Australia suffers a top order blow with the news that Matt Hayden is flying home due to an achilles injury, ruling him out of the remainder of the Test series. The D-word hasn't been invoked yet but it's only a matter of time before Haydos lets slip.
We've already seen glimpses of the post-Langer-Hayden era and I'm not liking what I see. Who will replace Hayden as opener? Brad Hodge seems to be the man but has he ever opened the batting? Katich is the other alternative but again, questionable opening credentials. With lesser openers, Ricky Ponting gets exposed too early and Australia's top order is suddenly looking frail. That puts extra pressure on the strokeplaying middle order of Clarke and Symonds.
Most of the attention re Australia's future has been on bowling, particularly spin bowling. But the openers lay the foundation for the entire innings. Here's hoping Jaques and his new partner can put their hand up this series - the Ashes are just around the corner.
|Posted by JC on Thu 29 May||58 comments|
I was disappointed to learn England comfortably chased down 294 to defeat New Zealand in the 2nd Test. It's not just the Ashes - any England loss is savoured by Australian cricket fans. But more importantly, Australia won the 1st Test in the West Indies.
Stuart Clark just keeps on taking wickets - it's amazing how easily the baton was passed from McGrath to mini-McGrath. If only Shane Warne had passed his baton on so easily (Warnie doesn't give anything up easily). Gorilla Macgilla was bowling like, well, me. Long hops, full tosses, juicy stuff that's bread and butter for batsmen desperate for runs. Warnie's implausible Ashes comeback seems slightly more plausible.
The most worrying element of Australia's win is the heavy dependence on Brett Lee and Stuart Clark. Ponting bowled them through nearly the entire first session - both bowling 10 over spells. Ponting as captain has a tendency to lose faith in some bowlers and overbowl the more reliable ones. I just hope he doesn't drive his two wicket takers into mid-series injury.
|Posted by JC on Tue 27 May||93 comments|
Two simultaneous Test matches are perfect demonstrations of why Test cricket is and always will be the greatest form of the game. England play New Zealand while Australia play the West Indies - both games are heading into Day 5 and both are poised on a knife edge with 4 results possible in either!
England are chasing 218 runs with 9 wickets in hand. The hurdle? Daniel Vettori. Considering the English talent for facing spin bowling and their prelidiction for choking, I fancy New Zealand as favourites with England batting ultra-defensive for a draw as the second likeliest result. Go the Kiwis!
The West Indies have come back magnificently against Australia. At one point on Day 4, they had us reeling at 5 for 18. You read that right, 5 wickets for 18 runs! It was Australia's worst top order figures since 1936. That's right, we're talking pre-war era. Hitler was coming into his own.
So the Windies need 241 runs on Day 5 with 9 wickets in hand. It's a big ask. Normally, I would pick Australia to win comfortably, a draw an unlikely result. But there's the Macgill factor. By rights, he should clean up on the wearing pitch. But Gorilla is an enigmatic beast. All those waist high full tosses could see the Windies come dangerously close to chasing down the runs. My money's on Australia but it should be an engrossing day's play. If only the time difference between Brisbane and Kingston weren't so stark.
|Posted by JC on Mon 26 May||63 comments|
I've been keeping an eye on the 1st Test in Kingston but the game had been proceeding as expected until Day 3. Brett Lee was back to his fast bowling best, even dusting off his chainsaw celebrations after knocking one batsman's stumps over. But the highlight was a bone crunching bouncer that crashed into the back of a ducking Chanderpaul's head, immediately felling him to the ground. However, Chanderpaul went onto score a century - gutsy effort, that! Then the West Indies quicks had Australia reeling at 4 for 17 at stumps. Suddenly I'm having flashbacks to all those horrific Tests against the Windies in the 80's. Australia are only 136 runs in front with 6 wickets in hand, two days to play. Will be watching the next two days with both eyes...
|Posted by JC on Sun 25 May||55 comments|
Okay, now this is just cruel. I was just starting to come to terms with Shane Warne's retirement and now he's making noises about coming back for the 2009 Ashes:
"If Australia really needed me and there was no one else around, and Ricky Ponting thought I could do the job, you would weigh up the options. If Stuey MacGill fell over and broke his leg, and there were no other spinners around, and Ricky came out and said, 'Mate, can you please help us out for this one-off tour? We need you', that is something I would weigh up."
Normally, you would cringe at the idea of an old-timer coming back to Test cricket. But if anyone could do it, Warnie could. Not just because legspin is the one art that you can play well into your twilight years, but because Warnie is a force of nature. Nevertheless, the odds of it actually happening are slim to none.
The one good thing about this is it will surely turn the heat up on Stuart Macgill. He seems to be suffering motivation issues at the moment, distracted by his TV show and celebrity lifestyle. If anything could sharpen up his focus, it would be the spectre of Warnie relegating him back to bridesmaid status.
|Posted by JC on Tue 20 May||60 comments|
Hattricks are always a rare treat. Hattricks where the bowler doesn't even realise he took one are even rarer. But what I like best about Ntini's unnoticed hattrick is the third wicket - David Hussey. My favourite cricket blog (apart from this one, of course) is cricketwithballs.com who practically worships the ground David Hussey (aka the future PM) walks on. A golden duck and 3rd member of a hattrick trio must be a bitter pill for poor ol' Uncle J Rod :-)
|Posted by JC on Mon 19 May||2 comments|
17th May 2008
17th May 2008
Today's game looks like the weather will have it's say. After a few weeks of hot weather and blue sky’s the rain's set in. The forecast says that it's going to brighten up later on so there’s still a chance of play.
For the past couple of days I've been playing and training cricket. On Thursday we played an U15 game which we lost. It was a very disappointing results considering we posted 111 of 20 overs which is definitely a defendable target. On Friday it was the first district training session which went well.
During the week I've been trying to get a new desktop picture. In the end I found a very nice Gemma Atkinson one which should be great. Turning on the computer and seeing her in a bikini should make the day a lot better.
|Posted by Isaac on Sat 17 May||32 comments|
The past two or three years the England bowling attack has been continually chopped and changed. We brought in Kabir Ali and Liam Plunkett, stories which ended sour. But now it seems that the selectors have finally come up with an attack that can bowl in tandem with each other and most importantly take wickets.
Since the 2005 Ashes (the one we beat you in) England has really struggled to put up a fight against anybody. The selectors decision to bring back Sidebottom into the test fold has been the best thing they've done in ages, or ever. The news that Anderson was being brought back into test cricket was one which at first I didn't agree with. But as he's improved my opinion of him has also improved. He's injected a bit of pace and aggression into the attack, something England will miss without Harmison. With Harmison they had someone who potentially could bowl at 90mph+ and take wickets, most of the time 85mph seemed a struggle and taking wickets was out of the question.
The selectors have been ruthless in getting rid of Hoggard, but this ruthlessness has brought results. Long may it continue.
At the time of writting England have just bowled out New Zealand and are looking in a good position while batting.
|Posted by Isaac on Sat 17 May||26 comments|
The main question going into the First Test against the West Indies is who will replace Michael Clarke. This is assuming he doesn't play which is a safe bet considering he arrives in the Caribbean a day or so before the Test. A name being thrown into the ring is Ashley Noffke.
Noffke topped both runs and wickets for Queensland last summer. He's an all rounder in the mould of Shane Watson except he doesn't get injured in a stiff breeze and is actually good . It would be an exciting and aggressive choice by the Australian selectors - an extra bowling option for the flat West Indian pitches and some extra batting starch to bolster the long tail. Plus he's a Queenslander. Nuff said!
However, Australian selectors have rarely been known for aggressive or exciting choices. Far more likely is they opt for Simon Katich, the middle order batsman who dropped his bundle during the 2005 Ashes when we needed a stout middle order to withstand the reverse swinging Duke ball. I figure the reasoning will be there's not enough New South Welshman in the side.
|Posted by JC on Thu 15 May||39 comments|
This is the day that I’ve spent looking forward to over the long cold winter months; the first day of the cricket season. Last season I had a good year with my bowling taking 48 wickets. This was during one of the worst summers we’ve ever had over here with virtually June and July totally wiped out. I would like a few more runs this season, I always consider myself as more of a bowler but I’m a fairly good batsman.
The season starts with an U15 match against local rivals Elvaston. The wicket looks good considering the rain we’ve had. I never really bowl very well at this ground so to get some wickets today would be great. We bat first which was the plan. Once informed that I’m opening I get padded up and have a few throw downs. The quality of these throws seem to vary from beamers, full tosses and Yorkers and not the ego-boosting half volleys I would of liked.
We start well with a good build up of pressure through singles and the odd boundary to shake of the indoor nets shots. Wickets start to fall however with a combination of good tight bowling and bad shot selection things go from bad to worse as we finish on just 56 for 5 of 20 overs. These games aren’t Twenty20 slog outs but we always look for more than 100 as a completive target. The mood in the dressing room isn’t great. We know we’ve got to bowl tight and take wickets but also field well and take catches.
The first few overs pass with us taking a couple of early wickets and then a run out. Then the time comes for me to roll my arms over and bowl. What happens next is the most successful spell of bowling I’ve ever had. The first few balls beat the bat and are slowly pushed back to me, which is a decent start. After that everything seems to just go right. My first wicket is taken three balls into the over. It's a good leg break which pitches well and bowls the batsman. The next over I pick up two more wickets and suddenly everybody really believes that we can win this game. For saying I never bowl well at this ground I'd say I'm doing alright at the moment. My third over is probably my best. I have a man caught close and bowl two other batsman out. With eight wickets down the chance to win the game is massive.
The contrasting mood of their supporters is also visible but our crowd seem to be enjoying every moment. My fourth over hosts a catch which puts them nine down and then the fifth ball is another bowled to win the match. Figures of 7 for 11 are my best yet. The contrast of moods in the dressing room after is incredible as endless people keep saying well bowled Isaac and shake my hand. It’s been an incredible evening. Talk in the dressing room after seems to revolve around how good a game it was and also how hot Gemma Atkinson is. She’s a model over here in England who is incredibly gorgeous.
Driving back in the car I know its important to keep my feet on the ground as I know not every game will be like this and games will come when I get hammered around the ground. But for today I can safely say its been awesome.
|Posted by Isaac on Wed 14 May||31 comments|
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