A rabid Darren Lehmann has lashed out at just about everyone after losing the ING Cup final against NSW. The South Australian captain criticised Cricket Australia for scheduling the game at 9:30am. He then went on to bag sponsor ING, thanking God that the competition was changing sponsors. I'm not sure what ING did wrong but whatever it was, Boof was not pleased. Neither are the powers that be who have cited Lehmann for his "unbecoming behaviour and detrimental public comment".
He then went on to blame God for his dismissal, with the sun breaking heavy cloud cover only after he was dismissed. The Australian selectors were also in the firing line, waiting till after the final before flying NSW opener Phil Jaques to South Africa. Lastly, he blamed Ricky Ponting and Andrew Symonds for not getting injured earlier in the South African tour. Allan Border must be very proud to see his legacy of Captain Grumpy still lives on.
|Posted by JC on Tue 28 Feb||27 comments|
Australia have called up emergency reinforcements flying Phil Jaques to South Africa. This is good news - Jaques should've been on the tour in the first place. However, somewhat disappointingly, Jaques will bat in the middle order rather than open. It makes sense if the selectors are prepping Gilchrist and Katich to be our openers in the World Cup. But dammit, I want to see Jaques open the batting! Why couldn't Katich and Martyn have been the injured ones?!
I didn't realise it at the time but for the first ODI, the Australian squad only had 11 fit players. We barely got a team onto the park! No wonder they pushed to scrap the super-sub rule, we didn't have another player to sub. Australia is looking very vulnerable at the moment with all the momentum swinging towards the Proteas, Graeme Smith in top form, our best batsmen injured, McGrath ruling himself out of the entire tour and the South African batsmen successfully targeting our new bowlers. I wonder how we can pull ourselves out of the fire for the second match on Friday.
|Posted by JC on Tue 28 Feb||25 comments|
On the morning of the Twenty20 match last Friday, many of the Australian cricketers were woken by prank calls before dawn by a local FM-radio station disc jockey. Pretending to be family members, the DJ was put through to 8 of the 13 players (impressive success rate). Once put through, they mimicked sheep noises over the phone. Clever stuff.
This makes more sense when you consider South Africans joke about Australians and sheep the same way we do about New Zealanders. You'd think after all the trouble they'd got to getting through to the player's rooms, they'd have come up with something wittier than 'baaaa'. I actually find the whole incident strangely comforting - it always demystifies a different culture when you find similarities with your own. It turns out Radio DJ's are as banal and moronic in South Africa as they are here in Australia.
|Posted by JC on Mon 27 Feb||22 comments|
The Proteas have continued building momentum and reaping their home ground advantage as South Africa thrashed Australia in a rain affected One Day International at Centurion. It doesn't help that Australians are dropping like flies with Andrew Symonds, Stuart Clark and Ricky Ponting all out injured after only one Twenty20 game. It's going to be a long series!
Perhaps Ponting's absence threw the batting out of whack as Australia started disastrously, losing 3 early wickets in Katich, Martyn (who surely isn't gonna reach the World Cup) and Gilchrist. Australia's two in-form batsmen Michael Clarke and Mike Hussey steadied the ship with a steady (perhaps too much steady and not enough fireworks) partnership. Unfortunately both fell in the 50's when we really needed them to both go on. Hussey's ODI average going into this match was 100.22 so he really was below par in scratching out a mere 56.
It was good to see Watson back in the side but Brett Lee is strongly pushing his case for the role of all-rounder, smashing 38 off 41. He has a real knack of hitting big sixes, taking 21 runs off one Andre Nel over. Watson's innings in contrast was a plodding 22 runs off 38 balls but I guess we should give the guy a chance to get his bearings after a few months layoff. Even Nathan Bracken came to the party, hitting two sixes off Ntini's last over. The big hitting at the death eked our score up to 229 off 47 overs which was always going to be a big ask to defend.
South Africa's innings started similarly to Australia's, losing two quick wickets. However, Brett Lee got positively pasted. Graeme Smith continued his transformation as he actually seemed to target Australia's spearhead and the world's #1 ranked bowler. Meanwhile, Nathan Bracken seems to have slipped into the role of miserly wicket taker in Glenn McGrath's absence, having figures of 1 for 3 off his first 3 overs.
However, the partnership of AB de Villiers and Graeme Smith took Australia out of the game, scoring 83 runs of just 62 balls. It came at a brisk rate as they punished relative newcomers Mitchell Johnson and Mick Lewis who went for 8 and 9 runs an over respectively. It was smart batting - targeting the newbies undermined our whole inexperienced bowling attack.
South Africa ended up cruising to the adjusted score of 207 (adjusted due to rain interruptions) with 6 wickets and a handful of overs to spare. Hasn't Graeme Smith grown in stature since landing back on home soil? A quick fire 90 in the Twenty20 match and an even more effective innings tonight, anchoring the innings and yet still scoring a run-a-ball century (119 off 124 balls to be precise). In fact, by carrying his bat through tonight's innings, Smith hasn't been dismissed by Australia yet in the home series and boasts an average of infinity - even Mike Hussey would be proud of that!
Lastly, I was disappointed to find out ABC Radio didn't cover the match. Watching the action live or on TV is ideal but just listening to commentator's reactions on radio is illuminating. Monitoring live updates on the web is a last resort. Does anyone know if ABC Radio will be covering the Tests? And just as importantly, is there anywhere online where one can access live audio coverage of the Australia/South Africa series? Any info would be greatly appreciated! :-)
|Posted by JC on Mon 27 Feb||21 comments|
There's a storm in a teacup brewing at the Cricinfo website where Dileep Premachandran posted a rant about his life-long hatred of English cricket. I particularly liked the concluding paragraph:
"The 16 years of Australia's Ashes hegemony which encompassed my late teens and passage into adulthood felt like a party that would never end and, when it did last summer at The Oval, I was secretly sending text messages asking for score updates and blinking back tears while supposedly watching a Bizet opera with my girlfriend. Though England had been by far the better side, it sickened me to admit it and I can hardly wait for Australia to regain the urn."Preach it, Dileep! His article has generated a slew of angry responses from readers accusing him of racism against England. In return, Premachandran has clarified his attack was against English cricket, not the English people in general.
It probably comes as no surprise but I'm with Premachandran on this one. There's nothing wrong with a bit of healthy hate in cricket. Australian cricket over the last decade has been too civilised and boring, to the point where Matt Hayden congratulated Flintoff on how well he bowled him in the 5th Test. Why didn't you ask for his autograph as well, Matty?! Allan Border would be rolling in his grave! Well, he would if he was dead but you get the idea. I'm not talking racism or hatred of a whole country (the racism in Australian crowds sickens me). This is merely a case of respect for an opposition team and their most dangerous players.
A wise man once said "Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering". Okay, I admit, it was Yoda, but his words are still pertinent. Lethal bowlers like Andrew Flintoff and Simon Jones has brought back good ol' fashioned fear and hatred in Australian cricket fans every time they start a new spell. I haven't felt those kind of emotions since the Windies in the '80's (and occasionally when VVS Laxman has refused to get out for several consecutive sessions). It's awfully tedious half barracking for the other team just so the match will be competitive and last into a fifth day. I'm grateful to the current English team that they're good enough to hate again. So bring on the Ashes - I'll be hating the English and loving it at the same time.
|Posted by JC on Sun 26 Feb||20 comments|
South Africa kicked off their home tour in fine form, pipping Australia in a high scoring thriller. Damn time differences - the game started at 1.30am here in local Brisbane time so I slumbered through all the excitement (I only lose sleep for Test cricket and occasionally one day matches). Turns out the match was delayed several hours as well - I should've set the alarm to get up early.
Everything seems to be swinging Graeme Smith's way now he's on home soil. For starters, he won the toss and batted. Then it took the carefree strokeplay of a Twenty20 innings for Smith to reach his highest score against Australia this summer, knocking up 89 not out off 58 balls. It's ominous signs if home advantage has sparked a return to form for Smith, particularly with McGrath not touring. He guided the Proteas to an impressive 4 for 201.
Australia's innings ended in a thriller. We lost early wickets amidst big hitting which is always going to make scoring at 10 per over a big ask. Brett Lee came in with a lot of runs left to score and nearly got us there. We needed 19 runs in the last over to have won with
Lee on strike. He had a huge last over but even a six off the last ball couldn't quite get us there, falling two runs short. Same margin as at Edgbaston. No Freddy Flintoff with the magnaminous gesture this time, though.
|Posted by JC on Sat 25 Feb||23 comments|
England have found their replacement for Troy Cooley as Kevin Shine has been appointed ECB fast bowling coach. Apparently Shine is one of the boffins that have been working in the biomechanics department of the England coaching staff. Frankly, I'm relieved. I'd read a rumour that Dennis Lillee was in line for the job - it was one of my "noooooooo" moments.
According to English cricket blog Reverse Swing, the eggheads in England are also working on a new type of delivery described as contrast swing. While reverse swing requires the bowler to suck mints while applying saliva to one side of the ball, this new type of swing requires chocolate. M & M's are said to be most effective in overcast conditions. Usually contrast swing only occurs after 40 overs although with a full bag of M & M's, the bowler can start to get some late away movement at the 25 over mark.
Australia are countering this with their own new types of bowling. Brett Lee is said to be working on "reverse-reverse-swing". While an old ball is expected to reverse swing towards the shiny side, "reverse-reverse-swing" actually swings the opposite way. He's rejected criticisms that this is conventional swing bowling, claiming to have invented a revolutionary new form of bowling. John Buchanan in turn has developed "gobbledegook-swing" which has the bowler spouting maxims from Sun Tzu's "The Art of War" while he delivers the ball, confounding the batsman (and everyone else on the field).
|Posted by JC on Fri 24 Feb||42 comments|
Victorian fast bowler Shane Harwood says he wants Brett Lee's arse. Harwood is one of the hopeful fast bowlers around with one huge obstacle to making the Australia squad - he's 32 years old. Bit late for a debut when the selectors are looking to build for the future. But back to Brett Lee's backside. To be more specific:
"If you have a look at (Andy) Bichel, (Michael) Kasprowicz, Brett Lee and (Andrew) Flintoff, the powerful lads, they seem to have the big arse."For such a tough and "blokey" culture, there sure seems to be a lot of bum slapping and focus on each other's rear sides in cricket. Pardon the French but it sounds like he's talking out of his arse to me.
|Posted by JC on Fri 24 Feb||32 comments|
Only a few days into their tour of India and half the English team including their three spinners have all came down with stomach bugs. Surely they could've taken a leaf out of Shane Warne's book and had an emergency crate of tinned baked beans shipped over. Effective strategy to ward off stomach illnesses although I wouldn't want to be sitting behind him in the team bus. England must be hoping substitute fielder Gary Pratt manages to stay fit as the boy will be working overtime. England were taking too many toilet breaks during the Ashes - it's going to be even worse in India!
|Posted by JC on Thu 23 Feb||44 comments|
It seems all everyone is talking about regarding Australia's tour of South Africa is how the crowds will act. Graeme Smith says South Africa crowds are more civilised than Australian crowds. Maybe all the saliva spat onto our players in past tours are a sign of civilised respect in their culture. I'm not saying Australian crowds are well behaved. I think when you get a drunken mob, regardless of nationality, and show them a enemy to unite against, they're all going to go off the deep end. But considering most of the racist taunts coming from Australian crowds were in Afrikaans, hardly a language commonly taught in Australian schools, things are a little more complicated than just "us and them".
Meanwhile South African cricket chief Gerald Majola has pleaded with local crowds to give Australia a fair go. This obviously shows how out of touch cricket officials are - he may be well intentioned but that's never gonna happen. And it shouldn't - Australian cricket fans have been eagerly looking forward to this tour. With their main guns Nel and Ntini back in a tough, cauldron-like environment, the series should test and challenge our boys. Looking forward to the Twenty20 match on Friday!
|Posted by JC on Wed 22 Feb||21 comments|
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