Pakistan have played thirty-two Tests in Australia, have won only four, two of which were during World Series Cricket, and won only one in the last thirty-five years. (They had good chances to win in Sydney in 1973 and Sydney in 2010 during the Summer of Kidding Ourselves, but blew both Tests.) Hardly a record that suggests they are comfortable playing in Australia. Nevertheless, if Pakistan get the rub of the conditions they could be hard to beat, especially if Barmy Amir gets the pink pill hooping at night. But my peer-reviewed gut-feeling is that Australia will win the series.
The good old ODI. I've said it before, but it warrants repeating: dumping the ODI in favour of T20 - mooted by idiots like me - is stupid. ODIs, even if the Aussies treat them as practice matches, are relaxing and entertaining Sunday afternoon fare.
Soups mentions our ugly record failing to defend big scores.
Eight of the top ten chases have been scored against Australia. Unsurprisingly, seven of those eight were overseas where other nations traditionally play their cricket on three-quarter snooker tables, compared with Australian matches played on proper fields. And yet, Australia continues to win the World Cup, four out of the last five. The poor crowds at Australian F50 matches may suggest that many Aussies are jack of the Aussies continuing to treat ODIs as trial matches. But personally, I like our summer triangulars, and if Nine's rating hold up little will change each January.
Rod Marsh has given up on Australia playing spin on the subcontinent. In other words, he's belatedly come to the same conclusion we came to at least 5 years ago. But while we are boneheads on a blog with rock all influence, Marsh is an Aussie cricket grandee and instead of an exasperated "What more can we do" should have the odd idea. If I could offer Rod a word in his shell-like, I would suggest we win the toss and bat first.
Wise words from aging newspaperman Maxwell Scott to senator Ransom Stoddart in The Man Who Shot Liberty Valance. The advice came galloping to mind when I read that Rod Marsh denied his role in a famous sledge; you know, one of those sledges on high rotation whenever a current sledge prompts yet another go-around of "10/20/30/etc. Greatest All-Time Favourite Famous Sledges":
"It makes my blood boil every time I am quoted as having delivered one of the best ever cricket sledges. Supposedly I said to Ian Botham on his arrival at the crease during a Test match 'how's your wife and my kids?' He also supposedly replied 'the wife's fine but the kids are retarded'. I can promise you I would never ever make a comment like that to a fellow cricketer. I have too much respect."
“If they don’t want us to Mankad, why is it in the rules then? We saw in the under-19 World Cup that West Indies Mankaded, and went on to win the cup. It is not us who are in breach of the spirit. It is the batsmen who is violating the spirit by stealing yards even before the bowler has bowled. It is almost cheating. We are completely for Mankading. The spirit of cricket doesn’t come into picture because it is well within rules. In fact, it is the batsmen who is cheating by gaining advantage.”
I've also resented the treatment of the great Muttiah Muralitharan. Even after his action was cleared by scientific measurement, there were still plenty of people who knew better. They knew nothing of the science of the thing, of course, but what did that matter? They felt in their water that there was something amiss. And they actually thought that was good enough, and frequently wrote as much, generally in the Australian press.
Is it legal for journalists to tell barefaced lies to bolster their articles (and keep up their grudges)?
Last time Australia played an ODI in New Zealand (the World Cup match at Eden Park) everyone thought road and runs, then the ball started moving. Given recent matches, though, and the hefty scores made by Australia, India, New Zealand and Pakistan you'd have to think juicy runs will be on the menu.
“Why not (call him) for chucking, it’s one part of 42 laws. What if I don’t like the lbw, do I not apply that? The one thing that did piss me off though was that every umpire in the world, certainly in Australia, thought that he chucked, but it was only Darrell (Hair) and me that had the guts to do it — or the integrity.”
“Now the ICC has started clamping down on chucking, why? Murali’s not playing any more — that’s why.”
“They needed Murali to play for Sri Lanka because he was what kept them competitive. Now that he’s gone and Chaminda Vaas is gone — he was a great bowler — they’re a rabble again.”
Forthright as usual, but this will attract more flak:
“South Africa and Zimbabwe are so racist they’ll only vote for the black countries, the West Indies are probably the most racist side in the world, so they’ll always vote with the black countries unless it’s a tour of England or Australia where they make their money and that leaves Australia, England and New Zealand.”
Way back in the original Summer of Kidding Ourselves 2009/10 (incidentally, the same summer Melbourne were kidding themselves recruiting Scully, Trengove, Gysberts and Tapscott) Australia smashed an underdone Windies at the Gabba, held on for a draw against an improved Windies at the SACA, and scrambled a squeaker at the WACA when dodgy DRSing closed out the Test. This was hailed as a fine result which would set us up for the 2010/11 Ashes.
This summer Australia smashed an underdone Windies at Blundrive, ground out a win against an improved Windies on the MCG, and now face the Windies on the SCG. This has been hailed as a result to set Australia up for the 2016/17 summer, while Melbourne has been hailed as a positive result for the Windies' future prospects. I can't remember if the 2009/10 Windies were similarly hailed, but if you look at the 2009 Windies line-up you'll see a fair bit of change and since they'd made such a good fist of fighting out the 2nd and 3rd Tests you'd assume there was plenty of "foundation to build on" and "future looks good" and "back in town". It remains to be seen whether the Windies are on the up, but we can only hope. (Especially in the face of last night's BBL monster match, and what T20 means for the future of Tests.)
Talk of dropping the Windies from the Test roster or reducing their tours to novelty status is, of course, utter rubbish. Someone has to be bad, and just because the Windies were great once, but are not now, is no reason to give them the bum's rush. It's just that a little middle ground would be nice. And they may yet be smashed in Sydney.
Meanwhile, Australia still have a rancid batting line-up in unfamiliar conditions, a fragile fast bowling attack, and a startling inability to live up to their reputation for great catching. At least Steve O'Keefe has a start, which will please all those who keep complaining there are never enough New South Welshman in the Test side.
The words "non" and "sequitur" scamper to mind. Love to see the numbers on questionable actions and wins away from home. And anyway, cheating is now a legitimate tactic for winning away from home? But Deano's a fan of chucking. He's also a fan of India, whose tyres he rarely misses a chance to suck up... I mean, pump up:
I hear many critics in Australia say a Test pitch should not turn on day one as they have been in India recently. Why shouldn't it turn on day one? Why should a Test pitch only show swing on the opening day? Any quality Test cricketer worth their salt should be able to adapt on all surfaces in any part of the world. Cricketers seem to just specialise in their home conditions and I don't get it.
Speaking of specialising in home conditions:
Many fans and past greats think pitches are favouring home teams too much. And many shrewd judges are saying maybe it is time to get rid of the toss. They believe the touring team should have first rights to the pitch, which they believe will stop these doctored home pitches. Everyone said you always bat first in India and you will win. Well, the statistics don't say that at all.
Who is this "everyone" who said you bat first in India? And what about these statistics? They may well say that the team batting first in India wins less than the team batting second, but in every other country the team batting first wins more often than it loses, or it is 50-50, so batting first is, numerically at least, an advantage over batting second. And what about India? Out of 26 home Tests they have won 7 batting first and won 14 batting second, which means regardless of whether they bat first or second, they have won 21 home Tests out of 26 for a winning percentage of 81. Away from home India has played 36 Tests and won 8 for a winning percentage of 22. It would appear something is going right for India in India. May I suggest preparing low and slow pitches helps both India's batting and bowling?
Bill Collins of film fame once said that you must keep watching films to keep in practice. The same applies to blogging: you've got to keep up the momentum. I've lost momentum.
95% of the way through a post on Stokes, Starc, Smith and obstruction, absolute grist for the AGB mill, it suddenly occurred to me that I couldn't be bothered. Couldn't even be bothered doing a post about David Gyngell and 4 days Tests. Jimmy Anderson saying the Poms fixed the pitches. The cancelled Bangladesh tour. Warner on McCullum and sledging. Yawn.
Yes. That Ricky Ponting. The Ricky Ponting who won the toss and wrongly bowled at Edgbaston in 2005, costing Australia the Ashes for the first time since 1989, and never again winning the toss and bowling. He was completely spooked by his Birmingham blunder. Yet now he implies he would have bowled at Edgbaston last month.
Nottingham is the "lace" capital of England, hence Paper Lace. Not sure if Nottingham is also the "paper" capital. Or if Nottingham is the "paper and lace" capital. Or even if Nottingham is the "paper lace" capital, as opposed to lace made from linen or silk or whatever.
Anyhoo, enough tat - Boom! Tish! - England has all the momentum.
Starc to Root, no run, dropped, and it's all happening here. Very full outside off, and Root jams his bat down on it, and the bat hits the ground and the ball kisses his outside edge. Haddin throws himself to his right and it clangs off his glove.
Johnson to Cook, no run, short ball, Cook puts it away on the pul- not, he's been dropped by Smith at backward square leg! Think it went straight into his gut and out again, must go down as a bit of a sitter, though Cook struck it firmly. Smith was sprawling on his backside as the ball ran away between his legs.
Johnson to Bell, 1 run, edged and dropped! But whose catch was it? Nevill half-committed, Voges at first slip reached it with one uncertain hand, and couldn't cling on....
Starc to Bell, 1 run, edged and dropped by Clarke at slip! Bell was trying to run it off the face, the ball went low to Clarke's right at second slip but it hit the fingers and went straight to earth. Not quite Warne off Pietersen but should have been taken.
Starc to Cook, FOUR, edged between second and third slip. Back of a length and curling away outside off with extra bounce, Smith dives to his right from third slip, gets a hand to it but can't cling on. It looked like it was Clarke's take at second slip. That will go down as a drop.
Johnson to Wood, FOUR, edged, but wide of second slip! Over the wicket, full outside off, Wood reaches out for a drive and the thick edge evades a diving Smith. (It was actually dropped.)
“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.
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:
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.
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.