Record chase – ho hum …

This one-day series is like the winter over here – never [insert your favourite expletive here] ending! 

It was snowing again this morning.  Not the fun snow which gently floats, tenderly caressing you on its way to the ground, where it will sit and slowly build up so that sledging, snowmen and snow-fights can occur.  No, this was that rubbish kind.  The kind that switches from wet slush to hard icicles of death, and is accompanied by a 100 km/h wind.  That smashes into your face, and completely drenches you in moments.  I have a black eye just from trying to catch the bus this morning!

Then the sun came out.

This is how this one-day series is … the series is the violent, nasty snow and the sun is the end, or the World Cup, or the series in Sri Lanka in August, whichever you are more excited about.

Every man and his dog knows that a seven match series is AT THE VERY LEAST 2 matches, and probably 4 matches, too many.  England are tired, probably homesick, and they barely have enough fit men to take the field 3 months after landing on the Australian shores.  Their goal was to take the Ashes, these are just warm up games for the World Cup – the majority of this England one-day outfit won’t even be going to India!

I was over of this series pretty early on, and not much has changed.  I suppose that a run chase like that one should be positively recognised, and it was a good effort by the Australians (even if England were actually a bowler down), and a shame for Trott who batted extremely well.  But the match as an overall spectacle was boring.  Just because it was close IN THE END, doesn’t make the entire match a good one.

Someone called me last night, and mentioned that it was typical of Clarke that he would score runs when it didn’t matter and that he should still be dropped, and I readily agreed.  But I was wrong – not that he should be dropped as skipper never to return, I’m right about that – but about the match not mattering.  It matters.  When you play for Australia, in fact when you play ANY competitive sport, it ALWAY matters.  It is just that there are too many matches in this series.  But kudos to Clarke for seemingly coming out of his batting funk with 130-odd over his last 2 innings – although a little strange (and lucky) seeing him gamble with Johnno at 4!

However, as usual when Clarke is in charge, too much time was taken unnecessarily changing the field and chasing the last shot – it will be nice to see a bloke who actually knows what he is doing take the lead in the final dead dead rubber.

The match overran by over an hour … an HOUR … and the pitch was docile.

And yes I am a bit bitter about all of this (I must be as I’m not even going to comment on Watson yet again hitting 50 and going out – oh well, too late), the selectors and team have let me down.  They are capable of playing good cricket – but more often than not don’t.  They are more worried about their hair and make up than standing up and delivering.

Another explanation for this sudden outpouring of bitterness towards this side (apart from Clarke, Watson and others) was the show I saw last night.  Chasing the trophy 2007 – it was a nice piece about the 2007 World Cup – it showed that 300 kg policeman taking the wonder catch against India, it showed Ireland beating Pakistan, I say the Sri Lankans play aggressive, fun and exciting cricket and it showed one of the best one-day outfits systematically take apart and destroy each and every opponent time and time again.  Bowling South Africa out for 150 in the semi final a particular highlight.  (it also reminded me of the absolutely ridiculous finish to the tournament with Andrew Symonds bowling in the dark – which also made me wonder what the hell Clarke actually did to him a couple of years ago in Darwin). 

That side was a delight to watch – they attacked, they kept things happening, they were ahead of the game.  That side had Watson and Clarke in it, and I didn’t hate them.

This side plays like it is scared, five on the boundary from the earliest possible opportunity, allowing easy singles – and not really looking to attack.  This side will still win more than it loses, and a couple of good matches at the right time could see it win a fourth title in a row (although unlikely), but the game itself is not played in an interesting manner.  And with the structure of the tournament such that essentially the first 3 weeks will produce a lot of pointless, dull matches, one day cricket is in danger, perhaps even in peril. 

People talk about T20 being the answer – it isn’t – that is simply a slog fest for sponsors and people with little time to spare.  ODI’s don’t need to be like T20 matches to be good, they need to be played in the way that the Australian and Sri Lankan teams (in particular) of the2007 World Cup played.

Good luck to Cam White and his band of merry youngsters in the final match – my pre-series £10 on a 6-1 Australian result is in your hands!

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