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B-b-bloody beauty – one for 500

The second Test has ended in a draw, as many thought it must, given the limits of time.  If there was one more day, or unlimited days, surely England would have won.  They could have set Australia 400, 500, 600 or even 1,000 runs to win.  How knows?

After a euphoric third day, the Australians went from heroes to zeros.  That England did not roll over should have surprised few.   That Australia could manage just one wicket while conceding more than 500 runs was unthinkable.  The kids on the chocolate milk drink could have done better.  It does take some effort to get your mind around it.  Never before has a Test scoreboard seen a score of one for five hundred.  The final declared score of 1/517 (or call it 517/1, five hundred and seventeen runs at the cost of one wicket or whatever you like) is a hiding like no other handed out in the history of the game.

It has to be said that Australia did not have the right of reply and they experienced no real scares in reaching 1/107 in quick time.  However, who cares come many runs your batsmen can score if the bowlers don’t have a hope of taking 20 wickets in a match?

Perhaps this was a match of two pitches.  Up until half way through day 2, with Australia at 5/143, there had been 403 runs for 15 wickets.  That is an average of 26.87 runs per wicket.  Thereafter, the remaining five recognised batsmen all made centuries, and big ones.  A further 962 runs were scored for the loss of just seven wickets at an average of 137.42.  And two triple century stands went into the record books.

The suffering of the bowlers was not limited to Australians.  However, England has taken the points.  It is hard to find words that adequately describe just what a terrible bowling (and fielding, and captaincy) performance is behind 1/517.  If Johnson plays in Adelaide, the selectors need sacking.  He is a liability that simply cannot be carried, especially given that a bowler of the calibre of Doug Bollinger is on the side line.

Late to press: Bollinger and Harris are both in the squad for Adelaide.  Bollinger has just knocked over Sean Marsh in the Shield match in Perth and has figures of 3/32.  Harris recently took 4/41 and 2/27 against Victoria.  No other changes.  Clarke retains his place.  For now.

The second Test has ended in a draw, as many thought it must, given the limits of time.  If there was one more day, or unlimited days, surely England would have won.  They could have set Australia 400, 500, 600 or even 1,000 runs to win.  How knows?

After a euphoric third day, the Australians went from heroes to zeros.  That England did not role over should have surprised few.   That Australia could manage just one wicket while conceding more than 500 runs was unthinkable.  The kids on the chocolate milk drink could have done better.  It does take some effort to get your mind around it.  Never before has a Test scoreboard seen a score of one for five hundred.  The final declared score of 1/517 (or call it 517/1, five hundred and seventeen runs at the cost of one wicket or whatever you like) is a hiding like no other handed out in the history of the game.

It has to be said that Australia did not have the right of reply and they experienced no real scares in reaching 1/107 in quick time.  However, who cares come many runs your batsmen can score if the bowlers don’t have a hope of taking 20 wickets in a match?

Perhaps this was a match of two pitches.  Up until half way through day 2, with Australia at 5/143, there had been 403 runs for 15 wickets.  That is an average of 26.87 runs per wicket.  Thereafter, the remaining five recognised batsmen all made centuries, and big ones.  A further 962 runs were scored for the loss of just seven wickets at an average of 137.42.  And two triple century stands went into the record books.

The suffering of the bowlers was not limited to Australians.  However, England has taken the points.  It is hard to find words that adequately describe just what a terrible bowling (and fielding, and captaincy) performance is behind 1/517.  If Johnson plays in Adelaide, the selectors need sacking.  He is a liability that simply cannot be carried, especially given that a bowler of the calibre of Doug Bollinger is on the side line.

Late to press: Bollinger and Harris are both in the squad for Adelaide.  Bollinger has just knocked over Sean Marsh in the Shield match in Perth and has figures of 3/32.  Harris recently took 4/41 and 2/27 against Victoria.  No other changes.  Clarke retains his place.  For now.

One Swallow Does Not Make a Summer

The first three days of the first Test have seen a dramatic turn around in the demeanor of the Australian cricket community.  I will not harp on about the achievements of the team thus far, for there has already been much rejoicing, both on air and off.  Credit is due of course, to Messrs Siddle, Hussey and Haddin.  However, I would like to issue a cautionary note: Remember Cardiff.
In all of the euphoria of the 300 run plus partnership, good old Mark Taylor did remember Cardiff.  A mountain of runs and a huge first innings lead did not result in a victory to Australia.  The series was then lost.  On the government broadcast, Roebuck also made the point that in 2009, most of the matches was dominated by one team.  Cardiff, of course and the three matches that had results were all comprehensive victories.  England is by no means out of this series, or indeed this match.  I still believe that they field a better team than Australia.  It is also worth remembering that they are made of sterner stuff than the teams of 1989 to 2003.
It makes an impression on me that in my above acknowledgements, it was necessary to list only three Australians.  The game is almost half over and just three of the team have done outstanding things, while the rest have done little (half marks to Katich, I guess).  Question marks were over the heads of all those three (at least in the media), along with most of the rest of the team, it has to be said.
Siddle is a good bowler but I don’t think he can perform such great deeds too often.  Contrast his golden spell with Anderson yesterday.  Anderson bowled an unplayable over to Hussey – an over in which Hussey would have been out had England not frivolously squandered their referrals – and had no result from a wonderful ten over spell.  Hussey could have been out on 85, the record partnership should have been over while Australia was still behind, England would not have dropped their bundle and it would be a different ball game.
Whatever happens for the remainder of this game, I think it was a mistake to leave out Bollinger.  Most thought he would be first picked if he was fit.  Over the past 12 months, he has easily been Australia’s most potent bowler, averaging 22 in taking 46 wickets in ten Tests.  The selectors will need to look at some under performing players who have big reputations.  Michael Clarke’s first innings was painful (to Clarke as well, I’m sure – surely he was not fit to play).  And Australia can’t afford to carry Johnson for another Ashes series.  I know he had a sensational match with bat and ball in the preceding Shield match but no wickets and no runs (and an awful 19 ball duck it was) indicates that he head is gone.
But please don’t let my melancholy analysis spoil this Test match.  The cricket has been wonderful.  It is just what cricket needed.  It’s what I needed! A good, honest struggle after months of corruption and too much of the shorter form of the game have renewed my enthusiasm.

The first three days of the first Test have seen a dramatic turn around in the demeanor of the Australian cricket community.  I will not harp on about the achievements of the team thus far, for there has already been much rejoicing, both on air and off.  Credit is due of course, to Messrs Siddle, Hussey and Haddin.  However, I would like to issue a cautionary note: Remember Cardiff.

In all of the euphoria of the 300 run plus partnership, good old Mark Taylor did remember Cardiff.  A mountain of runs and a huge first innings lead did not result in a victory to Australia.  The series was then lost.  On the government broadcast, Roebuck also made the point that in 2009, most of the matches was dominated by one team.  Cardiff, of course and the three matches that had results were all comprehensive victories.  England is by no means out of this series, or indeed this match.  I still believe that they field a better team than Australia.  It is also worth remembering that they are made of sterner stuff than the teams of 1989 to 2003.

It makes an impression on me that in my above acknowledgements, it was necessary to list only three Australians.  The game is almost half over and just three of the team have done outstanding things, while the rest have done little (half marks to Katich, I guess).  Question marks were over the heads of all those three (at least in the media), along with most of the rest of the team, it has to be said.

Siddle is a good bowler but I don’t think he can perform such great deeds too often.  Contrast his golden spell with Anderson yesterday.  Anderson bowled an unplayable over to Hussey – an over in which Hussey would have been out had England not frivolously squandered their referrals – and had no result from a wonderful ten over spell.  Hussey could have been out on 85, the record partnership should have been over while Australia was still behind, England would not have dropped their bundle and it would be a different ball game.

Whatever happens for the remainder of this game, I think it was a mistake to leave out Bollinger.  Most thought he would be first picked if he was fit.  Over the past 12 months, he has easily been Australia’s most potent bowler, averaging 22 in taking 46 wickets in ten Tests.  The selectors will need to look at some under performing players who have big reputations.  Michael Clarke’s first innings was painful (to Clarke as well, I’m sure – surely he was not fit to play).  And Australia can’t afford to carry Johnson for another Ashes series.  I know he had a sensational match with bat and ball in the preceding Shield match but no wickets and no runs (and an awful 19 ball duck it was) indicates that he head is gone.

But please don’t let my melancholy analysis spoil this Test match.  The cricket has been wonderful.  It is just what cricket needed.  It’s what I needed! A good, honest struggle after months of corruption and too much of the shorter form of the game have renewed my enthusiasm.

Sidders, the Victorian Hero. Get him up here…

Australian selectors will today feel vindicated.  If I could have been bothered last night, I would have publicly castigated them for leaving Doug Bollinger out of the team.  Not that I mind Siddle.  In fact, I was a big fan even before today.  After today, of course, I’m in love with him.  The rationale for leaving Bollinger out (he’s had too much injury trouble) seemed flawed – Sidders has been lucky to get any playing time in the last 12 months.  At any rate, results count.  The selectors were right and I was wrong.

Today, Peter Siddle had the most excellent figures of 6-54 including a hat trick.  He could have had seven wickets, except that the selectors went with the modern day Iron Gloves.  Siddle’s hat trick was what I call a “real hat trick” – it was all in the one over.  Two golden ducks.  Not only that, all the deliveries were pearlers, including a bowled and an lbw to finish it off.  But there was more – Siddle had to endure a review of the lbw before he could finally celebrate. But wait, there’s more – today was Siddle’s 26th birthday.

Siddle became the next in a long line of Victorians to claim a hat trick.  Of all the Australians to have achieved it (and there are not really many), almost all are Victorians: Warne, Hughes, Fleming, Kline and Trumble.  Matthews was a South Australian but played all of his Shield cricket for Victoria.  Only Glen McGrath has no stake in Mexico.  Even “Spoff”, who was born in Balmain and played for the Blues, finished his career in Victoria.

Anyway, hat trick excitement aside, I’m told it was an interesting days play.  Not that I would know.  I spent the day in a training course.  I’m grateful to my company and all for sending me but it does make it hard to focus on the important things.  Anyhow, it’s the same a again tomorrow so please feel to send me a text if something interesting happens.

[Postscript: To give some insight into the world at the top of cricket’s heap, I will share something from an interview I heard with Siddle following his mighty deeds [ABC Radio, 26/11, a.m.]  His hat trick ball was perfect, right?  A searing, swinging yorker to the lefty, pitching right on leg and straightening.  Maybe a bit risky, almost sliding down leg but darn near unplayable.  It seemed the perfect delivery but Sidders candidly admitted that he was “aiming to hit the top of off”.  It makes you think.]

Bowlers are Just Punching Bags

It’s runs, runs, runs around the world as the world’s best batsmen make hay.

In Galle, Chris Gayle has rattled off a triple century.  He’s just departed on triple Nelson, sometimes referred to as a “Gooch”.  In doing so, he has broken the West Indian record for the number of sixes in a Test innings (was 7 – he hit 9) and in scoring his second Test triple, Gayle has joined Bradman, Lara and Sehwag as the only batsmen to achieve that.  He has also exposed Sri Lanka to life after Murali and Vaas.

Across the water, in India, New Zealand secured their second draw of the series with a fine 225 from Brendan McCullum.  In this match there were two other centuries, including 111 not out from Harbhajan Singh.  That’s correct – the off spinner.  His first Test century was a long time in coming but he had only to wait a few days for the second.  New Zealand’s 20 year old, Kane Williamson followed his century on debut in the 1st Test with a fighting 69 in the second dig to help McCullum secure the draw.

Over in UAE (Pakistan’s home ground), Kallis and Amla thrashed the Pakistanis.  However, the Pakistan team under scrutiny is newly competitive – what a surprise.  There is a way to go in this match but they are just three wickets down with 33 overs remaining.  And welcome back to Younis Khan.  Forever is such a short time in Pakistani cricket.  He has brought up his century with a six and is fighting hard with Misbah-ul-Haq.

And while we are on the subject of sad old bowlers, look no further than Australia.  What a sorry lot.  I don’t know what Lillee was on when he claimed Australia had the better attack.  I don’t think that Australia will roll over easily but I feel it will be a very closely fought series and only because of Australia’s home ground advantage.

It’s runs, runs, runs around the world as the world’s best batsmen make hay.
In Galle, Chris Gayle has rattled off a triple century.  He’s just departed on triple Nelson, sometimes referred to as a “Gooch”.  In doing so, he has broken the West Indian record for the number of sixes in a Test innings (was 7 – he hit 9) and in scoring his second Test triple, Gayle has joined Bradman, Lara and Sehwag as the only batsmen to achieve that.  He has also exposed Sri Lanka to life after Murali and Vaas.
Across the water, in India, New Zealand secured their second draw of the series with a fine 225 from Brendan McCullum.  In this match there were two other centuries, including 111 not out from Harbhajan Singh.  That’s correct – the off spinner.  His first Test century was a long time in coming but he had only to wait a few days for the second.  New Zealand’s 20 year old, Kane Williamson followed his century on debut in the 1st Test with a fighting 69 in the second dig to help McCullum secure the draw.
Over in UAE (Pakistan’s home ground), Kallis and Amla thrashed the Pakistanis.  However, the Pakistan team under scrutiny is newly competitive – what a surprise.  There is a way to go in this match but they are just three wickets down with 33 overs remaining.  And welcome back to Younis Khan.  Forever is such as short time in Pakistani cricket.  He has brought up his century with a six and is fighting hard with Misbah-ul-Haq.
And while we are on the subject if sad old bowlers, look no further than Australia.  What a sorry lot.  I don’t know what Lillee was on when he claimed Australia had the better attack.  I don’t think that Australia will roll over easily but I think it will be a very closely fought series and only because of Australia’s home ground advantage.