Monthly Archives: March 2011

So long, and thanks for all the runs (and wins) …

Ian “dial a quote … it was better in my day … can’t handle district cricket” Chappell will be pleased!!  Now I’m waiting for his inevitable comments about how wrong it is for him to play on.  I’m not sure if sportsbook are offering odds, but pretty sure the anti-Clarke stuff won’t take too long to flow from Chappelli’s unshuttable pie-hole.

When did Ian Chappell become the greatest ever skipper Australia has ever had?  He only won 50% of his tests as Captain – with Lilly, Thompson, Marsh, Greg (and all the others) at his disposal, and he himself only averaged in the very low 40s.  When he was out of the Aussie side (“retired”/on strike) he played for North Melbourne Cricket Club for half a season in the Melbourne District (now Premier) competition … he averaged less than 20, didn’t play Shield, but still got selected immediately for Australia in WSC.  And can anyone really explain his amazing innovative inspirational captaincy?  “Oh – I’ve got Lilly/Thompson steaming in … perhaps I should put in an extra slip” – wowee, super captaincy that … really amazing, inspired and innovative stuff! 

But I’m not going to go on about Ian Chappell too much – he’s done something I could only every do in my dreams – punch Ian Botham – and you’ve got to respect that.

He’s not the only jerk when it comes to Ponting in the press either.  At least he isn’t a complete hypocrite … Mr Peter Roebuck … COME ON DOWN … it was actually quite laughable to read his article on the disposed skipper today – suggesting it was the fickle public and press who had forgotten his brilliance over the past 6 months while going through a lean trot.  Seriously?   Mate, do you even read the drivel you come out with on a daily basis, or do you just get the intern to tap some stuff out?

Enough with the traditional press and their hypocrisy.

Justin Langer has been quoted recently as saying “Ponting is quite inspirational as a leader and I just never get all the detractors he has. Whether it’s in the fielding practice, the nets, the way he holds himself off the field—every time he speaks, these young guys just listen, they hang on every word he says.” 

Justin is well-known for his over the top platitudes.

But Alan Border isn’t.

He said “[t]he beauty of Ricky Ponting is what you see is what you get … there is no real hidden agenda … He wears his heart on his sleeve …It takes three ingredients to make a great player: determination, courage and skill, and he’s got all three in abundance.”

Good enough for me!

There have been a lot of comparisons to the “Tendulkar” experience and the hope that now Punter will experience a revival.  I hope he does.  I hope he scores another 30 tons and dominates.  But his situation is nothing like Sachin’s.  Sachin is probably the best batsman I have ever seen.  He is also one of the most selfish cricketers I have ever seen.  He makes Jacques Kallis look like a boy scout.  He was a terrible captain, absolutely terrible.  His batting suffered significantly, and was only a skipper for a very short time.  Ponting has had 7 and 9 years respectively, and has still kept pretty close to his best over that period – not his absolute best all the time, but pretty consistent – and at a pretty consistently high level.  A very different situation to Tendulkar.  I know these comments will not be popular with the deity mythology that surrounds Sachin – but I would be happy to hear any coherent argument to the contrary.

I should have a problem with Ricky Ponting – it was his ascension to Australian team that made me finally realise that I would never play for my country, and that hurt – but I don’t have a problem.  I hope he plays for a couple more years, and leaves England with a ton at the Oval and a series win.

I don’t think Ricky Ponting has been the best skipper ever to hold that position for Australia.  But he certainly isn’t the worst (that may just be about to happen). 

A lot has been said about Ricky having it easy because he had Warne, McGrath, Gilchrest, Langer, Hayden etc. 

But did he? 

The last of those great players retired over 4 years ago. 

Ricky has been test skipper for 7 years and one-day skipper for 9 – so for more than half of his test captaincy and almost half of his one-day leadership, he was without those stars – something that cannot be said for his supposedly superior predecessors (and this is certainly not a dig at two blokes I idolised as a kid, just a comment on the somewhat unreasonable and unfair expectations and blatant twenty:twenty hindsight sentimentality that he has been lumped with). 

If you look at the raw numbers, and yes stats can lie, but the raw numbers tell us he was a superior batsman to Waugh and Taylor, and a superior skipper. 

The man hadn’t captained a losing World Cup side until just over a week ago.  He lifted two Cups as skipper (and another as a player), a Champions Trophy, led a 5-0 revenge thumping of England, led the team to 16 test victories in a row, and he stuck up for Andrew Symonds when Baiji went ferrel (this actually means a hell of a lot, as – admittedly from afar – it would appear that the loss of support from his mate Clarke (as well as Cricket Australia – something I am still disgusted about and should serve to seriously taint Jimmy Sutherland’s “legacy”) was one of the biggest contributing factors to Symonds completely falling off the wagon).

Punter had a greater test (and one-day) winning percentage than both Waugh and Taylor, and over the past 4 years, he was lumped with some pretty ordinary players by a very random bunch of selections.  Yet the guy fought, he gave it his all for his team and teammates at all times, which he never publically complained about.

He wore his heart on his sleeve, and sometimes stepped over the mark (e.g., the Aleem Dar incident in Melbourne, NOT that bollocks press-led “box throwing” incident recently). 

He played hurt, and always (despite what most press and people from other countries seem to think) spoke positively of his opponents in public – in defeat and victory.  He was brilliant a couple of years ago in England when he was roundly booed by packed stadiums almost non-stop.  He laughed it off.  Almost anyone else from any other team (Murili excepted) would struggle with that, and potentially “kick off” …

Not Punter. 

He just wanted to win.

Mostly he did.

And THAT is so very Australian, and what I love about him (and his pull and cut and cover drive …)

So long Captain Punter – it was an up and down relationship – but I loved it.

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World Cup and a rant ..

I haven’t written much since the Ashes series.

The one-day series in Australia didn’t excite me at all. 

This world cup has not excited me – and why would it?  It has been set up so that the top 8 teams are all but guaranteed of making the knock-out stages.  What was the point of the first 6 matches?  Not a lot as far as I can tell.  England did their best to make it exciting – although in all fairness to Ireland and Bangladesh, those boys pulled some simply phenomenal performances out … but at the end of the day, guess what, the top 8 qualify, and the TV rights are safe.

I am also no Ricky Ponting apologist.  I have continually read that he has been the Australian skipper for 9 year.  It doesn’t seem that long to me – but that may be because I still consider the test arena to be the be all …

I recently watched (under duress) Halle Barry’s Catwoman movie … half-way through Halle get’s “cat powers” from a magical cat.  Upon seeing the scene I remarked – “That is the WORST creation of superpowers EVER!” – and so far, the same applies to this world cup.  The worst confirmation of cricketing poweress ever … it was exciting in 2007 when Ireland knocked out Pakistan.  Imagine the scenes in the UK if Ireland’s victory this time around had done the same to England?  That win deserved to be rewarded, but it wasn’t.  Solely due to the TV rights and surrounding issues.

I love that the “minnows” are in the tournament, and the difference that they can make.  But with this set up, even a major amazing performance was not going to change the quarter finals.  All the big sides realised from the start that they had 8 warm up games, then 3 knock-out finals … and the best (or perhaps luckiest on the day) side would win the World Cup.

But that is not my main gripe with this World Cup.

Not even close – it was my initial gripe, but that was forgotten before it even started.

My biggest gripe is two-fold … it is the beatification of Sachin Tendulkar and the absolute be-deviling (sorry I don’t know the appropriate opposite of beatification) of Ricky Ponting – this includes the non-stop press efforts (in Australian and the UK) to destabilise and get rid of him, the Indian Cricket Boards attempt at getting him suspended, and the “courageous” CA Board member who secretly released information suggesting that Ricky’s days as Captain are over.

The case for Ricky was put much more eloquently than I could every try by Greg Baum a couple of days ago in The Age (http://www.theage.com.au/sport/cricket/not-the-messiah-hes-a-very-naughty-boy-20110317-1byxx.html) – unfortunately some of the comments didn’t understand the point that Mr Baum was making.  So I am going to try in a much more simple way.

Ricky Ponting is an out and out champion.  He is not the best captain I have seen play for Australia … he is not even the best captain I have played under – but he is the best bloke for the job in that team right now. 

The CA “mole” has really upset me for a number of reasons – firstly, that it was right that we should get rid of Ponting for Clarke so that “we can get the younger market, which is really important to the CA” … seriously?  I mean SERIOUSLY??  Clarke couldn’t skipper his way out of the fkn (sorry mum) harbour on a chartered yacht  And yet, he makes a few scores, gets through against a side that turned  up to play test cricket and didn’t give a toss about the one-day series, and lost the unloseable match against Sri Lanka is apparently the guy we should turn to.  Obviously his completely inept attempt with the test team has already been forgotten.

Oh … oh – let’s not forget – he has tats, he is popular with the “celebrity” ladies … clearly that is what will take the cricket world forward in Australia.  For goodness sake – I am thinking of proposing a show to ITV2 of Katie Price and Clarke getting together in Sydney nightspots…

Then there was the “box into the TV” incident.  In short, anyone who is criticising Ricky for “piffing” his box with an enormous amount of force towards his bag after being run out clearly hasn’t played cricket at ANY level, let alone for their country.  I played some reasonably serious cricket as a younger man, and then less serious as I got older.  I am a reasonable person most of the time, and in normal circumstances, am reasonably hard to rile up.  But EVERY SINGLE TIME I was out, I was pretty ropable.  Sometimes more than others, but smashing a box at a bag was probably the least of my sins. 

This bloke is the top cricketer in the nation.  He is (probably) the best cricketer for Australia of all time (apart, arguably, than Bradman) and he gets run out in a World Cup match, when he is fighting back from a pretty horrific (from a cricketer’s perspective due to its effect) injury … and he cracks the “sads”. 

So fkn (sorry mum again) what!!

In all honesty I prefer that he actually cares – even against Zimbabwe!

Most of that story eventuated from the Indian press … like lemmings the Australians followed.  There was talk of “proof that he smashed the TV with his bat” … nothing was ever made of this – why not?  And yet, this was what Ricky was called to account on in the MEDIA … in reality he did some minor damage to a TV, apologised immediately and paid for the repairs … but oh no, we have a Ricky out of control …

It gets worse … heaven forbid a bloke under the ball who has called for the catch, and then still manages to make the catch despite being pummelled into by the “shows heaps of talent, but hasn’t done anything, and wouldn’t be in the side if he was from Victoria at this point” kid tries to take an AFL style “speckie” – despite the repeated call by the bloke under it.  If I was Ricky, having taken that catch I would have reacted similarly.  If I was the skipper of a side (which I was for more than a decade) and saw a young “Turk” spoil an easy out with that tomfoolery – you wouldn’t want to know what I would have said to them … so a throw to the ground then move to celebrate …  he’s a better man than I!

Finally – so far in terms of the Ricky disgust – he didn’t walk when he knicked one … yeah … and?  There has been a lot of chat about his apparent “hypocrisy” for his blow up in Melbourne … the issue there was that Pieterson said he hit it, “hot spot” said there was a touch (after many hours of watching it became apparent to the Sky Commentary boys that it was pad that caused that) … HOWEVER, they thought they had him, KP was blowing steam as he does, and the big screen showed a nick … would you not be a little upset in such circumstances?  His behaviour was not acceptable, but in my opinion understandable.  He was told, and saw on the scoreboard that KP had hit it, and was annoyed that the video rep had determined otherwise.

But anyway – he hit it, he waited for the Umpire to make the call.  The umpire said not out. The Pakistani team called for a review, and he was given.  All good.  Ponting has had some pretty bad umpire calls in the past (bollocks LBW on debut when on 96, caught behind against Sri Lanka when his position was in question), as well as some good ones – so why not wait for the decision?  I am a walker, but I am not playing for my livelihood, for my country.  I have no problem with someone in that position waiting for a decision.

However try to tell that to the English or the Indians … or as it would appear the Australian public – which actually disgusts me.

Conversely – look at the “sainthood” that is being bestowed on Sachin for walking in a match that didn’t matter … I think he is the best talent and most amazing batsman that I have ever seen play the game – but I have seen him sit tight on a number of occasions when he was out.  I have seen him make up testimony (and that is based on his earlier testimony about the event) relating to the scumbad “badgi” when he racial abused Andrew Symonds.  I have seen him have hissy fits that are now apparently only undertaken by Ponting … that would be the same tour where the BCCI threatened to pull out of if they weren’t forgiven, and ultimately completely fkd (sorry 3rd time mum) up Andrew Symonds …

Tendulkar is an amazing batsman.  He has undergone amazing amounts of pressure from his homeland and fans.  He is not a Saint, and he is not any different from Ponting in his desire to win and his desire to do well.

In short, I hope the Aussie team smash India, with Ponting scoring a ton and the CA bloke gets outsted … reality suggests that India will get over the line, Ricky will (after a “proper and fair” review) be quietly sidelined from the side … and we will start focusing on the T20 SHITE to get the “younger” market …

As a complete aside – what is Ian Chappel’s problem … (yeah I know there are heaps) with Afridi?

And finally – thank goodness the real stuff has come back – let’s go you good thing Pies (and a shout out to Mark Webber this weekend)!!

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