With Australia’s cricket commitments over for a few months, this may be my last broadcast for some time. In fact, with only One Day cricket to discuss, I was struggling to become motivated. However, I found inspiration last night from an unlikely source – “The Footy Show”! I normally try to avoid Fatty and the boys but fortunately I watch ER and it was advertised that the Waughs would be co-hosting. Well I couldn’t miss that! Steve and Mark were in good spirits and hammed it up very well.
Fatty put on the acid and asked about the sackings etc and also asked how it was watching the action on TV. Steve’s humorous reply was that, “The boys have really struggled without us haven’t they”.
Which leads me to the main point: Whether you love the Waughs or hate them, or like most of us, are somewhere in between, and whether you agree or disagree with their axing from the One Day team, you can’t really argue that the selectors haven’t been vindicated!
It wasn’t all plain sailing, and Posting’s lads got off to a shaky start to the series – but they still won the matches. But aside from the last match, they got better and better as the series progressed, with the successful overhauling of 326 (game six) being somewhat of a pinnacle. During the series, the team successfully defended moderate totals and large totals and they twice overhauled large totals batting second. They even managed to scramble a tie out of the jaws of defeat. The sixth match highlighted so well that the Waughs are gone forever. I feel that I can fairly confidently stipulate that had both of the Waughs been in the team for that match, there is NO WAY that we could have won.
That being said, the team still needs some fine tuning. The top order looks just about right. Hayden, Gilchrist, Ponting and Lehmann are all animals and can score at great rate. Hayden, the Test opener can bunker down for some stability when needed. Then we have Martyn the classical stroke maker and if all else fails, Bevan, the professor, is there.
There does seem to be a long tail though and when the top order fails (which his happening less now), the lower order is unlikely to get us out of trouble. My main issue is the number seven – Harvey seems to have the job at present but one has to wonder how long that will last. Steve Waugh was a big fan. Symonds is gone, having forever wounded his foot with his big mouth during last summer. Because I can’t help myself, here are their stats in recent times:
Harvey last 11 matches: 8 innings, 66 runs at 8.25 (HS 19) Overall: Ave 17.88 from 43 matches (HS 47*)
Symonds last 10: 7 innings, 90 runs at 12.85 (HS 35) Overall: Ave 25.25 from 48 matches (HS 68*)
Neither make for impressive reading in the short or long term but Symonds is clearly the a better bat. I can’t be bothered with the bowling but I believe Harvey is a better bowler.
Either way, we need a better number seven – maybe it’s Shane Watson, maybe not. The are obviously going to try a few things. In the final one day match (which we lost) the team was :
4 special batsmen: Maher, Bevan, Ponting and Martyn
3 all rounders: Watson, Harvey and Gilchrist
4 specialist bowlers: Warne, Lee, Bichel and McGrath
And now something for the purists.. I note that overnight Carl Hooper scored his 11th Test century (against India in Guyana) and it should be acknowledged that Hooper’s rebirth as captain of the West Indies has shown a lot of character and has been a great success. Hooper was always a talent that seemed not to be realised. He was the spin bowler for the West Indies (a very ordinary one actually), was a brilliant fielder and a batsmen with great potential – with plenty of time for playing shots and did played them all. Trouble was that he often played them at the wrong time.
Hooper’s days as an international cricket came to a close in April 1999. Or so it seemed. With the West Indies in the depths of despair, with Lara in the loony bin and the team loosing every which way, nobody wanted to be captain. And in March 2001, who should come from the clouds but Carl Hooper, almost two years after his last gallop. For me it conjured memories of Bobby Simpson in 1977. Well almost – I believe that Hooper was still playing First Class cricket.
The West Indies haven’t exactly returned as super powers but they have done better. Lara has returned and performed very well against Sri Lanka and Hooper is playing better than he ever did. Since returning as captain, his batting average has been 43.35 and he has made 8 50’s and 2 100’s in 13 matches. His overall average is just 35.10. And let’s forget about his bowling – it always was crap and still is – right up there with Greg Matthews, averaging over 50 per wicket. Hooper is 36 in December and it will interesting to see how long he lasts – will the Aussies get to play against him again? I personally hope so.