"Fruit for the sightscreen"
There's a new "blog" at Cricket Australia:
"We are best friends/hetero life mates from Sydney. That's Kiki with the pigtails, and Sassy is the one rocking the fro. No, it's not a wig. She is a genetic mystery, don't question it. Like Test Cricket, we also take days to accomplish things and deeply enjoy regular meal breaks. Kiki + Sassy + Test Cricket = a perfect match. We heart cricket. Big time. Anyway, we are tres excited to be here with our heads up on cricket.com.au. Stay tuned for our next blog where we, you know, actually talk more about cricket".
Check out their, like, introductory post and the comments:
A HANDFUL of comments had been posted below the dynamic duo's blog yesterday, some of them screaming "TARGET AUDIENCE" so loud you couldn't make them up. Like Melinda: "I've never seen a game of cricket played (aside those at the beach after far too much beer). I'll be sure to stay tuned for more fun."
Target audience? More like a middle-age, male, Cricket Australia employee pretending to be a teenage girl. In fact, just about all the comments reek of stooge.
The Age cricket scribe, a slightly sarcastic Chloe Saltau, says it best: "Having read their first offering, I'm feeling terribly threatened."
Do you, like me, find it ironic that although Australia have a reasonably old side, we also have a reasonably inexperienced side? At least for Test cricket. As Monty says "30 is the new 20" and even the young guys are old. Except for Hughes - 10 years old is young.
Not unexpectedly, this has lead to blood-doped levels of enhanced speculation regarding our current prospects in Sorth Efrica. "Test of stamina for new Aussie faces" is the current headline at Crooky. For me, though, watching Straya strut their stuff in Joburg without Symonds, Hayden and Watson millstoning expectations was immensely enjoyable. The win didn't hurt, either. Just about the most pleasing aspect from the Joburg Test was watching Straya starting to come to terms with playing hard-grind Test cricket, not millionaire cricket. That was always going to be the big challenge in the post-superstar years. Forget all this talk of "rebuilding", the big issue... ahem, going forward was always going to be learning how to play without Warne and McGrath. Even if we stumble in Durban and Cape Town, it is a relief to know that we seem to be heading in the right direction.
Not that there aren't many questions to be answered in Durban.
The recurring one leading into the Second Test is whether Australia are about run out of fast bowlers. They may be, but a group comprising Siddle, Johnson, McGain, McDonald, Hilfenhaus and McGoffin, while not olde-time Windies-like, is not dreadful, especially if the conditions suit (OK, that goes for most sides).
Can Australia maintain their intensity two Tests on the trot? Probably, but can they also maintain their discipline? Will Ponting win the toss again? Does that matter? It was certainly key to the victories in Sydney and Joburg where batting last is traditionally difficult. Can Hussey get a score? Have the Varks worked out Katich? Will Smith gift Ponting another massive let-off? Can North make another score while regularly slicing in the air through and over gully and point? What's the Durban pitch up to? It's no coincidence Australia have won the last two Tests on lively pitches. India know how to neuter Australia, just as the Windies have neutered England: serve up dull roads. With pitches in mind: do Australia need a spinner? Will the Vark bowling be as bad in Durban as it was in Joburg? How significant was the absence of Fat Jack during the Australian first innings? Was the Australian collapse in the Joburg second innings a portent of things to come? Is Hughes scared of chin music, or just awkward? Same for The Duminator? What's Wilbur Smith's middle name? Will Hot Spot help or hinder the referral system? It should do the former... in theory. I've really enjoyed the controversy surrounding the referral system, but the thing that bites me hardest is the knowledge that when a decision is made, there is a chance that it will be over-turned. Take the AB LB on Monday. He's given out, he looks out, but as soon as he appeals you get hit with nagging doubts about whether he is going to be reprieved. To me that's the biggest problem with the system, apart from the howlers, you must sit through several minutes of uncomfortable speculation, no matter how out or not out the batsman appears.
Although sometimes cynical about the motives of the Aussie cricketers, and despite what Simon Barnes and Peter Roebuck think -
If they seek precedent, they can always look to the Australia cricket team, the weasels of international sport: one hint of a murmur of a rumour of a firework going off in any city on the sub-continent and the Australian plane is making a mad U-turn and heading back to God's Own.
Even in the worst places in Pakistan, it is riskier to drive a car than to be an Australian.
- I'd rather be here than in Pakistan.
Last night, anyone see KP "bowl" the last ball before the third new ball? While watching several replays a couple of the commentators thought it was a jolly wheeze and joked about dodgy doosras. But Athers, taking a censorious perspective, wondered what the square leg umpire was up to. Either way - bungled doosra or chuckleworthy byplay at 5/574 - it was a rank chuck, to which the umpire at the non-striker's end was totally oblivious.
No one seemed much interested in what might have happened had it taken a wicket. Would the arm action have been included in everyone's favourite referral process? Harper: "Didn't overstep, pitched in line, would have hit... but by the way, KP chucked it like a girl." Tiffin: "Well, we can't include the chuck in the referral, so it's out."
Do you think Sarwan, Ramdin and John Dyson would have appreciated the joke?
For three of the last four series, this one included, Australia have started as underdog (according to me) despite being the number one ranked Test side. By winning in Sydney, the Baggy Greens defied gravity to keep a fingernail on first place, but if you tip based on form, you would expect South Africa to take over as No. 1 sometime in the next three Test matches.
Certainly, a hand-over has been on the cards since January 2007, but although the South Africans would be loathe to admit it, they must be very disappointed they had to wait for our great players to retire before they were capable of beating us.
I mean, surely their muted response upon winning the Australian leg of the current series is an indication they aren't getting carried with beating what amounts to a patched-up side, riddled with injuries and blooding youngsters.
Had they been No.1 for a while now, they might have been tempted to strut their stuff, secure in the knowledge they could take on and defeat all comers. But in the back of their minds they probably know that if they lose this series... no, they won't be entertaining any of those thoughts. Will they? The ready-to-rock South Africa upset by a severely depleted Australia. All it takes is the odd injury. We saw what happened when Smith missed Sydney; what if Steyn does a hammy in the first session tonight... hell of a time to lose your best player.
Great news: a device that will measure chucking on the field.
But will it open Pandora's can of worms? "I didn't know he chucked." Will we get retrospectivity? I want to go back in time and put one on Courtney Walsh for the last ball of the 1993 Adelaide Test against the West Indies. Will the angle be displayed on the scoreboard and TV? Pity it will be too late for Murali. I want to put one on him for the ball he got Hayden LBW in Kandy in 2004. Would it have won Victoria the Big Bash final? (Thanks, Adsy.) Will a fast-bowler who has back-flex be assessed the same as an off-spinner who bends his arm to get extra turn? Will it automatically flash a light for a no ball? Or, given that it will be a definitive measure, will the 15 degree limit stay? Or, since "everyone chucks", at least according to the ICC (who still haven't shown me their research), will the 15 degree limit need to be stretched out?
Cricket may finally be about to have the definitive word on chucking - via technology that will measure a bowler's action under the unique stresses of match conditions.
The International Cricket Council (ICC) and the Marylebone Cricket Club have commissioned research by Cricket Australia, Griffith University and the Australian Institute of Sport into the development of a device that can measure degrees of flex in the bowling arm.
Crucially, the device will be small enough to sit comfortably on a bowler's arm during delivery in a match, allowing accurate readings of a bowler when he is straining every sinew.
Ever since Sri Lankan spinner Muttiah Muralitharan first submitted himself to biomechanical testing after he was called for throwing by Australian umpires Darrell Hair and Ross Emerson in the 1990s, questions have festered about whether it was fair to expect the same results that may be found during the heat of a Test match.
Those questions may soon be answered, with the project team to submit a working model for experimental use in early 2010.
"One of the difficulties of testing bowlers' actions in laboratory conditions is that it cannot always replicate match conditions successfully," said ICC general manager Dave Richardson.
"In other words, whether on purpose or unintentionally, the bowler might bowl differently in the lab than when he is out in the middle in the heat of a match when fatigue and greater effort are a factor.
"That is why a device that a bowler can wear during a match is something we are very excited to be developing."
The leader of the project is Dr Daniel James, the head of Griffith's Sport and Biomedical division.
His major challenge is to harness technology already used to test the arm actions of swimmers and tennis players so it can provide the specific information key to determining the legality of a bowling action.
Presently, the laws of the game state that bowlers are allowed no more than 15 degrees of flex in the elbow - commonly regarded as the point at which a "kink" in the elbow becomes noticeable to the naked eye.
Successful measuring of the elbow flex via the small, portable device - which should be similar in size to an iPod Shuffle - would allow for a whole host of conveniences, including the scrapping of any need for bowlers to visit a laboratory to prove the purity of their action.
It would also allow coaches around the world to test young bowlers and correct their actions before they even reached the international stage.
Ever since Victoria lost the 1976/77 Gillette Cup final to Western Australia - in a low scoring game Mick Malone and Wayne Clark put on 26 for the last wicket to get the 'Gropers home with three balls to spare - I have expected the Vics to lose close matches. No idea what the statistics really are, it could be the Vics are actually ahead in the close match head-to-head, but 33 years down the track it still feels to me that they will lose the close ones.
Same again in tonight's Ford Ranger Cup final (Where, coincidentally, a key player for the Bulls was Ben Laughlin, the son of Trevor Laughlin who made a duck for Victoria in the 1976/77 final.) If I was a betting man I would have put a handful of magic beans on Queensland when they were 5/56, and would certainly have gotten on board when they managed to scramble a workable target of 187.
That makes the KFC Big Bash final where NSW cheated themselves to a last ball win courtesy of Aaron Bird thieving wickets; today's Ford Ranger Cup where the Vics bottled it; and next month's Weet Bix final where the Vics will undoubtedly lose to whoever they end up playing.
(Off topic: Melbourne Victory have spanked the Adelaide Reds all year, and the Melbourne media have already called the grand final for Melbourne. That's not even taking into account Aurelio Vidmar's "pissweak" dummy spit. But get on the Reds to beat the Victory next Saturday at the Dome.)
Watching the Bulls celebrate the last wicket, jumping into each others arms and whooping it up was similar to last year's Sydney Test, and reminded me of Spanky Roebuck's mad, hysterical Wild Dogs article where, out of spite, the Spank concocted the crime of over-celebration. Tonight, ironically, the only person not going off was Sideshow Roy. But did Shane Harwood and Jon Holland slink away like Kumble and Instant? Did they fuck. They waited calmly and politely while the Bulls rightfully celebrated their well-earned win, then once the Bulls boys broke up, Harwood and Holland moved over to shake hands. Will Roebuck and Coward get stuck into the Bulls like they got stuck into Australia 13 months ago? No, and nor should they.
This just in! Marcus North got six-fer in Stroom.
Belatedly, I'm around to writing something about Richie Benaud's retirement, but not half as belatedly as Richie's retirement will be when he finally gets around to it next year. Gird your lions because you are about to endure a slurpdango the likes of which has rarely been seen outside of a telethon, especially with super-soppy Channel Nine all set to give it twelve months worth of 100 proof schmaltz. Nine cannot resist the syrup, and we can count ourselves lucky Anne Marie Sparkman and that voice are not still around to curdle our milk, although I'm sure Tim Sheridan is down to the task.
Not that The Doyen doesn't deserve the full treatment. I'm told Twenty to One: Top Richie Quotes is already in the pipes. Can't wait to see what pearls of insight 18 year old poppet Backyard Cheesecake has to offer about Richie's feats in the 1950s.
Gideon Haigh gives Richie a fittingly dignified tribute in today's Australian:
ONE of the truisms of which the great cricket commentator John Arlott was fond was the one about going while they still ask why, not when they say "why not?". In foreshadowing his retirement from commentary a year hence, Richie Benaud shows a thorough understanding of the advice.
Further into the article Gideon mentions a Rodney Hogg comment: "The pithy Rodney Hogg recently compared Benaud with a 1960s LP 'that you can't play any more because it has a scratch on it'." First time I've ever seen Hoggy's gear referred to as pithy - I detect trace elements of tongue in cheek - but Hoggy's onto something. Richie has been showing signs of agi... that time waits for no man for two or three seasons now. Reduced airtime, the odd mistake. Actually, mistake is a little harsh, let's go with mis-step. Either way, Richie is pulling the pin before he shows too much tooth. Unlike Lou Richards on the Sunday Footy Show. Richie won't want to go out propped up in front of a camera, prodded for lines, and on the receiving end of a Dorothy Parkeresque "Dead? How can you tell?"
Haigh, in chronicling Richie's career, also swerves into a topic du jour:
His aura of calm resourcefulness as leader never jeopardised by defeat in a series.
In his book Australia 63, the English cricket writer Alan Ross provided a memorable description of Benaud the captain as Australia lost a Melbourne Test by seven wickets. The fascinating aspect of the spectacle, Ross concluded, was that only at the very last did defeat seem a possibility. Otherwise Benaud exuded such apparent mastery of the situation - a subtle bowling change here, a minor tampering with the field there - that one was hardly aware of the home team's deepening predicament. He traversed the field like a man "with the ace up his sleeve".
What wouldn't I give to have our current captain exhibit the same sang froid. I've never seen Richie play, but the way Ross describes him is the very essence of the style of Aussie captain I crave.
And I was surprised to read this:
Even the ABC has degenerated into an unlistenable farrago of self-amusement and SMS text: The Kerry O'Keeffe Show Also Including Test Cricket. Nonetheless, it is still the case that no commentator would be ill-served by the default option WWRD: What Would Richie Do?
Certainly the ABC have overcooked their coverage. Haigh works for the ABC, though, so it's refreshing to read him taking a shot at his employer. Given the esteem in which GH is held in cricket circles I'm tipping there are already ABC sport heavy hitters bunkered down in Ultimo and South Bank, wondering if Haigh is right that the ABC do over-do the larks at the expense of incisive cricket commentary.
Anyway, this is about Richie... and so are these, my two favourite Richies:
When Australia won the Ashes in 1989, it was due in no small part to the efforts of Terry Alderman who kept getting wickets LBW. Upon yet another LB late in the series, the commentary went something like this:
Then when New Zealand toured Straya in 1993 Danny Morrison bowled beautifully, but the Kiwi catching was completely dreadful; you could say the Kiwi dropping was completely fantastic. The main culprit was Mark Greatbatch who had copped a furious hiding from the Nine team. What goes around, runs aground, right. Late in the summer, Greatbatch, at first slip, took a blinder: a high slash that he plucked from well above his head before flolloping to the ground like a Hitchhiker's Guide swamp mattress, he willomied to his feet, pointed at the central commentary position, and yelled "Stick that up your fucking arse!" To which Richie replied, after a suitable pause for effect: "Just reminding us he's dropped a few this summer."
Here's the tip: during the first session of the first Ashes Test from Englan... Wales, someone will cop a howler and the commentators will burst into mass blurt: "They should have stuck with the referral system."
The referral system — where players appeal by making a T-sign with their arms — is on trial in [the Windies] and its function will determine whether the review system is adopted permanently.
The England and Wales Cricket Board chairman Giles Clarke has already indicated, however, that he does not want it used for the Ashes.
Clarke has argued that the review system undermines the authority of the on-field officials, a claim supported by former Australian coach John Buchanan but rejected by umpires Daryl Harper of Australia and South Africa's Rudi Koertzen, who are officiating in the West Indies.
That said, the referral system, as it stands, is pants. Players appealing for decisions to be reviewed is ridiculous. Get them out of the frame and have the umpires refer any close call straight to the TV umpire.
End scrutiny? No chance. Once a bowler is cited for chucking, the scrutiny will only increase. (Except by Channel Nine.)
NSW hopes a biomechanical analysis of paceman Aaron Bird, likely to be released within a week, will end scrutiny of his "unusual" bowling action.
Especially when the bowler has previously been cited four times:
"We've gone through it four times before with Aaron and he's passed with flying colours every time so we're very confident he's going to pass again," Mott said.
"We know he's got an unusual action but by the letters of the law that we're given he passes every test quite comfortably and we're very confident he's going to get through again."
Tonight's T20 at the SCG suffered from the usual lack of objectivity. Tubbs: "Looks at McCullum's speed." as he chased, with no great speed, a ball to mid-wicket, slid, and fumbled. The Dick: "Great athleticism from Haddin," as he jumped, but got nowhere near a snicked bouncer. Slatts: "Look at Hilfy! Don't ya think he's aware of the pressure," as he tried to get something out of his eye. JB: "Never seen anything like it in me life," as Voges pulled in a clever catch on the boundary. Surely he has seen Travis Bichel's catch. But lack of objectivity and T20 go together like shit and blankets. It's been the general lack of objectivity all summer long that has gotten right up my hooter.
Since the two Tests against NZ in November CricAussie and its media minions have pounded us with a relentless barrage of hyperbole, most of it seemingly intended to reassure us - those of us who haven't overdosed on KFC and Suisse vitamins, that is - that everything is going according to plan. Cam Noakes neatly captured the spirit of the season in Friday's Age:
REMEMBER Australia A? They were the days, weren't they? Hey … this is just between you and me, OK? Don't tell anyone and don't tell the Kiwis but did you hear — our confidence is back?
Of course, that was written before Friday night's TwentyTwo22 when Australia suffered the indignity of being bailed out by the weather. Muse on that for a moment: we get to hang onto the esteemed and storied Chadlee courtesy of a rain ruined and reduced Fifty50 against New Zealand. Ohh, the humanity. I wonder: how did Geoff Lawson re-position his doom-and-glooming in the light of Friday's result?
Meanwhile, Richard Hinds (very much in form lately) sheds a sensible light on how the media sees the public:
NEAR the start of this long and now fading cricket season, as the first cracks in the Australian team became evident, a usually astute observer of sport wrote that the public had continued to attend matches in record numbers despite their team's dominance making so many recent series predictable and one-sided.
It's not just the astute observers who have made a cock-up of this season's cricket, the numb-skulls have had a field day with absurd commentary and punditure.
Take Mitchell Johnson. Again. Sorry. His five-for spell at the end of day two in Perth was exhilarating, but it skewed the judgment - such as it is - of a heap of experts. Studs has been mediocre since the First Test against SA, the main highlight being a zinger to win the Sydney Test. Since his holiday during the first two one-dayers against SA, he has been rancid. SA sat on him after Perth and once they worked out how not to get out to his SGW, they looked comfortable. Naturally, this didn't stop the commentators from consistently referring to his "brilliant summer" and words to that effect. Johnson could well become a great bowler, but he will need bowlers to pinch wickets at the other end. If it's left to him, he, and we, will struggle.
Were I to over-rate Twenty20, I would probably have payed more that a cursory attention to tonight's match, but instead, I only watched it during the boring bits of I Am Legend. As it turned out, I saw quite a bit of cricket. During one particular boring bit I was stunned to hear that Adam Gilchrist's Big Moment of the summer was Brad Haddin's 100 against the Kiwis in Adelaide, or as Gilly termed it: "the coming of Brad Haddin". If by "coming" he means fives, aerial gloves, drops, byes and charity wickets, he is spot on. Haddin can bat a bit, but.
The big over-rating of the summer was Graeme Smith. It's nothing to do with his previous reputation, I have no residual animosity eating away at me. Smith had a fine summer, batting, catching, captaining and media-ing with aplomb. In fact, I'd even go so far as to say I quite like him. But only quite. No, Smith's big overratement of the summer was his broken handed innings in Sydney. Come on, people! Barring a English-style collapse in the first session, Smith was always coming out. Why, in these circs, do experts always fall over themselves to laud the moment? So, he had a sore hand. Diddums. What was he going to do? Sit in the rooms? "Borley Chorley! My hand's too sore." Get stuffed. If McKosker could come out with a broken jaw and no helmet, Smith was certainly capable of trotting out for half an hour with a sore hand. Especially when the alternative was returning to SA with his courage in question because he allowed Straya to win a Test match by protecting his own hand. Don't kid yourself that even though SA had won the series someone wouldn't have had a pop at Smith if he pulled a sickie.
And if you reckon that's harsh, count yourself lucky I didn't insert a white-trash pop song between each sentence.
Beach cricket; enter sandmen:
The cricket authorities will seek to salvage a Test match for Antigua after the second Test between West Indies and England at the new Sir Vivian Richards Stadium was embarrassingly abandoned on safety grounds after 10 balls. A third Test will now begin at the old Recreation Ground in St Johns on Sunday, with the series extended to five matches.
Fact: there were 51 people in the beachers* to witness the fiasco.
* Contains reduced humour. Would have been funnier if our commentators over here in Straya did not refer to our stands as bleachers.
"Winning this last game is very important because you have already seen that winning the last two one-day games has changed the complexion of a lot of things," Lawson said.
"Australia will go to South Africa with a lot more confidence if they can win the Chappell-Hadlee trophy.
"But if they lose in Brisbane there will be a lot of doom and gloom again, the world could come down on their shoulders.
"Winning form is good form. There is a lot more riding on this final one-day international than there has been on any one-day game for a while."
In other news:
MOISES Henriques will become the first Portuguese-born cricketer to represent Australia after being named in the side for Sunday's Twenty20 match against NZ at the SCG.
On SEN yesterday morning KB asked Crash Craddock whether Ricky Ponting was a bad captain. Crash's reply was unequivocal: "Great bowlers make great captains." He then listed the great bowlers Ponting had at his disposal: "Ricky only has Johnson, and he's not great, so it's no wonder he's struggling." Short list.
Do great captains need great bowlers? Are there any great captains who lacked a great bowler?
It's often said that Steve Waugh was a great captain. True, he has a great record, but he also had McGrath and Warne to bail him out. Mark Taylor once said: "Put up a score, then let Shane loose." Tubby's self-deprecation aside, if it's as simple as that, why is Tubby generally regarded as one of our best skippers? Ian Chappell, often mentioned as our finest captain, had Lillee and Thompson. (Does Greg Chappell have a complex about how rarely he is compared to his brother? I mean, while Ian Chappell is compared to Bradman, Benaud, Armstrong, Waugh and Taylor, no one ever seems to bother comparing Greg Chappell with anyone, let alone his brother.) Douglas Jardine is not generally cited as a great captain, but he's always mentioned in tandem with Larwood. Clive Lloyd, often credited with uniting the notoriously fractious Caribbean nations, had a production line of great bowlers. Mike Brearley has a big reputation, but he also had Willis, Botham, Old, Underwood, Hendrick, none of them slouches. Ray Illingworth had John Snow. Graeme Smith has Steyn, who is fast closing in on great.
There's a school of thought that suggests that while Ponting is no a great motivator of men, no instinctive tactician, he is a good manager. Give him all the right pieces and he can put them together, scramble the pieces and he is all at sea.
Surely, though, that idea flows on to great captains with great bowlers. If all they need do is bring on the great bowler to get a wicket, they are merely good managers, too.
And what about the captain with a shit side? Steven Fleming is universally regarded as a good captain because he had the Kiwis playing competitive cricket with a limited list (and, occasionally, Shane Bond), while Allan Border took over the captaincy when Straya were rubbish and he molded them into a flint hard unit. (Although, he still couldn't win the Frank Worrell Trophy.)
My biggest knock on Ponting is that he doesn't look like a captain. He's always fidgeting, frowning, chairing meetings. I want my captain to look serenely confident, even in the most difficult of positions. But Ponting seems bogged down by process. He needs to let his instincts work.
Next time Crash rings me up for advice on what to write I will tell him that his statement needs to be redefined: "Great bowlers make successful captains."
Sliding seamlessly into this post, is this piece by Peter English encompassing Ponting, leadership and bowling:
Ricky Ponting, who has waved goodbye to his most difficult home summer, has demanded more consistency from his bowlers after yelling in frustration during his side's rain-assisted escape in the washed-out Chappell-Hadlee Series decider. In an outward display of emotion, Ponting was heard to bellow "what's going on?" after a sloppy James Hopes over that helped Martin Guptill and Brendon Diamanti push New Zealand within sight of victory.
Talk about grate bowlers making grate skippers. Last night the Strayan bowling was dreadful. While excuses can be made regarding the condition of the ball, which was almost instantly rendered lifeless in the wet out-field, the Aussie bowlers were slow to respond. In particular, Hilfenhaus kept aiming for middle-and-leg hoping the ball would work to off; and Bracken, over-correcting from his juicy full-tosses last week, kept giving the batsmen plenty of room to get under the ball.
Current batsmen don't spend all their time honing forward defensive shots and classical cover drives, they put in plenty of practice hitting hard though good length balls. For a batsman chasing runs in a short-form match, anything in the vicinity of what is historically "a good length" is fruit for the sight-screen, and all the other fixtures and fittings.
Ponting's visible angry reaction, borderline-understandable given the sheer weight of rubbish balls bowled, is comprehensively not what I want from an Aussie skipper. And the old "wears my heart on my sleeve" is no excuse.
You've got until Friday the 13th, tomorrow actually, so you better get cracking:
I thought I'd let you and readers of AGB know that we're running a comp for Aussie cricket fans giving peeps a chance to win a money-can't-buy trip around the globe. If you want to enter, you’ve got until Friday 13th to submit an entry for your chance to go on an epic 80 day cricket tour around the world - from Australia to Lord’s - with Johnnie Walker picking up the tab.
Simply upload a video clip or an image which clearly shows how you’d create a cricket match with anyone, anywhere. It could be a game you once played on your travels, or one that you’ve recently set up in a park, work-place or back-yard!
We’re looking for entries that tell a story, capture our imagination and demonstrate why you'd make the best ambassador to spread the word about one of the world’s great sports. Check out the following video for an example of how simple your entry can be.
Good luck! Please submit entries at localtolords. Love your blog, by the way!
Yesterday, when Feargal Sharkey* was morganed, I started musing on the technology. It is weird that on the SCG, in front of a large, waiting-to-pounce TV audience armed with slo-mo, snicko, hawko and hotto, a past-it umpire can make such an obvious mistake. (Even McCullum, so enthusiastic in his appeal against David Hussey in Perth, gave it the "How is... uurrrgg" squashed appeal.) Yet in the West Indies, Hill & Harper DO have the technology, but still fark it up.
For the record: when I first saw Powell's "dismissal" in normal speed I thought it was out, too. There seemed to be a noise and the balled appeared to take a slight downward deflection.
Nick Gammons expands on this, and poor umpiring in general:
The First Test between West Indies and England at Sabina Park witnessed many humilations, including England succumbing to their third lowest Test innings total of all time. Yet, the match should also be remembered for some of the worst Test umpiring ever seen, as the elite panel showed once again why it is the most inappropriately named unit in cricket.
And just what the hell is up with umpires and visas?* Was recently watching one of those Foxtel links in which players were asked "How did you get your nickname?" Ferguson replied "Feargal, after Feargal Sharkey... you know, the guy from The Undertones." Feargal was entirely expected, but The Undertones? You could have knocked me down with plumage. It's not often a cricketer cites a respectable music reference.
A nice pair:
The psychology of a collapse is interesting. It's entirely different on the inside to watching from the outside; you can see it from the faces of those involved, the too-wide grins in the dressing room, the way they all tend to sit together when it happens. A collapse has its own inward gravity.
One of the key sections of Fever Pitch, Nick Hornby's book on obsession and football, is about an Arsenal centre-back named Gus Caesar, a player so inept he became a cult hero to the Highbury regulars.
So, the summer's not going too well: rolled by the Varks in the Tests; rolled by the Varks in the one-dayers; rolled by the Flightless Ones in the Chadlee (although that will undoubtedly change now that we have been panicked out of our rotations and cut short Saviour Ponting's R&R); Hayden goes out with a whimper; Lee has stressies, can't bowl, anyway; Siddle is showing signs of stressies; Johnson will, too, if his workload isn't eased (although surely it's about time the pundits stopped raving about his brilliant summer - he's been ordinary since the Perth Test, and rubbish since his R&R); Clark has an elbow; Marsh a hammy; Watson is an injury; Sideshow Roy is an idiot; Haddin is a goose; the selectors are gooses; no spinner; Ponting can't captain; Katich and Clarke are brawling; Mike Hussey looks like an FTB; David Hussey, too; one hit Warner; Hilfenhaus going at six an over; Bracken has a girly head-band; dropped catches; run-outs; we look like losers; et cetera; et al; and so forth.
What's Haddin got for us today? Will he take the ball in front of the stumps? Throw his glove at the ball? Let the ball go through his legs to hit the helmet? Will he do something as mundane as, for Haddin, chuck his wicket away or drop a catch? Personally, just for the laughs, I hope he punches Michael Clarke, or a reporter. (Speaking of which: where's Jon Pierik? Has Rupert punched him?) And there's always Setanta.
My friend Slade calls it "piss and bad manners". Whenever blokes get fighty - and let's face it, Clarke has a stupid tattoo, so who wouldn't want to punch him in the face - you know there's booze involved:
AUSTRALIAN cricket plunged deeper into crisis with the revelation that vice-captain Michael Clarke and Simon Katich were embroiled in a physical altercation in the SCG dressingrooms after the Sydney Test last month.
Confession: Every time I hear an Aussie cricketer exult in hallowed tones about The Song, I cringe. Just like I do when I read stupid exaggerations like "plunged deeper into crisis."
Once upon a rendition, when David Boon (I think) led "the singing of The Song" after we won the Ashes in 1989, it was a spontaneous celebration. Not any more. Now, like AFL teams singing the club song for the TV cameras, it's a job. Like official autograph signings, press conferences, memorabilia... corporatism. There's even a Custodian Of The Song. Get stuffed.
The Squad, it is in:
- Ricky Ponting (capt)
- Michael Clarke
- Phillip Hughes
- Simon Katich
- Michael Hussey
- Andrew McDonald
- Brad Haddin (wk)
- Mitchell Johnson
- Peter Siddle
- Doug Bollinger
- Bryce McGain
- Ben Hilfenhaus
- Nathan Hauritz
- Marcus North.
Well, to be perfectly Frank and Earnest, a cricketers' night at the casino is not exactly a million layers of see-through away from a gentleman's club:
"Very inappropriate for the red carpet, It would have suited someone on holidays at a resort, or something to be worn at a gentleman's club."
Justice is swerved:
The ICC has decided to change the result of the controversial 2006 Oval Test between England and Pakistan from a draw to an English victory, reversing an earlier decision made last July. The ICC had then altered the result of the match from an England win - by virtue of a forfeit from Pakistan - to a draw. However, at its meeting this weekend in Perth, the ICC board agreed to act upon the MCC's recommendation that the original outcome of the match should stand.
"After reconsideration of the matter, which included consideration of legal advice and input from the MCC, the custodians of the laws of cricket, the board decided that the original umpires' decision to award the match to England, should apply," an ICC release said. "I'm gratified the board reached the conclusion it did as this ensures the integrity of the game and the laws of cricket have been upheld," the ICC chief executive Haroon Lorgat said. "I am especially grateful to the PCB for its understanding in this matter."
Looks like Darrell Hair is not anticipating an apology:
DARRELL Hair has accused senior world cricket officials of trying to destroy his life as the game's great ball tampering scandal lingers.
"They tried to destroy my life," Hair said last night.
"After the ICC made the decision (to ban him) several ICC officials set out to make a real meal of it and make life very tough for me.
"I know for a fact that several senior ICC officials, when they saw the ball, agreed with my thoughts that it had been scratched. Yet some of those people, when the board made their decision, set out to get me.
"I felt the gun was loaded by the ICC board, and (cricket manager) Dave Richardson and (chief executive) Malcolm Speed were only too happy to pull the trigger.
"People who were sitting on the ICC board when they initially changed the decision (to call the match a draw) should stand down or be sacked.
"There was a lot of support for me from around the world but unfortunately none of the people who worked at the ICC were among them. I am dirty on the fact that none of the people who worked there backed me up.
"There is no doubt at all the ball was scratched. Yet a match referee (Ranjun Madugalle) who wasn't at the game at the time, held a meeting five weeks later and arrived at a ruling he had no right to find."
Madugalle found that "on the balance of probability" the ball had not been tampered with.
Plenty of recent commentary about how Straya have been granted a chance recover lost form in the Chadlees against the hapless Vettoris... which means one thing: we are going down. And if, by chance, we do win the Chadlees, we can then only lay claim to being a WBP FTB.
Aaron Bird, the New South Wales fast bowler, has been reported for a suspect action for the second time in three seasons and faces a minimum three-month suspension if it is illegal. Bird is capable of bowling in the high 140kph range and is the leading wicket-taker in both the Twenty20 and one-day competitions this season.
Yeah, no, just kidding.
Excellent extended thougts on team selection:
Extended thougts on team selection
Previewing the forthcoming series can wait for the moment, not least because the Australian side is so stricken by poor form, injuries and general malaise that it is almost impossible to predict who will make the touring party, let alone the result.