India's tour of Australia has been an emotional rollercoaster. From Sydney's Bollyline to Perth's love-in to the snoozefest of Adelaide (does boredom qualify as an emotion?). And the wounds of Bollyline were opened again yesterday. Coincidentally, a cricket documentary Beyond The Backyard airs on the ABC tonight. I received a review copy earlier this week so I thought I'd give cricket-blog readers a heads-up (note - if any bat manufacturers care to send me some free bats, I'd be happy to review them!)
The film tells the tale of a group of Aussies who as kids dreamt of playing for Australia until reality (and a lack of ability) kicked in. 20 years down the track, they've formed the Guild Cricket Club and organised an ambitious tour of India, playing local clubs along the way. Their goal - one last glorious innings before sporting oblivion. It's basically a road movie as they tour throughout India with an unexpected detour into the Himalayas as they take on the might of the Kingdom of Bhutan. The results have a sense of inevitability as the Indian clubs hammer these ageing part-timers. It doesn't help when one of the clubs features an ex-international with 200+ Test wickets.
The cricket is entertaining as the fielding is around the same level I see each Saturday at our club games. But more interesting is their interaction with Indian culture. As they travel from city to city, locals challenge them to a game of cricket on the spot. It happens on fields, highways, even bus platforms. One impromptu game occurs on a busy road with a swelling crowd milling metres away from the stumps (a propped up suitcase). Talk about crowding the batsman!
Another startling image is a field where dozens of games are played simultaneously, practically on top of each other. Meanwhile, the Cavs struggle to field eleven each Saturday. It made me wonder how can India not be bristling with a dozen Tendulkars and Kumbles at any one time? Surely with such a huge, cricket mad population, it's a statistical inevitability that a Bradman should emerge every couple of years. I'm sure there's a myriad of complicated reasons that Indian bloggers would be happy to explain :-)
I confess I watched the show with some degree of jealousy. Having just come out of a 20 year retirement, many of the themes were close to my heart. A passionate love of the game, a desire to challenge yourself, the triumphal delight over a success and self deprecating introspection after a hammering. To travel through a different culture playing the greatest game would be a dream for any cricket tragic. Maybe one day we'll organise a game of Australian bloggers versus Indian bloggers?
It's heartening to witness the meeting of cricketers from different countries sharing their passion for the game, developing friendships and increasing their understanding of each other's culture. Or as TA puts it, "bridging gaps, not burning bridges". With all the knucklehead stuff going on lately, it's a timely reminder of what cricket can and should be.
Beyond The Backyard airs on 9.30pm Thursday 31 January, ABC TV
|Posted by JC on Thu 31 Jan||181 comments|
Well the unthinkable has happened. In spite of prematch agreements to report racism and despite the presence of three witnesses who verify the claims that Harbajan Singh uttered the word "monkey" to Andrew Symonds, the racism charges against Harbhajan Singh have basically come to nought. Read about it here.
I will reserve my final comments until I have read all the relevant documents related to the case. But if only half of what today's newspaper report states is true it paints a very grim picture indeed. The bullying and belligerent approach to this affair adopted by the BCCI shows the highest contempt for cricket. CA appears to be just as bad caving in for fear of being bankrupted through the ordeal. Is there anyone in this affair that has any real principles at all?
The real loser in this affair is cricket. As Punter said the other day, India are the second best team in the world and they have really stuck it to Australia in this series. If everyone does not pull their head in and start putting the game first there will be no more series between India and Australia like the one we have just seen. Despite the problems it was highly engrossing cricket.
WARNING: This is a blog and people have every right to have a say. I will not, however, tolerate any RACISM or THREATS or anything that can be interpreted in these ways.
|Posted by TA on Wed 30 Jan||272 comments|
It's been a long Christmas break since the Cavs played their last club cricket game in mid-December. A glut of engrossing Test cricket managed to fill the void but I was eagerly anticipating finally getting back onto the field on Australia Day. Over the last six weeks, I've practised hard in the nets with VirtualGaz, working on my legspin. While I've taken wickets fairly regularly (a strike rate of a wicket every 16 balls in case you asked), my leggies are so inconsistent, I inevitably get smashed out of the attack after a few overs. So my sole goal for Australia Day - don't get hit out of the attack!
We lost the toss and the opposition batted. Normally bad news but today, excellent! The batting side started well - eventually our off spinner Phil was brought in and immediately started taking wickets (his final figures - a season best 7-for). Soon the captain asked me to warm up. Offspin from one end, leggies from the other, a stiff breeze blowing across the pitch. I was nervous and keyed up, hoping I could land the ball well.
The first ball came out beautifully. Nice trajectory, good length, on the stumps, stoutly defended. The non-striker, a tall Sri Lankan, exclaimed "well bowled!" Later in the over, he was not so generous when I bowled a loopy full toss - he sent it into the trees over the mid-wicket boundary. The next ball was another full toss - this was also sent to deep mid-wicket but straight to the fielder in the deep. A wicket off a pie! Lucky thing too, another six and my spell might've ended after one over.
The next over was tighter. I was bowling to their opener who was well set. The best ball of the over came out sweet, pitched on a good length on leg stump but he wound up and connected beautifully - another six over mid-wicket. Now that's just unfair!
The third over was pure genius from our wicketkeeper/captain Josh. The opener had been watching wickets fall while he played an anchor role, notching his half century. I bowled one short of a length that pitched straight, he let it spin past off. Josh looked meaningfully towards the newly vacated third man. The opener cursed himself for not playing it into the gap. Two balls later, I bowled a similar ball. He played the cut shot, nicked it and Josh took the catch. As we gathered to celebrate, Josh confessed he wanted the batsman to cut - the leggies was rearing and he fancied a top edge. Great gamesmanship. So my first 3 overs featured 3 sixes and 2 wickets. Never let it be said leg spin is boring!
The next two overs were tight - conceding one run each. At the end of my fifth over, Josh spelled me. I was disappointed not to bowl a longer spell but hey, I did achieve my goal - not to get hit out of the attack. And 5 overs is my longest spell.
Next, I managed to snaffle a spot in the slips cordon, the cushiest position in the field. You get to hang out with the seasoned players, chat about the game and none of that running around the boundaries between overs. The only problem is when a nick comes your way. I was at second slip, practically under the batsman's nose. Our quickest bowler extracted a nick that hurtled to my right. Appropriately on Australia Day, I adopted standard Australian procedure and dropped it. The ball struck my right hand awkwardly and my fingers swelled up - it's still painful several days later when I give the ball a tweak.
When it came time to bat, most of our top order were away so I was relegated to opener. In the 3rd over, I hit across the line at a short of a length delivery, trying to push through vacant mid-on. Instead, it flew off the leading edge to point and I was out for a duck. Ever since that big hitting 84, I've tried to be more Sehwag than Dravid. The problem is poor shot selection (and a lack of ability), hence my last two innings have been cheap dismissals to ill advised shots. Time to put up the shutters and play each ball on its merit, I think. After I got out, the tall Sri Lankan came on and decimated our middle order with his off-spinners. I love the challenge of facing spin - I hope to get a crack at him in the second digs.
At the end of the day, the Sri Lankan asked if I wanted to arrive a little earlier next Saturday and he'd show me a few tricks. A pleasantly surprising (and intriguing) offer - I like this guy. Hopefully he'll show me something to help dismiss his teammates!
|Posted by JC on Tue 29 Jan||25 comments|
Heading into the last day, the 4th Test can go in one of two directions. Either India collapse, the match ends in a thriller and Adelaide curator Les Burdett is hailed as a genius for producing yet another perfect Test match pitch. Who can forget last year's Adelaide Day 5? Or more likely, India will bat out the day, the Test will be fizzle to a draw, both sides will be criticised for negative captaincy and Les Burdett will be blasted for producing a flat, boring pitch. Naturally, I'm hoping for the first option. But strictly as a cricket fan - an Australian win is merely a bonus!
|Posted by JC on Mon 28 Jan||86 comments|
With Australia cruising towards India's first innings total, Day 4 is shaping up to be the calm before the storm. Will today feature Adam Gilchrist's last Test innings? Will Australia set a total? Most importantly, how will India respond in the 2nd innings? Australia will most likely declare late in the day then throw everything but the kitchen sink at the opening batsmen before stumps. Should be a frenetic last session.
|Posted by JC on Sun 27 Jan||39 comments|
I was out for most of the day playing club cricket (more on that after the 4th Test) so imagine my shock when I get home to the news that Adam Gilchrist has announced his retirement. It's sudden but not surprising. His batting has been a pale imitation of its former self and his wicketkeeping of late? Well, nuff said. Still, it is sad news. The two most watchable players in cricket for me were Shane Warne dominating batsmen and Gilly dominating bowling. Both have been taken away from me within a year of each other.
|Posted by JC on Sat 26 Jan||74 comments|
Day 2 of this must win test for India, they'll be looking to put on 400+ however will be up against it with this 1 over old ball and a firing Lee and Johnson.
Live coverage is here.
I'm still confused by Punters tactics at times, last night it was like he just wanted the day to end as he persisted with the old ball well into the 80's. Then he took it for 1 over, and had Clark rushing back to his mark to try and make it 2 overs.
Well, at least that's what I presume happened, as we don't get to see live test matches in this country. Thanks again Channel 9 for 'saving my sport', that pathetic Current Affairs show you persist with is an insult to our collective intelligence.
That however is a blog for another time, today there's a Test match to win.
|Posted by Moses on Fri 25 Jan||65 comments|
4th Test is about to start, and India can still draw the series by winning here. A draw or the start of another Aussie streak will give the series to the home team. Both teams are playing their selection cards very close to the chest, Australia naming a squad of 12 and India a team of 16! Forecast is for 30C and
Cloudy with some light rain, clearing during the morning. Increasing sunny periods in the afternoon. Warm with light to moderate southeast to northeast winds, turning moderate to fresh southerly during the afternoon.25 minutes till the toss, I think we'll have a bat if it's an option, after all it worked against the Poms. Scheduled start is 11:30am local (11:00am AEDST). Live coverage is available here.
Australia squad RT Ponting, AC Gilchrist, SR Clark, MJ Clarke, ML Hayden, GB Hogg, MEK Hussey, PA Jaques, MG Johnson, B Lee, A Symonds, SW Tait
India squad A Kumble, MS Dhoni, R Dravid, SC Ganguly, Harbhajan Singh, W Jaffer, KD Karthik, VVS Laxman, Pankaj Singh, IK Pathan, V Sehwag, I Sharma, RP Singh, VRV Singh, SR Tendulkar, Yuvraj Singh
|Posted by Moses on Thu 24 Jan||119 comments|
Aussie cricketers talk of mental disintegration of an opposition.
In this series against India we have witnessed something different and unusual. The visitors, with the worst disciplinary record in world cricket, have cried foul. After the Sydney Test, a comment by Kumble to the effect that only one side had been playing in the true spirit of the game, was seized on by the media.
Kumble succeeded in muddying the waters. It was no longer just poor umpiring. Somehow the poor behaviour of our cricketers contributed to the result. This was brilliantly conceived and executed.
The Australian side was now out of its comfort zone, wanting not only to succeed but also to demonstrate open camaraderie and sportsmanship. Previous successes had not been built around any overt goodwill toward opposition sides.
Masters of team sports like Rob de Castella and ageing embarrassments like Neil Harvey created further division.
Many Australians underestimate Indian people, seeing them as modest, humble, self-effacing types who are often mistreated and misunderstood. Underneath that exterior you will find many with devious cunning, ruthlessness, astute brains and acumen. Just ask Pacific islanders of countries with a large Indian population base.
So the Australian players are in a conundrum. I'm glad the series is only one of four Tests, because I fully expect the series to be tied at 2-2. For the Aussies to rebound and win in Adelaide, it will take one hell of a turnaround in mental attitude.
India has reclaimed the moral high ground.
As for the Aussie team selection:
Tait must never again play for his country unless it can be guaranteed that he bowls at his fastest. That is all he is good for.
Phil Jaques must average over 60 with the bat. To compensate for his shortcomings in the field. Australia has prided itself on athleticism and Jaques is a poor example.
Hayden must play. His strength of character will be sorely missed when he retires. It is a strength off which others feed.
|Posted by Dan Tas on Tue 22 Jan||448 comments|
No, it's not some nerdy fan fiction but a real cricket game - the G'Day USA Hollywood Ashes Twenty20 match:
Mike Whitney running in to bowl at Mick Jagger, Rod Stewart at the non-striker's end, Russell Crowe keeping wicket, Mel Gibson crouched at first slip, and Steve Waugh looking on from mid-off. Daniel Radcliffe aka Harry Potter, Robbie Williams, Jude Law, Kevin Pietersen, Simon Jones and Robert Key padded up in the pavilion. No fantasy this, it's the G'Day USA Hollywood Ashes Twenty20 match, a showpiece that took place on a community sports field in the Los Angeles San Fernando Valley. The match, an Australia v England affair, in case you didn't notice, was scheduled for the day previously reserved for the Aussie Rules exhibition game, and Waugh looked forward to renewing Ashes hostilities. "If we've got Braveheart and the Gladiator on our side, we'll be sweet," said Waugh, referring to his Oscar-winning team-mates, Gibson and Crowe. "We've exchanged messages on the phone and we've talked a little about it and he [Crowe] wants to know if he's first or second change. I'll let the Gladiator do what he wants.The game went splendidly until Daniel Radcliffe, getting into the spirit of things, engaged in some light hearted sledging with Russell Crowe. Crowe proceeded to crack Radcliffe's skull with his cricket bat and things went pear shaped from there.
|Posted by JC on Tue 22 Jan||41 comments|
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