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Simply Irresistible

Here is a scoop. There are unofficial reports that Hughes has been dropped for Watson.

http://www.foxsports.com.au/story/0,8659,25856534-23212,00.html

I’ve been wondering with all the fuss about Johnson, whether Watson might fly under the radar. I’ve even had some fun penning a piece in advance. So here it is, even if “the source” is incorrect.

It’s official: WAGS (Wives and Girlfriends) are the tour selectors. Some of you might think that it is Jamie Cox, Ricky and Pup in charge. But obviously it is Rianna Ponting, Lara Bingle and Mrs Johnson who are calling the shots. Only a bunch of girls who know nothing about cricket could be making this decision.

Watson, ready to make a comeback, was interviewed a few days ago. When asked about bowling he said something like, “I think 15 overs would be about right”. Oh please. Not only is Watson a walk up starter, he gets to dictate how much bowling he will do. Now get this: Edgbaston is a quagmire and the groundsman says 25 overs will seem like 35 overs and guys like Freddie will really struggle. Perhaps Watson is not on his mind, and he didn’t mention him but using the groundsman’s maths and Watson’s own work rate guidelines, Watson would only be able to bowl 10.4 overs (before limping off).

I wonder will the selectors see themselves going into the Test with Keith Miller and end up with the reality of Mark Ealham (look him up on Cricinfo – I regard him as the benchmark for ordinary all rounders). They will go to bed with Gilda and wake up with Rita Hayworth. They will go to bed with Keith Miller and wake up with Mark Ealham. I think that works in both the cricketing and the literal sense! If you think I’ve finally lost it, watch Notting Hill (Polygram, 1999).

Imagine the selectors (whoever they are) watching Watson twice smash a third rate County attack and collect a few handy wickets. They sit there, enchanted, enraptured humming to themselves Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible”. Try it yourselves. I’ve reproduced the lyrics for you below. Hum through and think of Watson as you go. Substitute “she” for “he” etc if you must but really, it’s not that necessary.

It never ceases to amaze me how many rock acts write about future sporting events without knowing it. Songs are written about Watson. Movie lines allude to him. Life imitates art.

I’m admitting myself to a sanatorium.

dongles

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Simply Irresistible

Robert Palmer (1989)

How can it be permissible
She compromised my principle, yeah yeah
That kind of love is mythical
She’s anything but typical

She’s a craze you’d endorse, she’s a powerful force You’re obliged to conform when threes no other course She used to look good to me, but now I find her

Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

Her loving is so powerful, huh
Its simply unavoidable
The trend is irreversible
The woman is invincible

She’s a natural law, and she leaves me in awe She deserves the applause, I surrender because She used to look good to me, but now I find her

Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

Simply irresistible she’s so fine, threes no tellin’ where the money went Simply irresistible she’s all mine, threes no other way to go

She’s unavoidable, I’m backed against the wall She gives me feelings like I never felt before I’m breaking promises, she’s breaking every law She used to look good to me, but now I find her

Simply irresistible
She’s so fine, threes no tellin’ where the money went Simply irresistible she’s all mine, threes no other way to Go

Her methods are inscrutable
The proof is irrefutable, ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh-ooh She’s so completely kissable, huh Our lives are indivisible

She’s a craze you’d endorse, she’s a powerful force You’re obliged to conform when threes no other course She used to look good to me, but now I find her

Simply irresistible
Simply irresistible

She’s so fine, threes no tellin’ where the money went Simply irresistible she’s all mine, threes no other way to go She’s so fine, threes no tellin’ where the money went Simply irresistible she’s all mine, threes no other way to go

Simply irresistible

The Johnson Dilemma

Before the series, who could have thought that the main focus before the third Test would be whether or not Mitchell Johnson should be dropped? Not me. Let me refresh you memories. In the most recent Test series against South Africa, in South Africa, he scored 255 runs at 85 and took 16 wickets at 25. But don’t stop at being impressed by the numbers – the way in which those numbers were achieved was something to behold. You could be excused for thinking that a superstar had arrived. The hitting was something to be seen to be believed and the bowling was hostile. I hope I am not exaggerating when I describe it as in swingers, away cutters, severe bounce, broken bones and blood on the pitch.

One thing is sure and that is that series seems a long time ago. Another thing is sure and that is that all the talk cannot be helping Johnson. I believe that he is a confidence player and I don’t know how strong his mind is. I don’t think his mother is helping, either.

Australia is one Test down and the bowlers have struggled. There is no doubt in my mind that Stuart Clark needs to be in that team. The question is, who should make way? That is a hard question, but why? If you were to look at the four bowlers used in the first two Tests and were asked to elect the worst, it would be no contest – Mitchell Johnson. The trouble is, word is that Johnson has earned a level of status where you don’t get dropped after two Tests.

The only other avenue I see is that it is rain, rain, rain at Edgbaston and Hauritz may be dropped not on form, but because the conditions will in no way suit spinners. Back to Mitch.

I think it is worth looking past all of the hype about Johnson and looking at what he has really achieved and where he is at. At present, Johnson is bowling rubbish and has been for the entire tour. Don’t listen to Tim Nielsen – Johnson has not had just “one bad Test”. Aside from the occasional flash, his whole tour has been bad and it is getting worse, not better. The team has a bowling coach (Troy Cooley). If there was an easy fix, it would have been applied by now. Johnson may well flick a switch and suddenly be “back”. The trouble is that nobody can predict when. Maybe the Ashes will already be lost. I believe that one of the biggest mistakes made by the Australians in 2005 was not making changes quickly enough. Perhaps it may not have made a difference but Gillespie should have been dropped earlier and it is amazing that the top six remained unchanged for the entire series, with Hussey waiting in the wings.

Back to Johnson. I don’t think that Mitchell Johnson’s credentials should be over estimated. His bowling average is now 29.05. That does not rank him with the elite. Nielsen stated that Johnson has showed steady improvement over the past 18 months. I agree with that. For Johnson’s first 13 Tests (to the end of a difficult tour of India), his bowling average hovered between 33 and 35. Over the previous summer, he got it as low as 27. I was not a Johnson fan at the beginning of his career and I have always had some reservations. Johnson has taken 102 Test wickets and I’d be confident that more than half his wickets were taken with bad balls. Balls three feet outside off stump sliced to slips and gully, balls three feet outside of off stump chopped into the stumps, nothing balls glanced down the leg side. Johnson has always seemed to have a knack of taking wickets even when is bowling looked unimpressive. And I admit that if bowler takes wickets consistently, no matter how he does it, he is worth sticking with.

However, we should bare in mind that Johnson is not a superstar. He came to the fore when the Australian cupboard was bare. I applaud him for that and admit that I was excited at the player we saw emerge last summer. His demise is gutting and let’s hope it is not permanent. I saw a couple of swallows this morning (truly). One or even two swallows do not make a summer just as one or two sensational series do not make you a superstar.

Johnson should not be seen as indispensable. Anybody who has watched him bowl recently would know that he is in big trouble. He took one wicket in the recent match against a second string, second division County team while going for six runs an over. Ronald McDonald took 4-15 in the second innings. (Don’t get me started on what that idiot Nielson said about personally favouring McDonald.) The fact is that the Australians arrived with a great deal of their hopes pinned on Johnson. However, to be successful at anything (business, love, war, cricket… ) you need to recognise change and respond quickly and decisively. We do courses on that at work and read “Who Moved My Cheese?” (Google it). I wonder if Merv Hughes or Andrew Hilditch have read “Who Moved My Cheese?”.

I won’t start again on Watson. Unless he is selected. One problem at a time.

So confusing for those poor old selectors

The Ashes three day tour match is in the final day. The match was very important for the selectors in deciding the make up of the Australian team. The problem is that all of the apparent contenders have shown some form – so what should the Australian selectors do? The other problem is that Johnson has shown no improvement. All and sundry have stated that Johnson is not in danger. Fair enough. However, if Johnson does not improve, it does not bode well for the Aussies in the 3rd Test. Johnson took 0/42 from just seven overs – about par for him at present.

Apparently, Hughes’ spot is under threat. He failed to the short ball again in the first innings. For some reason, Watson is being seen as a possible replacement. That idiot, Tim Nielsen feels that Watson was selected because he can bat anywhere in the top six. It is ridiculous. I was looking through some of my own notes recently and found a quote from Geoff Lawson made in 2006: “Shane Watson is treated like a 50 Test veteran who must be rushed immediately back into the team on full fitness…” It is still true. What has Watson ever done to deserve the faith instilled in him? In 8 Tests, he has scored 257 runs at 19.56. Nielsen points out that Watson has opened in ODI cricket. So what? Mark Waugh and Adam Gilchrist did quite a bit of opening in one day cricket. Those two were infinitely more gifted than Watson but they never opened in Tests. Ever. How much store can you put in a single three day game? Somebody tie me down, please.

So, Watson scored 84 first innings runs. He then took two soft first innings wickets. In the second innings, he has just peeled off 50 runs from 31 balls, of which 11 were boundaries. It’s impressive. Hughes did manage 68 runs in the second innings but Watson’s efforts must have those infatuated selectors drooling. I wonder if they can resist the temptation to cram him into the team.

On the bowlers, Clark took the first two wickets. Siddle managed three but went for five and half per over. It’s tricky. I believe that the selectors should go for Clark. I’m a fan of Siddle but Australia need a proven performer and Clark is that. Even Clark has played just 22 Tests but he has immense experience and has taken 90 wickets at just 22.96. And that includes a very tough tour of India and his final matches were played with an injury. Importantly, his economy is 2.54.

I wait with fascination to see the Australian XI for Edgbaston.

For England, it is official. Bell will replace Pietersen. The sticky tape glue will be applied to Freddie Flintoff on the night before the match (which starts in Thursday).

Five for Fabulous Freddie Flintoff

England has won at Lord’s for the first time since 1934. The 1934 Australian team had Bradman so I guess Ponting should not feel too bad. On that occasion, England batted first, scored 440 and beat Australia by an innings.

I won’t bang on about the match just finished because so many others have already done that. I’ll just take hold of one small aspect.

Freddie Flintoff. Well, perhaps that should have been one large part. What a big unit that guy is. He is immense in all ways and I mean all. Most importantly, he has a big heart. Even Warnie was impressed with the sustained, hostile pace and accuracy of Flintoff’s bowling. If his knee can hold out, England stands a big chance of winning back the Ashes.

Fittingly, Freddie Flintoff became just the sixth player to get his name on the honours boards for both batting and bowling. For those of you who don’t know, the honours boards are kept at Lord’s and if you are good enough to take 5 wickets in an innings or score 100 runs in an innings of a Test match, your name is recorded on the honours board. There are four of them. One for batting and one for bowling in each of the home and visitors rooms.

The other five to do the double are: Beefy Botham, Ray Illingworth, Gubby Allen, Keith Miller and Vinoo Mankad. Miller and Mankad are the only visitors and Botham and Mankad are the only two to do it in the same match.

We all, including Flintoff, get a rest until Thursday next week.