Monthly Archives: December 2011

Selectors vindicated, Clarke’s position in doubt for Sydney

Headlines I would have liked to have seen this morning.

It really is about time that some questions are asked about the skipper’s performance – which apart from 3 or 4 innings in the past couple of years has been below par, never stood up when Australia really needed it, and not the type of performances that are required of the captain on a regular basis.

This won’t happen.

Instead, we will continue to focus on the missed umpiring decisions.

Going to be an interesting day today – I have a feeling that the day will finish up with India one up in the series, but hopefully Sids and Patterson get the rewards they deserved in the first innings, and no stupid catches go down again.

Short and sweet!

Rusty

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First, don’t bowl no-balls.  It can’t be out if you bowl a no-ball.  It used to really annoy me when Lee kept doing that, so it annoys me when my boy Siddle does it as well.  But props for hitting 150+ kph late in the day!

Second, although it does seem a little hypocritical for a review of a decision, albeit one referred by the umpire, to save an India wicket given their resolute position on DRS.  That said, they similarly referred the ball that got Haddin (although this was deemed to be a legitimate ball) so there can’t be any complaints of bias in that respect.

What I will say about that kind of referral though, is that if a bowler is creeping close to the line, or potentially over it, it would be better for the umpire to mention this to the bowler when it happens, not to wait for a wicket and then get video double-check.  I don’t have access to the nine footage, but if Siddle had been close or just over the line for a few balls, but the only one checked by the umpire was the wicket ball without having said anything to Siddle beforehand, that would be pretty poor.  It’s what happened to Michael Beer last year, he was bowling no-balls for about 3 overs, but was only called on it, by referral by the umpire, on the ball that would have given him his first test wicket.

Thirdly, I am troubled by many of the comments I am reading on the news sites – admittedly it is the Herald-Sun, but still.  “You Aussies” this, “payback” that, DRS didn’t work last time, “typical Australian whingers wanting to take their bat and ball and go home …”  There area  plethora of these types of comments, some quite disturbing.

I am troubled because a lot of these comments are originating from Australia, so why the huge anti-Australian feeling?

I am troubled because there was patently no DRS system in place the last time India toured (and if it had been the BCCI probably would have vetoed it anyway), so these idiotic comments are both ill informed, wrong and often get dangerously close to going down that woeful path orchestrated by Singh and Tendulkar.

I am troubled because the last time India copped a couple of poor decisions, there was such an uproar, and so much pressure placed on the ICC by the BCCI that an umpire was stood down for the next test, and his long and distinguished career ended in a whimper soon after.

I am troubled because the only team (in my lifetime) that has thrown away their toys, and wanted to take their bat and ball home, is India.

I am going to stop reading comments on the Herald-Sun!

On another note – how about that Ed Cowan, getting so excitable and “into” the fielding drills and warm ups before the days play, he ends up spending half the day on the physio’s table rather than on the field because he threw out his back!!

In terms of the cricket, surely that drop will finally be the end for Hads – it was a real easy take, which he tried to make look much harder than it was (mainly through a complete lack of footwork) and still drop it.

Sehwag was great as usual – how good was that over when he seemed to just get bored of Lyon so he smashed two amazing straight drive/slog boundaries, then almost broke David Warner going for a third!  Great stuff.

I went to bed at tea, so missed the majority of Tendulkar – all I saw was that he almost got out to Hussey just before tea – from the reports, that wasn’t a fair reflection of another great innings from … him.

I thought Hilf looked real good early, but pretty average later on.

India have a pretty long batting line-up, so it is going to take a big effort from the bowlers today to keep the match on an even keel – India in front at the moment – but not by too much.

Rusty

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Ed Cowan, welcome …

Unfortunately I didn’t make it through to the most controversial part of the game yesterday.  I made it through the rain delays, the determined slow scoring, the hard running and exciting post-lunch partnership.  But by 4am, with Ponting on 60 and Cowan on 52, I was spent.  It had been a long Christmas day (a very good one) and I needed some shut eye.  I was happy that Ponting was moving his feet and was working the ball nicely and Cowan  looked solid.

When I fell asleep I thought I was going to write something about Marsh potentially being the next Marcus North.  An all or nothing journeyman, starting his test career a little later with a good, but not great, first-class record, whose start to his test career was quite spectacular, but ultimately wasn’t what the team needed (early call I know, but it was what I was thinking at 4 in the morning).

Instead, I woke up to a text from a mate at the game  – “D.R.S! You only don’t want it if you’re a cheating *&^%.”

Whaaaat??

A quick check of the scores showed 6/277, which I thought would have been pretty acceptable at the start of the day.  I was disappointed to see that Punter and Cowan had succumbed soon after I fell asleep but no hint of controversy in the scorecard.

One thing I had noticed when I was watching was that there had been some pretty ridiculous appeals, the kind of which had been reducing in number over the past few years – probably due to DRS .

The kind of appeal that in the past Australia had been criticised for by many, particularly Indian cricket fans/writers.

I mentioned during the Hobart test that I had some concerns with the Hawkeye tracking technology, as it appeared to not track the ball completely accurately – so I can’t get too sanctimonious about the refusal by the BCCI to agree to it use it now – although I do think that they have made the wrong decision.

Ed Cowan and Mike Hussey probably think it was at the very least.

I feel for Hussey, it’s a bad decision that could cause the end of his test career, or possibly not.  I hope it isn’t, but if it is, it will not be the first time that a poor decision has led to a batsman being in trouble, and not the first time that the “rub of the green” has gone against someone who needs a little luck the most (I would argue that Ponting has received his fair share of bad luck over the past couple of years).  It’s also not just this innings that has caused the pressure on the Huss.

Ed Cowan will undoubtedly be bitterly disappointed that his gutsy, determined and at times gorgeous first innings in test cricket wasn’t rewarded with a ton.  Again he is not the first bloke to have been struck down by a bad decision.  I remember having a teenage hissy fit when Ponting was given out LBW in his debut test for 96 in Perth to a ball that was going to go abotu 3 foot over the stumps.

What I was really impressed with was Ed’s attitude when asked about it by the press.  “You’ve seen the replays, you’ve seen my reaction, you can draw your own conclusions.”  I’m not sure if this will cause him to be hauled up for “dissing” an umpires decision or something like that, but it was blunt and honest and without cliché or unnecessary platitudes – I liked it.

I also liked that he went on to say that there were swings and roundabouts an it would even itself out – good attitude that bloke!  It looks like  his book which comes out next week will be worth a look too – the preview is interesting.

On the other side of the coin, by all accounts, DRS could have saved another Aussie player who has been looking shaky – Haddin.  Perhaps a review might have led to his LBW being overturned and have left Australia with 7 (or 8 or 9) in the shed.

Incorrect decisions happen.

They can change careers, matches and series (’05 Ashes?).  They are part of the game.

But the umpires are also mostly correct and do a good job.

It will be interesting to see what happens when the Aussies bowl – but the most disappointing thing for me over the lack of DRS has been the increase in appeals when it is clearly not out.

Oh, and how about my boy Siddle? 🙂

And a shout out to Paul Rifle for making it to the international umpires panel.

Still plenty in this match, I would like to see the Australians get to 350+, before Sehwag and the others (try to) cut loose.

Rusty

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Christmas, a time of giving but not humour apparently …

Tonight in the UK, Jonathan Ross’s Christmas Special TV programme airs on ITV.  I’m not a huge fan of Ross, or his TV shows – but something that is not being shown tonight has caught my interest.

Tim Minchin, the weird clever singing comedy guy (no not Bill Bailey, the Australian one) was asked to write and sing a song for the show.  The song was put through all the proper procedures – you know the legals, production, editing etc.  And then, for reasons only publically described as “editorial”, ITV’s Director of Television, Peter Fincham decided to pull it.

Thankfully, in the day of youtube and the internet, the recording is available anyway – and presumably now will receive a much greater  audience that it would have if it had remained in the show.  I for one, am unlikely to have seen it!

One can only assume it is because it would be offensive to “Christians”.

I would love for someone, anyone, to explain to me how this hilarious spoof song is offensive.  I have watched it twice now, and am still  laughing, and have the tune stuck in my head.

Tim Minchin has said in his blog that the song was cut from the shpw because “[Fincham] did this because he’s scared of the ranty, shit-stirring, right-wing press, and of the small minority of Brits who believe they have a right to go through life protected from anything that challenges them in any way.”

Seems about right to me!

Please watch it here and let me know why this would be cut.

Also, feel free to let ITV know what a bunch of simpletons and imbeciles they are being for having pulled this by emailing them at viewerservices@itv.com.

To me at least, something much more offensive than this clever song was watching my son’s primary school Christmas production this week.  I was only mildly offended, but offended nonetheless by the non-stop barrage of the “baby Jesus, King and saviour” Christian mythology, along with the “devote yourself to him” guff that was being rammed down the audiences throat (and therefore presumably the kids’ throats at school – no wonder I’ve been getting so many theological questions of late).

Each to their own and all that, but I was very disappointed with the force-feeding of an imaginary friend to the kids – it’s just plain dishonest, and somewhat disingenuous considering the number of children with other faiths at the school (as well as the agnostics and atheists).  I guess my point is that I left the performance having endured an hour of preachy rubbish, feeling mildly pissed off and disappointed.

Minchin probably covered this best when he said “It’s 2011. The appropriate reaction to people who think Jesus is a supernatural being is mild embarrassment, sighing tolerance and patient education.”  Something I will take on board!

I am not anti-Christmas, I think it is a great time to appreciate family and friends, to have a few days off, to over-indulge and enjoy life and your relationships.  I also really love the gift giving thing too (cliché I know, but there is something really cool about giving someone you care about something that they really like and making them smile).  I think we can all appreciate this kind of thing without needing to get too precious about the religious side of things.

Best to all for a fantastic Christmas/Chunukah/Festive/Holiday period (and here’s to a great Boxing Day – bring on the sun Melbourne!!).

Rusty

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Katich?

The Krab, into this team, at the urging of Michael Clarke?

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Have I woken up in some sort of alternative universe?

Will replacing a 23 year old with another 36 year old be acceptable to the media (am currently watching Kallis make batting look easy on a difficult pitch where all others are struggling – so hopefully, but given the non-stop furore about Ponting/Hussey)?

What about Ed Cowan?

Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think the Krab should have had his contract cancelled/not renewed, I’m just not sure whether bringing him back right now is the best idea.  Besides that Katich or Clarke are going to be saying “I told you so”, how would his reinstatement help long term?

Instead of pussy-footing around, how about we actually start building the test team for the future for real.

Do what they did in the 80s, pick a couple of youngsters (who have a reasonably solid technique) with potential (so not you Steve Smith or Phil Hughes for example … be prepared to look further than just NSW), give them 5-10 tests, train them HARD, get their fielding up to be the best in the world and give them a chance.  I’m talking about the beginnings or Marsh, Boon (the little cupcake) and S Waugh.

Stop-gap isn’t working.

Aussies can take losing, as long as there is potential – losing when your supposed key players are absolute shite and don’t seem to give a toss (Clarke, Hussey, Haddin in particular) is not something that sits well.

So get rid of Hussey and Haddin … and Ponting (although as I have written before, I would give him the summer, and even then would struggle to push,  but I guess that’s why I’m not a selector).

Hughes goes as well.

Cowen should get a run (with Warner).

Watson, even though he is not going to bowl in Melbourne, should drop down the order.  I would be tempted to bat him at 3 in Melbourne, and potentially to stay there.  Watto is no Jacques Kallis (although I dislike them both equally), he doesn’t bowl as much, nor does he bat as much.  Kallis has played 146 matches opening or bowling first change and batting at 4.  3 isn’t out of the question for Watto, plus it keeps him closer to the newer ball, and further away from spin.

I’ve said many times that Clarke shouldn’t be in the side, but he is and I will have to learn to live with that, so I guess he should be at 4.  It means he can stop “hiding” at 5, and also gives me a chance to see him get dropped – check out his record at 4!

5 and 6 are a bit tougher.  Perhaps Khawaja could get a run down here?  I’m not convinced that he is test quality, but he shouldn’t be at 3, that is for sure.  Maybe he could do a bit better down the order.  S Waugh, R Ponting and A Border all started down there.

Dan Christian seems to be the guy with the chat for 6 – not sure if there is anyone else crying out for selection, scoring runs and runs and runs, hand up, PICK ME PICK ME … oh yeah, big bash time isn’t it?

I would actually like to see Cam White batting at 6, as he should be the Australian test skipper, but that is not going to happen.  He is better tactically than Clarke, he has more experience and a huge amount of success as skipper.  And if the team is going to keep a mediocre performing captain in the side (regardless of anything else, his performances as a whole have not been great), then you may as well have a decent skipper in the side!

I suppose Ponting could bat at 5 or 6, keeps a kick arse fielder in the side, and keeps my desire for him to be in the team satiated.

Tim Payne has got to be one of the unluckiest blokes going around.  His (further) injury shouldn’t be seen as a reprieve for Hadden, it should be seen as a chance for Wade.

The bowlers are sort of selecting themselves at the moment – when they aren’t off injuring themselves through lack of time in the nets (take that Billy!).  I would persevere with Starc, keep him in the squad anyway – better to work within the team than act as a 4 over bowling machine next few wee couple of months.  Harris probably has earned his place again (although I am not entirely convinced given his complete lack of match time), but with his history of injuries, I can’t see him as a long term member of the side.  Siddle obviously gets a run, as does Pattinson and Lyon.

So, the Krab may be back … I like the Krab, he is actually a pretty decent bloke as well, and in many ways I would love to see him creeping around the crease, paddling the ball behind square for 2 on boxing day.

But it’s time for the team to move on – to move on properly.

Merry Christmas all!

Rusty

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Who else goes?

What a day – hard to say if Australia were terrible or New Zealand that good.  But they are now on a par with South Africa!!

So, Punter is gone then.

At least that is the headlines are saying in all the Australian papers this morning.

I noticed that there wasn’t much of a mention of Hussey, Khawaja, Haddin or Clarke.

Hughes going back to Shield cricket is a given (or the Big Bash – whatever … nice move Cricket Australia putting first-class cricket on hold for most, if not all, of THE premier test series of the summer – real clever – but that is a discussion for another day), as far as the press goes, Ponting is the only other one with his head on the block.

He should be discussed, no doubt.  But surely it is not an absolute given.

Huss has looked very ordinary and unlikely to score.  He got a good one that kept low, but still – he should be discussed.

Clarke is obviously safe (even though he shouldn’t be).  Clarke is a real negative whenever Australia need someone to stand up.  He consistently fails when Australia really needs him.  He was rubbish all last summer and was rewarded with the Captaincy rather than being dropped as he should have been.  Even when he did actually score some runs last year, he went out at the VERY end of the day AGAIN to a stupid shot, then apologised for not walking (wanker) and exposed a massively out of form Marcus North just as we were looking like we might be able to hold on for the rain in Adelaide.

Usi shouldn’t be batting at 3, that’s for sure.  Perhaps slotting in at 5 might work for him, but I’m not convinced he is good enough just yet.

Haddin, despite the recent decent innings is a joke.  He was dropped in the slips, then proceeds to do EXACTLY THE SAME THING next ball.  His glove work, although in fairness slightly improved this series, isn’t good enough for him to keep out better keepers who have similar batting ability.  Obviously Payne should get a go, but he is injured.  Wade from Victoria has earned his shot.

Anyway, enough from me – it was a good result for New Zealand, they deserved to win this game (or Australia deserved to lose, whichever).

I hope sanity is preserved, and all the guys who have been struggling are discussed, and the easy decision to ditch Hughes and Ponting is not the only thing on their minds.

Rusty

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Well, well – we have a match!

Before I start – how about that Siddle!?  Might have been onto something yesterday!

What a dire first session.

I’m not talking about the 6 wickets to fall – although that was pretty bad.

The run rate was horrible.

Warner tried to keep the score ticking over, as did Clarke, Hussey, and Ponting.  What was going on with Khawaja?  It was somewhat admirable that each play and miss (about 35% of the balls he faced) failed to phase him at all.  That is great – but along the way, during his struggle to keep his wicket intact, he forgot to try and score.  Surely a nudge here, a good defensive drop haven’t been completely forgotten?  And when you are struggling that hard, getting up to the other end is great!

Ponting actually looked good until his 16th ball.

He was getting forward and across, leaving with confidence, nudging them around, and basically looking comfortable.

I still can’t quite work out what actually happened on that 16th ball though.  At best, he had predetermined his shot, and had decided that it was time to start forcing the pace, take the initiative.  It sort of looked like he started out as if he was going to do a Hayden-esque front foot pull in front of square – to a reasonably full ball.  Then, in that 0.2 seconds a batsman gets to choose his shot and move, he seemed to change his mind.  It was as if he suddenly realised that it was 2/31 in the 16th over, and Australia had been making a habit of very low scores of late, so he should probably not go a full blooded front foot pull, but defend, keep his wicket safe, and not potentially go out to an attacking shot in these circumstances.  By the time this decision had been made, he was bang in front of middle and the bat was at the horizontal while the ball thudded into his pads – and that was that (and the calls for his head no doubt will come thick and fast once more).

I’m not sure that he is finished, but he may be – I struggle to let go of past heroes and legends as much as they do.  I didn’t think Border was done, nor Healy, nor Taylor, not even Waugh.  I was wrong about all of these guys, so am probably wrong about Ponting.  But there is something inside of me, that is willing him on – desperate to see him back to his best, dominating, looking comfortable, almost contemptuous to those blokes steaming in at 90+ mph.

But he was not the only one who should be hanging his head after today’s play.

Warner was trying to be positive, and looked okay, but never comfortable.  The one thing that kept going through my mind throughout his entire innings was his balance – or lack thereof.  There was something wrong with his feet, the way they moved and where he was positioning them – particularly on the drive.  Every time he moved into position to drive, he seemed off balance, and his left hip would come through with the shot, dragging his back leg out, initially to square and then straight up the wicket.  This happened occasionally when he was only playing a forward defence as well.  I haven’t seen a lot of him outside the T20 (just can’t get Shield vision in the UK), so this might not be a long term flaw – but I have concerns about his long-term viability against better bowlers.  It won’t take them long to work him out and it might be another Hughes type deal.  I hope not.

I don’t know what to make of Huss – that pull immediately before he forgot to get his bat out of the way when he was leaving a ball was awesome.  He was positive at the crease and ran hard.

The one guy that really annoyed me was Clarke.  Recently, I watched a “best of” compilation of batsmen not offering a shot and being bowled.  It came from the boys at StickCricket.  There was some great bowling in this compilation, yes.  There was also a hell of a lot of Michael Clarke.  That ball yesterday didn’t actually do anything.  It was straight, heading into his off-stump and he left it.  Initially I thought it had to have done something, like when Jones (and Flintoff) embarrassed him in the ’05 Ashes, but it didn’t.  He just left a straight one on the stumps.

I had another thought during the play that had nothing to do with this match, but more to do with the BCCI and their refusal to allow use of the DRS for LBWs.  I have had a problem with this, as I think all elite matches should be played with the same technology, and I had been convinced (apart from that weird clipping/not clipping the stumps, umpires decision stands thing) that it worked.  There was one on Day 2 that has left me a little less sure.  Clarke got one that pitched just outside off, came in a fraction, hit him on or below the knee roll on the crease.  In real speed it looked out, pretty plumb in fact.  In slow-mo it looked out.  The Kiwi’s referred it.  My initial reaction was this is out, or worst (best for Australia) case it will be clipping the stumps and umpires decision stands.  Hawkeye said it was going over the stumps by a few inches.  No way.  Maybe at the Gabba or Wacca – but based on how this pitch was playing, and the bounce of that ball, no way.  I think the Kiwi’s have a right to feel aggrieved at that one (although it didn’t end up costing much) and the Indians might just have a point … although you clearly can’t base this on one possible LBW – it has raised an element of doubt in my mind at least.

Right – have a great Sunday all … I’m stocking up on beer and snacks and readying for a long night on the couch.

Rusty.

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