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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We have a good one …

All the chat today is going to be about James Pattinson (and possibly Phil Hughes).  I’m not entirely sure that it should be.  He makes this test cricket look pretty easy does Pattinson – two five-fors in his first three test innings.  The first bloke to take successive five-fors in his first two test matches for Australia since Rodney Hogg.

I guess if he ends up with 123 wickets at 28ish he will be happy (I would be, but then I bowl very slow trundlers at a pinch and will be lucky to pick up 123 wickets before I finish playing at the age of 70), but probably not.  And I sincerely hope that he doesn’t crack the sads after being no-balled, bowl a beam ball at the Indians, kick down the stumps and storm off the field!  Although, I kind of do, just to see if Clarke can handle that as well as Kim Hughes did.

Pattinson bowled well, very well.  On a hat-trick going into the second dig, twice taking two wickets in an over.  Young guy who hasn’t broken down yet (I’ll get to you Billy), but he isn’t the story.

Peter Siddle is the story.

I’ve always liked Sids, as is obvious from some previous posts on this blog.

In the first session he was metronomic, it was awesome to watch.  The kind of awesome that wakes you up and makes you howl for more test cricket (for a brilliant take on cricket administration and the ridiculous proliferation of the shorter forms of the game at the expense of the best and most important form – talking to you South Africa (among others), this piece is a MUST read http://cricketwithballs.com/2011/12/02/occupy-lords/).  Haddin dropped another catch of Sids, he just turned around and did it all again and again.

Clarke was probably unwise to only give him 6 overs in the morning session – but then, when you  only bowl 24 (what a disgrace) there aren’t too many more to give.

It seemed to me, that every time the camera panned out, Sids was doing what all kids are taught to do, he was making some noise, clapping his hands, getting excited and just generally being intense.  He also spent a heap of time with the two young kids.  He was referred to as the “nominal leader of the attack” regularly by the Channel 9 guys* (I can’t believe that I would actually prefer to be listening to the Sky commentators).  Baloney.  He is leading the attack with aplomb, style, VB and menace … and at a very tidy pace (yeah, I’m talking to you farmboy).

It was great, he was great, Australia were great.

Okay, I’m getting Bill Lawrie carried away here, Australia were far from great, they were good and I enjoyed watching them – but it was a big day for me yesterday.  I got to watch Virender Sehwag make a double ton in a ODI … a DOUBLE f****** TON – with time to spare.  It was effortless, it was beautiful, it was glorious, it was exciting, it was UNBELIEVABLE, it was Sehwag.

It was so good, I grabbed random people off the street, non-cricket people, people who had never heard of cricket.  And I sat them on my couch, pulled out some brews and forced them to watch it.

They were grateful.

Back to Hobart – New Zealand all out, Hughes back in the shed, rain and a green deck, this should be fun!

On an aside, how silly did Billy McDermott sound coming back at Steve Waugh the other day.  It had the feeling of a kid who was caught spooning Milo into his mouth under the table’s protestations of innocence.  “Nah, I didn’t.  They do bowl enough in the nets, they do!  So Ner Steve, you don’t know stuff because I used to be a better than average bowler, and you don’t know anything!”

This isn’t really worth discussing in detail.  Waugh is right.  Anyone watching the game can see that.

Seriously, one of them is a failed property/pension scammer, the other spends his spare time helping to feed poor kids in India.

The  latter was also one of the best cricketers to pull on the baggy green ever.  How about taking on board the message, seeing whether there is anything that can be taken on board and implemented rather than having a strop?  Kind of explains why Border got so annoyed with him in the ’93 Ashes series (although I do accept that the whole twisted bowel thing probably contributed to his a-hole-ness then … what’s the excuse now?).

Rusty

* This is getting dull, it is dull for me to write it, so it must be for anyone silly enough to be reading this – but I have to say it.  Mark Nicholas is a complete tool.  Why does he keep getting invied back to commentate on Australian TV?  Is it because we can’t afford someone with actual talent, or who actually watches the game?  Is it his accent?  Does the posh preppy English school boy sound somehow add legitimacy to the whining drawl of Healy and Chappel?  Last week, Ricky Ponting got a touch and go LBW (to be fair, I thought it was out immediately, so I have no complaints about the umpire giving it out).  It turned out that the ball was just clipping leg stump on review. As the umpire had said it was out, it stayed out (weirdly, if the umpire had said not out, it would have stayed as not out as well – a strange anomaly of this DRS system – surely it is either hitting or it isn’t?) – okay, no complaints there – other than I would have loved to see Punter smash a ton, rather than Mr 4 chances.  No complaints from Mr Nicholas either, more criticism about Ponting falling over his front pad as I recall.  Last night, Ross Taylor had a similar decision which Nicholas dismissingly stated was an incorrect decision that “stayed with the umpire, or with Australia in Australia really, depending how you look at it.”  His voice is annoying, his inaccuracies are annoying, that he is watching a different match to everyone else is annoying, but his hypocrisy is just plain outrageous.

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Hope springs youthful?

 

It was absolutely fantastic to see the Gabba in full swing last night, and a pretty damn good crowd in for a Thursday against New Zealand!

Things we learnt:

  • Never EVER go gambling with Michael Clarke – yet to win a toss as test skipper.
  • Clarke should take himself out of the slips and return to point/cover, or even mid-off given the talent in those areas.
  • Clarke can actually be innovative with field placings (even if there was an element of chasing the shot, and some guys being sort of in the right position, but not quite right) and bowling changes.
  • The second hour was ALL about the debutants.
  • I would not like to open the batting against Dandenong just now.
  • Siddle is under-rated.
  • All three quicks have the ability to bowl seriously fast, and with movement (in these conditions at least).
  • The “new” Mitch can bowl.  Too early to say, but his first couple of spells reminded me of a young Wasim with more bounce.
  • Pattinson has the right attitude, even though some good balls were finding their way to the fence.
  • David Warner is exciting to watch in the field – yes, fielding can be exciting.
  • McMillan is fun to watch.
  • Vettori on the other hand is not – in fact he is almost as painful to watch batting as Alistair Cook.
  • Lyon has put in a transfer request to move to Queensland.
  • Khawaja has never fielded at short-leg before today (and if he has, he hasn’t worked out the right place to stand against the quicks – even if he did do a pretty reasonable job overall).
  • The Channel 9 commentary team, especially Nicholas, Slater, Healy, Greig and Chappelli, are single-handedly engaging in open warfare against cricket and Australia – if they don’t kill test cricket and tourism, nothing will (although for Nicholas, this may actually be on purpose).
  • Richie Benaud still has it.

Things we didn’t learn:

  • Can this bowling attack keep it up all day, in the heat, in conditions more favourable to batting against better opposition.
  •  When Australia will stop dropping catches that should be held – takes me back to the first day against the Windies at the Gabba in 1988/89 when we dropped 9 catches for the day (13 for the innings) and got smashed … the cliché about catches is a cliché for a reason.

Anyway, overall it was an enjoyable night, even if I am knackered today – looking forward to a few more sleepless nights.

Rusty.

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Well then …

I guess I chose the wrong day to take off from work – who would have thought I would have missed something that has only happened once or twice before in the history of test cricket – all four innings on the same day!

I could go on about the Hussey drop, the Hussey shot, Haddin’s inability to play test cricket (Tim Payne, hope your fit), Johnson’s imaginary friend (form and ability), but really, I’ve got nothing to say just now.

Only “d” words – disappointed, depressed devastated, darkening mood, and danger.  Well the last one should read “anger”, but that’s not a “d” word and the Australian cricket team are certainly in danger of completely alienating the public, so it stays.

As super-nanny Jo Frost says so often, in that slightly strange lispy-drop-a-random-letter-from-a-word kind of way … UNACCEPTABLE.

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Steyn really is that good …

Interesting first day of real cricket for the South Africans in almost a year. The best bowler in the world (and a very impressive debutant), combined with a compliant pitch and a lot of ball movement to give the points to them on day one.

As a long time admirer of Boucher, it was nice to see him take his 500th catch in test cricket. He is a rough hard nut cricketer who pushes the boundaries and I like that.

I haven’t read the general coverage of the day yet, but if I don’t read “Clarke seemed to be batting on a different pitch” then I will (for once) be quite impressed with the mainstream media.  It is a typical and easy statement, when he has scored half of the runs and top scored by 60-odd.  But it is lazy and wrong.

Don’t get me wrong, he batted extremely well, and was a pleasure to watch – it’s been a while since I have been able to say that. Potentially this may be a little unfair, but I have been revisiting the most recent Ashes series with a sensational book – Australian Autopsy by Jarod Kimber, a fantastic recreation of the series in a very Australian manner, I really can’t recommend it enough.  Anyway, this reminded me of how annoyed I was with Clarke last Aussie summer when he clearly shouldn’t have been playing, and batted like a geriatric cripple.

He didn’t today.

He batted well, very well. He put the bad balls away, and after surviving a semi-torrid opening, generally looked comfortable.  That said, he didn’t face any of the balls that did Watson, Ponting, Hughes and Hussey in.

Those were absolute pearlers.

If Watson played straighter rather than to leg, he may – MAY – have gotten away with it, but even I can’t criticise him for going out to that one.

Hughes showed something today. Without ever looking like he was going to bat all day, he looked different somehow.  He looked like he might be able to play some test cricket after all.  I don’t know though, he may be teasing me – I’m not ready to commit to a relationship with Phil Hughes just yet.

All in all, once it eventually got going, and made it worth taking a day of annual leave, it was a good day of cricket.  South Africa won the toss, bowled well and took advantage of some generous conditions.

But, as Alan Border mentioned, until we see South Africa bat (and whether Mitch shows up), it’s hard to say how far ahead, if at all, they are.

This could be a fun game (or not if Smith and Kallis bat for the next 2 days)!

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