I'm surprised to learn Australia are exploring the possibility of having Australian umpires during the Ashes. I'm a strong believer in the neutral umpires law which means you can't have umpires from the two countries playing in a Test match. The whole issue of umpiring is already complicated enough as Darrell Hair has proven. You have bad decisions, personality clashes, bizarre signalling techniques (you know who I'm talking about) and accusations of racism. Add to that mix the possibility of home side bias and you'll never hear the end of it. And apparently England agree. The only reason I can imagine Cricket Australia would ask for Aussie umpires is so they finally get some good umpiring with Simon Taufel. Surely they weren't after Darrell Hair!
|Posted by JC on Mon 28 Aug||30 comments|
It happen so regularly and predictably, it's actually getting quite boring as Glenn McGrath targets English batsmen Alastair Cook. I've never gotten this whole targeting business of McGrath. Surely his target is whoever happens to be at the other end of the pitch when he has the ball in hand. What's he gonna do - peg the ball at Cook at the non-striker's end when he's not looking? If anything, McGrath's comments concern me. What with John Buchanan going off on one of his tangents with the military boot-camp and McGrath displaying his customary pre-series hubris, it seems like business as usual for the Australian team. Usually before an Ashes series, they visit a famous landmark from Australia's history, usually a battlefield where Australians were massacred. I'd recommend Edgbaston.
|Posted by JC on Sun 27 Aug||29 comments|
The rest of the world are quaking in their boots as Darrell Hair has vowed "people will pay" for his treatment over the Pakistan incident:
"I have been vilified by virtually everybody here and when the truth comes out a lot of people will pay."Who the hell does he think he is - Michael Corleone? He also blamed the media for a lot of the problems in the world and says he did nothing wrong because he followed the rules. Basically, he's confirmed my opinion of him - a cantankerous, bull-headed stickler for the rules.
In addition, Hair has offered to resign if he gets a payout of $658,000. The ICC are between a rock and a hard place now. If they keep him on as umpire, its doubtful he'll preside over any countries from the subcontinent. Considering the ICC law that prohibits him umpiring an Australian Test, it doesn't leave him many options. Just how often do South Africa, New Zealand and the West Indies play each other? Add to the fact that he's going to need security worthy of a US President to keep him safe from angry protesters. There's already the possibility of Hair being dropped from umpiring jobs due to the expenses of protecting him. To be honest, I have no pity for the guy. This is a storm he brought upon himself due to his officious, uncompromising nature. In the end, he's going to walk into retirement with a huge cash windfall and I'm sure a cushy book deal is just around the corner. There may even be the possibility of some reality TV deals.
|Posted by JC on Sat 26 Aug||20 comments|
Australia continues to experiment with every coaching technique other than actual batting and bowling skills as John Buchanan takes the Australian team on a military style boot camp in the mountains. Apparently, the players are deprived of food, sleep, water, personal belongings and even their names:
The first two days of the camp will be used to break down the participants, with the instructors to deprive them of their daily belongings. Clothing will be provided, names and titles replaced by a number. Split into groups of six, the participants will be deprived of sleep, food and water and asked to perform highly complex and demanding activities under severe sensory stress.The only concession has been for Shane Warne who is limited to half a dozen baked bean tins a day and only allowed to bring two blonde supermodels to keep him warm in evenings.
|Posted by JC on Thu 24 Aug||83 comments|
Yep, the hair puns have been flowing fast and thick ever since Pakistan forfeited the 4th Test against England after Daryl Hair called them for ball tampering. The whole nation of Pakistan is in an uproar over the incident. Schoolchildren are burning effigies of Hair. In fact, I haven't seen so much burnt Hair since Michael Jackson filmed a Pepsi commercial (sorry, couldn't resist another Hair pun). I have to say I'm outraged too. England were losing that Test, the last Test before the Ashes. I was looking forward to posting a gloating article after they lost the match - this whole debacle has taken that opportunity away from me.
As for who is the guilty party here, I think there's plenty of blame to go around. Imran Khan has a point when he says Hair becomes a mini-Hitler when he puts on the white coat. Adherence to the rules does allow some flexibility but Hair almost seems to embrace the controversy that comes with his zero compromise approach. Similarly, Pakistan spat the dummy as only they can (okay, that's not fair - Australia have been known to have the odd dummy spit too) and their refusal to take the field was an overreaction. They eventually came out onto the field so it's apparent their initial boycott was a bluff. Hair called their bluff and forfeited the game. So Pakistan didn't really want to boycott - they were just protesting out of principle. If Hair had shown the least bit of diplomacy and sensitivity, the game would never have been called off and I still may have got my English defeat. And the latest twist in the tale is that Duncan Fletcher has been accused of starting the row by seeing referree Mike Proctor that morning. It wouldn't surprise me - I always thought that Fletcher was a shifty, manipulative kind of guy (I still haven't forgiven him for winking at Ricky Ponting over the substitute fielder incident).
|Posted by JC on Tue 22 Aug||39 comments|
When it comes down to it, Australia lost the Ashes because England were more prepared. But not this time around. No, this time, the Australian coaching staff are doing their homework with John Buchanan distributing copies of Duncan Fletcher's published Ashes diary to his coaching staff. Why pore over hours and hours of video footage when you can get it straight from the horse's mouth? I guess they can fire that video archivist they hired last October.
Buchanan practically invented the modern laptop approach to cricket coaching, turning what was a simple sport into a realm of nerdish statistics and biomechanics. He's finetuned strategy borrowing ideas from Sun Tzu's The Art of War. He attempted to expand players' minds using Edward de Bono's left brain thinking. When was the last time he actually coached batting, bowling or fielding techniques. I wonder how England are preparing for the Ashes. Somehow, I don't think it will involve distributing copies of the Shane Warne biography 'Spun Out'.
|Posted by JC on Sat 19 Aug||22 comments|
Indian cricket fans never cease to surprise and impress me with their passion for the world's greatest sport. The latest news that has me shaking my head in wonderment was a legal petition from an Indian cricket association to have the World Cup postponed. Apparently, the World Cup is scheduled at the same time as school exams in India. Most people would shake their heads in sorrow and get on with it. How does that saying go? Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference. In this case, any rationally thinking person would accept that a million dollar tournament scheduled months or years in advance featuring countries from all over the world would take precedence over your local school's exams. An Australian cricket fan would bitch around the water cooler about the unfortunate timing or in a pinch, complain on their blog. But that's not enough if you're an Indian cricket fan! No, they think the ICC should up and reschedule the whole event just to make sure your kid doesn't miss out on valuable study time! What's more, they took it to the next level, actually bringing the matter to the Supreme Court in India. Fortunately, cooler heads prevailed and the petition was withdrawn. Still, you have to admire the chutzpah that got it that far in the first place.
|Posted by JC on Fri 18 Aug||20 comments|
John Buchanan's term as Australian coach is due to run out after next year's World Cup and apparently he's expected not to renew his contract. A few names are being thrown into the hat to replace him and surprisingly, Greg Chappell is a possibility to replace him. Chappell's term as Indian coach ends at the same time and I'd be surprised if he was asked to stay on (or if he wanted to). I know if I was getting my effigy burned every time I turned up to my workplace, I'd probably be looking for another job (I work from home with my wife so that only happens every other week). There are a lot of other names in the mix such as Bennett King (West Indies coach) and Dav Whatmore (Bangladesh coach). I don't know what it is about poaching ex-pats from other countries but hey, it worked with Troy Cooley so why not again?
Still, what I'd really like to see is a reality TV show that documents the entire process of weeding out the duds and selecting the final coach. You'd start with the audition process. Crucial to this would be the selection of the panel who judge the applicants. You'd have a feel-good Marcia Hines style judge who encourages every applicant ("Mr Whatmore, I think you've done a bang up job with Bangladesh"), the grumpy judge who hates every applicant (I'm imagining David Boon sitting back with his arms crossed, with the occasional "Nah, mate" or "Get real") and the overbearing Mark Holden type with his signature "touch down" manouvre (D.K.Lillee jumping to his feet with his index fingers in the air crying 'Howzat'). Hmm, 'Howzat' could be the name of the show.
The next stage would be to narrow it down to a group of finalists and assign them each a team of inept youngsters. Over a period of 8 weeks, the coaches must shape their team into a finely tuned band of professional cricketers. They'll teach all the skills - bowling, batting, fielding, sledging... and with absolutely no mention of Sun Tzu's Art of War. The show will end with a Twenty20 tournament between the teams. The coach of the winning team gets the job. Upon reflection, the sad fact is the concept actually sounds a lot better than many of the reality TV shows on offer at the moment.
|Posted by JC on Thu 17 Aug||38 comments|
The anticipation is growing as Ricky Ponting is discussing Australia's strategies regarding Monty Panesar. I'll be interested to see if Panesar gets selected ahead of Ashley Giles. I hope so - Giles is frankly a little boring and I want to see more of Panesar. I'm even more interested to see how Australian crowds will react to him. Australians have a bit of a racist reputation at the moment, what with Dean Jone's terrorist crack last week and our treatment of the South Africans last season. I think our racism label is warranted. We may not all be curmudgeonly bigots (although I know a few of those) but we are a conservative nation and were so even before 9/11. Hopefully we can keep our racist tone down to the usual 'Pommie bastard' taunt (which apparently is quite okay).
|Posted by JC on Tue 15 Aug||17 comments|
A media storm has followed Dean Jones the last few days as he's been sacked for calling Muslim cricketer Hashim Amla a terrorist. Yes, it was an "off the cuff joke" and was intended to be off-air. Jones has basically fallen on his sword and you can imagine it'll be several years before he's allowed back on the television. In a way, I can't help but feel sorry for the guy. That doesn't excuse the gaff though. Hearing Jones talk about how he respects the Muslim faith and is friends with the Pakistan team, it reminds me of a similar incident recently - Mel Gibson's drunken anti-semitic rant and subsequent claims of not being racist. Jone's gaff is nowhere near as virulent - he comes off as more buffoon than bigot. Nevertheless, in Australia (and I'm guessing the rest of the world), there is a climate of bigotry and association of Islam with terrorism even if they have very little to do with each other. So people in the media are especially responsible for their conduct and Jones deserves censure for his words. I only wish current affairs shows would receive the same kind of punishment when they stir up racist sentiment with their inflammatory anti-Muslim reports.
|Posted by JC on Wed 9 Aug||22 comments|