There's a new article at stuff.co.nz where Ricky Ponting blames losing the Ashes on Billy Bowden. Turns out Billy gave an LBW decision not-out on Simon Jones in the second Test that cost Australia 2 runs. How much did we lose by? Wow, 2 runs! So it wasn't our crap batting, our feeble bowling (Warnie aside), our dud catching, our feckless coach. It certainly wasn't Ricky Ponting's decision to send England in that probably cost us 100 runs or more by denying Warnie the chance to bowl in the 4th innings. Nope, the entire series was decided by one dodgy LBW decision. Oh that and sub-fielders.
Is there no accountability in Australian cricket (for anyone besides Damien Martyn)? I don't think a single Australian cricketer has admitted they took England lightly, few have conceded they were outplayed for most of the series. And Ricky Ponting seems to be doing what previous England teams have done - scapegoating and focussing on minutiae. The sooner he gets his head out of the sand and admits he had a crap series as captain, the sooner he can start doing things right.
Incidentally, the Billy Bowden article is a good chance for me to post a cartoon I drew a while back, venting my frustrations on his gratuitious signalling.
|Posted by JC on Mon 31 Oct||1729 comments|
I've only been blogging for a short time but viewing my website stats, it's been interesting to see what phrases people type in the search engines to find Cricket-Blog.com. Some search phrases are quite amusing such as "is Daniel Vettori married?" and "wife of Daniel Vettori". Most are quite topical - many recent ones are about Mark Nicholas' sacking from Channel 9. But the most bewildering search phrase that comes up regularly is "Warwick Todd's batting average" or variations such as "what was Warwick Todd's first class career average" or "Warwick Todd first class batting average".
The reason it's so mystifying is Warwick Todd doesn't exist. He's a fictional character invented by Tom Gleisner in two books, The Warwick Todd Diaries and Warwick Todd goes the tonk. The books are written as cricket diaries, Steve Waugh style, by an Australian cricketer going on tour in England. They filled with drunkenness, sledging, bad sportsmanship and are some of the funniest books I've ever read. If you're a fan of cricket, particularly Australian cricket, these are a definite must-read. They even include his career stats but only an aggregate of his yearly match fines. So the reason for this post is I'm wondering why there are so many searches for Warwick Todd's average? Do people reading the diary think he's an actual player and want to find out more? If you're one of those people who made such a search, please post a comment here (don't be embarrassed) as I'm dead curious about all these Warwick Todd searches!
|Posted by JC on Sun 30 Oct||209 comments|
Telegraph India have posted an interview with Rahul Dravid about his new role as captain of India. I don't pretend to understand the politics of Indian cricket but one quote about the World XI team caught my interest:
"Had we been together for a month, we would have been pretty much unbeatable."Now I have to wonder about that. In hindsight, it's easy to see the flaws in the whole Super Series concept. It wasn't so much the players adjusting to their new roles, gelling as a team or adjusting to the Australian conditions. It's best summed up in an article from The Age by Waleed Aly who suggests the World XI failed because it was a contest of no consequence. At least for the World XI - for the Aussies, egos smarting after England, the matches meant as much as any Test match. Even Steve Harmison admitted "when you look down at your shirt, that badge isn't there." Ricky Ponting's article on national pride in The Australian reinforces this when he says:
"We are playing for our country, playing for an established team. Those guys more than anything were probably just playing for themselves."Playing together for another month may have helped the team gel but it never would've ignited that passion one gets playing for his country.
|Posted by JC on Sat 29 Oct||66 comments|
Just read an article in the Sydney Morning Herald where Peter Roebuck summarizes Ricky Ponting's career as captain. Good read although his supposedly clever political barbs get a bit jarring. The jury's still out on Ponting. He's a good captain - Australia conceded first innings leads in all 3 Tests in Sri Lanka and yet we still went on to win the series 3-nil - Ponting's first series as captain. But in England, he made some real clangers - decisions that made the difference between winning the Ashes and not (send England in? Urrrrggghhhhh). So every Australian cricket fan will be scrutinising his captaincy on his home turf this summer. If we thrash the West Indies and South Africa, it won't be an issue. But if it's close, then we'll see whether he's learned from England. I'm hoping the fact that Australia didn't let up on the World XI for a moment has meant Ponting has become as ruthless and cold hearted as Steve Waugh was.
|Posted by JC on Sat 29 Oct||56 comments|
What is it with Australia sending all their best coaches overseas to turn struggling teams into outfits that, well, beat us. Rod Marsh (and probably more significantly, their bowling coach Troy Cooley) helped transformed England into Ashes winners. It may be premature but a Greg Chappell coached India seem to be going through a bit of a renaissance right now (although that could be due to Ganguly dropped and Tendulkar in white-hot form). Could a third case be Queenslander Bennett King and the West Indies? We'll know more clearly next week but there are promising signs in the current warm-up game against Queensland as our test batsmen fell cheaply and our bowlers got caned. I seem to remember the Windies getting thrashed in warm-up games in previous tours (recent ones, not from the Clive Lloyd days). Meanwhile, India Times have published an article where Bennett King sounds a warning to the Aussies. He talks up their new stable of bowlers and considering how frail our batting order seems at the moment against sustained fast bowling, it will be interesting to see how our boys face this challenge.
|Posted by JC on Fri 28 Oct||46 comments|
Just scanning some overseas results (namely, teams we'll be playing later this summer). South Africa continue on their winning ways - 11 straight wins is pretty impressive, taking on Steve Waugh proportions. Considering the run they gave England last season, I'm expecting (and hoping) for a good fight after Christmas. They are playing at home though - it remains to be seen how they go in Australia.
Meanwhile, India are wiping the floor with Sri Lanka. On the one hand, it's disappointing as Sri Lanka are the other third of our summer tri-series. I hope they get some good form back as a competitive tri-series would be... well, something different for a change. On the other hand, the reaction in India is stunning. I thought Australians were fickle sports fans but they're nothing compared to Indians. When Tendulkar has a good innings, the entire nation goes into raptures - I can't believe the sheer number of articles on the web celebrating his messianic return to good form. But when the team goes badly, the line-up to sink the boot in is in the millions long. It's interesting the change that has come over the team now that Ganguly is dropped. That can't spell good things for his career. Conversely, I imagine Greg Chappell is strutting around at the moment wearing a cap with the words "I told you so!"
|Posted by JC on Fri 28 Oct||48 comments|
Don't know how I missed this as I scan the Cricinfo website religiously but last month, they posted a great interview with Abdul Qadir about the art of legspin. Many thanks to Akshaya for posting the link. It's a fascinating read as he rates Shane Warne, Danish Kaneria and in general talks about the subtleties and techniques of legspin. Some notable quotes include talking about his "constructed bowling action":
It was an artificial action. As I became more experienced, I started realising the importance of uncovering the psyche of batsmen and playing on it. The action was for show really, to create a physical aura, to give them that feeling of `wow, who and what is this coming in to bowl?' and work on their minds even before I bowled to them.Reminds me a lot of the way Warnie carries on to psyche out the batsman. But the definite highlight is this pearler:
Legspin became like a love affair with me, like you would have with a woman. I used to sleep with the ball by my side at night.This one had me going "Okkkaaayyyyyyy..." I imagine Warnie would've done something like this except there were too many women in his bed to fit a cricket ball.
|Posted by JC on Thu 27 Oct||127 comments|
One of my favourite sports spoof sites (try saying that 5 times quickly), The Bladder have posted a review of Steve Waugh's new book 'Out of my Comfort Zone' - good for a chuckle.
|Posted by JC on Thu 27 Oct||48 comments|
Only a few hours till they announce the Australian squad for the first Test against the West Indies. What everyone's wondering is will MacGill be selected after taking 9 wickets against the World XI (and interestingly, 10 wickets in his previous Test before that against New Zealand). Trevor Marshallsea at the Sydney Morning Herald preview Stuart MacGill's chances of being selected for Brisbane but I find his article muddies the water more than anything. I'm predicting (with a strong likelihood of being proven wrong very shortly) they'll select MacGill in a 13-man squad then see how Shane Watson goes against the Windies in the warm-up game for Queensland. If he bowls well and takes wickets, McGill is in. Otherwise, they'll pick another seamer (who though? Bracken or Clark). By choosing 13, they keep the Windies (and themselves) guessing till next week. But I doubt he'll make the final 11. Two spinners at the Gabba? Especially considering it's been raining all week here in Brisbane. My heart says yes but my head says no.
|Posted by JC on Wed 26 Oct||39 comments|
When Pakistan toured Australia last summer, the unexpected bowling revelation was Danish Kaneria. I was especially impressed with an interview where he unashamedly admitted his burning ambition to be the greatest leg spinner in the world, better than Shane Warne. He's taking wickets at a faster rate than Warnie and Murali so he's not all talk either. Times Online have published a recent interview with Danish Kaneria by Matthew Pryor where Kaneria talks up his and Pakistan's chances against England. The Pakistan cricket team has an interesting religious background - last summer, they consisted of Muslims, a Hindu (Kaneria) and a Christian (the Christian has since converted to Islam). There are some striking quotes from Kaneria:
"Leg spin is an art. Not everybody has that art. Two or three people in the world can do what I do. Because of His help, His hand on me, I am going forward. That makes me down to earth and humble enough."It's funny to hear someone say "Two or three people in the world can do what I do" and describe himself as "down to earth and humble enough" in the same breath (though note the qualifying "enough"). Kaneria also talks up his googly:
"If he (Warne) bowls a googly you can see it. Some of the top batsmen have said you cannot read mine. The Indian batsman said that to me, and Brian Lara said, 'We can't read your googly.' "He also aims to take 25 wickets in the 3 Test series - it's good to see players go out on a limb before a series (although you can go too far such as Glenn McGrath's infamous 5-nil Ashes prediction). However, I still disagree with Andrew Strauss' statement that "winning on the sub-continent would be a tougher challenge than beating Australia" (I reckon the English are talking up the series to consolidate their hold on the #1 Test position if they win).
|Posted by JC on Wed 26 Oct||170 comments|
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