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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.

Skunkman saves the Day

I know it’s late mail – the Aussies are already home and some of the Englishmen may even be sober by now but a final say on an amazing series that seems over all too soon.

England’s final jitters on the final day of the series were averted by none other than Skunkman. They call him Skunkman not because his fielding stinks, though surely it does. The reason Kevin Pietersen is called Skunkman is obvious when he takes off his helmet to reveal his shocking “do”. Just as Daniel Boon made the ‘coonskin cap his own in the 1700’s, Kev has made the Skunkman do his trademark in 2005. But while many may laugh at his hair, nobody was laughing at his batting on the final day of Ashes 2005.

Perhaps most of England were laughing as Pietersen was dropped twice between Gilchrist/Hayden and Warne. The first chance, before Skunkman had scored was a difficult chance from Warne to Gilchrist. Gilchrist deflected it to Hayden who was wrong footed and had no real chance. The second chance, when KP was on 15 was in slips terms a real dolly. As easy as they come. Steve Waugh’s mythical line to Herschelle Gibbs “You just dropped the World Cup” could be recoined as “Warnie, you just dropped the Ashes.” Which is probably a good reason why they don’t let the Aussies ever take them home. It was the same old story for Australia – missed opportunities cost them dearly. England had the shakes at the lunch break at 5-127 and Australia had a real sniff. If Pietersen was gone as well, six down at lunch, the day may have had a different ending.

As it was, Pietersen put England out of danger very quickly, almost immediately after lunch. As Brett Lee had greatly troubled Pietersen immediately before lunch, Ponting gambled with Lee, rather than throwing the ball to his proven champion seamer. Lee’s two overs after lunch cost 27 runs and that was it. Australia never turned the tide as Skunkman murdered them to the tune of 158 big ones.

The strange thing after all this time without those Ashes, England will be defending them in Australia in just over one year. And I’ve heard next time round that the Aussies are going to put in some serious practice before the series starts.