After his big century against Sri Lanka following a rest period, Adam Gilchrist has blamed Cricket Australia for his form slump. I think most of the blame for Gilchrist's form slump can go to Andrew Flintoff and whoever came up with England's line of attack that totally neutralised him throughout the Ashes (maybe it was Troy Cooley who devised the plan - we can ask him in May when he defects back to Australia). Before the Ashes, Gilchrist was at the peak of his powers, scoring centuries left, right and centre. He particularly punished the Black Caps in our last Test series in New Zealand. Ironically, now Gilchrist is blaming the extra tour to New Zealand this summer on extending his form slump. Originally the selectors opted to rest him but Cricket Australia overruled the decision as it would 'undermine the prestige of the Chappell-Hadlee Trophy'. Fat lot of good it did, Gilchrist scoring 3, 8 and 0 in his 3 innings. Cricket Australia failed to take into account another great Aussie tradition - a disgruntled employee doing a half-arsed job.
|Posted by JC on Tue 31 Jan||28 comments|
Australia demonstrated when they're firing with all cylinders, they can be damn near impossible to beat. At one end, they have Brett Lee and Glenn McGrath bringing a batting order down on their knees at the crucial start of their innings. At the other end, they have Adam Gilchrist smashing a run-a-ball (at the least) supported by Simon Katich. Both elements came into play last night and Sri Lanka were never really in the hunt.
Sri Lanka's innings started disastrously as they lost 3 early wickets. The direst blow was Jayasuriya caught behind off Lee for a duck. Kumar Sangakkara was also run out spectacularly by Andrew Symonds who underarmed the ball into the wicket then slid head first into the stumps. Lee's opening spell was searing, striking the batsmen frequently. There seems to be a fair amount of niggle between Australia and Sri Lanka as Lee's follow on frequently took him close enough to the batsmen to exchange a few words and a glare. I particularly liked when he struck Sangakarra a nasty blow in the midriff. Sangakarra was tough enough to not even acknowledge the hit prompting Lee to demonstrate how to rub the spot. I like the cut of Sangakarra's gib - like Arjuna Ranatunga, he has the knack of getting under the Australians' skins.
Fortunately, although they were 3 for 37 and it looked like a 200+ score was an unlikely possibility, a 121 run partnership from Mahela Jayawardene and Russel Arnold got them back into the game. It wasn't enough though - at the halfway mark, the innings hadn't even cracked triple figures. 8 for 233 was always going to be tough to defend, particularly if Gilchrist and Katich started well.
They not only started well, they continued even better and even came close to chasing down the score themselves. It's always a relief when Gilly makes runs - there's no more entertaining batsman in the world to watch (barring maybe Afridi). I don't know if Akalanka Ganegama would agree though - he was super-subbed in and Gilly hit 3 fours and a six of his first (and last) over. Lucky for him you don't get two super-subs or he would've been off the field again. I always enjoy seeing batsmen go ballistic when they reach a century - Gilly was giggling like a schoolgirl when he reached 100 and practically did a lap of honour around the ground. He'll need another rest match to recover from the celebration alone!
It's a bit annoying that Australia didn't get the bonus point - not cause we need it but simply because we should've made it after Gilchrist's fine work. Damien Martyn has been getting out to wild shots at the start of the innings but this time when we needed him to play a few shots, needing a mere run-a-ball over a couple of overs, he went all Geoff Boycott and blocked his way past the 40 over mark. Especially strange considering Katich and Symonds threw their wickets away attempting to win the bonus point.
Of course, the Australians are gonna be smug and adopt an "I told you so" attitude about their whole resting policy. I anticipate a player rotation frenzy leading up to the final now that we've got a final spot pretty much in the bag. So maybe Jaques will get a game although not as an opener. I think even he realises Katich has cemented his opening spot as he's now saying he'll bat anywhere (the boy is desperate). As for Sri Lanka, they will be desperate to beat South Africa twice this week. They've had a mixed tournament, playing brilliantly one day, a shambles the next. Is it fair to say Sri Lanka are the new Pakistan?
|Posted by JC on Mon 30 Jan||42 comments|
The UK Times Online have published the simply titled "Big Interview" with Andrew Flintoff. It is long, mostly tedious and fawning as most English pieces about Flintoff are, but the highlight (so you don't need to read the whole thing) is Flintoff revealing what he said to Brett Lee after England's famous victory at Edgbaston:
"I must admit that when I put my arm around him the exact words I used were 'It's 1-1, you Aussie bastard.'"Yep, can't wait to get those guys on Australian soil! :-)
|Posted by JC on Sun 29 Jan||30 comments|
Outspoken ancient fast bowler Jeff Thomson has claimed Glenn McGrath is past his use-by-date. Conversely, Iain Payten from the Daily Telegraph says Glenn McGrath is still the world's best fast bowler. I think his wicket taking ability, particularly at Test level, seems to have dropped off. And these days, he seems prone to getting injured whenever a stiff breeze blows his way. However, he's still as miserly as ever and works well in partnership with Brett Lee in one day matches. So assuming he doesn't have to get a hip replaced or break out a granny walker, he should still be useful during the World Cup (although I'd put him out to pasture afterwards). Still, each spell this season is scrutinised as much as each decision Ricky Ponting makes so it will be interesting to see how he goes against Jayasuriya tomorrow.
|Posted by JC on Sat 28 Jan||29 comments|
Australia has gone roster crazy as Phil Jaques has been rested from club cricket this weekend. Now Ricky Ponting and Adam Gilchrist, I can understand. They're busy guys, they contribute their heart and souls to Australian cricket. But Jaques isn't even in the Australian team! I know taking sickies and preserving public holidays are great Aussie traditions but this is taking things too far. They also mention the stresses of preparing for his upcoming wedding. Get with the program, Jaques! Skiving off wedding preparation so the girl does all the work is another great Aussie tradition!
|Posted by JC on Sat 28 Jan||59 comments|
We all like to bag Reality TV shows as scraping the barrel as far as entertainment goes but the soapies are giving them a run for their money as Shane Warne is to act in Neighbours. The question - will be he playing an imaginary character such as Toadie's long lost cousin Plumpy (I'm ashamed that I actually know all the character's names but in my defence, my wife watches the show and I must pick them up while hurriedly rushing past the TV)? Or will he be playing himself, text messaging Izzy and cracking onto Steph. If all he has to do is act naturally, how will the censors maintain the show's prime time rating?
|Posted by JC on Sat 28 Jan||69 comments|
Another ex-player throws his hat into the ring as Phil DeFreitas has applied for the job of England's bowling coach (thanks to Mahesh for the link). The article even goes so far as to list the criteria for the job:
- high-level fast bowling coaching experience
- a good knowledge of first-class and international cricket
- a minimum coaching qualification of ECB Level III international equivalent
- extensive experience of performance-analysis systems
- a detailed knowledge of bowling biomechanics
- a sound understanding of injury prevention and conditioning for fast bowlers
|Posted by JC on Fri 27 Jan||17 comments|
They were a few boundaries short of dominating the tri-series on Tuesday but now they're under serious pressure as Sri Lanka lost to Australia in a low scoring match. After South Africa's soporific approach to batting earlier this week, it seems both teams warmed to the security of a cautious approach over the heart palpitations of risky, big hitting. Sri Lanka, batting first, plodded along to 8 for 218. Without Sanath Jayasuriya, they were a completely different side to the team that struck 300+ last week. It didn't help that they kept losing regular wickets. Australia chased the total comfortably, never really stretching their legs. The only hiccup was a couple of late wickets by Muttiah Muralitharan but Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke got us home without much drama. Good to see Mr Cricket back to doing what he does best - carrying his wicket and boosting his batting average.
Australia can breath a sigh of relief - not so much because we needed the win (although we do) but more to deflect any criticism of Ricky Ponting being rested for two matches. Every man and his dog has come out criticising the move (personally, I don't mind it). If we lost the match and went on to miss the final, heads would roll (the last time we missed a tri-series final, it ended Steve Waugh's one day career). Fortunately, losing our best bastman (and captain) was neutralised by Sri Lanka losing their best batsman to injury so it all evened out. Ricky can look forward to another day off this weekend.
The other point of interest was how Simon Katich would fare. Everyone in Australia except Katich and his mum want him to fail so we can get Phil Jaques into the side. Problem is the guy keeps getting runs, dammit! Could this be a similar situation to Brett Lee last year? Lesser bowler Michael Kasprowicz kept him out of the side with par performances for a year and a half. Consequently, Lee was underdone at Test level when we needed him during the Ashes. Will we see a similar situation with Jaques and the World Cup?
|Posted by JC on Fri 27 Jan||23 comments|
After Adam Gilchrist was fined 40% of his match fee for dissent, now Gilchrist is pursuing heart-to-hearts with the umpires. Gilchrist is about as touchy-feely as an Australian cricketer gets, in the past pining for hugs from his teammates. Hopefully a few cuddles with the umpires should ease any player-umpire tension. Gilly, just watch out for Billy Bowden though - that guy's all hands!
|Posted by JC on Thu 26 Jan||20 comments|
The Pakistan-India series, instead of being 'bigger than the Ashes' has turned out to be a huge yawner to date as the Second Test ended in another draw. The pitches have been so flat, the batsmen have been focussed not so much on winning the match as breaking as many batting records as possible. Usually batsmen like to play Bangladesh or Zimbabwe (and in the good ol' days, England) to boost their batting averages. Now apparently we can add on Pakistan pitches to that list.
Is this a trend? In the recent Australia-South Africa series, both the Perth and Sydney pitches were bizarre - flattening out as the match went on so Perth ended in a draw and Sydney would have if not for rain and a desperate declaration from Graeme Smith. Are curators being asked to prepare flat pitches that will last into a 5th day to boost ticket revenue? Now don't get me wrong - I love matches that go into a 5th day. My only problem with the modern style of fast, aggressive play is it too regularly robs me of a day (or in extreme situations, 2 days) of Test cricket. But I'd take 4 days of competitive, tightly fought cricket over 5 days of ennui any day.
|Posted by JC on Thu 26 Jan||26 comments|
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