As I have come to the end of my first test match write-up, I guess I have to do the player rankings thing … but that is just a little boring to be honest – although potentially comment provoking (although if I really wanted to provoke comments, I would just say something nasty about Sachin Tendulkar), so I don’t think I’ll do it.
Let me put it this way, Australia were bad (although, maybe only bad by international standard and maybe they are playing as well as they could) – Hussey probably their best player, although loses points for his dropped catch – but then gains some back for offering to open due to Katich’s injury. Katich deserves an honourable mention as well, denied a chance in the first innings due to a selfish run-out, and batted admirably with a torn achilles in the second. Ponting will cop some flack for his performance, but to be honest, he got two very good balls – although he didn’t skipper particularly well (hard to when England plays that well), and although Clarke started to redeem himself on day 4, losing his wicket in final over (followed by “sorry-gate”) drops him back down to a fail. Harris and Siddle (in spells) bowled reasonably well, even in an innings of 5/620 at 4.07 an over. Any other player is a fail.
There is a lot of bitter disappointment flowing from most Aussies and Aussie supporters, and I can understand a lot of it, but really we should take a step back and recognise how fantastically England played since the third day in Brisbane. I can’t really remember much talk about England being rubbish rather than Australia being great in the 06/07 series, so I think we should just suck it up, and acknowledge that England have played very well, and are very quickly becoming a good side. Their series against India at home next year will be very interesting. You could argue that Finn needs more consistency, and that Strauss had a pretty poor match, but otherwise the whole team rated highly. Cricket is, has always been and always will be about three things: batting, bowling and fielding. England did them all better, much better.
The only negative for England coming out of this game was the loss of Broad, but they have a pretty reasonably stable with them, who all will get a trial run in Melbourne this weekend – and in any case, according to the press over here, any of them would walk into the Australian side.
The highlight for the match by a VERY long way however was a story I read online in The Age today, it was handbags at twenty paces in the member’s car park at Adelaide Oval yesterday …
However, the question that really interests me now is what will the Australian selectors do for Perth? Will they play it safe? Will they be predictable? Will they risk a suspension for Ponting for over rates by picking the four best bowlers to play? (For the record, both teams’ over rates this series have been absolutely appalling) … Will they pick a spinner? If they do, will they revert to Hauritz, who bowled very well in Perth recently, but that means the selectors tacitly admitting a mistake in Doherty. Will they pick Smith (a guy averaging over 70 per wicket this year) as the future and because England can’t play leg spin (and of course Pieterson can’t play left-arm orthodox either)? Will they chuck Hughes back in at the top on the bounciest wicket in the country where England will try to again expose his weakness to the shorter ball that cramps him? Will Ferguson get a run in the middle order? Will Johnson come back in? Has North finally done enough to lose his spot? Will they give Cam White a look in? I know what I would do – but I’ll put out my proposed team later. What do you think?
A big PS …
In a complete change of direction, and having very little to do with cricket, as I was falling asleep after the cricket last night, I was listening to a live interview being carried out on the radio that made me more than a little homesick. A guy was interview a typical happy-go-lucky country boy who lives in North Wagga, and whose house is currently under about 6 feet of water. As the BBC journo spoke gravely about the horror of the situation, this knock-about guy just laughed it up – happy that the rain would ease some of the problems of the draught, thought that he was pretty lucky because “the Council, the Army and other volunteer services” had been great in letting them know in advance to get out – so he had managed to save his valuable “stuff” – pictures of the pool room from the Castle sprang to mind. He said that the whole community was coming together and really looking after each other, which was great. He thought it was great that his two young kids thought they were on a great adventure, and was happy to be staying with his mother-in-law, because she wasn’t like normal mother-in-laws, she was good value. Then, while the Beeb gent tried to sign off with sincerity and appropriate British seriousness at the situation, the bloke very genuinely thanked the reporter for his concern, congratulated him on the cricket – but thought the boys would “no-doubt fight back” and then in the clincher signed off with the following:
“All right mate then thanks again, hoo-roo.”
Sometimes you just have to sit back and remind yourself just how great the Aussie people are – this bloke’s attitude really reminded me of a couple of years ago, when the fires took out our place, and most of my home town. I flew back into Oz not knowing what to expect, who was gone, what (if anything) was left, at the utter devastation of the landscape and properties. What really struck me then was the general attitude of everyone in and around my town, the caring, the helping, the friendliness, the mateship and just generally all the things that make Aussies welcome pretty much all over the world.
So, I guess what I am saying is, we may have lost the cricket (badly), but we are still a bloody good place to come from – and that bloke from North Wagga helped me go to sleep with a smile.