Son of Swampy version 2.1

You probably all know that fringe Australian player, Sean Marsh (v2.0), is the son of Geoff Marsh (v1.0), former Australian opener and coach.  With all these Marshes coming out of Western Australia it is quite confusing.

Rodney, the former great Australian and Western Australian wicket-keeper does have sons, one of which has player a lot of first class cricket.  His name is Daniel and he has played for Tasmania for some years now.

To further complicate things, Geoff has yet another son (v2.1) and his name is Mitchell.  He is barely 18 and has just completed his first 1st class match for Western Australia, at the WACA.  It was a somewhat ill-fated outing for the Sand Gropers, going down by an innings to the Blues.  However, Marsh v2.1 did manage a very creditable 59 not out in a dismal first innings of 131.

I know there is stacks of other cricket and you can check it on Cricinfo. The West Indies are so pathetic that I’m tempted to overlook the match completely.  Special mention does go to debutant opener Adrian Barath.  He scored 104 glorious runs in an innings in a total of 187.  How that did not deserve man-of-the-match, in a match that had no other centurions, an no bowler who could take more than three wickets in an innings, is beyond my understanding.

Contrast Barath with his more illustrious opening partner.  Perhaps Gayle can blame jet lag and emotional distress but I would say his dismissal in the second innings was not out of character.  To pad up and then refer the decision shows the state of West Indies leadership and why they are not going to improve.

Over in Dunedin, the Black Caps pulled the match out of the fire.  At tea on the final day, Pakistan were five down needing 86 runs for victory.  New Zealand stormed home with late wickets to take the match by 32 runs.  Bond finished with eight wickets and was deservedly man-of-the-match.

Around the grounds – Brief Update

I know that publishig twice in the one day could be too much of a good thing, but I thought a quick update on the actual cricket might be a good thing.

Australia worked their way to 5/322 with most batsmen making runs and none dominating.

In Dunedin, Pakistan were on the mat at 5-85 chasing New Zealand’s 429 with Bond taking three quick wickets.  The Akmal brothers then put on 176 for the 6th wicket.  Umar (129) upstaged his more illustrious brother, Kamran (82) with a sparkling century.

India is crushing Sri Lanka.  Sri Lanka trailed by just over 400 runs on the first innings with Sreesanth taking 5/75.  The tears have dried and he is back.  However, Sreesanth and Harbajan are not allowed to sit within five rows of each other on the bus or plane.  And then a modern day rarity occurred – Dhoni enforced the follow on!  Sri Lanka is also fairing badly in the second innings, still trailing by 356 with only six wickets in hand.  They lost the two guys who could possibly pull it out of the fire – Jayawardene and Sangakkara – in successive overs just before the close of play.

Sangers ran out his captain and was bowled the following over.  Rumours are yet to be confirmed that he was unable to see due to the tears.

The Unbowlable

You may have already deduced from the title, that this article is about Watson.  The title is obviously not reflective of what he is, but what he is not.  Watson was dismissed lbw yesterday.  Again.  Let’s forget for a moment that it was for duck.  How long will the selectors persist with the fantasy of Watson, “the opener”?

I had the impression that Watson is lbw or bowled too much.  His dismissals in England seemed to blur into one action replay.  So I thought I would check some stats to see if I was being mislead by my impressions.  I was.  He is bowled or lbw even more than I realised.  Watson’s Test stats don’t provide much of a basis for exhaustive analysis but we shall work with what we have.  In Watson’s meagre Test career, he has been dismissed 19 times – 10 times bowled and 4 times lbw.  That is a rather staggering 74%.

For the purpose of this analysis, I’m including lbw and bowled together.  Leg before wicket is being bowled in essence – the batsman has been beaten but has denied the bowler the satisfaction of seeing the furniture disturbed.  You might wonder why I am focussed with the mode of dismissal.  You might suggest that it doesn’t matter how a batsman is out.  If he is out, he is out and let him be judged by his average.  I’m not even going to get onto Watson’s average.

The reason that I am concerned with the mode of dismissal is because it reflects technique and mindset.  Both of these things are critical in an opening batsmen and I feel that both of these things are lacking in Watson.  It is often said that a man’s home is his Castle – it is his safe haven and something that he will guard with his life.  I think they even made a good movie about it.  I suggest that a batsman must regard his castle in much the same way.

I am saying that being dismissed lbw or bowled 74% of the time is outrageous and I feel that I should find something to support that.  A benchmark, perhaps.  The man they used to call “the unbowlable” immediately sprang to mind.  Most of you would know that Bill Woodfull was an opening batsman in the 1920s and 1930s.  He was bowled 32%, and lbw 4% of the times he was dismissed.  While 36% is much better than 74% I was not sure if that was so flash.  It certainly doesn’t sound “unbowlable”.  Also note the low 4% lbw – I believe that this is reflective of the lbw law at the time, where the ball had to pitch and strike in line with the stumps (even on the off side).  Perhaps Billy Bowden is using a copy of the laws of cricket from 1925.

I next checked the benchmark of all batsmen – DG Bradman.  He was bowled 33% and lbw 9% of the time – 42% in total which does make Woodfull’s stat more impressive.  But 42% also seems high.  To put this into perspective, it is probably necessary to remember that cricket was played on uncovered pitches in that era.  There were plenty of days when there was so much movement off the pitch that the batsmen could scarcely lay bat on ball (which makes it hard to be caught) and it was just a matter of time before the timber was felled.

I then turned my attention to the modern era.  Why not start with “The Wall”?  Dravid has been bowled or lbw 34.5% of the time.  The percentage for some other leadings lights is as follows: Lara 32.3%, Boycott 33.5%, Chappell 27.2%.  To focus on recent Australian openers (to truly compare Watson): Langer 30%, Hayden 28.9%, Katich 29% and Slater 29%.  So there you have it – high twenties to low thirties is the bench mark.

For some fun, we can check the other end of the market.  McGrath 39% and Danny Morrison 46%.  Any way you look at it, 74% is pathetic.  Please understand that I’m not saying Watson has no ability.  The guy can bat and bowl a bit.  He is a classic example of why we have specialist One Day Cricketers.  I’m curious what you think about Watson.  Am I being unfair?  I invite you to log onto your dongles web site account and leave a comment about Watson?

The First Day of Summer

The Australian summer begins today.  While it may be five days ahead of the calendar, why delineate the seasons by something as arbitrary as a calendar?  Why not make the change of seasons event driven and meaningful?  Let the first frost, or the first day you need to wear a jacket mark the first day of winter.  When the leaves start to turn, autumn has begun.  Or if you like, when the leaves start to fall from the trees, Fall has begun.  And when that first ball of international cricket is bowled, summer is here.

And for the Aussies, that is today, in Brisbane against the West Indies.  Of course, the New Zealand summer started two days ago as Pakistan began their Antipodean adventure in New Zealand.  This is actually a “home” series for Pakistan and I could not think of anywhere further from home for a Pakistan cricketer than Dunedin.

In a rare alignment of the planets, we have three Tests in progress at the moment (if you believe some recent press, we are lucky to have Tests at all).  The second Test between India and Sri Lanka has also seen two days play (and rather more overs).  I heard before the match that the pitch was going to favour the bowlers.  It is true that I am going deaf but I should have said “I read” the pitch was going to favour the bowlers.  Perhaps my eyes are failing.  Someone’s eyes were failing because it was more of the same with centuries all round for Gambhir (again), Dravid (again) and Sehwag, as India plundered another lazy 600.  The opening stand of 200 took barely 35 overs.

In Dunedin, New Zealand has cobbled together a score of just over 400, with two wickets in hand.  Top score was Vettori with 99.  It seems that Vettori wanted to share an experience with the greatest of all his spin colleagues, (Warnie, of course) and be stranded just one short of the century.  Then again, Vettori has a few experiences that Warnie can’t share with him – such as making a Test century or three.  And being the thinking woman’s sex symbol.

I would also like to welcome Shane Bond back to Test cricket.  It is just over two years since Bond played Test cricket.  I, along with most, thought we would never see Bond again due to his ICL misadventure.  But here he is.  Interestingly, this is just his 18th Test match.  His immense pace bowling ability has long been acknowledge and his status as a bowler is almost legendary, but due to a string of injuries (and ICL) he’s scarcely put together enough matches to count it as a career.  I hope he make it to at least 20 Tests.

The match in Brisbane kicks off at 10:00 a.m. local time (11 Sydney time), with Gayle in but probably without Sarwan.  I wonder if both of those things well help the Aussies.   The pitch looks good and so does the weather.  And remember, you can start following the Test cricket action 90 minutes before then (barring rain) by picking up the match in New Zealand.  And that begins 13 hours of continuous Test cricket action as the India v Sri Lanka match resumes just before stumps in Dunedin.