Australia's loss to England may have taken the shine of the Super Series. In fact, until a few months ago, I couldn't even imagine the World XI beating Australia - their 'aura of invincibility' had even a cynical Aussie fan convinced. Now, it's tough to see Australia getting over the star studded lineup. Their main advantage now is their hunger may be greater than the World XI, eager to prove they're still the Number One team (and hold their places).
Still, what is truly mouth watering about these matches are the individual battles. Can Gilchrist finally get one-up over Flintoff? Will Harmison bowl well away from his mummy and daddy? How will Hayden fare against Akhtar (better than against the swinging Hoggard, I'm willing to guess). Will Murali bowl his doosra and if so, will Darryl Hare no-ball it? How will Warne go against Lara, Kallis, Dravid - in fact, the whole batting lineup? To see these questions answered in the one match makes the whole concept worthwhile. If we get a close, engrossing match also, well, that's just a bonus!
|Posted by JC on Thu 29 Sep||54 comments|
Someone had to get the axe in the Ashes fallout and it turns out it was Damien Martyn. Everyone is protesting it, saying he's had one bad series and didn't deserve to get dropped. Hayden should go first. Personally, as a cricket fan who is always the first to turn on his own team, I think they should both go! It wasn't just that Damien Martyn scored nothing the entire series and pretty much guaranteed a middle order collapse whenever he came in. It was the way he got out. Run out by Michael Vaughan while casually jogging towards the crease. Repeatedly caught on the crease, whether he nicked it or not. The half-hearted pull shot in the 5 Test that led to the collapse that handed England back the match. He just showed no ticker. It took me back to the latter stage of Mark Waugh's career - every time he got out with a casual push to cover or a limp dab to the slips, I felt like pulling my hair out. Ah, for the days of AB, when you had to get over his dead body to get his wicket.
|Posted by JC on Thu 29 Sep||50 comments|
I can think of a whole bunch of reasons. Our inability to deal with reverse swing. The ineffectiveness of our bowlers (apart from Warnie and McGrath when fit). The attitude we took to England that we just had to turn up to win the Ashes. John Buchanan spending the entire series playing Tetris on his laptop.
Now Ricky Ponting is saying it was because Australia were *too* intense, too introspective, too serious, wanted it too much. I think there are a lot of factors that contributed more than that but he's got a point, I've thought for a long time Australian cricketers take themselves way too seriously. Too much navel gazing going on, it seems. There's Shane Warne's dummy spit at the press conference where the reporter cast aspersions at his weight. There's Justin Langer's laywer demanding a 'head on a plate' when a parttime website scorer described him as a 'brown nose gnome' (sounds crazy, I know, but read this hilarious article for a good laugh). There was Scott Muller threatening to sue Brett Lee's band Six and Out over the song 'Can't throw can't field'. Whatever happened to that laid back, self-deprecating Aussie sense of humour?
|Posted by JC on Wed 28 Sep||48 comments|
I read a mind boggling interview with Matt Hayden today where he denied "he was out of form during the recent Ashes tour of England". I remember similar interviews during the tour where he said he wouldn't change his aggressive approach or curb his strokemaking. By the time he figured out he was facing quality bowlers and maybe should treat them with some respect, it was the Fifth Test and the Ashes were just about gone. The fact that he scored 150 in that match just highlights to me that he could've been doing that all series if he'd shrugged off his stubbornness and hubris to realise his usual barnstorming approach would work against the English bowlers.
|Posted by JC on Tue 27 Sep||38 comments|
Now the Ashes have been lost, it is tempting to begin scapegoating and blame it all on a single individual. And I will - I blame Ricky Ponting. He hardly instilled confidence as a captain throughout the series - here is a list of his 5 biggest blunders over the 5 tests:
5. Substitute whinging. If there was any doubt that England had become the new Australia and Australia was now the old England, Ricky Ponting put it beyond any doubt with his bitching about England's substitutes. I can understand a bit of a spray in the heat of the moment when run out by Gary Pratt (particularly with Duncan Fletcher smugly waving from the dressing room - even I'd want to punch him on the nose for that). But to go on with it in the media afterwards was pointless, futile and just a waste of thought and energy. In the old days, it was England who got injured, bagged by the media and complained about trivial gripes to distract from their poor performance. Now, it seems "Whinging Poms" has been replaced by "Whinging Aussies".
4. Getting run out. However, Duncan Fletcher summed up the whole Gary Pratt run-out perfectly when he questioned why Ponting ran for a single when the ball was hit directly to cover. All you had to do was say "no", Ricky.
3. Third Test hook shot. Noone disputes it was Ricky Ponting's last day century that saved the match for Australia. He batted magnificently for the whole day. However, with just a few overs to go and a handful of wickets in hand, he is out playing a hook shot. A-hook-shot. What can come of that? A single to fine leg? Or if you're lucky, a boundary in a situation were runs are meaningless. Keeping your wicket is the only thing that mattered. The only result of consequence that could come of it was a catch at fine leg or gloving it to the keeper. After a day of brilliant batting, he had a brain explosion with just a few minutes to go. He can be thankful Harmison bowled rubbish in the last over - if we'd lost that match, I never would've forgiven that ridiculous shot.
2. Even after the 2nd test loss, Australia still had the measure of Michael Vaughan - he'd been clean bowled 3 times out of 4. So in the 3rd test, when Vaughan comes into bat with Brett Lee steaming in after just taking a wicket, I was licking my lips to see Lee whistle one between the gate. But what does Ponting do? He immediately takes Lee off and brings the trundler Gillespie on. All I can imagine was Ponting thought this was a great chance for Gillespie to get back into form by bowling at the bunny Vaughan. Instead, Vaughan gets 150 and takes the match away from Australia.
2nd test - toss of coin
1. 2nd Test Toin Coss. There's a general consensus that the series turned when Ponting sent England in during the second test. At that moment in time, England were on the ropes - written off after the first Test thrashing. McGrath had just injured his ankle less than an hour earlier and was out of the game. Ponting decided to neutralise his major weapon, history's greatest ever leg spinner, by sending England in on a featherbed pitch. In a series where every match went down to the wire and the tiniest incident could turn a match, this was a huge turning point for the entire series.
|Posted by JC on Thu 15 Sep||1363 comments|