Cricket fans around the country are bemused to read rugby league star Andrew Johns will play for NSW in a Twenty20 match against South Australia. I'm at a loss to explain why the NSW Cricket Board would need to resort to a gimmicky publicity stunt to promote a Twenty 20 match. Public interest in cricket around Australia is at an all time high. Twenty20 state games have been attracting tens of thousands of spectators. Now I don't believe in taking the shortest form of the game too seriously - I enjoyed gags like New Zealand's facial hair or Australian nicknames on their uniforms. But this is farcical. I can only hope Shaun Tait catches him under the chin with a 150Km/hr bouncer to scare off any sportsmen from other codes thinking about getting involved. Hmm, on second thoughts, the prospect of seeing that would be worth the price of admission alone.
|Posted by JC on Fri 30 Jun||28 comments|
I was somewhat surprised to learn Cricket Australia have cancelled 650 Ashes tickets. Apparently they hired private investigators to identify scalpers and were able to pinpoint a number of breaches where scalpers bought more than the allocated 10 tickets per person. Don't get me wrong - this is great news. I'm just surprised because I thought their original promise to clamp down on scalpers was an empty threat. As it is, 650 tickets is a drop in the ocean - if the criteria was buyers who obtained more than 10 tickets each, this would amount to only a handful of scalpers.
Meanwhile, the first 4 days for Brisbane, Adelaide, Sydney and Perth are sold out. Melbourne only has a handful of tickets left for days 3 and 4. Considering the MCG has a capacity of 95,000, if the match goes the distance, you're looking at nearly half a million to a single Test. Cricket Australia wouldn't dream of those kinds of numbers over an entire Test series. And when you consider the revenue to be made from TV advertising will most likely dwarf the ticket sales, I can't help but once again picture Cricket Australia's boss James Sutherland writhing on a bed of money.
|Posted by JC on Fri 23 Jun||22 comments|
The secret is out on that statue of Shane Warne that was being whisked around London a few weeks ago. The Sydney Morning Herald has revealed that the statue is actually part of a Cricket Australia ad campaign for the Ashes. Now why CA need to promote the Ashes to England is bewildering considering they just spent the last month desperately trying to prevent English fans from buying tickets (and not too successfully if all the Ashes tickets on ebay.co.uk is any indication).
Nevertheless, I love the idea of a giant statue of Warne floating around London. I can just picture the angry mob turning on the statue after we win back the urn (or angry English women turning on it when they finally wise up). Then when Warnie returns to England for their 2007 summer, I can see him kneeling before the half destroyed statue, crying out "Damn you! You blew it up! Damn you all to hell!"
|Posted by JC on Fri 16 Jun||23 comments|
England's chances of retaining the Ashes have taken a major dint as Simon Jones knee surgery is likely to have him missing the Ashes. My feelings are mixed over this news. On the one hand, we all want England to field a strong side and provide another titanic series like last time. I remember in early 2005 when Andrew Flintoff left the South African tour early being concerned that he recover from his injury in time for the Ashes. Be careful what you wish for! By the 5th Test, I was happy to hear Simon Jones was out of the squad after 4 Tests of terrorising us with his reverse swing. In the end, all it meant was Andrew Flintoff bowled nearly two consecutive sessions of pace bowling to compensate and England took home the urn. So England are starting to fall apart and with a big Test series against Pakistan coming up, I'm sure the team will not be holding back after their loss in the subcontinent. Don't be surprised to see them pick up another few injuries. I wonder just how many of the original Ashes winners will be flying over in November.
|Posted by JC on Thu 15 Jun||21 comments|
I haven't seen such persistence in flogging a dead horse since South Sydney re-entered the NRL as now Ganguly's mother has employed the family priest to magic him back into the Indian team. Ganguly's followers have burned effigies, recruited the movie industry to lead community protests but now in desperation, they're venturing into spiritual territory. The Hindu priest claims he possesses magical powers which should have Ganguly back in the side sometime between July 15 and October 15. I must credit him putting his money where his mouth is and committing to some hard dates. However, I'm not sure they're on the right track. Matthew Hayden claims the Ashes were lost due to an act of God taking out Glenn McGrath. Maybe Ganguly's followers should learn a lesson from that - Ganguly's best chance of getting back into the national side may be if an act of God could take out Greg Chappell.
|Posted by JC on Fri 9 Jun||23 comments|
Steve Waugh thinks England lack the killer instinct and will struggle in the Ashes. Waugh is one voice in a wave of criticism after England lost to Sri Lanka to level the home series. It's got to the point where grizzled ex-players are predicting a one-sided affair with Australia thrashing England on home soil. Conversely, Shane Warne thinks England will bounce back although I think he's more interested in getting in the news to promote his new website pokercricket.com.
While I'll always delight in an England loss, I don't read too much into their current form. The current team is vastly different to the one that won back the Ashes. Andrew Flintoff's old ankle injury has returned, Vaughan just had knee surgery, Giles has a hip injury, James Anderson has a bung back, Kevin Pietersen has a hamstring tear and Simon Jones is perpetually injured to the point where his 4 consecutive Ashes Tests in 2005 were the exception, not the rule. A large difference between the losing England of old and the current squad is the timing of their injuries. Previously, all their injuries seemed to happen just before or at the start of an Ashes series. It was so prevalent, a suspicion grew that the players were willing themselves injured just to escape another humiliating series.
However in 2005, England fielded the same XI for the first 4 Tests, losing only Simon Jones in the 5th. An inspired decision was to not drop any players after the 1st Test loss. And with the loss of Jones at the Oval, you could see the break in the rhythm of their bowling attack. The team is plagued with injuries at the moment but you get the feeling they could patch themselves together by November. Pietersen's hamstring tear is temporary, Vaughan is cautiously returning to county cricket, Giles is recovering and even Flintoff should have time to get his ankle right in time. It was Glenn McGrath's injury that was the difference in 2005. How the injuries fall in 2006/2007 will play a large part in who takes home the urn next time around.
|Posted by JC on Thu 8 Jun||22 comments|
I'm not sure what to make of the news that a secret dispatch by the British High Commission featuring Australia's reaction to the Ashes loss has been "reluctantly released by the British Foreign Office" (thanks to Timbo for the link). Phrases such as "Secret correspondence" and "confidential dispatches" give the whole issue a rather cloak and dagger feel. I'm picturing a guy in a hat and trenchcoat, slipping a thick, manilla envelope to the British ambassador in a alleyway behind the Embassy. Apparently, the contents were so inflammatory, they were "heavily censored because of fears its frankness could damage ties with Australia". I hate to break it to you guys but there'll be drunken mobs throughout the country calling the English team Pommie bastards next summer either way.
|Posted by JC on Wed 7 Jun||72 comments|
Almost as sweet as an Australian victory is news of an English defeat and I was delivered that this morning as Sri Lanka defeated England by 134 runs to square the Test series 1-1. England began with a target of 325 which was always going to be a big ask, particularly with Murali bowling on a 4th innings pitch. Turns out they never had a chance as Murali took 8 for 70 (including a spell of 8 for 26) - at one stage, he'd taken the first 7 wickets and was on track for a 10-for. A run out for the 8th wicket put paid to that idea but who cares? The Poms got thrashed!
Some say England were taken down by their own arrogance - halfway through the 1st Test after Sri Lanka followed on, many were predicting a 3-nil whitewash. You get the impression England are still resting on the laurels of their Ashes win despite defeat in Pakistan and mixed results in India. Sure, sub-continent tours are always tough but now they're losing on their home turf against a supposed lesser side. Even worse news is that Flintoff's old ankle injury is flaring up again - even Australians wouldn't be happy about this as we're looking forward to him touring our shores in November. Still, it's many months till November so I only hope England don't kill the golden goose by overbowling him during their summer.
|Posted by JC on Tue 6 Jun||75 comments|
It has a sense of inevitability about it - Shane Warne's life is being adapted to musical theatre. The problem will be compressing the many headlines and incidents over Warne's checkered career into a single evening's entertainment. The text messaging, numerous sex scandals, dummy spits over being called fat by reporters, getting busted for taking diet pills (I'm imagining the actor wearing a fat suit a la Eddie Murphy in the Nutty Professor). Who knows, maybe they'll even get some cricket in there (how would you replicate the Gatting ball on stage). Forget a stage play - this should be a mini-series!
Just like the Harry Potter films have employed just about every English actor over 50 (except Patrick Stewart who is waiting by the phone on tenterhooks), the Warnie musical will be throwing the net far and wide to find as many young, attractive English actresses as possible. They could go for a Planet of the Apes style climax using the giant statue of Warne from the Picadily circus. Although I imagine more likely the play ending with a dance number featuring Warnie dressed in playboy underwear, tangoeing with an inflatable doll. It's wouldn't be the actual end of the play - it's just that the theatre would be emptied by the end of the song.
|Posted by JC on Mon 5 Jun||21 comments|
Within minutes of tickets going on sale on Thursday, hundreds of Ashes tickets were available on Ebay. Most seem to be purchased by UK buyers selling on ebay.co.uk to desperate English cricket fans. Cricket Australia have pleaded with Ebay to cancel the auctions but Ebay is offering only "limited assistance" (if you want to check out all the auctions, Cricinfo provided a link to all Ebay auctions featuring Ashes tickets). In response, angry Australian cricket fans are taking matters into their own hands by sabotaging the Ebay auctions with fake bids.
That might be the only recourse possible against scalpers. Cricket Australia threaten they'll cancel scalped tickets and claim they have a system to do so although they won't reveal what it is. It sounds like a bluff to me - I can't see how they could practically police this. And if they do, I wonder what they'll do with the cancelled tickets. However, I have come up with a possible solution to weeding out UK imposters from the Australian Cricket Family. Back in Bible times when at war, the Gileadites would identify enemies by asking them to speak the word 'Shibboleth'. Whoever pronounced the word incorrectly was put to death (you'd hate to be a Gileadite with a lisp). Perhaps we need an equivalent dialect giveaway to weed out English imposters:
I must confess all this scalping burns me. I don't want to get all AM Radio but you get the impression it was the flood of opportunistic scalpers melting the Ticketmaster server as much or more than passionate Australian cricket fans. I should be realistic and accept there will always be people looking to make a quick buck when public demand is high enough. Nevertheless, my anger is directed more at Ebay scalpers than Cricket Australia for Thursday's ticket melt down.
|Posted by JC on Sat 3 Jun||146 comments|
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