Steve Waugh has volunteered some helpful advice on how we can win back the urn, suggesting Australian lost the Ashes because they were too friendly with England. I thought the same thing. Australia seemed to go into the series determined to clean up their image to the point where Matt Hayden was congratulating Andrew Flintoff on knocking over his stumps. I expect that kind of craven obsequiousness from our opposition, not our own players. Conversely, England went in with a hard attitude as evidenced by their aloofness when Ricky Ponting was struck in the face in the first session of the series. That was a fascinating moment of Test cricket. It reminded me of Allan Border when he consciously adopted a Captain Grumpy approach with England in an effort to win back the Ashes. Consider his comment to English batsman Robin Smith during a drinks break:
"What do you think this is, a f***ing tea party? No, you can't have a f***ing glass of water. You can f***ing wait like all the rest of us."Okay, AB took it to extremes but he was a pioneer - after several decades, we've refined sledging to a fine art. I like many thought Australia did have a bit of an ugly reputation with incidents like Glenn McGrath's episode in the West Indies or Shane Warne's profane send-off in South Africa. However, after the Ashes loss in a profound moment of self-discovery, I suddenly found I prefered a nasty, winning Australia to a chummy, losing Australia.
All this is leading up to what will be an engrossing series. Australia will be more determined than ever to win back the Ashes but England will be just as determined to prove themselves after poor series against India and Pakistan. It will be a clash of two steely willed, highly skilled teams. To paraphrase Shane Warne, let's hope we show more Fonzie and less Richie Cunningham.
|Posted by JC on Sun 30 Apr||72 comments|
Well, the Bangladesh tour is over as Australia won by 9 wickets in the 3rd ODI. It was the ho-hum one-sided affair we normally expect from Australia vs minnow matches (about time we got one). The one item of note was the debut of Mark Cosgrove, nicknamed Mini-Boof after Darren Lehmann. "Mini" is not such an accurate term - earlier this season, Cosgrove was suspended from the South Australian side for being too fat. Suffice to say, he's endured an endless succession of fat jokes ever since to the point where even he concedes he'll probably have to live with such jokes for the rest of his career.
In what was a flat finish to the series, Bangladesh limped to 124 which Australia chased down in just 23 overs. Looks like our 5 month holiday from international cricket starts even earlier than expected. Cosgrove did well to score 74 although the only blemish was playing on with just 2 runs left to score. So now our players come home.
I've noticed they've already started the Ashes mind games. When South Africa toured, we at least waited till they landed in the country. At least I won't lack for content to blog about. Mike Hussey has announced he has devised cunning plans against the English bowlers. I'm a big fan of Mr Cricket but admit he is coming across a little Baldric from Black Adder this time around. Similarly, Shane Warne questions whether England will handle the pressure of retaining the Ashes. He wonders whether they'll like their current position of holding the trophy and being in front. I can imagine it's a damn sight better than their usual position of not having the trophy for decades and getting thumped.
|Posted by JC on Sat 29 Apr||19 comments|
To ensure Australia are fresh for the Ashes, Adam Gilchrist advocates resting players for the Champion's Trophy. Reading between the lines, I think he's saying HE wants a rest during the Champion's Trophy. Resting players is a big discussion point in world cricket at the moment with most people saying it's a crock. International cricketers are well paid, it's their job - get out and play!
Personally, I'm a big fan of resting players, particularly during the Champion's Trophy, for several reasons. Firstly, the Trophy is a bit of a dud concept. It's basically a way for the ICC to scratch together a bit of cash - Malcolm Speed must need another jacuzzi in his jet. Scheduled just before the World Cup makes it even more pointless. Positioned a few weeks before the Ashes, the most anticipated Test series in memory, makes it a mere hurdle to get over before the real cricket begins. It's no wonder the players have no respect for the tournament.
Secondly and more importantly, England have contemplated doing the same thing, resting key players like Andrew Flintoff. There's a theory that England with their current one day form wouldn't make the semi-final as they're in the same pool as Australia and India. This would give them a couple extra days of rest before the Ashes which could make a big difference in the 1st Test (which I'll be lining up for my ticket for shortly, woohoo!) The last Ashes was balanced on a knife edge where 2 runs was the difference between retaining the urn and the first humiliating defeat in 18 years. Every advantage must be used to ensure that doesn't happen again.
If Australia and England do rest their superstars, you can imagine the ICC won't be too happy about it. I predict the ICC will step in with some kind of pre-emptive strike making full strength mandatory to maintain the integrity of their tournament. So expect a few Aussie players to be calling in "sickies". I'm picturing Gilly on a beach with his kids, talking on the mobile. "Mr Speed? Yeah, can't come in today. Yep, it's the knee. Well, see you in Brisbane for the 1st Test. Later, mate!"
|Posted by JC on Fri 28 Apr||21 comments|
The English cricket team are developing a definite camp bent which must be a source of concern to all red blooded cricket fans. Beefy fast bowler Darren Gough donned the frilly sleeves to participate in that travesty of reality TV, Dancing With The Stars (I'm still recovering from seeing Molly Meldrum in the Australian version). Simon Jones will drop his gear at the first hint of a camera. And now there are plans for Andrew Flintoff to sing a duet with Elton John. On the positive side, at least it couldn't be as bad as the entire team's recording of Jerusalem.
|Posted by JC on Thu 27 Apr||50 comments|
This match began similar to that fateful match in Cardiff where Bangladesh humbled the might of Australia. Incidentally, I hear Cardiff will host an Ashes Test next time we tour England. Some complain it's for pure financial reasons but I'm guessing the ECB hope it's a bogey ground for Australia. Similar to Cardiff, Australia won the toss, batted first and did an adequate job setting a total. But there was one big difference in this match - Andrew Symonds turned up sober this time.
Australia opened well, reaching 55 and Gilchrist on the verge of exploding as he did in the first one dayer. Then Mashrafe Mortaza took 3 quick wickets to take out Australia's top three. Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds consolidated in the middle of the innings, building a hefty if somewhat slow partnership (why can't our middle order do that at Test level). It was Symond's undefeated century that was the difference in the end - he got us to 250.
Bangladesh then showed how to perform a real top order collapse, losing their first 3 wickets for 8 runs. A 4th wicket partnership of 62 from Habibul Bashar and Javed Omar steadied things but they couldn't handle the run rate and fell for 183, 67 runs short. A comfortable victory although again things didn't go all Australia's way. I still don't get it. This is Bangladesh. Why do we keep getting into trouble against these guys? Is it Australian fatigue, or the home ground advantage or the simple fact that Bangladesh are becoming a good team? I'm hoping the latter which would be a great step for international cricket. Nevertheless I confess myself losing interest in this ODI series and am glad there's only one match left. As the cricketers are to a much larger degree.
|Posted by JC on Thu 27 Apr||23 comments|
Shane Warne has made headlines on just about everything. Sex, drugs, illicit smoking. Now Warne is likely to testify as a witness in a murder trial. What's else can he make headlines about? Alien abduction? Just so long as it happens after the Ashes! Apparently Warne saw two teenagers in a taxi just before one of them were killed. The incident itself is bizarre:
Some of the teenagers in the taxi waved at Warne, who was travelling in an adjacent car. The Test cricketer wound down the car window to say hello but the teenagers began to abuse Warne and throw lollipops at him. Warne told the defendant to get rid of them, get them out of the cab.Without wanting to make too much light of what is a tragic event, it's obviously not a good idea to throw candy at Shane Warne. Unless you're an English bowler sucking on a mint, of course.
|Posted by JC on Wed 26 Apr||24 comments|
Anzac Day is a solemn event where we remember the sacrifices of Australians and New Zealanders who gave their lives for our freedom. Hence I read with bemusement how naturist group Free Beaches Australia have organised a game of nude beach cricket to mark Anzac Day. I wonder if our diggers could've anticipated the Australian way of life they gave their lives for would include getting our gear off and flailing around naked in public or drunken rampages in Gallipoli each year. My favourite part of the article comes from Bill Hopper, the spokesman for the New Zealand Returned Services Association:
"Mr Hopper said his only concern about the event was the combination of nudism with a sausage sizzle."
|Posted by JC on Tue 25 Apr||117 comments|
Australia won the 1st one dayer against Bangladesh overnight although it was hardly an emphatic victory. Bangladesh were dismissed for 195 which Australia chased down with 4 wickets in hand. Bangladesh were unable to post a reasonable score - you'd think 30 or 40 more would've stretched the Aussies that much more. Then Gilchrist came in and after a few overs of getting his eye in, went ballistic, scoring 76 off 46 balls. At the 10 over mark, Australia were halfway towards the total and looked to wrap things up early. But Gilly's dismissal led to a steady procession of wickets as the spinners came in and tied down the batsmen. If the first 100 took around 10 overs, the next 100 took over 30 overs as Australia limped home. Typically, Mike Hussey and Brett Lee got us over the line - those two are often around at the death for Australia. But in the end, it was Gilchrist's innings that made the difference.
So not the most convincing win by Australia. So far on this tour, Bangladesh have performed creditably - pushing Australia in the 1st Test and giving them a scare here (I'm sure they're trying to forget Gillespie's double century in the 2nd Test). So two more one dayers before Australia begin their 5 month holiday - let's hope they don't break out the tequilas and hawaian shirts until after Friday's match.
|Posted by JC on Mon 24 Apr||71 comments|
Australian bowlers Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken and Mitchell Johnson took advantage of Australia's long 1st innings in the 2nd Test against Bangladesh by asking Wasim Akram to teach them reverse swing. Considering Akram was one of the original proponents of the destructive form of bowling, it was a great opportunity. Jason Gillespie must be having mixed feelings though - he was too busy breaking records with the bat and missed the chance to sit at Akram's feet and absorb his pearls of wisdom. One hopes that with Akram's tips and Troy Cooley's guidance, our bowling attack will cease to be the liability it was during the last Ashes series. Now if only our frail middle order could go spend a week with Steve Waugh.
|Posted by JC on Sun 23 Apr||34 comments|
After the recent "Bangladesh-gate" near disaster, Ricky Ponting has criticised Cricket Australia for scheduling 5 Tests in 5 weeks against South Africa and Bangladesh. Seems to me there's plenty of blame to go around. The schedule was agreed to by the Australian Cricketers Association so you'd have to say the players as well as the officials considered Bangladesh a mere warm-down exercise after the South Africa tour. It was only the very close shave in the 1st Test that woke the Australians up to the poor scheduling. Some like Toby Forage from Fox Sports says Ponting should stop complaining:
"Everybody whinges about having to work every day, but given the choice between hardening my fingertips on a computer keyboard or developing calluses from gripping a cricket bat for a few days in the sun at exotic locations around the world, I'll tell you what I'd prefer. It'd be great to retire before I'm 40, too, cashed up to the eyeballs with only a career in public speaking and TV commentary ahead of me."I disagree (not about it being cool playing cricket for Australia, just his conclusion). It's not as simple a case of cricketers being well paid so they should be grateful for any match play they get. It's a case of managing players so they're fresh and peaking when they represent their country. Exhausting a team in South Africa for several months then shipping them off into subcontinental conditions a day later is bad player management, pure and simple. Cricket Australia big cheese James Sutherland has missed the point too.
"We are very conscious of their workload, but I'm not sure there would be a lot of players outside of that group that would be saying that they're playing too much cricket. That's where the debate gets complex. Can you really tell me Justin Langer is saying there is too much cricket? Is Matthew Hayden saying that now he is out of the one-day team?"That statement is a slap in the face to Australia's champions. He's basically saying any player who wants to play for the one day side as well as the Test side just has to deal with the rigorous scheduling - they've brought it upon themselves. Again, bad player management. The players who get selected for both squads are the cream of the crop. Ricky Ponting, captain and best batsman in the world. Brett Lee, one of the best bowlers in the world. Adam Gilchrist, the wicketkeeper batsman who changed the way the world looks at wicketkeeping. Sutherland is spitting on these champions, telling them to shut up as there's plenty others who'd love to have their position. So what if we grind them into the ground - plenty more where that came from. He should beware - I wouldn't put it past Adam Gilchrist to put in another half-arsed performance if he was ticked off at Cricket Australia's overdone scheduling.
|Posted by JC on Fri 21 Apr||39 comments|
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