Ok readers, it's time to pick your test team from the massive pile of talent currently being paraded in the Pura Cup. I managed to only pick three Queenslanders, bonus marks if you pick a team with less ;)
Moses' First XI
Here's a few of my thoughts on the current crop of players going around, please post in the Commments anyone you feel I've missed, under or over-rated.
+Jaques (weight of runs over 3 years, NSWelshman)
-Rogers (injured, going out of form)
-Watson (sh1thouse, probably injured again, not an opener)
-Hussey (not an opener, needed in middle order)
--Hodge (never rated him. pretty ordinary against spin. Only positive is he hasn't shortened his name to Rick)
+Clarke (incumbent, looking forward to some runs here, also taking wickets)
-Hussey, Dave (double Huss, lots of puns, a Huss in the city is worth two in the bush... ok bad I know)
-Katich (another triple century and he'll be pushing someone out)
-Haddin (close as a specialist batsman)
+Symonds (good one day form, bowling half decent, fielding, team morale)
-White (should have been in the T20 W/C but bowls too many pies)
+Gilchrist (will need some runs though.. more exposive than Haddin but I feel less reliable)
-Haddin (spewing Gilly didn't retire!)
++Clark (my only automatic pick of the bowlers)
+Lee (incumbent, NSW)
+Johnson (great ODI form, confident in Brisabne)
-Hilfenhaus (so so close, will stick him in the first 11 for the second test in Tassie at the expense of the least performing quick)
-Bracken (man hair)
+Hogg (3/21, 58* and 5/62 at MCG, no-one can pick his wrongun, sticks his tongue out like a champion)
-Macgilla (ordinary at SCG, can't bat, getting over knee injury)
I'd love to hear others comments on what I've written above, feel free to argue any of these points and I guarantee no offence will be taken. Cheers, Moses.
|Posted by Moses on Tue 30 Oct||100 comments|
Since resuming club cricket, I've slowly been stocking up my kit bag. Obligatory for game 1 was cricket whites and a box (the one thing you don't share with your fellow players). After achieving my goal of surviving to stumps for game 2, I treated myself to some pads, gloves and a thigh pad (plus of course a kit bag to carry it all). The next step is the most important acquisition of all for a cricketer (other than a nickname)... the bat.
For my initial reconnaissance, I visited the local A-Mart All Sports and perused the many bats hanging off the wall. I noticed few had scoops. Back in my earlier playing days (when Cyndi Lauper and hyper-colour T-shirts were popular), the most interesting thing about a bat was the number and configuration of the scoops (I was the proud owner of a 4 scoop grey nichols). When I mentioned the lack of scoops to the salesman, he replied "they were phased out years ago!", looking at me like I was a wrinkled old granddad reminiscing about 8 ball overs or the back foot no ball rule. Hmm, time for this ol' fogey to join the 21st Century.
So I did what anyone does these days when they need to find out stuff without getting off their butt - I googled tips on buying a cricket bat. Some tidbits I picked up:
- English willow is the best wood. All the bats I looked at were made from English willow so that's a no brainer
- Weight is important - not to go too heavy or too light. Apart from one bat that would've given Clive Lloyd a hernia, all the bats I hefted were mid-range so again, easy peasy.
- One article talked about buying a model that matches your batting style. I didn't see any model suiting the "happy just to survive to the end of the over" style so I'm letting that one through to the keeper.
- Most places stressed the importance of knocking in the bat with a mallet or old cricket ball to compress the wood. One website even went so far as to say you had to knock in the bat for at least 6 hours before even using it. I don't think I have the patience to do that - maybe a few hours at best before a quick hit in the nets
So the question I put to cricket-blog.com readers is this - do you have any tips for buying a cricket bat? The Oldham Cricket Club seem to have a hankering for the Kookaburra brand so I'd be interested in hearing any other thoughts on particular brands or types of bats you'd recommend. Should I just rock down to the local A-mart All Sports or should I be visiting a proper cricket store (and if so, any in Brisbane you recommend)? Any tips, thoughts, suggestions or remininisces are welcome...
|Posted by JC on Tue 30 Oct||216 comments|
I've recently joined the team here at cricket-blog.com and am looking forward to adding to the already great alternative content on this site. JC's added my profile to the About Us page, along with the other new bloggers on the site.
I thought for my first post I'd discuss the recent 'test match' between the mighty NSW blues and some cane toads which has showcased some fantastic cricket. 8 Australian players were featured, however none of the TV networks thought to broadcast the event as they were living out their obscession with One Day garbage, so I had to rely on text updates from cricket.com.au . Still, I reckon I followed the scorecard closely enough to give an unbiased match report...
Day 1 - Good Areas and some bloke called Hayden
Day 1 was a rain interrupted affair with Haydos bringing up a century as the Cane Toads plodded along at a mere 3 runs an over, due in main to some tight bowling and superb fielding from the mighty blues.
Day 2 - Bad Guys Out, Good Guys In
Haydos pushed on today to contribute 179 to the dark side's of the Tweed's tally, eventually falling to Stuart Clark. The norterners' tail rallied hard before being shown the door for 467. The mighty blues sure had their work cut out for them at this point, and with Cowan and Jaques falling cheaply the blues were in need of a captains knock. Enter Simon Katich stage left. Michael Clarke was in superb touch before being run out by Katich off the last ball of the day. Allegations of Queenslanders cheating have proven completely unfounded, and we have been instructed not to question the integrity of Paddington St end umpire Sir Joh again.
Day 3 - Katich draws faded curtains on QLD hopes
The Queenslanders showed up an hour late for play today, unable to grasp the intricacies of Daylight Saving Time. Katich continued his domination of the northern attack eventually tonking up his triple century and declaring the blues innings at 606, and taking first innings points from the powers of darkness in the process. Katto's score of 306 off 351 was the highest score at the SCG since Bradman's 452 in 1930. Haydo's again proved his worth by batting out the 12 overs to stumps.
Day 4 - Not enough overs in the Day
Day Four started off well for the Blues, with 2 quick wickets to Stuart Clark. Queenslanders rallied for the rest of the session and managed to make it to lunch without further loss. 3 quick wickets (2 to Clark) after lunch and the toads were again on the ropes, effectively 5/5 after taking off the first innings deficit. A heartbreaking stand from Simpson and Nofke of 105 really took the game away from the NSWelshman, the pivotal moment coming when we took the new ball only for Simpson to see Maroon and belt 22 off Bracken and quickly bring up his ton after that.
Day 5 - Please sir, can we have some more?
This match had all the hallmarks of a great test and tomorrow could have provided a fantastic conclusion, alas there is no Day 5. I remember when the 4 day tests came in and have never agreed with it. Personally I'd rather see additional bonus points for finishing in 4 days, but still have day 5 there for the much wanted result.
I guess it's fair to give these 4 day tests some credit for the Aussie's recent improvement in turning draws into wins, however I believe the extra bonus point would provide adequate incentive to finish them off in 4.
|Posted by Moses on Mon 29 Oct||40 comments|
When I was a young boy, I just loved cricket. I played in a side which was quite talented but unfortunately the club to which we belonged was poor.
We all turned up to play immaculately dressed, at our coach's insistence. He used to harp on the fact that if we couldn't be the part, we should at least look the part. But we had our fair measure of success.
Our kit, on the other hand, was simply dreadful. Old, dirty and worn-out, in complete contrast to our personal attire. Very few of us had our own stuff so we shared what was on offer in the kit and often felt embarrassed.
One evening at practice a well-dressed man got out of his shiny, expensive-looking car, accompanied by a chubby, pink-faced young boy who was carrying cricket gear we could only have dreamed of. All brand new; top-quality pads, bat, protector(s) etc. Boy, we were envious!
It turned out that this youngster wanted to play.
Unfortunately he was very lacking in talent. No hand-eye co-ordination, overweight, not an athletic bone in his body.
Yet he became an important part of our side. Dad was well-to-do and pretty soon our side was playing with new shiny gear, thanks to his generosity. Trophies, team excursions, get-togethers etc all became the norm. Dad was on committees.
Son's abilities did not improve, yet we'd watch in amazement as he was elevated up the batting order, got the occasional bowl, even tried his hand at keeping wicket. He was no longer our full-time long-stop/number 11.
Young as we were, we made allowances for his increased involvement fearing his departure and, more importantly, the departure of Dad and his money.
He played with us for a couple of seasons. We then heard he'd crossed over to try his hand at baseball.
Lovely little story. Now can we draw some parallels with cricket today on an international scale?
Surely Dad is the BCCI for the Indian cricketing public. He sees little reward for moneys invested. (Unlike the son, the Indian cricket side shows at least glimpses of brilliance.) But Dad wants to see results for his bucks. And dollars demand favours, dollars demand empowerment. Alas, dollars alone cannot guarantee success.
Our Club would be the ICC, welcoming Dad (the BCCI) with open arms, gratefully extending the hand of friendship, gratefully accepting all money on offer. And
losing its voice, losing its independence, losing all credibility.
Our team? Well, a bunch of scrappers with or without shiny new gear. Draw your own comparisons. World cricket, maybe; aware of what is going on but with a weak,
obsequious governing body/club. Fully aware of Dad's importance, his over-importance but unable to do much about it.
Remains to be seen whether Indian cricket takes its bat and ball and goes home. Or to another competition where success is more probable, more immediate.
|Posted by Dan Tas on Sun 28 Oct||1 comments|
I'm not sure if anyone is interested in hearing about a mediocre cricketer coming out of a 20 year retirement and stumbling his way through club cricket. But personally, I'm enjoying blogging about actually playing cricket rather than just watching it (it sure beats flogging MonkeyGate to death - move on, people). So I'll keep at it until I get shouted down. Last week, I barely survived to stumps and in a fit of hubris planned this weekend's innings. Surprisingly, the plan almost worked.
Stage 1 was to block out the first few overs, get my eye in. I half expected to have my stumps spreadeagled in the first over (there's positive thinking for you) but employed a technique I heard Greg Chappell describe on ABC Radio once. He said every champion batsman played each delivery, inclined to get on the front foot first - if it pitched short, they'd adjust but were rarely caught on the crease. I'm not sure I'd take Chappell's advice on how to handle the politics of Indian cricket but as far as batting goes, the theory is sound. While I sustained a few LBW shouts, they were generally outside the line or going down leg thanks to being so far down the wicket.
Stage 2 was to target the V of mid-on and mid-off. Unfortunately, this didn't pan out. It turns out all my scoring shots (bar one to mid-wicket) were behind the wicket - my wagon wheel would look more like an inverted V. I just couldn't generate the timing or power to penetrate the covers or push past the bowler - something to work on in the nets. Nevertheless, Sam, my more experienced, aggressive and skillful partner (not a tall order) was supportive, encouraging me in between overs just to keep surviving. He was scoring freely so it was a blow when he was given out caught behind to a dodgy umpiring decision.
In came Piney, our usual opener and the team's best batsman (at least according to Piney). He started by asking if I could get a single quickly - he usually opens the bat and was keen to have a hit. Throughout his innings, he kept supplying a running commentary of his score - "halfway to 50", "only 18 to the half century". In between overs, with me to take up strike, he asked "could you do me a favour and get a single early? I'm on 42 and would really like to get my 50 this over". I got a single off the second ball, then he hit 4, 2, 4 to notch up the half century. Classic Piney!
Stage 3 was to go the tonk. I even started to middle the ball and hit a few boundaries (all behind the wicket, of course). At this point, I got a little excited and slashed at a wide ball outside off stump, nicking it. The wicketkeeper fumbled it but first slip pouched the ball just off the grass. The bowler set me up and I fell for it like a sucker! In the end, I reached 26, batting for 36 overs (I seriously need to find a way to score quicker).
The match was a draw but the opposition had an hour of batting before stumps. Everyone had a bowl and even I got an over. I bowl leg spinners with a style similar to Warnie although without the prodigious turn, unerring accuracy, mental domination of the batsmen and wicket taking ability (hey, you can't have it all). My first over was shambolic - the first 4 balls went for 9 runs including a long hop down the leg side that was appropriately dispatched to the boundary. The 5th ball was a loopy full toss that struck their slightly overweight opener. When I apologised, he was more frustrated that he didn't put it away, replying "don't worry about it, that was a pie!" My sixth ball was on a good length and he miscued it to cover who took the catch. Eat that pie, tubbie!
So although I finished a little dazed from batting 2 hours in the hot Queensland sun, I savoured every moment - the gladiatorial exchange with the bowler, watching my batting partners go the tonk and listening to the slip cordon's sledgy comments. Nothing nasty, just subversive stuff like "squared him up good!", "ooh, just outside the line that time" and "I can feel a nick coming on". My leggies didn't come off quite so good but leg spinning is a difficult art at the best of times, let alone after a 20 year lay off. A wicket in my first over is still nothing to sneeze at. Bring on next weekend!
|Posted by JC on Sun 28 Oct||35 comments|
Mike Ticher at the Guardian has written an amusing article about self-confessed cricket tragic John Howard's possibly only gambit that might get him re-elected - use Murali as a Tampa-style scapegoat:
Howard's application of clunky cricket analogies to politics is as elegant as his bowling action. In the last election he claimed at one point his Liberal Party was "three for about 268 [in the campaign] but the right-hand opener is still there." This time it needs several hundred to avoid the follow-on, and is wishing it had dropped the right-hand opener before the series started.
Howard is struggling to turn round ominous opinion polls, secure a fifth straight election victory and, most importantly, make sure he will still have the use of his personal RAAF plane to take him to and from the Boxing Day Test at the MCG (cost to the taxpayer last year a mere £5,700). He needs a distraction, a circuit-breaker such as the Tampa refugee crisis he exploited so successfully in the 2001 election. And at this desperate late stage there can be only one contender for the sports-mad PM: Muttiah Muralitharan.
Murali has two Tests before the election in which to snare the nine wickets he needs to overhaul Shane Warne as the leading Test wicket-taker. Howard has form. The last time Sri Lanka visited, in 2004, he was instrumental in Murali's refusal to tour, when he branded the spinner a chucker with the words: "They proved it in Perth too, with that thing." That thing, to be more technical, was the biomechanics test that showed Murali straightened his arm to an extent that was then illegal when bowling the doosra.
Howard might have to bend the truth by only about, say, 14 degrees, to whip up a wave of anti-Murali sentiment. It is an edgy time. The visitors have already had anxious meetings about likely crowd reactions, and plain-clothes police are to be deployed inconspicuously (presumably dressed in body paint and watermelon helmets) to weed out the kind of troublemakers who have targeted Murali in the past.
If Howard could only harness that sentiment, then hold up Warne as the iconic national figure who represents everything good about Australia . . . no, you're right, he's a goner.
|Posted by JC on Sun 28 Oct||70 comments|
Sporting predictions rarely end well. There's Glenn McGrath's infamous 5-nil prediction before the 2005 Ashes. Or Kevin Pietersen's promise to humiliate Australia at the Twenty20 World Cup. Or even yesterday's whitewash predictions from Stuart Clark. Nevertheless, dodgy predictions that come back to haunt you is what sport blogging is all about so I'm going out on a limb, outlining how I see my club match panning out later today.
Last week, coming out of a 20 year retirement, my major triumph was barely surviving to stumps on 2 not out, thanks largely to a stonewalling defensive technique that made Jason Gillespie look like Shahid Afridi. However, I won't get away with it this week. The official team sledger Belly (I don't even know his real name) has been struggling to come up with my nickname (an essential part of any Australian cricketer's kit). If I pick up where I left off last week, there's a good chance it'll be "Dizzy".
So my plan is to block out just an over or two to get my eye in. If I survive that far (big if), I plan to start pushing harder at the ball with the full face of the bat, targetting the V from mid-on to mid-off (let's hope none of the opposition read this blog). If I reach double figures, I figure I'll be seeing the ball okay and will try some more expansive shots. If that comes off, I'll be well into unchartered territory and will probably just go the tonk till I sky it to cover. Planning anything more than that would be sheer hubris.
Now, I'm probably overthinking things, visualising the innings Matthew Hayden style (rest assured I won't be squatting on the pitch before the match). Maybe I'd be better off preparing like Michael Clarke here, emulating Don Bradman's famous stump and golf ball training technique. After all, the Don ended up not half bad.
|Posted by JC on Sat 27 Oct||24 comments|
Stuart Clark bowls like Glenn McGrath. He's from the same state. They're both tall. Hell, they even look similar. Come to think of it, have both ever been seen in the same room at the same time? Now MiniMcGrath, as he shall now be called, has adopted Pigeon's cringeworthy habit of predicting series whitewashes:
"It's going to be a great summer with Sri Lanka and India coming out. And hopefully the fans can come out and support us and we can bring home 4-0 and 2-0 series wins." Quizzed further on the prospect of a series whitewash against both India and Sri Lanka, Clark said: "I have just predicted 4-0 and 2-0."Nothing like handing the opposition a healthy serving of motivation on a platter. Problem is, those kind of predictions were a safer bet when you had history's greatest ever legspinner in your team. Taking 20 wickets will be a more daunting prospect in this new post-Warne period. I hope Clark's right, although I also hope each Test is tightly contested, ending in the last session of the 5th day with an Australian win. Not too much to ask, is it?
|Posted by JC on Fri 26 Oct||94 comments|
Everyone seems to be lining up to sink the boot into Andrew Symonds. Indian spectators, Mark Waugh, the Indian media, Mahesh... and now from across the Tasman, Kiwi website Sportsfreak weighs in with a New Zealand perspective on the whole Andrew Symonds monkey taunting incident:
While Sportsfreak does not condone racial discrimination in any form, it is only right to look at this from the boundary. And lets get one thing straight: Symonds did not get taunted with monkey calls because he is black. Countless West Indian teams have passed through India without hint of abuse. And black members of South African and England teams have never been singled out.So as Roy wears white sun cream, racist taunts are inevitable, nay, expected. Hmm, interesting perspective from our neighbours. Really looking forward to kicking some Kiwi tail during the Chappell Hadlee Trophy this summer!
Symonds was abused because he is a knob. Take your pick for the specific reason: he had an on-filed run-in with Sreesanth in the first game, he has a ridiculous hair-do, everything he has ever done in the field is over-theatric, and then there’s the outrageous lip gloss clown make-up mask. Where do you start?
It is pathetic lip paint that probably leads to the racial abuse. Being English, Symonds should realise that the white monkey lips is straight out of the Black and White Minstrel show. So a monkey call, while unpleasant, has some inevitability about it.
|Posted by JC on Fri 26 Oct||76 comments|
After a brief sabbatical due to work pressure, am back, and here I go with my final (I promise!!!) post on the Indian Chapter of the racism incident. Finally, after the monkey-taunts, denials, agreements, et al, the Indian Chapter of the racism saga has ended. However, as Ponting has ‘mildly’ referred to (and thereby probably reminded the Aussie crowds to prepare themselves), the Indians can expect to face a tit-for-tat kind of backlash when they tour down under later this year. Ponting has said:
"I'm sure that at different times, Sreesanth and a few of the guys will cop a hard time from the Australian fans. That will generally happen at some stage to most teams that tour here, but I just hope — I'll keep my fingers crossed — there's no racial stuff comes up at all through the summer."
Further to my previous post and the many comments that followed, I admit that Symonds may not exactly have been a crybaby, but along with Ponting, he ensured the news filled all forms of media almost everyday since it happened. Though BCCI initially issued stupid denials, probably at ICC’s nod, did take action eventually. However, immediately after the ugly incident happened, ground authorities had swung to action instantly as the replay screen at the stadium flashed the ICC anti-racism code during the match, for the crowds to see and adhere to.
Past Aussie captains (Allan Border and Steve Waugh) have called Symonds ‘precious’. While Waugh said that the monkey-taunts did not amount to racism, Border felt that crowds always irritate the away team and that it happens everywhere. I don't completely agree with Waugh, though Border is right, it does happen everywhere, in some form or other.
Yeah, it happens everywhere, but let’s hope it doesn’t happen again, anywhere, particularly in India and Australia!
Whether it counts as racism or not, it is/was plain ugly and in very bad taste. Here’s hoping the Ozzie Chapter will just be full of cricket and good ole’ Ozzie beer…and none else!
|Posted by Mahesh on Thu 25 Oct||117 comments|
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