You'd hope so.
"Fruit for the sightscreen"
Stuart Broad tries to psych out Steve Smith (or psych in himself):
“He’s obviously had a fantastic 18 months since he’s changed his technique a bit. I’ve got a few ideas to run past a few players that seem to think it might be a good option. I won’t share them with you yet. But I think it’s an advantage for us with him coming in at No3 with the Dukes ball in England. I think if he comes in at five like Joe Root does for us there’s not many weaknesses there."
“But with the ball moving around in England we know how hard it is to bat in that top three. I’m certainly not doubting the quality of him as a player, he’s a wonderful player and I enjoy watching him play when I’m not bowling at him."
“But you have to have a very tight technique to bat in the top three against the Dukes ball in England and it’s up to us as an opening attack to get an early wicket and get him in early against the new ball because he’s not had amazing success in England. When he played in the 2013 series he got a hundred at the Oval on a flat wicket. We’ll be looking to try and test his technique with a Dukes ball early.”
There is a bit of a difference between saying you have a plan and actually having a plan. There is more to getting Steve Smith out than merely saying "Dukes, Dukes, Dukes". That said, Test cricket is all about working out a batsman's weaknesses, so it will be fascinating to see whether Smith can prosper at three, against a different ball and in different conditions to those he has recently encountered.
Early in 2005 Canterbury lost its most iconic feature - after 200 years the famous lime tree, situated just inside the boundary, was blown down during winter storms. It was the end of an era, but not of a tradition, as Kent had planned ahead and had been growing a replacement. Just ahead of the 2005 season, the new tree was replanted by Chris Cowdrey. The St Lawrence Ground was built around the tree in 1847 and is quintessentially English with space for spectators to watch from their deckchairs or cars. Kent's long history of producing England wicketkeepers is remembered with the Leslie Ames Stand, prior to 1973 it was known as the Iron Stand. In 1999 St Lawrence - "The Spitfire Ground" to its many friends - was picked to play for England against Kenya in the World Cup, taking 2 wickets, making 15 runs and dropping a catch.
In the 25th over of the chase, MS Dhoni came into contact with the bowler Mustafizur Rahman while running between the wickets. It was not the first time in the game that the Bangladesh debutant had got in the way of an Indian batsman. Rohit had to run around the bowler as well earlier in the innings. Dhoni, however, held his line and thudded his left arm into Mustafizur who then had to leave the field for a bit. In this case, the bigger person did not fall harder.
Personally, I reckon Mister Fizzer was pulling a fast one by getting in Dhoni's way; Fizzer takes a quick glance at MS then continues into the batsman's path.
On the flap side. Imagine the rumpus had an Aussie barged in to Fizzer like Dhoni barged into Fizzer. Cry havoc and let slip the Wild Dogs.
For the record, Brendon Julian married money, he was not born with a silver spoonerism in his mouth:
“And the cheque and the trophy for the Sir Wank Forrell Trophy has been retained by Australia.”
Australia's recent record overseas, excluding South Africa where the conditions are similar to home, has been astonishingly bad. The bowlers have not looked like taking 20 wickets and the batsmen have not looked like batting for 20 overs.
Now that Australia has two spinners, Lippy the Lyon and Forward Ahmed, who are probably better than the Windies' spinners, it's hard to know whether the Windies' groundsmen will take the sauce out of the pitches.
In familiar conditions with the ball coming on to the bat Australia would be strong favourites, away from home, not so much.
Australia should win, with extra emphasis on should.
You've got your regulation no ball, your faux ball (intentionally overstep to bowl an extended over), your Mo ball (intentionally overstep to spot fix), your Deano ball (run the batsman out as he is walking back to the pavilion because he isn't aware he's been "dismissed" off a no ball), your d'oh ball (accidentally overstep and take a "wicket"), and now your Bryn ball (accidentally overstep and take a wicket handled ball):
"I had hit the same bowler [who appealed] for six off my second ball and was taking him apart. They probably wanted to see the back of me. I have been told that it is a first and it is cricketing history, which would give the impression it was down to bad luck, but it wasn't, it was down to bad sportsmanship."
Mind you, "the fielding team were perfectly justified in appealing" is code for "not in the spirit of cricket", but without actually seeing the dismissal it's hard to judge. Unlike Steve Waugh, Cullinan, Gooch and Armanath, Bryn didn't have to worry about protecting his stumps, so superficially it appears the fielding team was coming the c***.
I guess when you are six foot twenty you don't very often get told to fvck off, especially when you are the one with the missile, so when someone does eventually tell you to fvck off you are likely to go off instead:
The famously media-shy paceman reveals it was fellow quick Kenny Benjamin who sparked the battle by telling Ambrose that Waugh had “cursed” at him.
“When I finish my stare at a batsman I turn round pretty quickly and therefore I didn’t hear him.”
Imagine what Big Curt would have done if Waugh had really given it to him. Then again, a few contemptuous and dismissive words are always more likely to get under the skin.
There's no "t" in Richie.
Hats off, Doyen.
Whenever you hear a commentator over the next few days saying he was inspired by Richie, keep it in mind that he is talking rubbish since it is extremely unlikely the commentator is erudite, well spoken and economical with his descriptions.
My favourite Richie: "Probably reminding them he's missed a few earlier in the series."
Six Age cricket writers, Greg Baum, Malcolm Knox, Chris Barrett, Jesse Hogan, Andrew Wu and Dean Jones, picked their First XII from the World Cup. Several players featured highly with Mitchell Starc, AB de Villiers, Kumar Sangakkara, Steve Smith, Trent Boult and Martin Guptill being unanimous choices, while the likes of Shikhar Dhawan, Brendon McCullum and Glenn Maxwell received multiple nominations.
Guess who picked the following team:
People aren't criticising the Aussies for getting on the fuel during post match celebrations - even though I personally reckon Aussies should drink less - they are criticising Warnie for relentlessly shoving booze down the viewers' throats as if he was shilling the sponsor's product, or he was trying to get himself invited to the party, or simply that he is a dummy with nothing better to ask:
Do gooders get stuffed. Straya is the best place in the world, not politically correct, keep it real. Aussies celebrate properly ! #thirsty— Shane Warne (@ShaneWarne) March 29, 2015
(I wrote a shorter version of the following for Footy Town - buy it - but since it contains one paragraph on cricket, and because of popular demand by one person, I will post it here.)
Last year troogling (Googling the truth) footy facts I stumbled across an article in the West Australian:
“The playing future of Wickham Wolves in the North Pilbara Football League is under a cloud amid a continuing trend of the club forfeiting games.”
Sounds dramatic, but football clubs all over this wide brown sunburnt country are struggling for numbers.
My eyes then lobbed on the adjacent photo:
“Picture: Jeff Farmer and Ashley Sampi have both played for the Wolves this year.”
A pair of authentic football guns playing together in the one country side. Melbourne’s Wizard Farmer, one of the top AFL small forwards of recent years (let’s just forget he ever made a monumental career blunder by moving to Fremantle – yes, I barrack for Melbourne), and the wayward Ashley Sampi, who took mark of the year (coincidentally against Melbourne) in 2004.
The Wickham Wolves were my first senior football club.
Through the 1950s, 60s and into the 70s my father had been an engineer in Melbourne but in 1973 decided to take up a post with Cliff Robe River Iron Associates, which had a head office in Perth and operations about 1600 kilometres up north in the Pilbara. The mine was based around Pannawonica while the shipping facilities were at Cape Lambert near Wickham, where the family was to relocate.
Since my brother and I were unable to commute to Brighton Grammar from north-west Australia – the Concorde had been banned down under and was unable to drop us at Moorabbin airport – and since BGS did not have a boarding school, we were sentenced to Melbourne Grammar where, as nine and eleven year olds respectively, we began our stretches at Grimwade House in Caulfield.
In a clear indication as to my potential toughness as a footballer, the Sunday night dad dropped us off at school to leave for WA I ran down Balaclava Road blubbing after his car.
Henceforth we flew up to Wickham for school holidays: Ansett to Perth and MacRobertson Miller Airways (MMA – “Mickey Mouse Airways”) to Karratha.
Tragically, mum died in early 1975 – funny the things you remember: Billy Swan’s “I Can Help” was No.1 in the Aussie charts – so it was up to dad to look after my brother and me, and since there was not much to do in Wickham dad used to take us to local footy on Sundays.
These trips were no casual saunter through Yarra Park to the MCG; nor were they a mere full kit expedition to VFL Park Waverley. It was 50.3 kilometres to Karratha, 71.3 to Dampier, 203 to South Hedland, 216 to Port Hedland (thank you, Google Maps) and about 400 to both Goldsworthy and Shay Gap (no thank you, Google Maps).
The very first Wickham Wolves match we ever saw was the 1976 grand final. The Wolves, spurred on by man-of-the-match Gary McPhail, stormed home to beat the Karratha Kats at Windy Ridge in Dampier to lift the premiership cup.
That was to be the Wolves sole flag. The following year the West Pilbara Football League, comprising teams from Karratha, Dampier and Wickham merged with the De Grey Football League, comprising teams from Port Hedland, Goldsworthy and Shay Gap to form the North Pilbara Football League. The increased depth in the competition meant the smaller Wickham was unable to repeat the success of 1976. The NPFL has since been dominated by teams from Karratha and Port Hedland, with only Goldsworthy (1977) and Dampier Sharks (1983, 1984, 2005 and 2008) winning flags.
I played my first game for the Wolves in the 1978 May school holidays when, as a skinny and scared 16 year old, I pulled on the yellow & black against Dampier in Dampier. I did not charge out that day confident I was about to rip the game apart. Squeaky me, fresh up from Melbourne Grammar, white skinned and hoping no one would notice me, up against wizened, hairy old miners who would most probably rip my head off.
As it turned out I went alright. Four goals out of the forward pocket, various other touches and I escaped unscathed, primarily because I only ever made a fleeting acquaintance with what is now called “impacting the contest”.
Not that the footy is what I remember most from that, ahem, auspicious occasion.
Windy Ridge runs parallel with the top of a “T” formed by Central Avenue as the vertical and The Esplanade as the horizontal. Day-dreaming and gazing around the ground I spotted a car tearing down Central set to swing onto The Esplanade. Clearly this lunatic was not going to make the turn. The intersection is about four metres above the ground and if this bloke over-shot he would land on the playing surface. What’s more, he would land on me. Miraculously, he smacked into one of the few road signs in the Pilbara and ricocheted in the direction he intended prior to his aggravated detour. Two spectators ran to a car and sped after the bloke. Later I found out they had collared him and dragged him to the police station. I also found out he had been handed over with bonus cuts and bruises which he had sustained as he “fell out of the car”. Pretty odd, I thought, but it was not until several years later that I was subsequently man of the world enough to realise what was meant by “fell out of the car”. Quite obviously he had a tall car.
The following year I again played for the Wolves in the May holidays. We faced Karratha Kats at Wickham and I did rock all. The only vaguely interesting memory from that day was a Kats player yelling “Sausage!” when the Kats kicked yet another goal on the way to thumping us. Unfamiliar with rhyming slang I had no idea why he was keen on smallgoods, but when I looked at him quizzically he must have thought I was issuing a tacit challenge so he gave me a “look” and I quickly scampered away.
1980 was my first year full time in the Pilbara. Leaving MGS (MCEGS as it was before it lost its religion) at the end of 1979 with a less-than stellar HSC result, sick of school and keen to stay up north, the only option open to me was an electrical apprenticeship at “Uncle Cliffs” as we called CRRIA. The idea of working at a mining company instead of going back to study in Melbourne was further sweetened by the prospect of owning a car, motor bike, boat, elaborate stereo system and various other trinkets; especially compared to my studious but shabby schoolmates struggling on op-shop clothes and Pablo coffee.
My first footy as a full-time Pilbara resident was a lightning carnival at Wickham Oval or Ralph Geronzi Park, as it is now known. Wickham was then a company town and Cliffs’ “town crew” looked after all the parks. Wickham Oval was a well maintained field with a concrete cricket pitch in the middle which was covered by a pile of sand in footy season – no drop-in pitches, it wasn’t that well maintained. Located at the edge of town it sat between neat rows of company housing, the primary school, a storm water drain and a several billion clumps of Spinifex. Naturally, the Pilbara being borderline desert, it rained.
Chris Peskett was Wickham’s club secretary and had, according to those in the know, pulled off a slick manoeuvre by having the Wolves play the first two games of the season at Shay Gap and Goldsworthy. Why Chris had been so clever became apparent to me on the rickety bus home at midnight after the Shay Gap match: get the two long road trips out of the way at the start of the season.
For Shay Gap & Goldsworthy you caught a bus at seven on Sunday morning and got home after midnight on Sunday night. The trip home was especially arduous. Sore from the game, gassed on cans of Emu Export Lager, eyes opened by the hard core veterans gambling hundreds of dollars on Manila, and bemused as staunch supporter Leigh Varis, who had started life in Kalgoorlie as Harry Varis, proudly displayed her two newly acquired assets. The last I heard Leigh was back in Kalgoorlie running a brothel and the Kalgoorlie-Boulder council. (Jokes in a self-addressed email to the publisher.)
And what was a road trip to the De Grey without a return stop at the Whim Creek Hotel, about half way between Hedland and Wickham? Perfect during a long bus trip – a chance to relieve ourselves, stretch our legs, and wash down the Emu cans with half a dozen swift middies of Swan Lager in the bar.
Nor was driving to Hedland and back much of an option. Dad had seemed to do it on the bit. But leave immediately after the game and you drove straight into the setting sun for two hours; even with a pair of the finest Le Spec sunnies it was hard work. Leave after sundown and you had to worry about road roos and falling asleep at the wheel.
1980 was Shay Gap’s last season in the competition as the footy club disbanded for want of numbers. Bit of a pity, since the Gap was a beautiful town nestled among the mesas several hundred kilometres north-east of Port Hedland.
Our coach that year was Dave Pearce, the manager of the local supermarket. For some reason I never found out, he disappeared after about six matches and club legend Bevan Parkes coached out the year. I did not mourn Dave’s departure since he had labelled me “Trigger”. Was he fond of alliteration? Did he think I had a short temper? Maybe it was a reference to 1930s and 40s Hollywood horses? Who knew? Anyway, good riddance to bad nick-namers.
(Bevan also coached out the next year when Gary van Mil pulled the pin with several games to go, and may have even done the same in 1982 when Russell Pickett was coach.)
Also disappearing that year was the Wickham jumper, which was the same as the WA jumper – black sash on yellow back ground. Someone had blundered washing the jumpers causing the yellow to shrink, but not the black. This left a tight jumper adorned with a saggy black sash. After the season we did not just change to repaired jumpers, we changed the colours to a white WFC monogram on a navy blue jumper much like Carlton’s jumper.
While the VFL and WAFL grand finals were duds in 1980, the North Pilbara grand final was a ripsnorter, with South Hedland’s Terry Tolchard kicking a bomb on the siren to pip the heavily favoured Karratha Kats.
South Fremantle beat Swan Districts in the 1980 WAFL grand final. Collingwood fans can legitimately, and regularly do, boast the Pies won the inaugural AFL premiership in 1990. Bulldogs fans can just as legitimately brag to have won the inaugural WAFL premiership, since prior to 1980 the WAFL was the WANFL. Not that Collingwood fans fondly recall the 1980 VFL grand final since the Pies were smashed by Richmond.
I don’t recall the 1980 VFL grand final being on television in Wickham. We only had ABC TV, so perhaps Seven and the ABC had failed to reach an agreement in the same way Nine had refused permission for the ABC to televise international cricket to “black spots” in the 1979/80 and 1980/81summers.
The VFL was on ABC radio, or “6WF and regionals” as it was called. Due to the two hour time delay VFL games started at midday and finished about 2:30, which took a little getting used to. I was in Perth for the 2003 AFL grand final and was still thrown by the early start time.
ABC radio also carried the horse racing – from everywhere. Our precious two and a half hours of VFL were pock-marked by “racing this time!” at Randwick, Flemington, Doomben, Belmont, Ascot, Upper Dapto South, etc.
If the racing cuts were aggravating, they were nothing compared to the WAFL cuts as the ABC threw from the VFL to the WAFL Match of the Day regardless of the state of the VFL match. In 2011 ABC television in Melbourne was castigated for cutting from the dying stages a Port Melbourne Williamstown thriller to Trekking in Austria. At least 6WF and regionals never blamed its "automated programming systems" even though it needed a few excuses as it repeatedly cut out the end of tight VFL matches. “Ohh, by the way, Melbourne beat Footscray with the last kick of the day.”
Not that I disliked the WAFL match of the day and fondly remember the work of George Grljusich, Wally Foreman, Keith Slater, Dennis Cometti - “In goes Michalczyk, in goes Boucher, oooooo, out goes Michalczyk” – and even back then Ken Casellas was still reading the statistics.
Incidentally, after North Pilbara won a Country Week cricket grand final in 1984, Ken Casellas wrote a scathing article in the West Australian about how Newman had dudded Bunbury out of the grand final berth. I am glad they did, since I made a 100 in the final.
The ABC match also took a different approach to half time. Rather than Megawalls, boundary riders, interviews, and all modern garnish ABC showed “Greatest Fights of the Century”. Not footy fights, boxing fights. Tunney vs. Dempsey, Carpentier vs. Battling Siki, Tunney vs. Gibbons, even Johnson v. Burns from 1908 in Sydney, and many other famous bouts. I was never much of a fight fan, but this seemed an ideal way to fill half time.
1981 and the fate that befell Shay Gap also befell Goldsworthy. With the mine closing down and the town disappearing, the football club left the competition.
That last year at Goldsworthy I took a mark about forty metres from goal almost straight in front. Lining up with slow and deliberate precision, well okay, casually smashing it on my boot, my kick drifted right and bounced smack, bang on top of the knob on the right-hand goal post. The man on the mark turned to me with a grin and said “Bet you can’t do that again.” Five minutes later I took another mark in an almost identical position and went through the same assiduous routine. This time my kick drifted left and bounced smack, bang on top of the knob on the left-hand goal post. The man on the mark turned and sagely advised “Told you so.”
Karratha Cardinals (now Falcons) joined the league in 1981. Coached by the combative Danny Malone the Cardies became a contender. Combative probably undersells Danny’s belligerent nature. Mind you, while Danny was a bit of a hard case, football in the Pilbara was a remarkably civil affair. There was no “Mullewa flu” which was a disease virulent in the Great Northern Football League, whose symptoms were a fake cough combined with a sudden withdrawal from your team on the Saturday before a trip to play Mullewa in Mullewa on Sunday.
Burrup joined the competition in 1982, but only lasted the one season, getting belted every week. In round two we played them at their new ground and were leading by twenty-plus goals with our trainer running around the boundary shouting that we should let them score or else we would not have a percentage. It had escaped her that Finucane Island had scored against us the previous week and we would also have plenty of chances to “allow” other teams to score against us in subsequent weeks.
Finucane Island, at the foot of iron ore stock piles, was in and out of the competition over several seasons without ever really threatening to take the competition by storm.
Port Hedland Panthers won the flag that year, but had spent big on luring players to the club and promptly went bust and disbanded.
It was also in 1982 that the Wolves unveiled the greatest football club song in the history of football club songs. The Teddy Bears Picnic became the Wickham Wolves Picnic.
If you go out on the field today,
you better go in disguise
If you go out on the field today,
you’re in for a big surprise
For every Wolf that ever there was,
will gather round for certain because,
Today’s the day the Wickham Wolves have a victory
Victory time for Wickham Wolves
The mighty Wickham Wolves are having a bloody good win today
See us, watch us drink our booze
We love to sing and dance after the match.
Dreadful, I know, but dreadful in a good way. Well alright then, dreadful in a bad way. A local folk band recorded it to be played over the PA before Wolves’ home games, only for us to cringe with embarrassment and hide in the toilets.
1983 and 1984 Wickham was strong, but came up against a powerhouse Dampier Sharks, who had recruited heavily from Victoria’s Mornington Peninsula, most notably Brendan Bell, who went on to play for West Perth and from West Perth the Sharks picked up the Buffalo, Lindsay McGuinness. The Wolves beat the Sharks early in 1983, but after that did not come close with the Sharks ultimately smashing the Wolves in the 1984 grand final, also at Windy Ridge. No cut and bruised drivers this time, but I still have McGuiness’s No.4 jumper. Wonder if he still has my No.32.
Confession: in 1983 I won the Armstrong Jones award for “spirit, endeavour and clubmanship” which means, yes, I have won a “best clubman” award.
The bulk of Wickham’s key players left after the 1984 season and the Wolves slid down the ladder. The timing was all wrong. In 1985 the Wolves picked up several more talented recruits, most notably Steve Lally who would go on to play for Perth in the WAFL and Centrals in the SANFL. If the Wolves had kept the full list together for 1985, we would have been a great chance for a flag. Alas.
I also left at the end of 1984 and had to kiss goodbye to all those Monday sickies.
On the Wednesday after the grand final I got a call from dad. “Tony, Hayden Bunton wants to talk to you.” My response was terse. It was not as if I had played a blinder in the grand final. Not unless you consider kicking out and spoiling to be particularly noteworthy – and hello to you, Josh Gibson. But dad was not having a lend of me. I rang back and as I was about to go on annual leave in Melbourne, organised to meet “Bunts” and Trevor “Nizzy” Nisbett at Perth airport where they signed me up for Subiaco. Turns out they had been at the NPFL grand final and liked the cut of my jib. Not for long. My jib was not well cut for the WAFL, so after a tortuous pre-season, a hamstring injury in the second practice match against East Fremantle, a badly rolled ankle at training about two months later, and a frustrating time impressing no one, not to mention a woefully inadequate attitude – “too country” Bunts called me – I concluded a glorious career as a WAFL nobody.
1986 was more successful. Living in Perth I travelled down to Narrogin each weekend to play for Towns with some relocated mates from the Wolves. Coached by WA footy and cricket luminary John McGuire we won the premiership against perennial grand finalist Williams, Towns’ first Upper Great Southern flag for over 20 years.
One of the benefits of becoming an electrician was that I could get a job at pretty much any mining operation around WA. One of the drawbacks was that I was expected to work.
The following year I was at Brigades in Geraldton and although we missed the grand final, I represented the Great Northern Football League when we were the first team in several centuries (approximately) to beat the South West Football League in the Westfarmers Country Championships.
1988 I was in the Goldfields playing for Mines Rovers. Due to a late arrival courtesy of a less-than gruelling six month pre-season on holiday in the UK and US, and also due to two hamstring injuries I only played about half the games. The omens were less than propitious when, after playing a blinder in my first game for the Diorites (great nickname - it’s the rock you get gold out of), the president pulled me aside and worriedly asked “just warming up?” He’s thinking it can get better; I’m thinking it can’t get any better. But he was right to be worried. We finished top of the ladder, but lost the grand final to Kalgoorlie who finished fourth, and I played a shocker.
That was my last taste of country football. I returned to Melbourne and college, which I had managed to put off for nine years, to see out my footy career with Old Melburnians and Tooronga-Malvern (The Biners won the 1990 premiership).
Despite a career, for want of a better word, as an itinerant footballer (“journeymen” had not yet entered the vernacular), who enjoyed premiership success at two clubs, league representation, championship laurels with road-trips that were a cross between the mayhem of a Hunter S. Thompson assignment and the pranking of National Lampoon’s OC & Stiggs, goal-kicking awards, best & fairests and the chance to travel around WA, it is my time at the Wickham Wolves which most resonates. None of my footy memories compare to the lift I get recalling my days playing for the Wolves. I still have the friends I made back then (even if I don’t see them too often) and I still think of Wickham most days – even if I don’t want to go back there. Well, maybe for a look.
Whoever said “once you get the red dust of the Pilbara in you, you cannot get it out” was spot on.
Don't jump to any confusion:
With due reportof word uttering yesterday in bw the matchwhile mentioning with Tks toNicholas, not anyother slangword to make any confusion.— Shahid Afridi (@SAfridiOfficial) March 16, 2015
Afridi actually said "Mark Nicholas," but it sounded like "Ma nigga" because he was chewing on a cricket ball.
It's kind of comforting to know that the Shrees have stupid fans too:
A Sri Lankan cricket fan waved a sign branding Australian cricketer Glen Maxwell a ‘fag’ during a Cricket World Cup match.
The sign reads “Maxwell Ponnaya” – which roughly translates as “Maxwell is a fag”.
I recently offered Dean Jones wise council counsel regarding a sin of omission:
Deano, evasively in my opinion, replied that Viv's bat was the same size as today's bats:
As we are all aware, bat size, constrained by limits on length and width (but not thickness), is not the driver of the modern power game. Modern bats derive their increased power from design improvements, which I mentioned with a subsequent literary flourish:
@ProfDeano All bats are roughly the same SIZE. But today's bats are made with weapons grade uranium.— Tony Tea (@AfterGrogBlog) January 24, 2015
Your mind's eye can already see Viv's rocket-fuelled Stuart Surridge Jumbo launching Kookaburras into orbit above the MCG.
Happily Deano, with my generous and helpful prompting, has seen the error of his ways and agreed that modern bats are beasts that not even Glenn McGrath could put down:
The bats they use today are crazy. Even Chris Gayle and David Warner use bats that are nearly 7.6 centimetres on the edge. The scary thing for bowlers is there are still improvements in bat manufacturing. Manufacturers are studying whether they can improve the specifications of the handle. They are also looking at different designs of the splice to improve performance. This area of the bat is quite important as it absorbs and transfers all of the energy at impact through to the handle.
Perhaps Deano could have mentioned my valuable contribution several times in that paragraph, but no hard feelings. I know that he knows that I was right.
Glenn McGrath was having a tough time, so shot an elephant:
Former Australian Test cricketer Glenn McGrath has said he deeply regrets shooting African animals - despite speaking about wanting to do so two years before.
The "despite" is a nice touch. Presumably McGrath wasn't doing it so tough when he wrote "I'm keen to get into trophy hunting, no animal in particular, but a big safari in Africa would be great." Looks like Pidge and his people have been scrambling since the photos surfaced yesterday. "The photos were taken out of context. Sorry if I offended anyone, by getting caught."
Ambushed by England, unconvincing against Bangladesh, smashed by New Zealand, reportedly "back on track" against Afghanistan, lucky against Sri Lanka, belated against Scotland, scraping into the quarters. Convince me I'm wrong.
Shane Watson sends his regards:
A touring Pakistani cricketer is reportedly recovering after being scared witless by a supernatural presence haunting his hotel room in New Zealand.
Rising star Haris Sohail was hit for six when he woke in the middle of the night sensing a spectre, according to Pakistan media reports.
The 26-year-old was convinced a malevolent ghost had pushed him while he slept at the Rydges Latimer Christchurch, a source told NZME.
Banter, threats, abuse, call it whatever you like, mix them up however you like, be a fundamentalist, use "in my dictionary" definitions, call them all cheats, brandish moral compasses, just don't criticise cricketers because of what it says in The Spirit of Cricket: Sledging shows Australian cricket culture has lost its moral compass.
Meanwhile, "former fast bowling great Glenn McGrath says he would not want to see kids sledging like Australia and India have this summer he used to."
Cow Corner Warner "is the most juvenile cricketer I have seen on a cricket field," according to Martin Crowe. Crowe is probably right, but Warner is likely to benefit from Armafio's Law, which states that the bigger the rumpus, the bigger the attraction. Talent and a handy baby are good protection, too.
Update! What is Hindi for "speak English"?
"When I went over to say something to him, he sort of said something in their language and I said 'speak English' because, if you're going to say something, understand that theoretically I cannot speak Hindi. I did the polite thing and asked him to speak English, therefore he did and I can't repeat what he said."
The polite thing. Well, I suppose. Going by the footage Warner can claim he did not say "speak English, c**t." I mean, that's probably what we all assumed.
Have I ever mentioned that I love the tri series? Don't "gotcha!" me because I am a peanut and once said (probably more than once) that it should be arseholed in place of a more meaningful format. When CA eventually took my advice and changed the schedule, I missed the tri series. It's not as if any format excluding the World Cup is meaningful, apart from their status as practice matches, so they may as well stick with what they'd served and what we'd been used to for 20+ years. It's a bit like fickle viewers and the Nine commentary. For years we complained about Tawny, Bill, Chappelli and the rest, then, when they are gone, we want them back. (Not me.) How long will it be after Tubby, Slatts and Braysh get the Khyber that we say "it was better back then"? It won't be. Not unless Australia digs up some commentary talent. The Nine commentary has always been pox, and will always be pox until Nine changes its demographic targeting from oafish theatre-goer and children to cricket affection-ado.
Jonathan Agnew no doubt knows his non sequiturs from his solecisms and his sophisms so he is clearly just taking a cheap shot. It is one hell of a leap of logic to conclude that Michael Clarke saying Phil Hughes' spirit will live on in Australian cricket, means Michael Clarke has promised to give up sledging:
Respected BBC cricket correspondent Jonathan Agnew says the Australian cricket team have failed to live up to their intentions to pay tribute to Phillip Hughes by continuing their aggressive sledging on the field against India.
The ex-English bowler said Australia owes it to Hughes, who died after being struck by a bouncer during a Sheffield Shield match in November, to clean-up their on field behaviour.
"Michael Clarke said very clearly that Hughes' memory would run through the team, and would be in the way they would play their cricket. But the players haven't behaved any better, and I think that's a real disappointment."
The AGB looks forward to Aggers' "I was mistaken out of context and I undeservedly apologise... sorry, I'll read that again... unREservedly apologise."
After criticising Brad Haddin's catching technique, I would appear to be pushing my luck to also criticise Ricky Ponting over catching, or to tell him how catching works - again and again - but who has the runs on the board here? Me, of course. Ricky has it the wrong way round:
When teams field well, their cricket is strong. Australia will be eager to prove that the mistakes in Melbourne were the exceptions that prove the rule
(There is also a robust debate in Ricky's suggestion Melbourne's bungling "is the exception that proves this rule" - and that debate does not extend just to the meaning of "exception that proves the rule".)
When sides are strong they regularly expect catches and often take catches because they are ready for catches; especially close to the wicket. Their dropped catches generally cost less, too, since catches come along soon after. When teams are weak and chances are fewer, they often drop catches because they are not ready for catches and because they put pressure on themselves by worrying that dropped catches will cost more.
Or maybe it "oscillates" between chicken and egg.
Another reason Steve Smith played for the series on day five of the Third Test: he knew Mitchell Johnson would be ruled out of the Fourth Test. (Not that Johnson has been at his best with the ball.)
Sambit Bal reviews 2014 and naturally includes a pat on the back for the ICC for Big Cricket's crackdown on chucking ("naturally" because even the hardest core chuckanista must acknowledge cricket's purge - well, maybe not Dean Jones, who appears to want to allow chucking):
the ICC can take a bow for its decisive and bold campaign against illegal bowling actions.
What is at odds with Sambit's gambit - not the mot juste; I just wanted to write "Sambit's gambit" - is his sop to the chuckanistas that the banishment of chuckers is some kind of loss:
It is quite likely that two big names - Saeed Ajmal and Sunil Narine - will miss the World Cup, which will indeed be a loss.
It's no loss. If you're a chucker who's burgled top flight cricket and you've filled your sack with ill-gotten wickets, it's time to go. You shouldn't have been there in the first place.
If Australia had set the Indians 350 and they ran them down in an epic run chase not one person would criticise Smith. So timid this way— Jon Ralph (@RalphyHeraldSun) December 30, 2014