31 October 2010

Australia thrashed

It's only Twenty20 but it's again nice to see Australia struggling so badly against Sri Lanka in today's match in Perth. The match wasn't really a contest, although Brad Haddin (who from what I can tell most Australian's don't want in the Ashes side because they rate the very average Tim Paine as better) and Steve Smith did their best to make it one with a partnership of 66 after Australia slumped to 43-5. They crawled up to 133-8 off their Twenty20 and when David Hussey talked to the commentators during Australia's fielding stint he said they thought they were about 40 short.

It's difficult to say how many they would have needed because Sangakkara made sure of the win by batting very sensibly after the second wicket fell on 42 (it pitched outside leg and wasn't out, but there was no UDRS). He even played out a maiden in the 16th over he was so determined to ensure he was there at the end...you got the feeling they could have chased 133 in 12 overs if they'd needed to, rather than taking 16.3 in the end.

It'll be interesting to see how the two teams perform in the three ODIs coming up but on today's form Sri Lanka looked formidable, as Michael Clarke admitted.

NZ cricket at crossroads

It feels like New Zealand cricket could be heading for a tricky period. As their Chief Exec Justin Vaughan has pointed out, those that want money will soon find it too tempting to play abroad and turn down a national contract. And New Zealand cricketers will be more tempted than most given the relatively low salary offered within national contracts.

Of course, when you want the national team to have some team spirit and togetherness, I imagine that your coach suggesting that you "played like dicks" isn't going to help much either. Way to go Mark Greatbatch. Let's remind ourselves of your international record - an average of 30 in Test cricket and even less in ODIs.

What say you now Chappelli?

Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but when they get it wrong they need to eat a little humble pie. So it would be good to hear now what Ian Chappell says about Sachin Tendulkar. After Chappell encouraged him to retire several years ago, Tendulkar last year recorded consecutive centuries in a Test v South Africa, 200 in an ODI, highest scored in the IPL and scored a double century against Sri Lanka and Australia.

He appears to be at the peak of his powers, as this brief article about Tendulkar illustrates.

Blind cricket commentator

You'd think it would be impossible to commentate if you're blind wouldn't you, but apparently not. Zimbabwean, Dean du Plessis, is able to commentate without sight....

25 October 2010

England doubles...

I enjoyed this list of England doubles by Betfair featured on The Cricket Watcher's Journal...can't help feeling that some players have been slightly flattered and others unfairly castigated!

22 October 2010

Same English cricket schedule next year!

Oh dear, I did say that I had little confidence - things are staying the same next year. Sad that apparently Sussex's own Chairman seems to think that last year's schedule with the limitless Twenty20 cricket and no Championship cricket at the peak of the summer is best.

I got such poor value from my Sussex membership last summer as I couldn't go to games the whole season, and the main window I had was the Twenty20 window. I went to one or two games but they're meaningless until it gets to a knockout stage so I didn't go back (not to mention the annoying blaring music, inance comments over the loud speaker, etc). I certainly won't be considering a Sussex membership next year.

21 October 2010

Warne to return

Shane Warne may be backing Ricky Ponting to lead Australia in The Ashes but I loved this post on The Roar suggesting Warne should come back and captain the side himself! After 4 years out of international cricket even a legend like Warne may struggle with that.

As a Pom it's great to see Australia struggling before The Ashes and it can only benefit England that Ponting's captaincy is being called into question and they're losing repeatedly to India....

20 October 2010

Warne backs Ricky

Even though I think Ricky Ponting is a pretty poor captain, it amazes me that there should be any discussion about whether he is the right man to lead Australia into The Ashes. Of course he is. You can't change the captain now and expect it not to have a negative impact....and Clarke isn't exactly nipping at Ponting's heals suggesting he'd be better.

Shane Warne has used his own blog to tell us that Ricky is best to lead despite his shortcomings in the India Tests and once again I find it difficult to disagree. It's worrying agreeing with Warne this much....

19 October 2010

Restructuring of English cricket

It needs to happen, but I can't say I'm feeling confident that these ECB discussions will end up with a sensible outcome....

18 October 2010

Geoff Miller - professional speaker

Attending the Sussex League dinner on Friday, the highlight was the speech of Geoff Miller, who had the audience laughing. One player at the table next to me commented that he was more like a stand up comedian than a Chairman of Selectors, so definitely worth listening to if you get the opportunity.

What award was Steyning up for? We were winners of the inaugural Fair Play award of course!

Sammy takes over West Indies captaincy

It's difficult to underplay the difficulty that Darren Sammy will have bringing unity to the West Indies side after being asked to takeover the captaincy by the WICB from Chris Gayle. With various players, including Gayle and Bravo, not accepting contracts from the Board, there are bound to be cliques opening up and Sammy can't claim to be in consideration for a slot in a World XI in the way that Gayle can.

Let's hope for the sake of West Indies cricket that Gayle is totally supportive of Sammy - if his previous protestations that he wasn't that fussed about the captaincy were true, then he should be.

15 October 2010

KP needs some Steyning advice

Kevin Pieterson's efforts to gain some form ahead of the Ashes don't seem to be going too well. Last week he could only manage 36 in the Dolphin's draw against the Warriors and today he has succumed to a 2nd ball duck against the Titans. Perhaps he should seek some advice from former Steyning wicketkeeper Daryn Smit who's recent form for the Dolphins has seen him score 47, 101 and 56* in his last three first class innings.

Bangladesh going in the right direction

Unhappy for New Zealand perhaps, but it's difficult for cricket fans around the world not to feel happy when lesser teams start to challenge the established ones. And for Bangladesh to win the 5 match ODI series against New Zealand after just 3 matches is certainly a superb result for them, worthy of Prime Ministerial praise.

People are always surprised when Shakib Al-Hassan is mentioned as one of the world's best all-rounders but his hundred in the 3rd match was his 5th in ODIs and there's many top order England batsman who will be jealous of that stat - that's the equal of Collingwood and Strauss in less matches. And Collingwood and Strauss can't also boast of being the 2nd best ODI bowler in the world, as the ICC rankings say that Shakib is.

14 October 2010

Difficult to blame Warne for his criticism of Ponting's captaincy

I've got every sympathy with Shane Warne's tweeted complaints about Ricky Ponting's fields yesterday. I didn't watch it ball by ball but watching an hour of highlights there were some crazy fields set to all the bowlers (i.e. no slips early on when you need 10 wickets?), but the fields for Hauritz really did take the biscuit. How can you possibly have no saving one fielders on the off side?

Ponting's defence? Apparently all the fields Hauritz bowled to were requested by Hauritz himself. That's a complete non-defence - if that's the case then there's little point having a captain Ricky....you're meant to over-rule your bowlers as necessary because you're (in theory) tactically superior!

I do have a tinge of sympathy for Ponting because how anyone is meant to set fields to bowlers like Johnson bowling both sides of the wicket, I'm not quite sure. But there is certainly a lot he could do to help himself - sensible fields and bowling your best bowler (Hilfenhaus) for more than 7 overs might help a bit....

12 October 2010

Another tense day in India

As in the first Test, the final day of the 2nd India v Australia Test looks like it could well be a thriller. And what comes next? 3 meaningless ODIs. The days of 5 or more matches in a Test series might be gone, but with the India v Australia Test series proving so exciting, isn't it a pity that a 3rd Test isn't being played rather than the ODIs. The crowd would then get to see Tendulkar bat, because the result would matter, rather than Shikhar Dhawan.

Tendulkar 6 away from true greatness

Tendulkar's hundred (which he converted to a double this morning) was his 94th international hundred. A hundred first class hundreds is something rare, but a hundred international hundreds really would be something very special if he can get there.

10 October 2010

Indian running between the wickets

I watched much of the final session today and there were a few things to note. First Ponting started to Sehwag with a field of slip, gully, third man, deep point, extra cover, mid on, short leg, leg gully, fine leg. What a field to go with when you've put 478 on the board in the first innings! It meant that the occasional good balls on off stump tended to be fended away for one to cover, while wider balls were dispatched. One short ball was put just wide and over the 3rd man for 6 by Sehwag.

But Australia clearly had a plan and Sehwag was occasionally troubled by balls into his ribs. And eventually he tried to tuck into a slower ball bouncer from Hilfenhaus. The crowd went wild but the ball came down just inside the boundary at deep square, exactly where Mitchell Johnson was standing to take an easy catch.

30 off 28 for Sehwag then and perhaps vindication for Ponting's tactics, although I have to say they seem very strange to me. But one aspect of Sehwag's innings worried me - his running. It was truly appalling and while he's never been a great runner, I've not noticed him being so poor before. As some of you on Facebook noticed, I recently selected him in my all-time XI which was a very marginal call and his running may even make me rethink!

Gavaskar on commentary was talking nonsense when he twice criticised Vijay's running. When you're batting with Sehwag, rotating the strike is ideal and someone coming back into the team can't be expected to turn down singles because his better known opening partner isn't switched on. Twice Vijay pushed defensively into the covers for regulation singles and twice Sehwag was nearly caught short. Once the Australian's hit and Sehwag was considered in as the video frames couldn't quite show where his bat was when the bails first came off - far to close for comfort but if he'd been backing up and lunged in as all cricketers at club and pro level do, he'd have been past the stumps. And then he would have been out had the second Aussie throw hit, as he seemed too lazy to sprint past the stumps - as the ball whistled across the stumps he was slowing up so as to not go far past the stumps.

India's out cricket has often been criticised, but I'm not sure how they'll improve with the likes of the much respected Gavaskar suggesting that Vijay was at fault for risking Sehwag's wicket. Sehwag simply needed to wake up a bit. While regulation singles are being turned down and the likes of Gavaskar are being kept happy, India may well lose those tight matches. I hope Vijay isn't unnerved by those near-misses.

Tomorrow morning he'll be batting with Tendulkar who was the first person to go past 14,000 Test runs during his 44 not out. There's only one person Indian's would be even more annoyed about being run out then Sehwag, and that's the little master himself. Fingers crossed that it isn't a run out that splits the two up tomorrow morning!

North holds Aussie batting together

I don't know how to feel about Marcus North scoring a hundred in the 2nd Test against India. There's no doubt he was struggling a bit but as always the extreme opinions were laughable - it's as if most of Australia are baying for his blood. I'm not close enough to Australian domestic cricket to know if he's in the top 3 middle order batsman who can bat 4-6 for the national side, but what I can say is that any batsman who averages a hundred every 3 Tests or so (and has a 96 to his name too) clearly has something, no matter how poor a starter he is.

I'm not sure I'd back those Aussies who are desperate for Steve Smith to come into the side, but if he is to come in, batting 6 and being the 5th bowler is an option. Playing him as your one specialist spinner simply isn't an option yet - he's not that good a bowler. But it's interesting to see how things go in cycles - without the immense depth of talent in Australia that made selection relatively easy in the 90s and early 2000s, the same issues emerge on the other side of the world as happen here when England's international depth is limited. Players are fast-tracked into the side before they are ready in desperation, and there is constant debate about the make up of the side.

North may be no world-beater but the days that Australia could play 6 batsman who'd all have a good chance of playing in a World Test XI are over. And much as I'd like Australia to change their side to give England a better chance of retaining The Ashes, North's century is likely to ensure that they maintain consistency and therefore maximise their chances of success. Good on him for coming through the pressure of immense scrutiny and making his highest Test score.

(I should add that prior to the India series I was backing North to start The Ashes too, if Australia wanted to maximise their chances of success - it's not an opinion that's come after his hundred today!)

Ashes defection may hurt England (a little bit!)

I imagine that England will ensure that they use contracts that don't allow coaches to coach other national sides in the next series England play against them, following the attempt by one of England's batting coaches, Dene Hills, to help Australia in their attempts to win back The Ashes. It may put some off coaching England at all, but they'll need to weigh it up and decide on the best policy.

Having said that, the technical flaws the England players have are all well known so I can't see that there will be much of a practical advantage from Hills helping the Australians, but it will be a little unsettling for the England batsman nonetheless.

7 October 2010

There's no legislating for idiots...

I've written before about how leadership is about doing things before everyone is calling for them to happen and all the market research backs the potential action. Sometimes even good leaders get decisions wrong because there is a risk attached to being visionary. Management is risk free and is about responding to what everyone is calling for already and making it happen. Successful leaders get paid more than managers for obvious reasons.

I'm not quite sure what you call the BCCI. Laggards is one word. Or idiots is another. They have not only proved themselves incapable leaders on the UDRS issue, but also poor managers, given that they're still putting off the inevitable by not using the UDRS in their up coming New Zealand series even after error-ridden umpiring in their recent Australia Test. When they finally get round to it, which they inevitably will, they will have lost even more credibility. Indian cricket supporters might consider that the BCCI staff wages should be dropped to be comparable with others that can't lead or manage....

5 October 2010

Laxman guides India to dramatic win

I realised India must have won as Cricinfo isn't accessible at the moment - the whole of India must be on there. A one wicket win with the last wicket partnership making 11.

Ponting's bowling selection

Ponting has opened himself up to potential criticism by using Watson and North in tandem with India needing 20odd and just 2 wickets needed. If it works he'll be a brilliant captain, if it doesn't it looks a stange piece of captaincy....

4 October 2010

A great day 5 in prospect in India

An amazing fourth day in the India v Australia Test has set up an intriguing final day with Australia probably favourites. India will be gutted that Sehwag couldn't get going in the second innings as one session from him would have seen the game virtually won. But India still have the Little Master there and some decent batting to come.

Whatever the result, it just goes to show how you can never write off Australia. They key is partnerships and one decent one from India tomorrow morning should see them home but nerves will jangle and Australia will become huge favourites if Tendulkar goes early.