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Double Hat trick for the Sling

What might have been? Malinga almost pulled it out of the fire for Sri Lanka. The Cricinfo commentary says it all. For your enjoyment, it is below but first, let me set the scene. South Africa are 5-205 needing 210 runs for victory. That’s 5 runs with 5 wickets in hand. Balls remaining are not a consideration. Easy, right? But what’s this, the old ball is swinging and Shaun Pollock is gagging on his lunch.

44.5 Malinga to Pollock, OUT, BINGO! Finally Malinga strikes, that is a superb bit of bowling. It’s a slower ball on the stumps, Pollock just does not pick it, plays inside the line of the ball and loses his leg stump. Even with the game all but gone Sri Lanka are fighting. Pollock played a good hand but now he’s gone!
SM Pollock b Malinga 13 (23m 24b 1×4 0x6) SR: 54.16

44.6 Malinga to Hall, OUT, ANOTHER! Andrew Hall goes off the very first ball! It’s another speared-in yorker, Hall just about manages to dig it out, but he can’t keep the ball down …. it bobs up into the air for the man at cover to pouch easily! Is there a twist left in this game
AJ Hall c Tharanga b Malinga 0 (2m 1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

Malinga on a hat-trick. What a funny little game this has been.

46.1 Malinga to Kallis, OUT, Would you believe it? Malinga has got the hat-trick! Full, furious, outside off stump, Kallis goes for a square-drive and nicks it behind. Loud appeal. Kallis stays rooted. Even louder appeal and Harper raises the fatal finger. SA eight down and choking real badly.
JH Kallis c Sangakkara b Malinga 86 (187m 110b 4×4 0x6) SR: 78.18

46.2 Malinga to Ntini, OUT, And then they were one! Malinga gets four in four. Unbelievable! Screaming yorker and Ntini drives, plays all over it and ball crashes into the middle stump. Malinga is slinging down magic deliveries and SA are nine down.
M Ntini b Malinga 0 (2m 1b 0x4 0x6) SR: 0.00

46.3 Malinga to Langeveldt, no run, beaten Just kissed past the off stump. Tremendous nerves out there. Full and just outside off, yorker-length, Langeveldt pokes at it and gets beaten

A double hat trick! For those of you are wondering, I heard Tong Greig say rather disparagingly “That is what the Australians call a double hat trick.” In case you are still wondering, the thinking is that wickets 1-3 are a hat trick and so are 2-4. Whatever you call, it is incredible – four wickets in four balls. That third ball of the of the 47th over really did miss by a coat of varnish. Just as well too, because I have no idea what you call five wickets in five balls. Just as well for the South Africans, as well. That would have been curtains.

It was a match of short innings, featuring four golden ducks. Charl Langeveldt bowled a triple wicket maiden. Not bad either.

But enough of that excitement. Australia has shot to the top of the Super 8s by crushing the West Indies. With two of the four “carry over champs” losing their first super eight matches, the field is levelling rapidly.

And now let me pay tribute to the Man Mountain. In just six matches, he has assembled a rare trilogy. Let me list them:

181 not out v New Zealand. Highest ODI score by an Australian
101 v South Africa. Fastest hundred in a World Cup and fastest by an Australian in any ODI
158 v West Indies. Highest World Cup score by an Australian.

It is interesting that the 158 mirrors his 181 in the slow start and late explosion. The 158 effort required 19 balls to get off the mark. Hayden went ballistic from 100 to 150. I still reckon not scoring for 18 balls is three overs wasted. It’s a big risk to make it up later.

And a couple of posers: Is Symonds position guaranteed? Of course, he’s the first picked usually. He has rushed back from injury and while he looks fully recovered, his bowling has been very ordinary and he has not looked great with the bat. He deserves a couple more matches but it doesn’t seem right to drop Hodge, in great form for a big name if Symonds can’t perform.

Should Gillie bat down the order? The truth is that Gillie is not what he used to be and he struggles against the movement of the new ball. Perhaps it is time for him to move down the order and come after the shine has worn off and the field is back. Gillie can smack the ball around with the field back and Australia might get more benefit from him. Watson did well enough at the top and a left hand/right hand combination would be of great benefit.

Also note that in the last two matches, Australia was sent in and scored well over three hundred. They then easily defended it. Perhaps the other captains might have a re-think. And by the way, Australia has (easily) surpassed 300 on six consecutive occasions (and lost two of those) – the first time that has been done.

Cricket’s blackest day

It is official. Bob Woolmer was murdered. I feel sick. Jamaican police have announced that there is sufficient evidence to demonstrate that Woolmer was strangled. What will the ICC do now? Will they call the World Cup off? They should.

Of course, that is assuming the murder was connected to what the all the rumours suggest – match fixing. Let’s assume for a moment that Woolmer didn’t interrupt a local drug addict stealing his wallet. Anyone with a spot of common sense can believe that this is the foulest of foul play.

We thought that it was bad when Warnie and Junior accepted a few grand for providing pitch reports.

We thought the Hansie Cronje affair was even worse but that was just the tip of the iceberg.

Cricket plunged into the depths as the ensuing inquiry in 2000 revealed that match fixing was rife and widely spread. It touched the highest ranked players across many countries: Included in those found guilty were Salim Malik, Wasim Akram, Hershelle Gibbs, Mohammad Azhaurddin, Ajay Jadeja and Manoj Prabhakar.

But this is worse. Within 24 hours of Pakistan being on the end of one of the biggest upsets in cricket history, their coach was murdered. Why? Was it, as is rumoured, because he was about to blow the whistle? Was it because the Pakis weren’t actually supposed to lose that match? Did they throw the wrong match and the bookies were angry? How does Greg Chappell feel? Nervous?

I’ve rather lost interest in the cricket. What do any of the results mean? What can be done? To start with, the ICC should be suspending Pakistan from all forms of cricket until everything is cleared up. Not that that is going to happen. I doubt that we will ever get to the bottom of all the goings on surrounding betting on cricket and match fixing.

Vomit.

“Day after day, day after day, we stuck, nor breath nor motion”

As idle as a painted ship, upon a painted ocean. Perhaps Samuel Taylor Coleridge and his co-sailors were watching World Cup cricket whilst they were becalmed. Notwithstanding what will always be known in World Cup cricket law as “Stunning Saturday”, Ricky was right. The past four days of cricket have been complete rubbish. That’s why I have not written. There has been nothing interesting to write. It is more interesting to quote poetry.

Of course, the Bob Woolmer affair threatens to shake the whole World Cup and cricket itself. I dare not write very much about this – there are too many unknowns and too much speculation. It’s sad that the poor bastard, who from all accounts, was a fine gentleman, and still a young man, is dead. To think that foul play might have been involved and the possible reasons behind it, makes one’s stomach churn. The biggest concern is that we will probably never know the whole truth. We couldn’t even drag the truth out of Junior and Warnie over a few thousand bucks.

I find it a little tiring listening to commentators trying to extract something meaningful out of these games. Australia looked great against Scotland. South Africa must be on top of their games if they can brush The Netherlands aside like that. The West Indies weren’t too convincing against Zimbabwe. It’s all fiddle sticks. The matches are meaningless. Sri Lanka managed 321 against Bermuda and 318 against Bangladesh. So Bermuda and Bangladesh must be about the same right? Yet, India scored over 400 against Bermuda and managed just 190 against Bangladesh and lost! Zimbabwe tied with Ireland and that wasn’t a surprise. That was one of the few matches that had the tipsters guessing – they were evenly matched it seems. Pakistan scored 349 against Zimbabwe and a miserable 132 against Ireland. And lost! No. Scoring mountains of runs against the minnows is meaningless. And it’s boring (for the spectators).

As a voice of protest, and as tomorrow’s matches promise more of the same, I am going to recognise some other worthy cricket. The Pura Milk Cup final is being played in Hobart at present and at the end of Day 4, the Tassie Tigers have it all stitched up. Tasmania is going to win its first domestic first class cricket title by crushing the Blues. Scores are Tas (340 & 460) v NSW (230 & 0/3).

Roll on the Super 8s. Soon to be known as the Super 8s with two faulty spark plugs.

“It’s a great day for the Irish, it’s a great day for cricket and a great day for the world”

St Patrick’s Day has been sandwiched between two enormous days for Irish cricket. The tie on Thursday, seen as a consolation point by many, assumes huge significance now. That final ball cock up by Zimbabwe assures Ireland of a place in the Super Eight round. Ireland brushed aside Pakistan and were able to win fair and square in the end, without any help from Duckworth & Lewis.

And at the same time, another boil over was taking place. India’s World Cup started disastrously as they were rolled by Bangladesh. In the group that was always going to be the most difficult, as Bangladesh cannot be regarded as easy beats or mere minnows, it is wide open. It’s not curtains for India yet, but they must beat a very good looking Sri Lanka to stay alive. If they fail, Bangladesh are as good as through.

While these results are fantastic for cricket and I’m sure the ICC would see it as a big “up yours” to all of the detractors of the first round of this World Cup, I’m not sure how good it is for the Super Eight round. Basically, most of us were just waiting until the Super Eights started for the real Cup to begin. I recall that the wheels fell off the last World Cup at the Super Sixes stage when through a bizarre combination of luck, lunacy, bad weather and politics, two of the six were Zimbabwe and Kenya. This time around, we are faced with the prospect of Ireland playing another six matches after the first round. I don’t want to detract from Ireland – they have shown themselves to be competent at the very least but I don’t know if they are going to be able to perform consistently. Still, who could say that the Pakis could. They have blown it, they are packing their bags, and I don’t see too many tears (outside of the Pakistan team).

Spotted: Trent Johnston, Irish cricket captain. Last seen playing for the NSW cricket team, before they were the Speed Blitz Blues. In fact, Tubby Taylor and Slats were opening the batting and Brett Lee was the new pace sensation. Turns 33 just after the Cup ends.