees and Hogg, Symonds and Clarke were innocuous to passable against India.
Hogg has probably played his last Test, which is disappointing because I like him. While Clarke and Symonds will have to do bit part duty until “something turns up,” as Micawber would optimistically say.
But it’s Roy that worries me most. His action, as always when an offy is looking for extra tweak, is diabolical. The same goes for all the suss offies: Murali, Harby, the rest of the malefactors. Doubtless they will defend it by saying they were within the 15 degree limit, but I’d give it very short odds that more than a few of their offies were over 15 degrees. It’s why the new rule is a joke. How can anyone say with any official conviction – whether they be umpires, TV people, match refs, ICC overlords, whoever – that a bowler is chucking. “Was that 14? 13? 25?” But if the rule were back to what it was in the G.O. Days, you could tell straight away that a bowler was on the nose.
Everyone’s pretty much in agreemen… sorry, this is a sports piece. Everyone’s pretty much in agreeance that Murali was lame last November and since Christmas Harby has fired blanks at everyone but Ponting. Could this be because they were strongly conscious of the attention paid to dodgy actions in Straya and as such weren’t capable of extracting dangerous turn with pronounced elbow action? Does playing in Straya neuter them? I mean, Channel Nine might heavily tailor their slo-mo footage so as to mask chucking, but in normal motion it’s still pretty obvious when someone is bending the rules. Nine can’t edit their ball-by-ball footage like they can the slo stuff, so we viewers get a good look at what’s what. And while Murali and Rollerboy were less than effective, is it not a coincidence that Roy, who hasn’t yet been called, decided to push his luck with his own pronounced bend and was an effective bowler?
Doubtless The Cooler has had Roy in his workshop tuning Roy’s arm to get just the right amount of bend. And maybe he hasn’t exceeded the 15 degrees. Maybe. I doubt it.
New Chucking is a rort.
TIRED AND DEMOTIONAL #
Be f**ked! Larry Tait is exhausted and has dropped himself from... well, all cricket:
Australian fast bowler Shaun Tait has quit cricket indefinitely, citing emotional and physical exhaustion.
PROTEST MATCH SPECIAL #
So Rollerboy’s protest was successful; there’s a shock.
“I honestly believe Harbhajan said an obscenity, not racial abuse.”
~~ Dean Jones
“The noble Deano.” Quite obviously Deano is not looking to protect any commentary gigs on the subcontinent. Nor is he sucking up after his terrorist episode. “For Deano is an honourable man.”
The next step in the process is clear: Harbhajan should immediately instigate proceedings against Ponting, Symonds, Hayden and Clarke for their false accusations of racism.
You know who is the real culprit here? The ICC.
Well, Mandy Rice TonyT, you would say that, wouldn’t you?
Yes, I would. Not because Big Cricket* squibbed it over the appeal. Not because Big Cricket squibbed it over Morgan getting sacked. Not because Big Cricket squibbed it full stop. Big Cricket is the culprit because their judiciary process was a cock-up from the off. Mike Proctor knew it and approached Mal Speed to say he didn’t have the legal expertise to deal with the case. Pity Mal didn’t take the hint. Instead he told Proctor to get stuffed and get on with the case and the rest, as they say, is bollox.
As Petrocelli would say, the screen turning a toilet cleaner shade of blue: “I will now recreate the night of the crime.” While he’s doing that, I will revisit Sydney, Day Three:
Elsewhere on-field, Harby was cited for sledging Sideshow. Judging by Roy's reaction and Harby's subsequent contrition, Harby DID say something nasty. It was allegedly racist, according to today's blabs, but they don't say what was said. Tendulkar talked in circles, which doesn't usually bode well for the defence, but unless the umpire heard what was said or the stump mikes picked it up there is rock all chance of Harby being found guilty. And he'll probably say he was mis-heard, anyway.
And that’s the way it should have played out. Proctor: “Sorry, boys, it’s one side’s word against the other and without corroborating evidence nothing can be proved. Case dismissed.”
Not that TLM is without complicity for saying Harby didn’t say monkey. As the above excerpt points out, he talked in circles, which indicated he hadn’t heard the exchange but was trying to put in a good word for Rollerboy. He later said outright that Harby wouldn’t say anything nasty because “He is a smashing bloke. He used to buy his mother flowers and that.” Later still, after seeing where TLM was standing, I wrote he couldn’t have heard it because he was out of earshot; it transpired that was the case. But this whole rumpus escalated based of TLM texting the BCCI to say they should go bull goose defending Harby.
And, of course, it should never be forgotten the BCCI pulled a monumental dummy spit. Pity their massive clout meant they could get their way. It would have been brilliant had the ICC told them to get lost; the ensuing rumpus thing would have been a thing of wonder.
Because Big Cricket farked it up to start with, the whole cricket world was turned downside up.
You can see why the Aussie players are fuming, too. Talk about backed in the stab! Big Cricket demands the players report any instances of racial abuse, the players do so, Big Cricket backs away at a million miles per hour. It will be a long time before any Strayan player ever again bothers to report anyone.
What odds will you give me that the next player reported for racial abuse is a Strayan? What odds will you give me that the next player to lodge a racial abuse complaint will be an Indian?
Not that I’m 100% behind the Strayan players. More like 95%. Yes, a new process had been correctly followed by the Strayans. Yes, we all know Harby said monkey. He said he said “Mar Key” or something like that, to which us sensible, eloquent people respond “Suuuuuuuure you did.” But despite our Craven New World with all its associated sensitivities, procedures and wank-for-all, it’s still, you know… dobbing.
Transcript of audio picked up from the Nine Network stump microphone and used as evidence in Harbhajan's appeal:
Symonds walks up to Harbhajan at the end of an over.
Symonds: "Go and yell at your teammates .... You called me monkey again."
Matthew Hayden: "Twice. You've got a witness now champ."
Hayden approaches Harbhajan.
Hayden: "That's the last time."
Harbhajan: "No listen he started it."
Hayden: "Doesn't matter mate, it's racial vilification mate. It's a shit word and you know it."
Soon after, Michael Clarke approaches umpire Mark Benson.
Clarke: "It's not the first time. He done it in India and got into strife. That's the second time he's done it."
Captain Ricky Ponting walks up to Benson and gestures towards fellow umpire Steve Bucknor.
Ponting: "Go and tell him. Go and tell him straight away."
* Big Cricket: collective noun. Plural: Bigs Cricket.
- Any or all of the ICC, BCCI, CA, affiliates, families, friends, bookies.
BLUBBLE STANDARDS #
Good article from Peter Lalor on cry-babies and double standards:
In the past two Tests, the Indians have reaped the rewards of their petulant outburst following the Sydney loss.
After that game, Indian captain Anil Kumble complained that "only one team was playing with the spirit of the game", while his board put a hold on the tour until an umpire was replaced. Another senior player anonymously labelled Australians "cheats" and "liars". In the aftermath, umpires have been frozen with terror when a bowler appeals and have allowed some questionable tactics by the visitors.
Kumble and other Indians suggested Michael Clarke could not be trusted because he failed to walk when he edged a ball in Sydney and then claimed a catch that looked doubtful on replay.
In Adelaide on Monday, Sourav Ganguly hit a ball that was clearly caught by Michael Hussey but the batsman refused to walk. Replays showed he was out and only then did the batsman leave.
Had the batsman been an Australian - let alone Clarke - India would have reacted with outrage.
When Clarke was batting, Harbhajan, Mahendra Singh Dhoni and Dinesh Kartik appealed excessively in the belief that Kartik had taken a bat-pad chance.
Harbhajan's sustained appealing was backed up by Kartik, who appeared to wag his finger at the umpire and later spat heatedly on the ground near Clarke.
In the meantime, Dhoni began to sledge Clarke who had to pull out of facing the next ball because the wicket-keeper was still talking as Harbhajan came in to bowl.
It might have been hard but fair, it might have been mental disintegration, it might have been many things, but imagine what it might have been if it had been the Australians appealing.
Spanker spanked. Who doesn’t love it when one journalist has a dip at another; especially when “another” is Peter Piker:
IF you are unsure about the rights and wrongs of the Bollyline cricket crisis, you are not alone.
Take comfort in the fact that one of the game's leading commentators, Peter Roebuck, has written about this summer's cricketing controversies with a level of confusion not seen since an English batsman last faced up to Shane Warne.