What's Spanky on?
"Not the least tiresome aspect of this bitterness has been the way nationalistic backslappers in both countries have sided with their own players."
Channel Nine must be spewing. Nationally, the top rating program last week was National Nine News, Sunday with 1.60 million viewers; Underbelly was fourteenth with 1.30 million. In Melbourne the top rating program was NNNS with 505,000 viewers; Desperate Housewives was twentieth with 367,000 viewers. It's reasonable to assume UB would rate its obligatory dark sunglasses off in Melbourne - certainly it would rate better than DH, which has been groaning for a visit from Philip Nitschke since the end of season 1 - which means UB would be the best rating show in the country.
Not only that, Nine are unlikely to pick up major ground when UB is eventually released here. Doubtless Blue Murder would have done better had it been released in Sydney in 1995 than it did when it was belatedly released around 2000. What's more, back in those prehistoric days before Big Internet, BM wouldn't have had to contend with what UB has to contend with now, even though lots of Sydneysiders would have seen tapes of the show. Every petrol station you go into, the bloke behind the jump makes surreptitious eye contact and whispers "Moit, you wanna watch some Underbelly?" Pretty sure that phenomenon is not contained to just petrol stations, although they seem to be the major outlet for choice contraband. And there are countless stories of people getting DVDs sent from interstate and downloading off their local internet. By the time UB finally screens in Melbourne, most everyone will have seen it, AND been able to zip through the countless ads. No wonder Nine are stopping out all the pulls to squash, or even quash, "illegal" distribution.
(What is it with NNNS? Ever since I have been back in Melbourne (1988) it has rated at or near No.1. Why? Are people, exhausted after a long hard Sunday, desperate for a restorative fix of the hot topic du jour? Baby meerkats at the zoo, for instance. I have seen a bit of NNNS, but it's certainly nowhere near the top of my "must watch" list. What makes the Sunday night News such a hot rating success?)
What about UB itself? Well, having seen the first two episodes I'm perfectly placed to critique the whole series.
It goes alright.
Naturally, the comparisons with BM don't stop at distribution. Organised crime: tick. Local faces: tick. Local news: tick. But you knew all that.
A glaring on-screen comparison is the colour. While BM on ABC was toned down grey-beige, UB on Nine is often filmed at night under gaudy lighting with lots of blues and reds.
I already mentioned the ads: BM had none, UB doesn't have none.
Performance wise? Vince Colosimo's Alphonse Gangitano vs. Gary Sweet's Chris Flannery. Boynton says it's hard to play the psycho, and she would know, being well versed in matters acty. By extension, though, if it's harder to play the psycho, it's harder to get it right. Both Colosimo and Sweet were lauded for their performances, but I reckon Vince does a better job. He looked like a nutter, Sweet looked like he was acting a nutter. Maybe it's a wog thing. I know more skips, so maybe it's harder for a skip to convince me they are psycho. Or maybe it's because Gary Sweet once pinched me in a footy match against Port Colts. Not that I hold grudges.
The best part was Gyton Grantley as Carl Williams. Notorious Big is right: "I'm still laffing at the choice of Carl Williams. Absolutely superb casting and makeup (not sure about the acting - surely he wasn't that thick?)." Judy Moran said he was a moron and the Williams in UB is very moron, and very funny.
Another comparison is the big fight scene. The pub brawl in BM was wonderfully put together, tightly cut and very in your face. You felt like you were in the bar. The pub brawl in UB was more like a rock fillum clip. To be perfectly francis, it was such a fighty blur they may as well have shown Gangitano and Jason Moran strolling into the Sports Bar, cut to them strolling out, then shown a footpath full of bloodied punters.
The cops in UB haven't yet been fleshed out, and there was one flagrantly expositional scene: "Why can't we just arrest them... that's right! They haven't committed any crime." You'd like to think there was more to the cops than what's been shown so far.
Still, the first two episodes of UB were good, but given the commercial intrusions I am prepared to wait until I can see the whole thing on DVD.
And another thing. Can people - and by people I mean pinheads who prefer the sound of their own rhetoric - please stop droning on about the IPL player auction. "When I heard about the hideous indignities at the IPL slave market, I choked on my larks tongues." Just shut up. Since when did slaves have a choice? Since when were slaves given big money for their work? It's no slave market. There was no indignity. There was just a bunch of highly skilled, willing participants ready to accept a lot of wonga for their services in an open and transparent bidding system. Pity it doesn't spread to the AFL.
Mark has more:
There have been a series of predictably snarky comments, both on the crystal box and in the chip wrappers, about the amount of money cricketers will earn from the IPL.
All sooking, all dobbing. Who doesn't love this summer of sledge?
MATTHEW Hayden yesterday labelled Harbhajan Singh an "obnoxious little weed" as India was told to stop whingeing.
Hayden unleashed a stinging verbal attack on Harbhajan on the same day former Test firebrand Rodney Hogg demanded India stop moaning about trivial on-field clashes.
Hayden and Harbhajan locked horns at the SCG on Sunday, with Hayden yesterday claiming he had called the controversial Indian a "bad boy" rather than a "mad boy".
What's up with bad vs mad? Who cares? Why clarify? Rollerboy is both.
Biffed that picture from CricInfo; where, incidentally, there is no picture of Instant giving Sideshow a send-off.
Instant was fined for that send off. Ponting and the rest of the Strayan team were fined for a slow over rate. But Dhoni Kebab got rock all despite blatant cheating:
IN A a bizarre aftermath to Sunday's spiteful limited-overs match in Sydney, Mahendra Singh Dhoni has escaped with a slap on the wrist, Ricky Ponting has been fined, Ishant Sharma has pleaded guilty to aggressive behaviour and Andrew Symonds has claimed he was simply congratulating the young paceman before their words became heated.
India are the biggest sooks of all time. Or are they? Yeah, of course they are. But not only do they spit the dummy, when it suits them, they also sell the dummy to manipulate match officials. If potting the Aussies for calling Rollerboy "mad boy" is not a rank attempt to divert heat from Kebab's gloves then I'm a maa kii's uncle:
TENSION between Australia and India exploded last night when the tourists lodged an official complaint against the alleged bully-boy tactics of Ricky Ponting, Matthew Hayden and Andrew Symonds.
And anyway! What sort of soft blouser fieldsman goes squealing to the officials when they are sledged by the batsmen? Aussies would neve... oops.
The idea for an annual Twenty20 fiesta in India has been defended by all and sundries as a necessary "window" for fitting the short caper into the international schedule. Spin. If the T20 in India is a raging success, you'd have to be a very thick thicko indeed not to be able to see that other countries will want their cut and eat it, too.
Can you imagine the phoodboll countries looking at the English Premier League and concluding that because the EPL is too good they may as well fold? Of course not. The EPL is probably the biggest phoodboll competition on the orb - at least from our anglicized perspective - but there are plenty of other strong La Leegas, Seeriah Ays, Boondessleegas, and Copper Del Mericas; even our own Ay Leeg is looking to increase its profile. Certainly none have shut up shop because the EPL is currently rocking.
Crash has a fair point in today's News papers: India are laughing because the T20 festivals will strengthen their own player development. But it's not an entirely valid point. Has the EPL made England the best soccer nation? No. Who doesn't love it when the red tops embark on their yearly slam-a-thon of hopeless England (Swedes 2 Turnips 1), the cheating opposition (Achtung!) or the blind ump... referees (Swiss Banker!). What the EPL does, apart from churn big money, is increase the depth of soccer ability world wide.
In the same way I'm not against the EPL being big business, I'm not against T20. I don't take much notice of the format, but nor do I take much notice of ice hockey, tennis, horse racing, golf, any motor racing format or large mouth bass fishing. I pretty much contain my interests to AFL, Test cricket, NFL and major league baseball, but all the rest merrily exist without any input from me.
And they are all professional. Just like T20 is now professional.
Someone needs to tell that to the papers; Saturday's headlines were particular gloat-fests. The Herald Sun: Another Poor Return. Aussies win but million dollar batsmen fail again.The Strayan: Money cannot buy runs. Bad Day at the office for cricket's new millionaires.
Perspective, please. The combined total of the T20 Aussie bids was $7.39 million. Tiger Woods can make that in a handful of tournaments. Roger Federer likewise. Same for good AND bad boxers, loads of phoodboll players, and pretty much everyone in the American baseball except for the kid who picks up the bats. You don't see the papers getting stuck into the likes of Woods, Federer, Tom Brady because the make big money.
Mind you, what you do see is the press getting stuck into players who fail to live up to their price tag, which I suppose is what Saturday's papers were doing. It will be interesting to see if the IPL signees live up to their auction value. Imagine if Dhoni Kebab strolls out and makes a string of ducks, drops sitters, or is caught cheating like he might have been yesterday with his cheaty gloves.
That's the "beauty" of professional sport: your reputation is on the line. That's why I love major league baseball. Watching a clutch pitcher or hitter perform when the heat is on goes to the very essence of competitive sport. The same goes for Michael Jordan. He was not a superstar because he could sink buckets with his eyes closed, he was a superstar because he could sink buckets with his eyes closed with half a second left in a big match and everyone in the opposition trying to stop him.
That will be one of the attractions of the T20. Will players deliver? The cricket, from a purist's perspective, will mostly be crap, but big money has cranked up the pressure. Who will crack first?
Which all leads me onto another thing: the bagging of Roy, Ponting and Flatty for their string of failures. How come none of the experts zero in on the conditions? Those three batsmen, and loads others around the cricket world have, for numerous years, been able to rock up to a match and swing through the line on straight and true decks. Straya's whole Fifty50 - Frankie Leach used that term on Offsiders yesterday; bet he reads the AGB - philosophy is to swing big. But this season they haven't been able to do so; most every deck has been two paced and difficult to score on. Of course batsmen used to loverly roads have struggled. Then what happened yesterday? The SCG served up a run feast on a true pitch. A pity. Which have been the better matches? The low scoring scraps or Sunday's run glut? I've already seen yesterday's match described as a thriller. Balls! High scoring matches that suit their commercial imperative might be good for CricAussie and Channel Nine, but not for me. It can only be a matter of time until Richie Benaud works a T20 match and says "You simply must bat out the full 20 overs."
Will I follow the IPL? Yes, but not strongly. I was conceived in Calcutta, so I will follow Kolkata. But that's about it.
Having said ALL that, the threat to Test cricket, by far the best sport in the world, is very real. Mark asks a valid question:
How long before a centrally contracted English player decides that the lure of half a million a year for three years from the IPL is a better deal that about 20% of that over a shorter period from the ECB?
On a related note, Jonathan Agnew in today's Observer says that KP is looking 'distracted'. I wonder why that is?!
Here's hoping Test cricket doesn't implode because players decided on cash before country.
More from Olly Reed at Aussie Cricket:
When Steve Waugh was trying to inspire his Aussie side to win in India, he christened the challenge the 'final frontier'. Now that saying is irrelevant. India has become the epicentre of the cricket world. For all the flack the BCCI cops you have to give them credit for the IPL. It's a great idea. It's the sought of thing we should be doing in Australia.
Is anyone surprised that secret agenting is more like secret accounting?
Sir Richard Dearlove's testimony to the Diana inquest made the security services sound more like a firm of accountants than a bunch of 007s, says Philip Johnston.
So now we know how the Government would go about wasting someone. Apparently, the modern secret agent is licensed to kill in extraordinary circumstances - but only if his boss first obtains a Class 7 authorisation, agreed by a management board and various operations directors, which is then signed by the Foreign Secretary and reviewed by a judge.
The time: Half past 2007.
The place: India.
The scene: Sponsor's function.
An Indian heavy hitter sidles up to Sideshow Roy.
HH: "Excuse me, Mr Roy?"
Roy: "G'day, Heavy Hitter."
HH: "Are you having a good time?"
Roy: "Great. This party is a blast. But did you have to book Bing to sing?"
HH: "Sorry, he is big in India. Tell me: are you, by chance, related to Arundhati Roy?"
Roy: "Not even by marriage. Who is he, anyway?"
HH: "It does not matter. I will come to the point: you like to make big monkey... I mean, many gorillas?"
Roy: "Too right, mate. Just show me where, when and especially how much."
HH: "Twenty20. Here. Next year. April."
Roy: "Shit. Can't do it. We're playing the Pakis."
HH: "Do not worry about those bomb-happy Musslims."
Roy: "CricAussie will want me to tour."
HH: "There is way around them, too."
Roy: "How so?"
HH: "Pakistan is basket case, yes?"
Roy: "It is?"
HH: "Touring there dangerous, yes?"
Roy: "It is?"
HH: "Bomb. Happy. Just talk about how Pakistan is basket case."
Roy: "I'm with you now. Why didn't you say so? 'Pakistan. Basket case.' That kind of thing?"
HH: "That kind of thing."
Roy: "The ICC?"
HH: "The ICC?!? Ho ho ho... that is a good one."
HH: "Never mind. Keep expressing doubts about Pakistan and leave the rest to us."
HH: "Edmund Roy?"
HH: "Did not think so."
Who said Test cricketers weren't role models?
Joe Amad doesn't possess a baggy green cap or even play for Victoria, but he proved last weekend that he is, dare we say, no ordinary Joe. You see, playing for his team Yarraleen against Templestowe, the Box Hill Reporter B2-grade competition's top team, the 39-year-old taxi driver came to the wicket with his side struggling at 5-29 but what then followed will be talked about at his club for years. After being dropped at five and 30, Amad told his batting partner: "I think this might be my day." He wasn't wrong. Not only did he proceed to plunder the bowling to the tune of 319 runs, eclipsing his own club record of 199, scored a couple of years ago, but when he was finally dismissed (caught in the deep by one of three fieldsmen within a 30-metre arc from deep mid-off to deep mid-on), he had struck 45 fours and five sixes and taken his team to 463, the third-highest total in the history of the club.
Speaking of which...
Ever stumbled into a place like the West Heidelberg Mall? Dallas, for instance? Well, you would have run across someone like Glovey; a local type, three parts pissed, fist wrapped around a can of VB at 9:30 in the morning. A CC, colourful character.
"Hey, c--t! How's ya mum and dad? Are they still brother and sister?"
Glovey should run for council. He's certainly got a better chance than Gimmecoins, Bottle Thrower and Mr Scabs the toilet junky.
A c--t of an article in The Age:
LAST week was (and please don't take this the wrong way because it really was, quite literally) a c--t of a week. First the City of Melbourne sent its fearless officers to tear down posters advertising an art exhibition called C---s.
I have something in common with John Harms. No. Not Geelong. No. Not Queensland. No. Not short sentences. No. This:
The first time I ever stayed up for the entire night was watching the World Cup final from Lords in 1975.
Me, too. Watched it at my grandparents house in Mount Eliza, on a weekend away from boarding school. I still count that final as among the best one-day matches I've seen. Dunno about the decadent, but there was action alright: Lloyd and the Tavern window, Richards and the run outs, the calypso music, Thommo & Lillee batting at the end, Bill Lawry declaring with Marsh on 93. Ok, Marsh was 92. And it was a Test match. In Melbourne. Four years earlier. Anyway. Half way through the telecast I flipped to The Night Stalker, which despite being completely daggy, is still in my top ten all-time favourite TV shows. The way Kolchak went alone into derelict buildings, sewers, basements, attics and hidden underground cities is still in my top ten all-time how to create tension techniques. His blue suit and sand shoes is still in my top ten all-time fashion statements. And the show's theme is still in my top two all-time TV themes.
With this theme:
The theme to Dexter reminds me of John Barry.
Greg Baum used... sarcasm:
Everyone loves TT, but remember basketball, the last sport that tarted itself up.
EVERYONE loves Twenty20 (TT for short — evidently an abbreviated game needs an even more abbreviated name). Fans love it for the atmos, the novelty, the fireworks, the din. Television loves it for the ratings. Administrators love it because television loves it. Players love it for the money — fistfuls of it.
When I saw the heading to Patrick Smith's article in yesterday's Strayan I thought he meant the speed and intensity of TT would eat up the fogey cricketers who were trying to eke out a few extra seasons worth of cashola:
WHEN cricket was turned on its head by the World Series revolution there was some sympathy for administrators.
They might have been naive or arrogant not to be prepared for the devastation that Kerry Packer's breakaway league would deliver, but it was their trusted senior players who plotted in secret against them. They were betrayed from within.
Well... not everyone loves TT:
TWO months ago this column said loudly that the Australian cricket community needed to coalesce into a house of review and ensure that Cricket Australia is acting in the best interests of its constituents.
The need is greater than ever. In December the call to arms was, among other things, triggered by talk of Test match cricket being played under lights. Now it has more to do with preserving the integrity, uniqueness and relevance of Test match cricket per se.
SEVEN and Foxtel ended years of disagreement today announcing the channel had signed a retransmission deal with the pay-TV group.
The news means Channel Seven will become available to satellite pay-TV subscribers for the first time.
And Seven's programming options will also be seen on Foxtel's electronic program guide for the first time.
Seven was the only free-to-air TV network to not have a retransmission deal with Foxtel.
Channel Nine, the ABC and the SBS have been retransmitted on Foxtel for years, and Ten came on board late last year.
Bout time Seven got with the programming. Now I can use my Foxtel IQ to record all those great shows I've been missing: Dancing With The Stars, Singing With The Stars, Surviving With The Stars, Desperate Housewives, Home And Away, Deal Or No Deal, Grey's Anatomy and Melankochie. Brilliant.
Sorry, wrong injuns:
FORMER leading umpire Robin Bailhache believes umpires have been placed under intolerable pressure following India's successful push to sack Steve Bucknor after a poor second Test in Sydney last month.
While Bailhache did not directly blame the need to please India for two poor decisions struggling South African umpire Rudi Koertzen made against Australia in last Sunday's one-day loss, he said umpires were now "under notice" if things went against India.
Forget that Underbelly has been banned in Victoria - that was always on the cards - and instead focus on this:
Barrister for Nine, Brendan Murphy QC ... said the network always intended to air a heavily edited version of the series for Victorian audiences.
When, precisely, was Nine going to tell us Underbelly was cut to the sh1thouse?
At least the judge has a sense of humour:
The Nine Network has also been ordered to pull Underbelly character profiles from its website, and has been banned from placing any episodes on the internet in Victoria.
When you burn an old carved and guilt picture frame it makes a muted hissing noise in the grate - a sort of genteel fooh - and the gold leaf tints the flames a wonderful peacock blue-green. I was watching this effect smugly on Wednesday evening when Martland came to see me. He rang the bell three times very fast, an imperious man in a hurry. I was more or less expecting him, so when my thug Jock put his head around the door, eyebrows elaborately raised, I was able to put a certain aplomb into my "Wheel him in."
Most people don’t like one dayers when the bowlers dictate.
But most people are idiots.
My perfect one day game would be one team making 184, and the other making 183 and Inzy getting run out.
That 800 run match in Sorth Efrica? Stick it up your veldt. One of the best things about this season's summer of Benaud is the variable tracks on offer. Melbourne and Perth were both better Tests because the pitches were difficult. Melbourne, low and slow for the Test, is now hard and bouncy for the one dayers; Perth, a speed merchant's paradise for the Quicket, is overnight transformed into a slowish seam dream for the Test.
At the risk of saying "We've been saying it here for years", "We've been sayi... dodgy tracks rock. It's hard to believe that Kevin Bartlett and Crash Craddock only just discovered the wonders of shit pitches, but that's the way they were carrying on today. Same for Tubby last night. Naturally it goes against the commercial imperative to risk a shortened telecast with difficult batting conditions, but there's no doubt matches are better when batting is not better. The best way to guarantee a good match in a one dayer is to juice up the pitch. Remember the 2003 World Cup? The two best matches were Straya v. England and Straya v. New Zealand, both at Port Elizabeth and both on awkward decks. And of course there was Sorth Efrica's farcical Duckyloo calculations for extra entertainment. These matches should be the template for the future of Fifty50 cricket.
Butler done it.
Superintendant Andy Dalziel, of the Birmingham police, is the personification of the kind of copper everyone has in mind when they wax lyrical about the old days.
Done this, too:
Andy's midlands accent adds grit and authority.
That's the Weekend Strayan's Mark Butler misplacing Dalziel & Pascoe.
Update! Not Yorkshire.
A phusics lisson from Richard Boock:
You've got to give it to Sir Isaac Newton. He really knew what he was on about with that third law thing you know, the one about every action attracting an equal and opposite reaction. In other words, life has consequences; what goes around comes around, and by definition I guess you reap what you sow.
By the way. Sorry I haven't been able to reply to the comments, but I've got a full timetable this week. As Dick Boock would say: "Flat out like a Beirut lizard layer."
That heading doesn't make any sense. Anyway... you reckon the AGB is setting the agenda?
First we drive Gilly into retirement:
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.
Then there was this:
Did you know our drops against India in the Tests cost us 569 runs?
Now Peter Lalor - who is starring lately - takes up the cause:
THE standard of fielding is said to be one of the barometers of a player or a team in decline. Michael Hussey
If it is true, Australia's dominance is slipping away at an alarming rate.
Spanky is right that The Invincibles were helped by Pomgolian cricket being blitzed by WWII. The same happened when the Big Ship whitewashed England 5-0 in 1920/21 after WWI.
For your consideration:
When someone says to you "I remember when" do you automatically look it up? And how often is someone's memory someone's else's memory?
Can never work out the cricket rankings. Aren't we World Champions until 2011? And aren't Sorth Efrica always "closing in on No.1"? Someone crunch the numbers please.
AUSTRALIA has been put on notice that its status as one-day world champion is under threat this summer.
Despite claiming the past three World Cups and losing just two of its past 21 one-day internationals, Australia is on the brink of being dethroned.
It would be like Tiger Woods losing his No. 1 ranking despite dominating world golf over the past five years.
But, a rampaging South African side, who have won their series against the West Indies 5-0, have moved to within four rankings points of Australia.
Australia needs to make the final of the tri-series against India and Sri Lanka to maintain top spot -- and even that may not be enough.
To guarantee its hold on the top ranking, Ricky Ponting's men will have to win the one-day final series.
Spelling Mistake: There's no rampage needed to beat Tori Spelling.
Add your glib Western responses:
IT is time to have another crack at the glib Western response to the Harbhajan affair. The debate has become altogether too cosy. Several points need to be made. Yes, a lot of skin creams are sold in India. Yes, every ad in Indian magazines seems to feature light-skinned youths. Yes, India has its castes and colours. It is imperfect. But it has also had in recent years a Sikh president, a Muslim prime minister and a white, female, Catholic divorcee leading its main political party. Other nations should be as lucky.
A long overdue article on the sh1t flogged by the Nine commentators:
CHANNEL Nine has been flogging the stuff for years. In the Sydney Test, it was Andrew Symonds’ turn. A "beautifully presented, personally signed" photo of Symonds, on bent knee after a belted drive, and underneath an actual swatch of willow from a bat used by Symonds in a 2007 Test match, complete with his year’s statistics, all finished in "a quality timber frame".
Titled A Smashing Year, this limited-edition "amazing collectable" of 250 pieces is officially licensed by Cricket Australia, authenticated and certified by Pricewaterhouse Coopers, and two weeks ago, you could have it for just $728. Yesterday, its price was down to $693.
Only problem is, according to sports memorabilia expert Rick Milne, they’re worth next to nothing. Because by next year no one wants to buy them.
"At the Perth Test two weeks ago, Richie Benaud stooped so low as to be flogging some Adam Gilchrist tribute," Milne said last week. "I don’t think it’s a good look for somebody like Richie Benaud to be flogging that stuff, and there he was, saying, ‘Great memories of the brilliance of Adam Gilchrist, just call this number’. But the things on the secondary market are almost worthless."
Been thinking. Everyone – you know, everyone – has been saying that Twenty20 will be best served by being restricted to only one or two matches per summer. Trouble is, if we only have one or two matches, what’s the point?
See where I’m coming from?
If a match is not a part of a larger competition it becomes a novelty or a gimmick or a gigantic “retail opportunity,” as Martin Brundle once referred to an ad break in the Melbourne Grand Prix.
Then if there are too many matches, Twenty20 runs the risk of losing credibility in the same way Fifty50 has lost credibility with all its meaningless matches.
So how’s it going to fit in?
Well, if we take last night’s match as an example we would conclude from a purely cricket perspective that it’s not going to fit in very well at all. A crap match was all over 15 minutes after it started. But from a financial perspective we would conclude it’s going to fit in very nicely indeed, thank you very much, you’re welcome, don’t mention it. We could even extrapolate from the second perspective that the other Strayan states will start fretting that all international Twenty20 matches will end up at the MCG given it is the home of Strayan cricket, the people’s ground, the paddock that grew, and most significantly, holds more than twice as many cash cows and stakeholde… paying customers as any cricket venue in this wide brown land of sunburn.
Twenty20 is also still in a state of “so what”. Say what? Well, Straya won and Captain Nemo was “speechless” at how well Straya played, while India lost and Dhoni Kebab shrugged it off as only a “practice game”. Surely if it’s just a practice game, losing doesn’t matter and if losing doesn’t matter, the match is meaningless.
That said, I’ve been saying for years that Straya treat the Benson & Hedges, Fosters, Carlton, VB, CB Series as a round of practice matches for the Fifty50 World Cup. Actually, they probably were not doing that as far back as the B&H days, but they have certainly been doing it since they lost the 1996 World Cup. Anyhoo, it is conceivable there is something in what Kebab says: India could well have treated last night as a praccy. Fifty50’s lost lustre is often attributed to the many matches being used to trial players and tactics for the World Cup. Who’s to say Twenty20 won’t go the same way. It certainly will if Kebab & Co treat the matches as trial games.
Not that Kebab downplayed the nature of India’s victory in the ICC World Twenty20. Nor did they suggest they hadn’t earned the cars and homes they were given when they got back to India. Yet THAT was a practice run for the first Twenty20 World Cup.
Regular AGB readers would not be confused, but just in case you wandered in here by mistake from the wilds of newspapers or talk radio - last September’s ICC World Twenty20 was not the Twenty20 World Cup. So stop saying India are the Twenty20 World Cup champions.
One thing in particular I want to mention from last night is the fielding. Before I turned over to The Murder Room on ABC at 8:30, the commentators couldn’t stop raving about the Aussie fielding. (When they weren’t drooling over the size of the crowd.) Fair enough, the Strayan fielding was superb. But until it translates into catching in the Tests I’ll reserve my judgment as to whether Twenty20 is a good influence on Test cricket. I’d much rather we took our catches in the Tests than save a few runs in the field with dynamic dives.
Speaking of catching, Mark has a good piece on the influence of the keeper:
A lot of commentators have made the very valid point about Adam Gilchrist, in that he revolutionised the way test sides now view their wicketkeeping position.
Last word on last night: Nemo’s captaincy. Can’t say if it was good or bad based on one viewing, but he certainly looked the part jumping here and there, looking serious, fielding like a demon, batting well and being named man of the match. At one point I had a chuckle when he whistled and flicked his fingers to move a fielder in the deep. Bet there’s someone out there whose delicate sensibilities are ready to be offended. There’s probably also a working dog somewhere who “got in behind”.