Another Gideon Haigh book, you ask: Oh no, don't say it's true.
In a bizarre twist of bureaucracy, British tabloid journalists John Etheridge (The Sun), Dean Wilson (The Mirror) and Paul Newman (Daily Mail) look like being sent home by Australia's immigration department.
Now, people, what you must keep in mind is that the England Cricket Board Fast Bowling Group did not start tinkering with Steven Finn's action because they thought it just needed a little tweak. What you need to ask yourselves is "why"? Why, if Finn was ripping apart batting line-ups, did England, David Saker, Middlesex and Angus Fraser start giving Finn the alleged "conflicting advice" and start changing his action?
England are considering ending the torment of Steven Finn by sending him home early from his nightmare tour of Australia.
Finn, one of the best fast bowlers in the world this time last year, has lost all confidence and rhythm during this Ashes tour and has not been trusted in a single international game despite England using a record 18 players during the Ashes.
The post below may point you in the right direction. The oblivious commenters at Barney Ronay's article may not.
Good oil reaches the AGB that the England camp has been warned about the, shall we say, architecture and harmony of Steven "Skinny" Finn's action. Read Barney Ronay and pay special attention to what he has written between his lines:
Steven Finn, England's own talented, statistically prodigious man-of-the-moment-before-last, whose falling away from the front rank is one of the more puzzling base notes of a generally puzzling tour of Australia. The ballad of Steven Finn is, in outline, a narrative of disappearance.
Last week at practice in Melbourne he could be seen sidling in to bowl at three-quarter speed in an empty net. A bit later Finn and Alastair Cook spent a few minutes running though the basic business of turning the bowling arm over in a straight-arm arc.
Now read between my lines from February 2011:
We started the summer calling him Skinny Finn (after his fatty namesake), but ended the summer calling him Filthy Finn (after his filthy bowling).
I note also that he bowled with a fair bit of variety last night and that his action was ungainly (I didn't get a good enough look to say it was chucky) as he sought to unveil an array of different balls. Which brings me to a more general question: do bowlers run the risk of falling foul of 15 degrees as they try to bowl more and more quirky and unnatural balls?
The Mirror is upset Monty Panesar failed at cricket, but even more upset he failed at pulling:
England cricket flop Monty Panesar put a humiliating Ashes defeat behind him – by trying to tempt a blonde to his room at the team’s hotel. The spin bowler chatted her up using a dating phone app four hours after bowling the final ball in a Fourth Test spanking by Australia.
Chappelli himself can be a bit of a dickhead, but occasionally:
Just met Ian Chappell for 1st time. 'Hi, Mr Chappell, I'm Piers Morgan,' I said. 'Nah mate, you're a dickhead,' he replied. Meeting over!— Piers Morgan (@piersmorgan) January 1, 2014
Darts by degrees - Malcolm Conn:
We're a bit sad that Graeme Swann won't be around to celebrate with us, having suddenly called it quits to cultivate his life's calling in Vaudeville.
Test cricket has been a handy little five-year hiatus for the old-fashioned offie, claiming 255 doosra-free wickets with a straight arm, the most in the world during that time.
This is something we may never see again given that South Australia's South African dart-throwing captain Johan Botha continues to be cleared of chucking.
Sri Lanka's Muttiah Muralitharan, India's Harbhajan Singh and Pakistan's Saeed Ajmal have been prolific beneficiaries of the rubbery 15 degree rule.
The last two times Australia have regained The Ashes, they have done so in Perth. When it comes to deciding series, Melbourne has not been so lucky, on Boxing Day or otherwise.
Out of those 11 series, only two saw Australia retain The Ashes at the MCG: 1936/37, when Australia came from two Tests down to win the Fifth Test in Melbourne and retain the Ashes 3-2; and 1965/66, when Bob Cowper made 307, Wally Grout and Grahame Thomas played their last Tests and the Sixth Test was drawn so that Australia retained the Ashes 1-1. (Although few cricket fans noticed, since cricket's go-slo had sent them to sleep several years previously.)
It is much more common for the deciding Tests to fall around Melbourne. Australia won the 1974/75 Ashes 4-1, but even though there were two Tests at the MCG, the Third Test was a draw and England won the Sixth Test.
Since marvellous draws are the flavour of the month, that 74/75 draw is worth a mention. England batted first making 242, Australia followed with 241 to trail by 1 run on the first innings. Batting second England made 244 to leave Australia 246 to win. Australia finished on 8 for 238, 8 short of the win with Maxy Walker on 23 and Ashley Mallett on 0.
Graeme Smith quitting would certainly be handy for Australia:
SOUTH Africa's cricket board made the unusual move on Saturday of denying social media comments that captain Graeme Smith threatened to quit if black wicketkeeper Thami Tsolekile was picked for the test series against India. CSA chief executive Haroon Lorgat: "There is no truth at all to these malicious and damaging comments."
The festive dead rubber will lack a little crackling this season:
Graeme Swann has announced that he is quitting the England team with immediate effect. The 34-year-old spinner will stay in Australia with his family, but will not take part in the remaining two Ashes Tests after making the dramatic announcement on Saturday.
Expected, but not expected.
What is wrong with these two UK headlines, one from The Daily Mail and the other from The Independent?
Australia are drinking in the atmosphere of Ashes triumph after years of crying into their beer... but despite a dire defeat Down Under we can't call time on this England side
If you scratched your head and pondered "after years of crying into their beer" or "Australia regain the Ashes for the first time in seven years" you would be trudging down the same track as me.
Technically both are right. Four years are years plural, while we have regained with a "g" the Ashes for the first time in seven years.
But the emphasis is wrong as both articles attenpt to add weight to four years.
The first headline implies that it has been an absolute eternity since Australia lost the Ashes, not a mere pissant 4 years. The second deploys a seven when it could just as easily have said that Australia have the Ashes again after the same pissant 4 years.
Not that this informance enhancement is restricted to the UK media. Here in Australia there has been bulk talk of Australia having "finally" or "eventually" or "at last after years of heartache" regained the Ashes.
Is there an expectation in cricket circles that Australia should own the Ashes most of the time, while England gets to borrow them every few years? Are Australian Ashes the natural order of things? Have the Ashes been distorted by the 16 year Australian domination from 1989 to 2005? (Or England regaining with a "g" the Ashes for the first time in 20 years.) Correct me if I'm wrong, but I think if England had won this series it would have been the first time they had won four Ashes in a row. So it would have been a big deal for them, not so for us here in the sunburnt anty-podes where the Ashes have often taken up residence.
Maybe the joy of an upset regain with a "g" has been blended into the length of time narrative.
The last time England lost a series to Australia, against a side full of alpha males determined to end their careers on a high, the England and Wales Cricket Board commissioned a report, the upshot of which saw Duncan Fletcher resign as head coach, something that Andy Flower will surely consider if England do not improve markedly in the last two Tests.
Stakeholders Sutherland will escort the Urn back to Australia.
And in case you have any doubts about the Ashes' rightful nationality:
A "No ball!" is when a bowler oversteps. A "Mo ball!" is when a bowler oversteps on purpose as part of a spot fix (named after Pakistan's two Mos, Barmy Amir and Mo Asif). A "Faux ball!" is when a bowler oversteps on purpose so as to extend the last over of the day. A "Throw ball! is when a bowler chucks on purpose, like Kevin Pietersen in the West Indies in 2009. A "D'oh ball!" is when a bowler oversteps by accident and cancels out a wicket (not that it would have been a wicket). A "Video ball!" is when a bowler takes a wicket which is later revealed to have been a no ball, but which the umpire missed and failed to review (lately, for some reason unknown to science):
FORMER international umpire Ross Emerson has slammed the standard of officiating in the Ashes series, claiming virtually the only time umpires are checking for no-balls is after a batsman is dismissed.
"My actual thought on the current standard of umpiring is that it's fairly ordinary. If umpires are not looking for no-balls, what are they looking at? I think it's disgraceful that they're having to call for a replay every time a wicket falls. If an umpire can't get a no-ball right, how can you have confidence in them making the right call on an inside edge or faint nick?"
Emerson also queried why, if the front foot was being checked after a wicket fell, front-on replays weren't also being studied to ensure the back foot hadn't touched the return crease. "Or . . . why don't they call for a wide shot to make certain there weren't three fieldsmen behind square leg?"
Perhaps we should call a "Throw ball! an "Emmo ball!" in honour of Emerson, who had his goats scaped by CA when he called Murali.
And of course, two of these names speak for themselves, three if you include an "Illo ball!":
Legendary umpire Lou Rowan, whose run-ins with England paceman John Snow and his captain, Ray Illingworth, ignited the 1970-71 Ashes series, said it was "an absurdity" that no-balls were seriously monitored only after a wicket had fallen.
You've got to hand it to ABC producer David Nixon (not to be confused with BBC magician David Nixon, who is dead). While on a two day sledgapalooza, he first reads out anti-racism policies, then he does an Indian voice piss-take on Monty Panesar:
THE ground announcer at Saturday's England tour game in Alice Springs was stood down after making alleged racist remarks towards Monty Panesar over the PA system.
David Nixon, an ABC producer, was sacked from the ground announcing role on the spot when Cricket Australia heard his introduction of the left-arm spinner to the 2000-strong crowd in an Indian accent.
It's understood CA had spoken to him during the first day and asked him to tone down his style to something less colourful.
Colourful. Everyone's a comedian.
Tommy "the Brain" Heenan at Back Page Lead:
But he turned up in Brisbane cranky, made a ton and picked a fight with the Pommie No.11. Yes, threatening to break Anderson's arm was a cheap shot but Clarke did lead Australia to victory, and that's all that matters. The Australians may have won ugly but at least they won.
Ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Meanwhile, Hackbeard the pirate at the Sydney Morning Herald:
The Clarke sledging thing? So shoot me, but I don't like it. Sledging that is banter is fine, but threatening bodily violence to an opponent is well over the other side of the line. As they say in the classics, it just isn't cricket …
Does Red Bandana really want someone to shoot him?
Anyone who really believes Clarke really threatened to break Jimmy Anderson's arm is kidding themself, or being intentionally provocative. Click. Bait. For a start, both verballed Clarke, who did not threaten to break Anderson's arm, he merely tried to scare Anderson that Mitchell Johnson would break his arm. Secondly, a real threat is when a grizzled old footballer says to a youngster "get a kick and it will be your last" then follows through on his threat. You know, the kind of thing we all celebrate and laugh at when it is said by Jack Dyer, Teddy Whitten, Mopsy Fraser, Carl Ditteritch and the rest of the justifiably famous hard men of footy. No doubt Union and League have their equals.
The Brain "lectures in sports studies at Monash University's National Centre for Australian Studies" and so probably knows how to kindle an issue. While The Bandana played international rugby and would have copped many an earful from bellicose Kiwis, Saffers and Frogs (some of which he would have approved of, if he thought it was funny).
It was thought that England had shredded all evidence of the 2006/07 Ashes, but Derek Pringle has uncovered skerricks of residual memories to piece together a far-fetched comparison:
The next Test in Adelaide is likely to decide whether England's current tour of Australia could unravel like the "Ashes horribilis" of 2006-07 when they suffered a 5-0 whitewash.
Monty was right:
A representative of the England coaching staff spoke to umpires after Mitchell Johnson ransacked the tourists in the first innings with one of the most stirring performances ever seen at the Gabba. The discussion was informal and England at no stage intended to make an official complaint but the query regarding this vague law showed how concerned they were about the hammering their side was copping.
England may have considered complaining about the short bowling, or at least clarifying the "indistinct laws on dangerous bowling", and they may be circling the wagons, but one former English skipper maintains his customary perspective and common sense:
Revenge is sweet. And raw, disciplined, aggressive Test cricket is back. So, it appears, is sledging. Mental disintegration becomes a less acceptable aim when it actually happens (although who knows how much was already seething under the apparently cool surface?)I wrote last year about how rare hostile fast bowling had become. There had been a drift towards cost-effectiveness, towards efficiency, accuracy, squeezing the opposition. Self-control, tendencies towards defensive field placings, probing were on the up; adrenalin, emphasis on attack, all-out hostility on the wane. Australia have reversed the trend, thanks to Mitchell Johnson and Michael Clarke (and maybe Darren Lehmann).
Take Bodyline out of the equation (when, by the way, short fast bowling was popular in England). Is there one instance in the history of Australia v England cricket where hostile fast bowling has not been championed down the ages? Spofforth was not called "Demon" because he played Dungeons and Dragons. Frank Typhoon Tyson is not Frank Zephyr Tyson. John Snow. Lillee & Thommo. Willis in 1981. Harmison in 2005. All of those instances of fast bowlers stitching up batsmen have been legendised; by the winners, anyway.
Cricket Australia should instruct its valued broadcast partner to pay Michael Clarke's fine:
Australian captain Michael Clarke is set to be charged by the International Cricket Council and fined a percentage of his match fee over the expletive-laden tirade at England tailender James Anderson during the first Test in Brisbane.
These things always seem to work themselves out:
WITH the first Test six days away, Cricket Australia and the ABC have still not signed a contract for the broadcast rights. If the deal is not done, there may be no radio coverage of the Brisbane Test.
Anyone got an opinion on how the AFL stream works? It's never smooth firing up the footy at AFL.com, but once you are on board it is easy enough to switch between games. As long as you are not actually at the footy. Internet coverage is pretty shitful at the MCG and the Dumb. Not that I can imagine myself switching between the AW and ABC streams for the cricket.
Stakeholders Sutherland forgot (no doubt it slipped his mind) to mention Channel Nine has a say in the preparation of Australian pitches (and when he says "too many" he really means "any") but I agree with him 100% about the nature of our pitches compared with the wanton pitch doctoring in England and India:
''We have played nine Test matches away this year. We have not seen a blade of grass or a drop of moisture on any of those pitches.''
''We have to learn to play in those conditions. The teams we have played against have quite blatantly tried to exploit the perceived weakness we have batting against spin and perhaps not having front-line spin bowlers, and perhaps they've done well because we haven't won too many Test matches of those nine.''
''In terms of Test cricket we don't give them any direction because we have got great confidence in what they're doing.''
''And we're not looking for an advantage with our pitches. We want fans to see a good contest between bat and ball and we know each pitch has its own characteristics and we want that to continue.''
Is Tim Lane still in the same relationship he was 10 years ago?
"I met a wonderful woman two years ago. She has a family so we have had our hands full just seeing enough of each other to make a relationship work.
I only ask because:
[Fairfax Cricket] will be led by Tim Lane, a Fairfax Media columnist and the former voice of cricket on the ABC who calls AFL on 3AW, and Melbourne-based commentator and journalist Bruce Eva, with another Fairfax columnist Dean Jones and former fast bowler Damien Fleming.
Ten years ago the Australian Test team was dominant, but now we cannot afford cheap wickets, which, at the drop of a bat, prompt massive collapses. So fingers crossed Tim has lost his magic touch for taking Aussie wickets.
"Clarke looks set for another big score... he's out."
Tell us something we don't know, Deano:
Some years ago I interviewed Jack Nicklaus and it changed my views on coaching and analysis. Nicklaus said: “You need an X-factor in your game to play on the PGA Tour. But it's your defensive skills that will ultimately make you or break you, not your offensive skills.”
The Age may as well print this blog. We have been smashing on about Australia's defensive shortcomings, the batsmen's inablity to convert starts and the team's many sub-300 totals for ages. Okay, we never played Test cricket, but if all Deano has to offer is the bleeding obvious, then the AGB archives come a lot cheaper. You know what they say: you don't need to be a chicken to know a rotten technique. If Deano is such an expert, surely he can offer more insights than bat like Tendulkar, pick the length and learn to leave. The first is like telling a talentless art student to paint like Picasso. The second two are straight out of the junior coaches' handbook. What I would like to hear from Deano are his long suits: how he failed to deal with Richard Hadlee and what he tried to do about it; what he thinks about Ian Chappell telling the Indian broadcasters (and by extension the BCCI) to get stuffed; and who he really called a terrorist, W.G.Amla or Nicky Boje. He can also leave out the sleight of word. "Now I hear many of you saying leaving the ball alone is not a shot." Many who? You're not the lone savant. Noone with any cricket nous thinks that. And just between Deano, me and the confidentiality of the internet, when did he interview Jack Nicklaus and what else did Ohio Fats have to say? (See what I did there?)
Apropos the heading. Part of the problem with our modern Test batting is that there is too great an emphasis on "drive for show, drive for dough." Perhaps Deano can inform us how best to clear the front leg.
Nine has given Hot Spot the bullet:
Six weeks out from the first Test against England in Brisbane, it has emerged the controversial infrared camera technology has been sidelined by the series' broadcaster Channel Nine.
Reading between the lines, jumping to confusions, and extrapolating with extreme prejudice, Hotty has been axed as part of a bargaining gambit, not because the players and umpires keep butchering its application.
The great pity is that Hotty will be missed not only because it is great fun for all us controversy fans, but also because Nine will now fill its place with more mindless blather and more ads.
Word is Cow Corner Warner got pissed and punched a Pom:
Australia opener David Warner has been stood down from tonight's ICC Champions Trophy match against New Zealand following an off-field incident.
In other meaty news: AB wants to give Beefy a piggy back ride:
Allan Border, the captain who led Australia's underdog Ashes triumph in 1989, says the current team will be galvanised by mocking predictions from Sir Ian Botham and the English press that a 5-0 whitewash is imminent.
Border responded to Botham's comments by declaring he would "piggyback Beefy round Piccadilly Circus if England beat Australia 5-0".
AUSTRALIA will not have long to wait to regain the urn should they lose again in England in 2013 with Cricket Australia yesterday confirming there will be back-to-back Ashes series from that year.
This move has been in the wind for some time now. England in particular have wanted to avoid playing Ashes in the lead-up to the World Cup. Russ (in the comments) is right that it was therefore either push the Ashes back and lose money or pull the Ashes forward. As Paul Keating once said: "Never get between a cricket administrator and a bucket of money."
There will be a log jam for a few months, but if the ensuing schedule shakes out neatly then short term inconvenience will soon be relegated to quiz questions about the quirky ten consecutive Tests.
That's assuming, as we all do, that T20 is still flavour of the month; something that might not be the case if this summer's poor attendance and ratings for the Big Bash is part of a greater trend:
THIS summer might have been terrible for the Australian Test team, but it is proving to be something of a triumph for Test and one-day cricket over the Twenty20 format.
Of course, there's jargon:
ECB marketing boss Steve Elworthy said the changes would "maintain momentum".
Whatever the prevailing sentiment, someone ought to tell Spanky:
If these roosters are fit, the Ashes could be reclaimed in 2014-15.
How tall are Pat Cummings and Sean Abbott? Are they they two new Glenn McGraths?
Not sure Colin Smith has a full grasp on cricket scheduling. No one is suggesting Australia & England play back-to-back Ashes series every year... although, now that I think about CA and the ECB thinking about it:
ONE of Australia's leading experts on sports broadcasting, Colin Smith, has warned that back-to-back Ashes series could dilute interest in the oldest rivalry in cricket.
Smith, who helped broker Cricket Australia's current telecast agreement with Channel Nine, which expires in 2013, said there was a risk of there being too much of a good thing.
"You've got to be really careful of swamping the game, because that can be a real issue,'' Smith said yesterday. ''The concept could be you give it a fillip to television audiences in Australia and in the UK, that's the upside of it. The downside of it is that it's basically two series in a row - it becomes less attractive and there's less public interest. I just think in terms of how you promote, you've got to be really careful of it. You don't get the market causing you a problem.''
Andrew Wu mentions the back-to-back Ashes in 1974/75. Those two series did not kill the golden geese.