Not what you think (unless you read Adsy's comment):
Perth Police have charged former Australia batsman Luke Pomersbach over a series of hit and run traffic crashes on Sunday night.
"Fruit for the sightscreen"
Not what you think (unless you read Adsy's comment):
Perth Police have charged former Australia batsman Luke Pomersbach over a series of hit and run traffic crashes on Sunday night.
John Buchanan just slid an envelope (wrapped in a newspaper) under my door:
Leaked dossier shows what Australia really think of England team
In an amazing document detailing the thoughts of Somerset captain and former Australia opener Justin Langer, English cricketers are witheringly described as “lazy”, “shallow” and “flat”, and as players who “love being comfortable”. Fast bowler James Anderson can be “a bit of a pussy” if things do not go his way and skipper Andrew Strauss can be too “conservative”. And there are barbs at the egos of Matt Prior and Graeme Swann, as well as the annoying strut of Ravi Bopara.
“English players rarely believe in themselves.”
“Many of them stare a lot and chat a lot but this is very shallow. They will retreat very quickly. Aggressive batting, running and body language will soon have them staring at their bootlaces rather than in the eyes of their opponent — it is just how they are built.”
“Great front runners”.
“Because of the way they are programmed they will be up when things are going well, but they will taper off very quickly if you wear them down. Because they play so much cricket as soon as it gets a bit hard you just have to watch their body language and see how flat and lazy they get. This is also a time when most of them make all sorts of excuses and start looking around to point the finger at everyone else — it is a classic English trait from my experience.”
“They like being friendly and 'matey’ because it makes them feel comfortable.”
“In essence this is maybe the key to the whole English psyche — they love being comfortable. Take them out of their comfort zone and they don’t like it for one second.”
“Anderson is hugely improved but can be a bit of a pussy if he is worn down. His body language could be detrimental to them [England] if we get on top of him early.”
“Strauss is a very solid character and excellent bloke. His weakness is possibly his conservative approach. He will tend to take the safer options in most cases.”
Prior has “a massive ego. I would chip away at him about his wicketkeeping. I would be reminding him about how it could see him out of the team. I would definitely work his ego.”
“Bopara is sure to wind the boys up by his strutting around, but I would leave him alone.”
Incidentally, Michael Vaughan agrees.
From the files of "tell us something we don't know" comes this:
"I knew most of it anyway."
~~ R. Ponting
There seems to have been a bit of conjecture about the behaviour of the crowds at the cricket. On one side are those who like to carry on like idiots, on the other are those who like to watch in peace. There are even some who like a bit of both, but since this is a blog and all issues are black and white, we'll be ignoring the wishy-washy middle-grounders.
Paul Colgan is pro-boor:
There’s further evidence today of the growing contempt that modern managers of sporting codes hold for fans of their games, with English cricket managers begging the crowd to be nice to Ricky Ponting when he walks to the middle in the fourth Ashes Test, getting underway at Headingley in a few hours’ time.
Many are anti-boor:
ENGLISH cricket officials have copied their Australian counterparts and banned Barmy Army trumpet player Bill Cooper from the Headingley Test.
ENGLAND have pleaded with drunken supporters to behave themselves and stop the taunting and jeering of Australian skipper Ricky Ponting.
Security has been tightened for the fourth npower Test at Headingley Carnegie this week as English cricket seeks to halt growing criticism of unruly crowd behaviour during the Ashes series.
Part of me loves their spirit, never more so than in the 1990s when England lost everything. But since following every single ball of England internationals since 2005* I’m now emphatically bored of them.
Headingley’s reputation is now, of course, the very opposite, its Western Terrace being regarded as a sinkhole of spectator depravity.
Australian captain Ricky Ponting says he returned fire at an abusive fan at Edgbaston in the latest incident of ugly crowd behaviour in the Ashes series.
The Barmy Army started out as a bit of fun through the nineties, but now they are a monumental pain in the ear. Middle class accountants pretending to be soccer hooligans. It's gotten to the point where I find it almost impossible to listen to the coverage. The incessant drone of songs, chants and taunts. And it goes without saying that since they've become organized, sponsored and official, they are even worse.
Nor is this sour grapes. Our idiots are just as bad. Worse, actually.
The Fanatics. For some reason the media keep going to their leader - I think his name is Warren - for interviews. Put on your most contemptuous Aussie drawl and say it out loud: "fair dinkum imbeciles".
I've only ever been to the "outer" at the MCG for one Test match, the SCG for three, and the WACA for three. If doing the Mexican Wave, being arrested, throwing ice, throwing beach balls, throwing punches and rolling in or stepping around spew is your thing, you will be in your element.
Now it's true: a lot of people like doing this. A lot of people also like Aussie Idol, Big Brother, A Current Affair, Today Tonight, Pink, U2, Pearl Jam, Green Day. You get the picture.
Cricket, despite what the boards, broadcasters, publicity flacks and Joe and Jane Bogan will tell you, is pretty damn good without the pissed-up shenanigans of the new Cricket Hooligan.
What I like about the cricket is the cricket.
Call me a stick-in-the-mud, a fogey, an MCC wanker, a boring old c**t, just a c**t, if you like. Give it your best shot. I don't care. In these circs, it's an insult I will wear with pride.
Brett Lee has launched his campaign to be picked for the fourth Ashes Test by saying he is bowling "rapid" before the start of the Headingley clash on Friday.
"The pace has felt really, really good. 100 per cent ready to go."
When I heard that on the radio this morning, I thought he said "rabid".
Anyway, when faced with injury concerns, you may as well consult an expert, especially an expert with a sense of humour:
However his teammate and good friend Shane Watson was less confident of Lee's chances of being called up for the critical match without a practice game under his belt since the injury.
"From my experience of coming back from a side injury you normally need to have one game under your belt."
" ... I think at the moment there is probably less chance of him being picked because of that reason.
If you could guarantee Lee would bowl like he did in Worcester when he got his reverse happening, you would be mad not to pick him. But on top of the most recent injury, he hasn't played a Test since Melbourne and is notoriously toothless in England. It's hard to see how he can play. And yet. That spell, the static emanating out of the media, and Australia's current lack of tooth indicate why the selectors always seem so desperate to get him in the side. With the Oval pitch already looking like a road, it might be time to take a risk and pick Lee.
Yes, I know.
And then there's Klutzy. The selectors love him, too. Not for his keeping, obviously, but because he can bat. But at what cost? At what point do the selectors conclude that dreadful keeping costs more than excellent batting? Haddin with good hands - obviously not in the colloquial sense - is a rotten keeper. How bad will he be with a broken finger? His keeping was passable in the West Indies when he broke a finger there, but ever since India he has been rubbish behind the stumps. And how much will said digit affect his batting? You've probably got to stick with Manou, who is a far better keeper, and is reasonable with the bat.
So, you pick Lee, who goes out? Siddle? And what about Clark? If Manou stays, Lee might get picked because he can bat a bit.
Whatever the make-up of the side - and it will come as no surprise to read it here since every pundit has made the same point - we need to win in Leeds, because we are unlikely to win an Oval bat-a-thon.
Could it be that my churning guts which groaned "we've just blown the Ashes" after Fucken Cardiff were spot on? Unless our bowlers can find an edge this weekend we can wave the urn goodbye.
And then there's this:
Player Runs HS Ave MJ Clarke 352 136 88.00 AJ Strauss 309 161 61.80 SM Katich 248 122 49.60 MJ North 239 125* 59.75 RT Ponting 233 150 46.60 BJ Haddin 229 121 76.33
Player Overs Mdns Runs Wkts BW Hilfenhaus 122.0 32 395 13 JM Anderson 119.0 30 378 12 NM Hauritz 103.2 17 321 10 MG Johnson 103.4 11 423 10 PM Siddle 101.5 13 401 10 G Onions 55.4 6 223 8 A Flintoff 104.0 13 340 7
Superficially, the figures point to Australian superiority. Except one figure: England 1 / Australia 0. Like Richmond last weekend against Melbourne: are England going to win by accident?
Apropos the stats, just saw this in my reader:
Cricket is a numbers game, yet this Ashes series doesn’t add up. Over the first three Tests Australia have scored more runs (1,933) and lost fewer wickets (41) than England (1,799 and 45).
If you know what I mean:
HERE’s two tips for you ... Stuart Clark will play tomorrow’s fourth Test and Brett Lee won’t play a Test on tour and could be finished.
Give it a rest:
Should the hosts go forth and reclaim the urn, Andrew Flintoff's heroic effort in north-west London - in which he claimed five Australian wickets on a painful right knee - will ascend to a pantheon of national sporting achievements currently occupied by Geoff Hurst's hat-trick and Jonny Wilkinson's drop-goal.
Two articles that go together:
Malcolm Conn, getting stuck into the ICC, Rudi, and umpiring in general:
RUDI Koertzen continues to confirm what the cricket world already knows, the standard of umpiring is terrible.
Normblog Geras, ranting and raving as usual. Not that you'd notice:
There's been a lot of talk during this Ashes series of erroneous decisions by the umpires.
Norm's linked articles, by Mike Brearley and Gideon Haigh, are well worth a squizz... sorry, a pertinacious perusal.
Do you think Pulpit Patrick Smith wants his cake and eat it, too?
Regarding the 15 degree law, he has been scornful to the point of contempt:
All of this does not take into account that the marker of 15 degrees is so arbitrary as to be laughable.
Ajmal bowls a beautiful doosra, which means he bends his arm more than the legal 15 degrees. Which should mean he is banned from bowling but he won't be. Which, of course, means he was born with a deformity. Which once more proves the ICC is a collection of much travelled dolts.
Yesterday, though, in striving to bolster an argument about the advances in technology in sport, he writes this about Australia's spin summit:
The fight to retain the old "straight arm" law was lost forever and Murali's place among cricket's finest is now, rightly, unchallenged. Indeed, cricket is richer for the extra skills available to finger spinners. The balance of the game has not been changed because leg-spinners and fast men alike have always had the ability to move the ball both ways.
I'm not totally comfortable with the position of Mallett and company to put a ban on teaching the doosra. You have rules, you play to them; when you can, you exploit them. Nor are Patrick's two positions mutually exclusive. But for years he has shit-canned the new chucking rules, and now, with a case to make, it's "cricket's finest, rightly, unchallenged".
We now return you to the scene of the crime:
Four years later, the debate still rages. What was Ricky Ponting thinking when he bowled first at Edgbaston, in the Test that turned the 2005 Ashes on his head?
Debate still rages, does it? If debate entails "When Ponting chose to bowl at Edgbaston in 2005, did he a) make a howler, or b) make an absolute howler? Discuss" then I suppose it does.
Apart from the obvious, that we lost the 2005 Ashes because Ponting bowled, there is also the flow-on effect: Ponting's mistake back then might cloud his judgement in 2009. You'd hope not. After all the Steve Rouse shenanigans in last week it appears that Ponting is set to judge the pitch on its merits. Hypothetically, what if he wins the toss and the conditions dictate that Australia must bowl? Would we? As it stands, it looks like the pitch is a road, so whoever wins the toss should bat. Contrary to speculation, it does not appear to be "a good toss to lose" type of pitch.
Speaking of the toss: win it.
Then there's the weather. The Birmingham forecast is for showers until Monday, with Sunday the only sunny day. When I say sunny, I mean the sun is almost just barely peeking out from behind a drizzly cloud in the BOM picture. Not much of an outlook for Australia, who need to win to get back on level terms.
The weather is reflected in the odds: Australia $4.75, England $3.00, the draw $1.85. How often over recent years have Australia gone in bookies' underdog in a live Test against England? Can't be too often. On second thought: is English favouritism such a bad thing? Poms with pudding heads could work in our favour. They are still a shithouse side - yes, we are shouse, too - which when combined with local anticipation/expectation of a win, is a recipe for England falling on their collective faces.
Lastly: the teams. For England, Bell is in for Pietersen. KP has been rubbish, but he's clearly dangerous. Australia will be happy he's out. Superficially, they will be happy Bell's in. But Bell has FTB written all over him. Up against a weak or badly misfiring attack Bell could well get amongst the runs.
For Australia, Watson is a surprise inclusion at Hughes' expense. I'm a big fan of Paper Cut's talent: he can bat and bowl, at least by reputation... but. If he breaks down it will be a disaster. If? When? (Maybe Freddie will break down, too.) Still, I don't mind the selectors taking the punt. Hopefully they won't make him open. Hussey should open and Watson should come in down the order.
Nor do I mind that Our Phil Hughes has been dropped. He has looked awful. It should not be forgotten that even though he was dudded by Cheat Strauss, it was the weak shot of a batsmen uncertain about where to put his feet - the way his back foot edged to leg was ugly.
I would have preferred the change to be Boiled Owl McDonald for North or Hauritz. He brings something to the line-up. Don't ask me what that something is, but he's played four Tests for three wins and in each win he's done a very tidy job. Monty thinks I'm nuts, but Boiled is one of "those" cricketers.
Should Johnson play? Well, he's bowled absolute rubbish so far, but he still gets wickets. SGW, sure, but they are still marked "bowled Johnson" in the scorebook. The longer he bowled at Lords, the tighter he seemed to get, so maybe he's finally getting it together. He is if you believe Nielsen, Clarke and Haddin; not that they are about to tell the media Studsy is dudsy. He is not if you read the scorebook at Northants.
Clark should have played before now; certainly at Lords, where he was the best suited Aussie bowler, but who do you drop?
Doubtless the selectors are banking on Johnson's wicket-taking ability. An attack of Siddle, Watson, Clark, Hauritz and Hilfenhaus doesn't look too incisive, but the England batting line-up is not very good, and without KP to collar the bowling, that attack could be quite effective. Also, Siddle, Hilfenhaus and Clarke would gain by not having to worry about Johnson wrecking the ball.
Anyhoo, the "dramatic draw" in Fvcken Cardiff and our rat-shit batting at Lords has given England the upper hand. It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: fingers crossed Australia can get their act together for the last three Tests because I would dearly love to wipe the smiles off the dials of all those happy, front-running Poms.
On the radio just now (5:35pm) Jim MAXwell didn't know about this Watson business. He thinks the team will be unchanged, and that they are going to back Hughes to find form.
Now where was I? That's right. Our Phil deserves to keep his spot. Despite his unorthodox technique, he's due.
Nope, Hughes is out:
Phillip Hughes has confirmed his axing from the Australian XI for Edgbaston via a positing on the Twitter website.
"Disappointed not to be on the field with the lads today," Hughes posted on Twitter. "Will be supporting the guys, it's a BIG test match 4 us. Thanks 4 all the support!"
Hoggy hasn't heard anything about Hughes being out. Hasn't heard of Twitter, either, judging by his puzzled look. Then I thought he was going to say "You're pulling my leg, right?" Instead he said "I can't believe they would replace Hughes with Watson."
Hughes definitely out:
(The newspaper's headline)
SACKED Australian opener Phillip Hughes was in hot water last night after breaking team rules by announcing his Test axing on social networking site Twitter.
Anger? Dean Jones, Victorian rent-a-quote, is quoted:
"He needs a good foot up the backside from it."
The subby at the Hun wants a bet each way; he can't believe Ponting won the toss:
Coming soon: "We were all taken out of context."
A coterie of former Test spinners decided that they would not teach the doosra to young Australian bowlers because, in their collective opinion, it offends the laws of the game.
‘‘There was unanimous agreement that the off-spinner’s ‘other-one’, the doosra, should not be coached in Australia. I have never seen anyone actually bowl the doosra. It has to be a chuck. Until such time as the ICC declares that all manner of chucking is legal in the game of cricket, I refuse to coach the doosra. All at the spin summit agreed.’’
Purist me desperately wants to ban the doosra and chuck all the doosra bowlers out of the game.
Cynical, pragmatic, whatever-it-takes me says "When in Rome, don't be a Christian."
First there was this:
IF we don't hate them, why do we love to beat them? Why is it Australia, above all other nations, that we like to beat at sport? Why is it that defeat at the hands of Australia is one of the most painful sensations that sport can offer? Why is it that sporting encounters between England - or Great Britain - and Australia are fought with such extraordinary intensity?
THERE have been disturbing signs in this Ashes series and not just Mitchell Johnson's inability to hit the pitch. Australia's defence of the urn is not all that is precariously poised.
"… But this current Aussie side are not just the most mediocre bunch of cricketers we've seen in the baggy greens for 30 years. They're also, in my view, the weakest when it comes to character. And they're led by a man whose brilliance at batting is only matched by his brilliance at avoiding any accusations of having a personality. Ricky Ponting is a fantastic player, one of the best we've seen. But he is also about as exciting on the palate as a pack of three-year-old Quavers; a grim-faced, gumchewing, permanently whining, early winner of the Small Man Syndrome award for 2009. And most of his team look almost exactly like him: crop-haired, non-smiling, antipodean androids. Would you know North, Katich, Haddin, Hussey or Hauritz if they walked into your local pub? It's hard enough identifying them on the pitch. And that's Australia's biggest problem. With the exception of Ponting, whose bat is the only stellar thing about him, they don't have any stars, anyone to intimidate or bully us. And for a country used to the likes of Lillee and Thomson, the Chappells, Border, Merv Hughes, the Waughs and that whole magnificent 2006-07 whitewash team, this is seriously bad news."
When I first went to England in 1987 - England held the Ashes - cricket talk with the locals was not exactly a genteel affair, but it was good fun nevertheless. (The Pilbara, with wall-to-spinifex Poms, was the same.) Now, on the back of jingoistic flannel, professional fans, fat-headed coverage, lad culture first in the UK (Loaded, etc), then here in copycat Australia (Ralph, etc), cricket support is an altogether nasty business.
Watching the Tests from afar it looks to me like cricket hooliganism is on the rise. What's the bet that, before this series is over, there's a big punch up at one of the three remaining Tests.
Richard Hinds in the Saturday Age on the race for the moral low ground:
Fans are flocking back to the Australians now that the world has started sledging.
When I turned on the radio on the Monday morning after the Cardiff Test and heard "... ran out of time as Monty Panesar and James Anderson hung on for a dramatic draw", the sick feeling that washed over me was as acute as any I have experienced in a long time. I'd say I was "gutted" but I hate the term and the way it has gained currency here. John Howard might be our official Cricket Tragic, but I suspect he doesn't feel the game like your dyed-in-the-wool obsessed cricket idiots, of which I am one. It didn't help that the result was semi-expected. The half-chance Collingwood gave early in his innings which lobbed almost exactly between Haddin and Katich (don't forget: Pies was the only English batsman to stick around on the last day in Adelaide in 2006), Broad being given not out LB first ball, our lack of a Warne-like cutting edge, and the generally placid nature of the pitch all pointed to England hanging on. Further details emerging through the day - North bowling at the close - only served to rub in the result. This was a chance wasted.
Australia cannot afford to cough up results like Cardiff. NGASAEB is the catch-cry around here, even when Warne and McGrath were in full flight, and its significance has been acutely magnified over the last 18 months.
So it came to pass. The Lords result was on the cards the moment the Cardiff Test ended. Forget the bullshit about 75 years of Aussie domination at the home of cricket. Ignore the flannel about how Aussies rise to the occasion within the hallowed confines of the august stadium. The run was a statistical blip, a fluke, and bound to break eventually. Every time we won at Lords we were a Test closer to losing there. (You didn't know the AGB did sophistry, did you?) Every time I heard or read about it leading into last weekend, the more convinced I was we would lose. Fact: we are not very good. Yes, we can play good cricket, but in the wrong circus-pants - a flat pitch is very much the wrong circs - with players off their game and with an unhealthy emphasis on Our Phil Hughes, we were more than vulnerable.
At our best we would probably beat England, but we didn't play at our best. We didn't even play near our best. Lords was the worst performance I have seen from an Aussie side ever. Basically, we fell apart.
I wrote in the lead-up to Lords that "if Australia are, as they say at the track, 'better for the run' (especially Johnson)" then we would win, but we weren't, we were much worse for the run (especially Johnson). It defies belief that Johnson is bowling poorly because of his mum. Warnie could have all the trouble in the world off the pitch, but as soon as he was in a match, his troubles would vanish. Johnson's trouble is not his mum, it's quite evidently his action and rhythm. The flat pitches can't help, either.
The strange thing is, we were dreadful, but we weren't that far off the pace. Brian at LP:
Well the cricket’s not over yet. Strauss’s best move, apart from claiming a catch that clearly hit the ground in front of him was to win the toss – twice. In the second test for the first four days when the Poms batted the sun shone and when the Aussies batted there were clouds and the ball swung.
In the Aussies second innings they lost 3 of their top 6 to bad umpiring and still scored over 400. How many teams have scored over 400 in the last innings of a test match? Not many at all I’d reckon.
Overall so far we’ve taken 35 wickets and the Poms 26.
And yet, even without KP England will be hard to beat because we will struggle to bowl them out twice. Bell, the mooted replacement, has a poor record against Australia, but his poor record is against Warne and McGrath. Will he end up with a poor record against our current attack? KP was almost a by-stander in the first two Tests, Bell has been knocking up runs in the counties. KP's injury may well be the piece of luck that re-invigorates Bell's career, a-la Slatts to Gnome B.N. Unless Australia can improve their bowling, Bell will not be easy to get out. And the Englands are no longer six-out, all-out, they bat deep.
Can't work out if our batting is a problem or not. Hughes is an obvious worry. I was under the impression that we had a truck-load of batsmen tooling around the counties, but every time someone mentions Hughes' name it is accompanied by a criticism that there are no spare batsmen in the touring party. Wasn't local back-up the reason we picked one less batsman? Have we suddenly no replacements in England? Despite misgivings about the rest of the top six, they have all got runs. What does help the batting, though, is a sense that no matter what the batsmen score, the bowlers will run through the opposition for less. That gives the batsmen confidence and releases pressure. Unless we get our bowling right, it's hard to see us breaking through at Edgbaston. (Anyone for jelly?)
Starting tonight at Wantage Road it's imperative our bowlers get their act together, both individually and collectively. (Please, enough with the "Aussies sweating on Lee fitness" headlines. That reeks of desperation.) When we won in SA, our bowling was team-tight, each bowler contributing to the overall impact. Here in the UK, our bowling has been team-sloppy. Individual bowlers have managed good spells, even Johnson in the second innings at Lords, but too often we have gone through sessions where our lines and lengths were appalling.
It's hard to see us getting back on top in this series. Yet England on paper, even with Freddy supposedly running amok, are not the vastly superior side a big win at Lords would superficially indicate. Surely, this fact was reflected in the English media's over-reaction to the result, which probably stemmed more from relief than any great sense that their boys are better. I mean, five hundred ahead, and they were still worried Australia might win?
Catches, the toss, a better performed and organised attack, and - fingers crossed - luck, could easily see momentum swing the other way.
But don't expect any sympathy from Ponting. What a fiasco:
THE reason for Ricky Ponting's anger over his confusing dismissal at Lord's has been revealed.
By the time Ponting had reached the dressing room it was clear the ball had come off his pad, but the assumption was that Llong did not have the authority to overturn the decision.
Rule 3.2.3 governing clean catches reads, in part: "The third umpire has to determine whether the batsman has been caught. But when reviewing the television replay(s), if it is clear to the third umpire that the batsman did not hit the ball, he shall indicate that the batsman is not out."
There would have been a tasty rumpus had Strauss appealed for caught, Ponting was given out caught, Ponting challenged, Ponting was given not out caught, Anderson challenged, Ponting was given out LB.
Is there double jeopardy?
"We've learnt lessons from that and we've got a little bit of momentum from that fifth day which we are looking to build on in the first couple of days in this Test match."
~~ Andrew Strauss
Can England seize the momentum for the Second Test? Form suggests not. Despite fine-tuning their Ashes campaign against an admittedly abysmal West Indies, in Cardiff their batting was sloppy, their fielding lacklustre, their bowling toothless.
On the other hand, Australia, despite a spasmodic lead-in, had the momentum but failed to capitalise on day five.
As a perpetually pessimistic Australian fan I loathe it when we fail to drive home the advantage. We should be 1-0 up. If we were, this series would be over - just the way I like it. But it's not over, far from it. England are still in the contest and any closing of the gap, wide as it was in Cardiff, will make it that much harder for Australia to win.
The question is: can England close the gap? In short: if Australia are, as they say at the track, "better for the run" (especially Johnson), no.
But. Missed chances haunt.
Who is David Hastie? He's the impressively titled "Herald Sun sports affairs reporter", and the hack responsible for this stupid article:
FORMER cricket greats are calling for The Ashes commentators to lift their game amid claims of chronic English bias.
With English broadcaster Sky Sports providing the live feed for both SBS and Foxtel, Australian audiences have been forced to endure a commentary box stacked with former English players, including four former captains.
Bill Lawry, Richie Benaud, Ian Chappell, Mark Taylor. Whaddaya know? Nine has four captains, too. Chuck in Slater, Healy, O'Donnell and Warne. The Aussie flavour of our own commentary team is hardly leavened by Grieg, each summer's fly-in foreigner and the sumptuous gaylord, Dick Nicholas, who is Australia's most splendid and marvellous fan.
And just who are these "former cricket greats" and "Australian audiences"? None other than Simon O'Donnell and, well, guess who:
Neil Harvey, who represented Australia between 1948 and 1963, said the commentary was sorely lacking an experienced Aussie voice, saying Richie Benaud would have been the perfect fit.
"You've got all the Poms in there as far as I can see," Harvey said.
"There are Australians, but they're in the studio.
What more is there to say after the barrage of previews, predictions and prognostications about how the Ashes series might pan out?
Heavy on detail, running the risk of repeating myself, and with fingers crossed, my own contribution is over the fold.
Slot Lee spends the best part of two series bowling rubbish - Australia lose.
Lee is history.
Australia go to South Africa without Lee, and with what appears to be an experimental attack - Australia win.
Back, Lee bowls pies in the T20 - Australia lose.
Lee bowls more pies in the first Ashes warm up match - Australia draw.
Lee is still history.
Lee bowls better for 170+ runs in the second warm up match.
Ponting gets up Lee, Lee bowls grenades.
Lee is back.
Yobbo blows raspberry.
Australia still draws.
Pushing too hard to get back in the side, Lee gets injured. (Did he get injured when Ponting told him to pull his finger out? At least he didn't get injured during the First Test.)
"Australia's Ashes plans in disarray".
Lee was the savior and Australia can't win without him.
But now, without Lee, Australia have a similar attack - probably a better one if you include Stuart Clark - to the one that won the three Tests.
In short: Lee plays, Australia lose or draw; Lee misses, Australia wins.
Unless he bowls snorters like the ones he bowled against The Loins of England.
Does Studsy's mum want a piece of the action? Wives and girlfriends and mums? WAGAMs doesn't quite cut the mustard:
"Mitch met Jess and since then she has flown off to South Africa, to England and the Bahamas. She gets all these trips, she gets flown there, accommodation, food and all of that."
JB should also get a pair of scissors - plastic ones, which she will not run with - to cut a certain pair of apron strings.
Give mum something to do to keep her involved. She can fix the curtains.
MacGill, Martyn, Matthews. Not Triple M, not a 60's folk-rock trio, but the SBS studio commentary team for the Ashes. If they are anywhere near as good as Simon Hill, Matthews and Dean Jones were in 2005, they will be well worth a listen. Chuck in Rodney Hogg, who is the SBS expert over in the UK, and the phrase "forthright opinion" would sell them way short.
Not sure how MacGill will go, but all reports suggest he offers more than the average cricket head. Has anyone ever heard Damian Martyn speak? He seems, on the face of it, a strange choice. Greg Matthews will be all, like, dude, yeah, cat, but at least he knows the caper. Hoggy will be Hoggy. "Chucking? They changed the rules. Everyone chucks now."
(How will the SBS coverage flow now that they have more, ahem, retail opportunities. Last time, they only had ads between programs. Now they have expanded their advertisments into shows, which means they will almost certainly have ads between overs, which will barge into their studio airtime and our consciousness. Put it this way: what was five minutes of comment during a drinks break might now become three minutes of cars, alcohol, insurance, Guthy Renker and girls in hot tubs with telephones, and only two minutes of cricket talk.)
Compare the SBS team with the standard, but capable, Fox outfit of Brendon Julian, Allan Border, Mark Waugh, Greg Blewett and Damien Fleming. Will Fox rue Hoggy moving to SBS? When he was on with BJ and the Boys, he was mighty entertaining. Before they shut him up, that is. Forthright opinion is permitted to be more forthright on an outlet like SBS, which is less beholden to a lord and/or master than an Official Broadcaster like Fox.
Either way, Channel Nine and their oaf demographic, despite the recent improvements sparked largely by the SBS and UK coverage in 2005, will be looking for parts and people to pinch.
NO ONE can accuse SBS of playing it safe in its choice of commentators for the Ashes.
Stuart MacGill will play the hosting role in the Sydney studio and will be joined by Greg Matthews and Damien Martyn.
The outspoken Rodney Hogg will be the man on the ground with SBS putting together a one-hour highlights program from 5pm (AEST) on the previous day's play.
FoxSports will have the familiar faces of former Australian cricketers Allan Border, Mark Waugh, Brendon Julian, Greg Blewett and Damien Fleming sharing their views.
Meanwhile, on the radio wireless broadcasting systems, the ABC have "again put together a quality commentary team". Not my words. No byline on the article. Sounds like a press release cut & paste.
For those unable to watch it on the box, the ABC has again put together a quality commentary team in cahoots with the BBC.
Recently-retired Test opener Matthew Hayden is a star addition to the line-up that also includes the likes of Jason Gillespie and Phil Tufnell.
Perhaps we the listeners should be the ones who judge the quality.
Tuffers is often worth a chortle, but it remains to be seen whether St Matthew of Hayden or Dizzy Gillespie add to the quality commentary team comprised of quality commentators headed, no doubt, by the Matchell Twins.
MARTYN: "BUCHAN IDIOT!"
Update! If this is Damien Martyn's public audition for the SBS hosting gig, it's a good one:
"All comments by Warne and MacGill are right and you'd find that 99% of the group from that era would agree. They're just the only guys who've got [the courage] to say it. The management team didn't plan right, we had a not-very-good, quick preparation in Brisbane and then we landed and away we went."
"We played a Twenty20 against England, which England still talk about, flogging us down in Hampshire. Buck was saying, 'It's only a muck-around game, don't worry about it' and we trained for four hours on the morning. So we went from the nets next door, busting a gut, into a T20 game where they rolled up playing it like a Test match and flogged us. There were a lot of mistakes made and a lot will never come out."
"We got slack, everything clicked for them, they haven't played that well since then and they won't ever again," Martyn said. "They built themselves up so much for the Ashes when the Ashes for us had dropped off because we'd won it so many times.
"For us it was conquering all things, World Cups, Champions Trophy, the subcontinent. The Ashes was just another series but for England it was their pinnacle and we just went underprepared."
The team for Worcester:
1 Simon Katich, 2 Phillip Hughes, 3 Ricky Ponting, 4 Michael Hussey, 5 Michael Clarke, 6 Marcus North, 7 Brad Haddin, 8 Mitchell Johnson, 9 Brett Lee, 10 Nathan Hauritz, 11 Stuart Clark.
Looks like the Test side is all but settled apart from who will partner Johnson, Clark and Siddle: Lee or Hauritz? Ponting might not be giving any rock solid guarantees, but it's hard to imagine the Aussies haven't already settled on Studs, Sizz and Clark.
Put your magic beans on Lee.
The Australians have yet to finalise their pace attack for the first Test in Cardiff, but appear to be leaning towards a line-up of Mitchell Johnson, Peter Siddle, Brett Lee and Stuart Clark. All four offer vastly different skill-sets - from the left-arm pace and swing of Johnson to the height, accuracy and seam movement of the right-arm Clark - imbuing Cooley with confidence that his line-up is capable of adapting to all conditions.
Everything emanating from the Aussie hierarchy since the summer has suggested the Aussies are desperate to play Lee. Doubtless they think that man-for-man, he is a better bowler than Hilfenhaus. Maybe they also feel that if Lee bowls rubbish, no one will notice if Johnson, Siddle and Clark pick up his slack. Or is that too cynical? We'll certainly notice if Lee gets a "wicket" off a no ball. At his best Lee is better than Hilf, but he hasn't been at his best for a long time. However, nor has the Hilf set the world on fire despite being a part of the side that beat South Africa.
Cooley's opinions seem to reveal the Aussies have been planning for some time to go with the same style of four-pronged pace attack England used in 2005, but it remains to be see if we can duplicate that successful campaign.
In the first Test at Lords in 2005, despite Australia winning, Hoggard, Harmison, Jones and Flintoff all looked sharp from the start. In fact, had Pietersen not grassed Clarke in Australia's second inning, the Test may have gone the other way.
Compare that with Australia in 2009. Only Lee has bowled in a Test in England, and he bowled tripe. Siddle and Clarke look to be in form, but Clark and Lee are coming back from injuries and haven't played any meaningful cricket for ages, and Johnson has only bowled in the nets. Much was made of the lay-off he had during the one-day series here in January and February. After bowling well in the Tests (not as well as many would have it, excluding Perth) he bowled pies for the rest of the Aussie summer. Fingers crossed he's good to go.
Cooley is also talking up reverse swing. "It's not rocket science," says Troy. "You have to get the seam in the right spot, and if you have got an arm action that does that and you have got the speed and the ball condition, you're laughing." Sounds easy. Too easy. Judging by the tour so far, including the almost embarrassing loss at Hove when they couldn't bowl out Sussex on the last day, there has been rock-all evidence the Aussies are looping the Duke around. What's more, had Hilfenhaus been dangerous in Hove he'd be playing tonight, and he's our main swing bowler, albeit an orthodox swing bowler.
From over here it doesn't look as if the Australian attack is anywhere near in the same shape as the England attack was in 2005.
And then there's the batting...
When it's all said and done like a dinner, if Lee plays in Cardiff and everything goes tits-up pear-shaped, the selectors may as well start clearing out their desks.
This article's a joke, right?
SOUTH Africa has handed England its successful blueprint on how to beat the Australians.
England will head into the Ashes series with fresh intelligence after Proteas coach Mickey Arthur revealed his game plans for Australian players.
Arthur's team created history in the summer when it became the first South African team to win a Test series on Australian soil.
After again locking horns with Australia in a 2-1 series defeat in South Africa, Arthur has provided England with a dossier and tips on Australian players.
Fresh intelligence? Mickey's plan was in the papers six months ago. Successful blueprint? The summer finished 3-3 with Australia winning the chocolates in Africa.
CRAMP opener Phillip Hughes on the leg side, "because he wants room to slash you through the off side".
Cramp the left-hander, deny him room. Yawn. Who came up with that one? Keppler Wessels?
STACK the slips and bowl wide outside off stump to Ricky Ponting.
Dry lines to Ponting. Zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz.
USE Andrew Flintoff to bowl short at Mike Hussey.
Bouncers to Hussey. Shock. And. Snore.
DON'T expect much weakness from Mitchell Johnson apart from "a tendency to get down on himself at times".
We got nothing.
WATCH for Shane Watson.
Bandage Shane Watson, more like.
What a stupid article.
Speaking of Ashley Mallett, gentlemen and colour, recall, if you will, John McGuire, Top Bloke:
AFTER consistently being among the top scorers in Perth district cricket, John McGuire couldn't be denied a state trial any longer. When he reached 50 runs and was told to retire his wicket because "we've seen enough of you", he thought he'd earned his passage to the next level. He was wrong. In fact, McGuire never played for Western Australia, despite becoming the second highest run-scorer in the history of Perth club cricket.
"In that trial match he'd opened with Graeme Wood and good judges told me McGuire was every bit as good as Graeme, who played 50-odd Tests," former Test spinner Ashley Mallett says. "McGuire thought he was about to be picked for WA. But when I met him I realised why he wasn't picked - he was Aboriginal. I think he realised that was the reason. It was the old White Australia policy.
Via Normblog Geras, the Angriest Man on the Internet.
Unfortunately for us here in the anty-podes, the Poms have flatly refused to move England (and Wales) into a favourable timezone. Therefore, with most of the Ashes tour happening in the middle of the night, the AGB won't be able to give it the both barrels we would if the series was here, of preferably in Sri Lanka, which is prime-time for TV cricket.
Not that we won't give it the old college try. For each match, starting with tonight's against Sussex, I plan to put up a post and... well, you know the drill by now.
Speaking of Sussex: quelle surprise! Watson is injured and Lee is talking up Lee. It's impossible not to feel sorry for Paper Cut. He can play... when he gets out there. To quote Terry Malloy from On The Waterfront: "He could have been someone." Not so The Slot. He talks a better game than he plays. Perhaps he should go into politics. If he somehow makes the Test XI and we subsequently blow the Ashes on the back of his lame bowling, I'll get quite mad. In all probability, I'll go quite mad.
And why are Sussex called The Sharks? I apologise if there are great schools of bitey fish circling the UK, but there seems to be more than a hint of the hipster publicist about the Sussex Sharks.
The collapse of the Australian empire was a near certainty. Eventually, as Australia weakened and its enemies got their own houses - or academies - in order and learned from the Australians, Australia would be overrun. Or so the parallel goes:
History is absorbed before you think of it as history. Before I could read, my grandfather—a tough Yorkshireman and a serious cricketer—gave me his album of 1930s cricket cigarette cards. I spent as much time with them as with my first bat. It was the portraits of Australian batsmen that made the deepest impact. Staring at you from beneath their famous baggy green caps, they seemed unimpressed by anything, let alone this young Englishman. They had a look — resilient, cussed and self-reliant — that said there was a score to be settled. Don Bradman perfectly embodied this relentless hunger, but it ran deeper than him. There was a bloodline.
Tim Nielsen is in today's Fairfaxes talking up Brett Lee for the Ashes: "he is progressing well." That's talking up, right? Anyway, it must have escaped Nielsen that since The Slot injured his foot during the Melbourne Test Australia have looked a tighter bowling unit, winning three Tests while losing only one, a dead rubber. Also, a cursory check of the records would reveal Slot is the proverbial pie-chucker in England, where his Test average is a miserable 45.44, and on current exposed form, unlikely to go lower.
On the upside, get on board Slotto. You'd be in clover had you correctly picked the runs hit from each of Slot Lee's eight overs at the World T20.
Whatever England were smoking, Australia must be smoking it, too. But seriously, folks. Does anyone expect Australia to feature at the pointy end of this tournament? Or, since there are so few real contenders, feature prominently at the pointy end? Jrod is always going on about probots and V-Slogology for a reason: apart from Warner, who is too literally hit and miss, Australia look very one dimensional. Where's the X-factor? No wonder the selectors were so desperate to get Roy into the squad; they must have felt they were jumping off a tall bridge when they sacked him. Russ is right: sit back, take it easy, and wait for the Ashes.
Don't call this an upset. Twenty20 is where it is at for West Indies, by their captain's admission, and they have copped a fair amount of flak for that comment and their subsequent poor performances in more traditional forms of cricket. So there was a sense of anticipation over how they would fare in their "preferred" format. Come match day in the Group of Death, and West Indies, and Chris Gayle, turned up for the first time in two months. They fielded pathetically but that characteristic trait was sandwiched between superb opening bowling and explosive batting.
As for Lee. This morning my phone and inbox were full of messages saying roughly the same thing: "Have a rest, Bing Lee. I'm sure there's a worse credentialled NSW bowler who can replace you."
Clogged! England get beaten by Holland off the last ball - and via an overthrow - and Paul Collingwood joins Peter Roebuck as the only two members of that elite club of Englishman to captain a losing side against the Dutch. Way to go, Pies.
What gracious, accommodating, spare-no-blushes hosts England have turned out to be. What a sensational tournament they have just set in motion. Forget the IPL, with its glitz and gaudiness, and beyond-the-boundary's-edge entertainment. All England could do to rescue an evening as dank as their dressing-room was provide a cricketing contest that required no hyperbole. That's exactly what they came up with, conjuring up a humiliation that might even bump Gordon Brown's own meltdown off the front pages of the morning papers. England are dead in the drizzle. Their tournament, however, is soaring through the clouds.
Sideshow Dim Sym has been on his last chance for nearly four years: given his spectacular recidivism, that must be some sort of record.
ANDREW Symonds will be banished from international cricket for ever after being sent home from England in disgrace after his latest alcohol-fuelled bender.
Cricket's bad boy, dubbed "Dim Symmo", broke team rules by having late night drinking sessions and failing to inform teammates of his whereabouts during Australia's Twenty20 World Cup preparations.
Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said last night the CA board would have little option but to tear up Symonds' contract.
"We've probably come to the end of the line," Sutherland conceded. "In isolation the breaches that I am talking about are not serious, but in the scheme of things, in the scheme of history, they are enough for it to be the final straw.
"You might have thought the end of the line should have happened sooner."
Dean Jones has been spinning the line that CA were too harsh, that all Roy did was pop out to watch State of Origin and have a couple of beers. In short: "DK and Thommo did it. It's the Aussie thing to do."
Former Australian cricket great Dean Jones has fired a broadside at Cricket Australia for sending Andrew Symonds home from the Ashes tour in England for not telling team management he was leaving his London hotel room to watch the NRL State Of Origin at a pub.
Jones surprisingly questioned whether Cricket Australia has been too harsh on perennial bad boy Symonds, and even raised a 'conspiracy theory' about the sporting body's decision to send Australia to participate in a recent series in Dubai.
On Symonds' indiscretion, Jones told 3AW's Neil Mitchell: "I think he is probably too Australian. He just had a beer and supported Queensland's big win over NSW – it's a culture in the team that's always been there … players talk about it. He left the hotel without telling anyone."
Maybe, IF (traditional "big if") you go by Stakeholders' remark that Roy's breaches were "not serious", Deano is onto something. What's more, you rarely associate "not serious" with the colourful phrases "alcohol fuelled bender" and "late night drinking sessions".
Roy deserves to be dumped if he got a skinful outside hours. But if, as Deano said, Roy has been sent home because he didn't tell anyone he was going out to watch State of Origin, then his expulsion is down to cumulative naughtiness. A bit like Ben Cousins. No one would have given a toss had, say, Bill Brownless given the finger to a camera. Ben's history, or should I say form, doomed him to his usual rumpus.
Also, what time was it? Here, State of Origin started around 7:30 pm, but in the UK it would have been mid-morning. If Roy was on a bender, he must have started very early, or stayed up very, very late.
"I was misquoted. Taken out of context. I'm sorry if I offended anyone. You heard me wrong: I didn't say multi-culturalism, I said monkey-culturalism:
"I have no problems with a multicultural society, I think that is to the benefit of the country. But you have to be careful what levels you take it to."
"It annoys me when I phone a hotel receptionist in my own country and they don’t understand what I am saying because they don’t speak English."
"I think that’s wrong, it’s nothing to do with being politically correct or incorrect, it’s just not right."
“I see Manchester on a Friday night and I would be horrified seeing my daughter going to the bars."
"There are places I wouldn’t go to now. You see these reports of stabbings, bottlings, shootings, and you think: ‘What is happening to this country?’"
"I think rap music has a lot to do with it. It makes it sound cool not to conform, and to be violent."
While the world's media outlets are busy whipping up the their latest issues do jour, the UK Telegraph is the one great font of perspective:
There are bound to be blogs out there worthy of a mention in this top 10. So if you know of any, do leave a comment. But for now, here goes:
1. After Grog Blog
Fine Australian blog which has amusing section on cricket. A must to dip into when the Ashes is on. Tags itself as "Fruit for the sightscreen."
The certificate on the left is the only academic prize I ever won.
Yes. That is quite hard to believe.
Just as hard to believe is what's written on the certificate.
The beagle-eyed among you will have noticed that this esteemed accolade for Academic Excellence in the Field of Effort was awarded to A.B.G. Cricket. (A nom de blog, and not my real name in 1971.) Doubtless you had already warmed up your trigger fingers, and were all set to fire: "A.B.G.? You pin-head."
You will have jumped your guns. You see, on the original, before I'd photo-shopped it, the headmaster of Brighton Grammar, one John Baddeley Esq., got my name wrong.
And now you are wondering what the hell this has to do with cricket?
Well, this: the award in question is glued to the inside of a book, a first edition hardcover - or hardback as we call them here in Straya - written by none other than that revered Knight of West Indian cricket, Sir Garfield St Aubrun Sobers AO.
Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade is about a young West Indian, Clyde, who is rubbish at cricket, but who writes a computer program which makes him good at cricket. Bear in mind this is a children's novel written 1967, well before the likes of John Buchanan and Tim Nielsen started using computers to analyze cricket. Actually, I think Geoff Lawson might be the first person I heard of who started recording cricket data for digital regurgitation and assessment.
The exhibition was also to test bowling. Frank would pause between shots to say things like: "You are too square-on to the wicket. Take three paces off your run, turn your shoulders and come in at an angle to your point of delivery." Three or four balls later he said: "Yes, much better, but your shoulders are too stiff. You are wasting power."
All these comments were recorded by Clyde's machines and every bowler was filmed. This type of practice had been going on for several weeks, and Clyde now had help running off the film and dubbing all the voice recordings on the sound-track. From this film and sound-track he took the meter readings from the coloured balls and the secret instruments in the cricket bats. He collected these into certain sets of figures, which he then put onto a punched tape.
This tape was fed into a KDR6 and other computers. The answers he received told him exactly how each player could bowl against any type of stroke play, or how any batsman could bat against certain types of bowling. It told him too the muscle power, foot speed and mental-reaction speeds of each player. The computers told him a great deal more, but as this was for the secret part of his own task, no one else knew it.
No word on whether it could tell if the bowler chucked it.
Having said that, can I just say this? Does Gary Sobers read this blog? (Hello, Sir Gary.) Is he embarrassed to have written Bonaventure? Did he even write it?
Rereading my shortlist [of nominations for the William Hill Sports Book of the Year], I was most struck by their innocence and pathos. In each of them, the tightly knit sporting world, replete with rules and status, provides a fitting backdrop for a conflict of character. In a way, with fairly obvious white hats and black hats, they most resemble westerns. Yet they are, by and large, satisfying and entertaining.
Not one of them, of course, is written by a celebrated sportsman. And the decline of sports fiction coincides with their deadening and malign appearance on the scene. The rot started in the late 1960s, when Denis Law, Graham Hill and Garry Sobers allowed their names to be attached to works of fiction. When I showed Sobers a copy of the book wot he supposedly wrote, he couldn't have been more alarmed if it had been entitled 'I am a Paedophile' rather than Bonaventure and the Flashing Blade.
Incidentally, Sobers was in Australia in December 1971 for the Rest of the World tour.