31 December 2012

Australia look shakey for 2013 and massively reliant on Michael Clarke

It sounds strange to say Australia are looking shakey for next year when they've just thrashed Sri Lanka inside two and a half days and when they're captain has scored more runs than any other Australian in one calendar year in 2012.   Particularly as they were very unlucky to lose their three match series against the number 1 Test team South Africa too.

But it's difficult to see how a side stripped of Ponting, Hussey and Haddin is going to go into the Ashes next year as favourites, despite the advances being made by in the seam bowling department.   Jackson Bird looks a great find and I think he'll be very dangerous on English wickets in swinging conditions, along with any of Siddle, Starc, Johnson and Pattinson.

But imagine if Michael Clarke was to go down injured...there's literally no-one that it's possible to pick out as a natural leader at this stage.   Clarke seems to get through without missing many games but the Aussies still have to consider what they would do in that circumstance - there's no other Test team so reliant on one player as Australia in 2013.   It's getting bad when you see that people like Warner and Cowan are being suggested as leaders - both are inexperienced at Test level and Warner's shot selection issues will make it hard for him to guide others, while Cowan averages less than 35 at the stage.

I can't believe that Australia would have wanted it this way.   If they'd known that Hussey was going to retire, I wonder whether Ponting might have continued, or whether Haddin might have been the better choice over Wade (who is now being touted as a number 6 despite averaging 36 to date)....Wade's certainly not set the world alight and Haddin's been in superb form in Australian domestic cricket.   Perhaps Wade was selected for his bowling - Haddin certainly doesn't proclaim to be able to bowl!

It'll be interesting to see how Australia shape up over the next 12 months and whether Michael Clarke can stay fit.   Without him they'll really be struggling....

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14 December 2012

Just like real cricket and nothing changes


Just found on my book shelves Pelham Warner's report of the 1912 Ashes tour, so obviously I've got to read it by the end of the year - 101 years ago is not as memorable as 100 years.
It's a lot similar to running real cricket ( i.e. the kind we play). Availability was poor - C.B. Fry, then the best batsman on the planet, Reg Spooner and Gilbert Jessop all had prior engagements ( probably not as important as a hair appointment - whatever that is - that had been booked by one of my players once 4 months in advance!). Makes the little business of Pietersen look small beer.
Then towards the end of the selection process they realised they'd got no close fielders so had to rethink a bit ( luxury! ).
Then the skipper ( Warner himself ) was ill and missed the whole series - they said he was mad to have played in Colombo and then Adelaide with only a ten day sea voyage to recover in between.
They had an all-rounder J W H T Douglas ( they called him " John won't hit today" as he was very defensive) who batted up and down the order and the amount he bowled seemed to depend on where he'd batted - to give everyone a game perhaps.  Wonder whether he ever got a TFC?
Haven't finished the book but I know it has a good ending!
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22 November 2012

Broad's under the weather - so leave him out


Apparently Stuart Broad is not feeling great the day before the Test so why not leave him out?   I'd be leaving him out anyway, to be honest.
So team is: Cook, Compton, Trott, Pietersen, Bairstow, Patel, Prior, Bresnan, Swann, Anderson, Panesar.
Simple.   I've found one other cricket fan who agrees with the selection of Bresnan and Patel - I'm not sure there's many out there that do!
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482 in a day


I know scoring rates have increased substantially in recent times, but Australia's 482-5 today is pretty incredible.   I caught about 30 minutes of the Clarke/Hussey partnership this morning and they were scoring at around 8 an over then.

Clarke has become some kind of batting God since he got the captaincy - let's hope he hits a slump for the Ashes again.

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BCCI double IPL lead sponsorship revenue


Not a bad little earner for the BCCI, who now have Pepsi lined up to take over from DLF as their IPL lead sponsor for double the money!   Perhaps they could fund the rollout of video technology across the cricketing world?!
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18 November 2012

England can play Patel AND Panesar

What's your views on the balance of the England side?   It's interesting to see that today, the majority of wickets fell to medium pacers, although of course that's not accounting for the "real" wickets as some that were out were given not out, and some that were not out were given out.
In retrospect I'd have picked Panesar, but I can see why England picked Bresnan given that the ball has been reverse swinging a lot in the warm up games.   The other factors to take into account is that just because England's top order look pretty inept against spin, doesn't mean that England's spinners will automatically take lots of wickets - the Indian batsmen are sadly far better at playing spin so Panesar won't necessarily run throgh them. And of course, Bresnan can bat and his batting could yet prove crucial if England are to pull off a miraculous escape on day 5.
Having picked the side they picked, what really disappointed me was the lack of bowling Cook gave Patel on day 1.   (Yes, I know it's not the done thing to criticise Cook, sorry!).   Patel and Swann have sometimes bowled together brilliantly for Nottinghamshire, and it would have been great to see them in tandem far more - Patel will bowl bad balls but he's proven he can also bowl some great ones.   He may be inferior to Panesar but he's still well worth a long bowl in those conditions.
Patel's in danger of losing his chance for England and I feel very sorry for him.   He's the right man for number 6 in India in my opinion (as he's a far better player of spin than Bairstow and Morgan) irrespective of his bowling.   But he's been unlucky on several counts - he's had some shocking LBW decisions (including one in the first innings in his favour when he should have been given), he's starting to get negative press purely because he's seen by some as keeping Panesar out of the side (compare his press with, for example Bairstow when he came into the side and the commentators raved about his classy 16 on debut), and of course Patel hasn't played a home Test yet. Readers of Cricket Burble may remember that it's been statistically proven you're less likely to succeed as a player if you make your debut away.
Assuming the wicket is much the same as this one for the next Test, I'd want Panesar in the side, but I wouldn't be dropping Patel.   My preference would be to drop Broad for Panesar (which means that Broad will now take 5 for because every time he's gone a few games without doing anything that seems to happen!), and England would then need to select between Anderson and Finn.   The alternative would be to bat Prior and Patel and 5 and 6 (who goes in first doesn't really matter to me but I'm not sure I agree with those wanting Prior up the order - given England's top order batting if he bats 5 he'll be in within a few overs which won't be helpful if he's been keeping for 5 sessions).   I'd like to keep Bresnan in the side in that scenario because he's an excellent reverse swing bowler, and of course he's the only bowler who tries to bat properly.
It will be interesting to see what happens if England can get through the first session tomorrow without a wicket falling - a huge ask, but if they could it may be an exciting Test match.   With Sehwag opening and the likes of Kohli, Yuvraj and Dhoni in the Indian side they can easily chase down 200 in a session, so it's crucial England are still batting at tea if they want to pull off a miracle draw.
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16 November 2012

No Sympathy

In contrast to  my attitude to J P Duminy there is no sympathy for Frankie Dettori , facing a lengthy ban. Solely schadenfreude - he's the strange man who said that he hated cricket. Serves him right !
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9 November 2012


Getting injured in a warm-down session ( whatever that might be) sounds very silly and I'm fairly confident that it's a risk I'm never likely to face. Nevertheless J P Duminy deserves sympathy ( possibly out for six months !) and will probably have his own plans for after match entertainment in future, especially on days when he's not even stepped foot on the field.
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5 November 2012

England's batting line up

Amazingly, having gone out with a more inexperienced batting squad than usual, England seem to have a number of options with only one more warm up game to go before the 1st Test v India.   Gut feel given the squad that England took with only Joe Root as a specialist opener other than Cook, I though they'd look to move Trott up to open with Bell at 3, leaving 5 and 6 open.   But Cook has emphatically stated that Trott will bat 3, so he must be relieved that Compton made some runs opening today.

Patel and Bairstow have both made great starts to the tour with hundreds, so I'm surprised England closed off the option to have them 5 and 6, but choosing one it presumably has to be Patel given his left-arm spin (3 wickets today won't have harmed his cause).   Good luck to Patel - he's still young enough to have a very long and successful England career ahead of him if he can come good, and he'll be keen to do well enough that he can get a home test eventually!

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31 October 2012

Radio 4 Today programme

Bookmark and Share "A famous name is out already, Nick Compton out for a third ball duck" Cue Mike Gatting to explain how to bat in India. Good grief ! 

29 October 2012

Off to India !

Excellent evening at a non-favourite playing ground for TVCL annual dinner and for no reason that I can think of found myself on the top table with Geoff Miller ( his blog today is saying that for no reason that he can think of he found himself listening to the wisdom of Mark Davis). His reputation as an after dinner speaker is high and he didn't disappoint - and he's pretty good as a during dinner speaker too.
As a consquence I can now tell you that KP's 're-integration' was thorough and that he'll score a shed load of runs in India.
And in my dreams I'm off out there too - we agreed that turning a cricket ball was an unnecessary refinement and that it is all an illusion ( how many times have I had that conversation!). All in good hands with his mate Ashley Giles in the same camp.
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25 October 2012

Cricket needs businessmen and women


You'll have heard me say before that cricket needs businessmen running it as well as cricketers.   Obviously in an ideal world you'd have proven successful businessmen who have some international cricket experience, but there aren't that many of them around.   So choosing between the two for the most senior roles I'd go for business skills over cricket knowledge (much of which can be learnt).   The large-scale change management skills needed in bringing in technology for example, simply weren't there so unsurprisingly the whole thing's been a farce.

It's not often a view that anyone (publicly) agrees with....Nasser Hussain does judging from his autobiography...off the top of my head I can't think of any others.   So I enjoyed reading this piece which seems to agree with my views, aptly titled "The Business of Cricket Needs BusinessPeople".

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18 October 2012

Michael Clarke and his coffin


Or in this piece they call it his "trunk".

And people wonder why Michael Clarke is sometimes criticised for being a bit of a pretty boy!

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1 October 2012

Selection issues for England


Unusually for England over the last decade there doesn't seem to be much consistency in selection lately.   In Tests, Jonny Bairstow had the first chance of the summer before Ravi Bopara came in and when Bopara was unavailable for personal reasons, James Taylor was given a chance ahead of Nick Compton, who was also overlooked when Pietersen was left out with Bairstow preferred.   Now the Test touring squad for the winter includes neither Bopara or Taylor, but includes Bairstow and Compton...and Eoin Morgan who hadn't featured all summer.
Then in the Twenty20 they're all over the place.   The late selection of Luke Wright over Bopara at 3 has proved a huge success, but they continue to chop and change with Patel and Briggs, Bresnan and Dernbach, while also changing their keeper to Bairstow today.   Whatever happens in the rest of the tournament I find it hard to work out a circumstance in which Dernbach should be picked over Bresnan on merit.   And I felt Patel had every right to be annoyed, which he apparently was, when he was left out of the New Zealand match....Briggs then performed fine and was dropped for Patel today.
It's not brilliant tactical thinking...it's a muddled strategy and, although Twenty20 is to a certain extent a lottery, it would be a huge surprise if England qualify for the semi-finals, let alone get further than that.   If that leads to Broad's removal as captain then that would at least be one change that - in my opinion - would increase England's Twenty20 prospects moving forwards.   Anyone (else) who can keep a level-head under pressure would be good!

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21 September 2012

Unfancied holders and world number 1


I can't think of a time when the side that is the number 1 in the world and the current holders have been given less of a chance of winning a trophy (all be it that England are playing without their best player and player of the tournament last time round).  
Every game is a lottery and the fact that there hasn't been an upset yet makes me assume Afghanistan will beat England - there's got to be an upset somewhere given it's Twenty20.
So far I've hardly watched any of the action....hopefully I'll motivate myself to get interested when England are involved - I find it very hard to get too excited about Twenty20.   Maybe if England get to the final I'll watch it....

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31 August 2012

Facts v opinion in the reporting of the KP saga

This post from King Cricket (and the parody piece it's following up on from the day before) pretty much sums up my feelings on the way that the KP story has been reported in the UK press (as you may be aware from when I wrote this piece)....nice to know I'm not alone on this!
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30 August 2012

Strauss' departure


Clearly the arrival of Elgar for South Africa means that there's one too many composers in professional cricket and Strauss realised that he had to go.

I much prefer that explanation to anything in the press and I hope that history doesn't relate that he was the victim of two apparently unpleasant South Africans.

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Good news - more cars with TMS

Lucky enough to be able to choose a new car and as ever rule one is 'does the radio receive TMS?'  i.e. Long Wave not DAB, which seems to be useless outside London.  Last time around that helped to eliminate a lot of cars but now I find that most cars do receive the service so I have to scratch my head for longer.

But at least it shows that manufacturers are waking up to the importance of cricket.

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29 August 2012

So what next post Strauss?


I can understand Strauss wanting to go.   With concerns about his form starting to fill his mind rather than tactics, although I'm disappointed he couldn't stay on for another year or so, it's unlikely to dramatically impact England's results.   As an intelligent guy, he leaves with loads of opportunities to go and earn lots of money outside of cricket should he wish to, but it sounds like he wants to stay involved in the game.
Whether Cook is quite ready is perhaps debatable.   I fear his form will dip a little and it seems that players now take on the captaincy knowing that their own personal form will dip.   Hopefully it doesn't all overcome him - he appears level-headed but he's got a tough baptism with India away his first test.   There seem few (or no) other options...can you imagine Stuart Broad leading out England for a Test match?   I certainly can't.
Who should open in India?   What a tough ask, whoever is selected (as it's statistically proven that players playing away for their first Test are less likely to succeed).   I'd go for Michael Carberry myself, but it's a close thing v Joe Root.   Carberry being 32 next month he would have a relatively short Test career even if successful, but my rationale is that Root isn't quite ready yet and those years will allow Root to develop his game.
One final point on Strauss - he has said that his form concerned him, but if England had drawn the series and remained number 1 in the world, I wonder if he would have felt the same?   It's a game of close margins and the drops of Amla and de Villiers in South Africa's 2nd innings didn't help him.   It appears to me that England's out cricket has dropped down several levels recently (2 run outs in the Lords second innings didn't help) and those little mistakes cost them hugely in the 3rd Test.   It draws some comparison with the last South Africa series that saw Vaughan resign, where England dropped nearly 3 times as many catches as South Africa.
In these days of relentless analysis, it wouldn't go amiss for the England analysis team to ensure their captains see those kind of stats and weigh them up before considering their future.
Good luck to Strauss in whatever he does next!
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28 August 2012

2 hit wickets in an over?


I've never hit wicket before Sunday but there's a first time for everything I guess!   But even more unusually there was a second hit wicket in the over!   Can't say that's something I've ever witnessed or know of....can anyone match or raise 2 hit wickets in an over?
For anyone that was watching, I was in text contact with Jawwad yesterday - who dislocated his shoulder while bowling which meant waiting for an ambulance to come and treat him on the wicket - and he'll be alright....just sore now it's back in the socket.
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23 August 2012

No middle wicket?

Bookmark and Share Watching Jacques bat against Kent yesterday at Canterbury I saw a selection of dilscoops and similar shots which all whizzed over Geraint Jones to the boundary. 'You can't set a field to that' they said. What about the old fashioned long stop - euphemistically called middle wicket in The Art of Coarse Cricket ( definitely a suggestion for Ed's growing cricket library). Is it too schoolboy?

19 August 2012

Asad Rauf away from cricket


Strange goings on in the world of Asad Rauf....so far unproven so it could all be nonsense.   Judging by my feeds with cricket news from around the world, it seems to be big news outside of England....
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Sun out, England concerns

Can't say I'm feeling confident about England's prospects today with the sun out and AB de Villers to come in who still has to get a score in this series.   England's catching seems to have deteriorated this summer, but Prior is normally pretty reliable so it was gutting from an England point of view to see him drop Amla down the legside yesterday.
So fingers crossed for a top bowling and catching performance, but I can't say I'm feeling confident!

Fair play to the selectors by the way for picking Bairstow.   From the squad picked, I would have gone with Prior at 6 and Bresnan 7 - you can never work out how things might have been with a different team, but fair to say Bairstow came off nicely.

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15 August 2012

A few headaches for the Andys


Moving away from KP, messrs Strauss and Flower have bit of a conundrum - how do you beat South Africa?

Do you play a spinner (Swann)?
Do you play 5 bowlers?

Do you bowl to Smith on his legs with 5 fielders on the leg side?

Will the batsmen be patient and build slow 50s and 100s like the South Africans?
Will the batsmen keep the sweep shot in the locker and wait for the inevitable full toss/long hop from Tahir?

These questions are a bit loaded as my answers in order are: Yes (all the time), Yes (Swann in for KP), No, I hope so, I bloody hope so!

Like children in the playground


You'll have noticed my lack of comment on the whole Kevin Pietersen debacle.   That's partly because of work/childcare etc, but partly because I don't know what to make of it.   KP is clearly like an only child who needs constant care and attention or otherwise he throws a tantrum.   Some of the players (e.g. Broad, Swann and Anderson) show so much petulance at times that you wonder if they're really past adolescence too so I assume they dig at him relentlessly.   All in all it amounts to a skirmish that resembles children bickering in the playground.

It's easy to give an opinion and without all the facts it's likely to be wrong.   But from what's in the public domain it's clear that Pietersen wanted to play the whole IPL and there will be others hoping that he'll pave the way for them, such as Morgan who apparently came to KP's defence on Twitter.   In that respect, Pietersen is playing the role of the elder child testing the parents' patience - he may not be successful, but I suspect the ECB will be a little more understanding with Morgan requests the same at some point.

I imagine most readers of Cricket Burble will be extremely anti-Pietersen.   I've not got a strong opinion.   Knowing the detail that Strauss and Flower plan with though, I think they'll be cursing themselves for not treating Pietersen with all the care and attention he feels he needs.   It's easy to say that he needs to fall in with the team ethic, but some players need love and adoration more than others, and all need bespoke handling to get the best out of them.   It would be interesting to know if Strauss and Flower have spent time thinking in detail about what could motivate Pietersen to new heights and ensure that he and his team mates gel....and then put in place that individual plan.

When West Indies toured here, much was made by the commentators about the fact that their most talented players weren't playing such as Gayle, Sarwan and Jerome Taylor.   It was said then that it was the job of the management to ensure that these characters were integrated and moulded into the best possible team for the West Indies.  

I don't hear anyone saying the same about England's management of Pietersen.   Being hard on Pietersen is acceptable (under the assumption that it leads to mid and long-term benefit for the England team), but only if at the same time they're reiterating to the rest of the team that all characters need to be integrated into the team.   It's not a popularity contest....it's about getting the best XI on the pitch to win for England, and Pietersen is undoubtedly in England's best XI.   It's both Pietersen and the ECB's responsibility to find a compromise, and the rest of the player's responsibilities to reintegrate him.

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6 August 2012

England had better go for this!


Great declaration by South Africa....gives the impression they think that they think they can still win (which I don't think is really the case but great move).   It's highly likely to be a draw given that you're allowed to bowl huge wides down the leg side in Test matches, but England need to open with Cook and Pietersen and look to move Prior up the order.   They can shut up shop from 3 down if necessary, but they have to start with intent surely?

Fingers crossed.

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