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Another One Bites the Dust

And another one’s gone, another one’s gone, another bites the bust.  Hey!  It never ceases to amaze me how cricket imitates rock music.  New Zealand has beaten England in the ICC Champs Trophy and that means it is curtains for Sri Lanka.

Australia plays Pakistan tonight and that will decide the fate of Australia and India.  If Australia wins, or there is a wash out, India is out.  Either way one of the top four seeds with depart from Group A.  In Group B, the 2nd seed has gone (South Africa).  While New Zealand was actually seeded 3rd (go figure) and Sri Lanka 6th, most would have fancied that Sri Lanka and South Africa would progress to the semis.  The exact opposite has occurred.

If ever there was a one day tournament that needed a stewards enquiry, it is the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy.  It is obvious that Australia will beat Pakistan – Pakistan can put a heap of cash on Australia winning and have the bonus of seeing India crash out.

For those of you who would like a little detail, here is some.  England proved that their six match losing streak against Australia was no fluke and were skittled for just 146.   Please know that Shane Bond has returned and picked up 3/21 but the star was all rounder, Grant Elliot, with 4/31.

For England, Chris Broad has stood out in the tournament. Four more wickets last night means he has 10 for the tournament at an average of 15.50 and economy of 5.5 rpo.

For the Aussies, Michael Clarke has followed in Brackens footsteps.  No, he hasn’t decided to bat left handed.  He has gone home.  If Australia qualifies for the semis, Clarke will be replaced.

Too Much of an Ordinary Thing

Mercy!  I beg for mercy.  Seven whole games of One Day cricket?  A learned gentlemen recently remarked to me that One Day cricket needs a “surrender clause” and I think I agree.

Australia has taken a 5-0 lead in the One Day series and I couldn’t care less.  Who does?  I care even less about the remaining two matches.  As an Australian, I would rather Australia win than lose but let’s face it, the Ashes are lost and nothing could make up for that.  And let’s face it, England has won the Ashes and they don’t seem to care about the one day cricket either.

I have not watched a great deal of the series and don’t get me wrong – there has been some good cricket  – Ponting’s knock today was excellent – Lee’s bowling in match four was exciting.  However, I noticed from the first match that the commentators were talking about what could be done to improve 50 over cricket.  One genius suggested changing the matches to 40 overs per innings.  Oh please.  How about changing them to 20 overs?

Before I get onto what can be done with the game itself, I’d like to make the point that no matter the format of the game, scheduling still needs to be intelligent.  Having a seven game, head-to-head series AFTER the Ashes doesn’t seem like a good idea to me.  This is even more true when you consider that the Australian footy seasons have reached finals fever and the English Premier League is now into full swing.

Surely with the series at 5-0, England can invoke the surrender clause.  By the way the surrender clause can also be invoked during a match once the match is dead.  That would have been perfect for games three and four when Australia needed a significant amount of runs but they were doing it easily, needing less than four runs per over, with heaps of wickets in hand.  Who wants to see 30 overs of singles?  As this is not a “round robin” tournament with points being allocated, bonus points do not even help this situation.

I don’t know what can be done to help 50 over cricket.  Playing less of it would seem to be a start.  Tendulkar says that they should be broken into 25 over stages (the team’s second 25 overs resumes from where the first ended).  Andrew the boy genius from indoor cricket says that indoor cricket rules would be the ticket.

Please let me know your thoughts.  What can be done to improve 50 over cricket?

Who is Callum Ferguson?

Callum Ferguson is more than just a Mr Bean look-a-like of Scottish descent.  For those of you (like me) who are wondering where on earth he has come from and what on earth he does, and can’t be bothered looking it up, here it is.

Callum is Adelaide born and bred and is 24 years old.  He has played 47 first class matches and averages just 35.  That doesn’t spell player of the future to me but here he is anyway.  Cricinfo has him listed as “right arm medium but he does not bowl.  At all.  He has bowled 42 deliveries in first class cricket.

He played his first ODI in February this year and has already notched up 17 matches.  He has made five half centuries and averages, wait for it…  58.22.  So there you have it – perhaps he is the new Mike Hussey.

Saving one’s bacon

If there was any speculation after day three, as to whether Andrew Symonds had saved his place in the Test team with three quick wickets, there could be no doubt at the end of day four. The only question is will he get man of the match. Surely, that honour belongs to Michael Hussey for his incredible efforts on the second morning, but more wickets for Symonds tomorrow could make it interesting.

After an excellent spell yesterday, Symonds entered the fray with Australia well placed at 4-193, 237 runs in front of South Africa. He opened his account with a third ball six and proceeded to 72 from just 54 balls, heaving another five blows way over the fence. At the same time, Hayden exploded and when the partnership was over 15.1 overs later, the score had been advanced by 124 (at 8.18 runs per over). When the dust settled just three balls later the innings was closed, having seen 10 runs and three wickets from the final Kallis over.

Symond’s added to his success for the match with 2-6 including the vital wickets of Kallis and first Test hero, Jacques Rudolph. Symonds modestly admitted that he was pleased to have finally made a contribution.

Of course, Symonds will hold his place for the Sydney Test. The team will probably remain unchanged except for the return of Langer, who had a net yesterday. It’s hard to know how close Symonds was to being dropped for Sydney. Many, myself included thought he should not have played in Melbourne. I’m assuming that he would have been dropped for Sydney had he not made a contribution in Melbourne. Would the three wickets on day three have been enough? Given the benevolence extended to Symonds thus far, I suspect that those three wickets would have been enough.

While on the subject of saving one’s bacon, how many others have rescued their careers from the brink? Of course, it’s all speculation as we cannot know the minds of the selectors. I’m pretty certain the Matthew Hayden rescued his career from oblivion in the final Ashes Test. And what a turn around. Perhaps Steve Waugh did the same against Pakistan in late 2002, scoring a century in the final Test. It is possible he did the same just five Tests later with his famous last ball century at the SCG.

The iconic 4th Test at the MCG in 1982 which England won by 3 runs is remembered for the last wicket stand of Alan Border and Jeff Thomson. Border finished on 62 not out. Border has scored 83 runs at 16.6 for the series, closely following 84 runs at 16.8 (at least he was consistent) in a three Test series in Pakistan. Many in the press were crying for Border to be axed. In the euphoria of the match, it is often forgotten that AB was probably batting for more than the match. He scored 89 and 83 in the next Test and the rest is history.

In 1997, Mark Taylor was on the verge of dropping himself. In the final first class match before the Ashes, he was dropped on one by Dean Jones. He proceeded to 60 odd and played in the first Test. Having failed in the first innings of the first Test as Australia was shot out for 117, Tubby made a famous and celebrated century as Australia made a match of it before going down. The rest, as they say, including an Australian record of 334 not out, is history.

If you can think of any other examples, feel free to let me know and I’ll compile a list.

And for a “not quite” story: Just before he batted in the 2nd Test against Pakistan in 1972-73, John Benaud was told he had been dropped for the next Test. He proceeded to smash an angry and brilliant, match winning 142 and played just one more Test for Australia in a dead rubber in the Caribbean.