29 May 2008
Matthew Hayden, supreme master at the top order for all formats of the game, will return home and will not take part in the rest of the West Indies tour.
Haydos has not fully recovered from an Achilles injury he obtained during the IPL while playing for the Chennai Super Kings.
With a long and very important season ahead Alex Kountouris (Team Physiotherapist) has suggested Hayden rather go home and nurse the injury rather than run the risk of aggravating it.
A wise choice as Haydos will be an important element to our squad, but it’s very unfortunate and concerning to a degree with his loss. After such a great World Cup in the Caribbean last year and his eagerness to get back to some Test cricket, things haven’t gone as planned. No doubt a relief for the Windies supporters, not good news for us Aussie supporters.
So, the bad news aside, here’s my SWOT analysis looking ahead to tomorrow’s second Test at the Sir Vivian Richards Stadium in Antigua, where the Aussies and Windies last met before the 1st Test!
Stuart Clark and Brett Lee showed great maturity and brilliance as a unit in the 1st test. This is a valuable asset till out other guys can get their precision together.
With new Vice-Captain Michael Clarke returning to the squad after compassionate leave this will give us the experience and further stability in our middle order. ‘Pup’ also brings in expert fielding & a very useful bowler. Remember the Boxing Day test last year folks? Last over?
No doubt Andrew Symonds will give his consistent trademark styled game, but Ricky Ponting showed us in that first innings that his form is still alive!
Our side has additional experience this time and knows what their duties are!
Our fielding! Very uncharacteristically our fielding was well below par. I think the Windies showed our guys a thing or two! Too many drop catches and critical errors can make a huge difference. Luckily for Simon Katich we got Shivnarine Chanderpaul out two overs later!
Stuart MacGill, if selected, needs to dig into his experiential ability and contribute throughout the match. A lot of younger spinners will be looking to him!
Our top order just didn’t perform last test. This will give the Windies strike bowlers a mental advantage and use it against us! No repeats of 5/19 this time boys!
Hopefully with the departure of Matthew Hayden from the tour our guys don’t bring that loss into the game. We have an extremely capable side to do damage to our opposition!
With the win we have a side that should show a lot more confidence and having given our new look a ‘test’ run this second test is their for a determined victory to take the series!
We have Michael Clarke, who starts and exciting chapter in his cricketing life and one that he will be ready to grab by the horns!
Stuart Clark has the chance of a lifetime to start showing he is McGraths successor!
We have the momentum to keep the Windies on their toes and force them to play the best cricket they can to keep our game at it’s best.
A certain threat is their strike bowling attack. I mention this again as it proved deadly in our second innings. We need to watch Edwards and Powell.
The Windies fielding was sensational last game. They will take any chances we hit at them. Their middle order has proven to be a challenge.
There is the threat of Jerome Taylor returning along with Windies favourite, Chris Gayle! Two quality cricketers to give them the edge they may be seeking.
Our bowling must work as a unit! If we rely again far to heavily on Clark and Lee it could prove to be a big threat!
Still an exciting encounter ahead for both sides so get your smoothies ‘n beers out, put your feet up, and spend the time you have this weekend watching the Test match and the conclusion of the IPL! It’s also the Super14 rugby final this weekend for the rugby fanatics.
So plenty sport on the tele and plenty GOOD reason to do as I instructed you!
26 May 2008
A victory of 95 runs to Australia was by no means a convincing victory and The West Indies can walk away a fairly proud team after the few scares and sweaty palms they gave us Australian supporters.
If anything my SWOT analysis looking ahead to this Test match series was pretty spot on. The West Indies pace attack were threatening, fast and aggressive! A wicket that was fairly schizophrenic in character at times proved to be a great bowling wicket. Overall I felt our side’s performance was well below par and thank goodness key players stood up at the right times otherwise the Windies had a definite upset in the bag.
Ricky Ponting, showing why he’s a living legend of the game, crafted a captain’s innings on day 1 in his quality innings of 158.
That innings was a key moment in setting up the run chase for the Windies. Michael Hussey (56) and step-in batsman Brad Hodge (67) chipped in to round up the kick start total of 431.
Special mention must be given to Andrew Symonds whose valiant efforts in both innings’ had the biggest impact on our chances with the bat.
Roy made 70* and 79. After a disgraceful start to our second innings, which furthers our top order inconsistency we saw in the later stages of the Border-Gavaskar trophy and Commonwealth Bank ODI series, Roy launched a counter-attack and saved us to lead our total to look sheepishly better at 167, after having been 5-18! So full credit to Roy, his consistency with the bat and his shark like lurking and lightning reflexes in the field were crucial.
He was well supported by Brad Haddin on his debut and again Brad Hodge. Hodge has taken a lot of flack from many regarding his performances but I hope those folks back off after he proved his determination to see us have any chance of a win.
Perfectly elected Man of the match Stuart Clark, who is fast proving he is walking in the shadows of Glen McGrath, bowled with a memorable performance to that in his debut at Cape Town, Newlands, in 2006. Sticking to a game plan and executed with professional instincts Stuart claimed match figures of 8-91, including career best figures of 5-31. I’m very pleased to see this chap show his true colours.
Brett Lee, who had a fair bit of bad luck in his step, was a great support role in the strike attack launched on The Windies in their second innings.
Starting the 5th day it seemed Aussie would see a shock defeat but Clark and Lee decided to prove why we are the best in this domain!
Victory came with stand in captain Ramnaresh Sarwan and his unit falling short by 95 runs.
It is clear we under performed as a team. Synergy was not present and too many players were singled out in the overall result.
Four drop catches came in day 5, our opening pair failed on both occasions and our bowling was heavily reliant on Clark and Lee. Stuart MacGill, come on mate, we need more than a surprise Ponting/Rhodes style run out!
But we have to trip up to realise where the inconsistencies lie.
So a 1-0 lead in the series will give us plenty momentum and much to work on leading into the second test starting on Friday.
Michael Clarke will be ready to step into the squad and Matthew Hayden ‘the big unit’ is still in the pending line. They are two players who are a vital aspect of our line up, but no disrespect intended to Phil Jaques & Simon Katich. They are both brilliant top order batsman I admire but they just didn’t pull out the knocks they are capable of in an important opening test. More chances ahead!
To the West Indies supporters, despite the loss you can be proud of your side’s efforts and competitive cricket. A great crowd set a real Caribbean cricket atmosphere!
Without further to do I will now be getting in a good rest tonight knowing I don’t have to analyse a 1st Test defeat in my writings and that I never have to cop a Brett Lee delivery to the head like Shivnarine Chanderpaul did! Although full credit mate in grafting to a century. That’s determination for you!
22 May 2008
With a lot looking bright for ‘The Baggy Green, Chirps & Quick Singles’, I find I will share my outlook upon the latest news to hit the Aussie cricket frontiers.
Shane Warne to come out of retirement for an Ashes return? Well, that was Shane’s offer, and his statement has become the ignition into the Ashes build up, despite it being 15 months away!
It would be epic to see Warnie step back into the arena, his form in the IPL has suggested he aint spinning any cobwebs and no doubt is still as epic as he always has been! However as an Aussie cricket supporter I see positives and negatives on the ‘stir a return’ issue. Positives: Shane retired for family reasons, not because of his cricket skills.
To bowl with his expertise is still alive and back in the Test arena England could have a nightmare on their field with Warnie present. It would create a huge hype and massive interest in next years Ashes, despite the fact it is the biggest and most anticipated Test match series. He would be supported by many in his return...
Cricket Australia has a procedure by which you get to the elite level. Shane did retire, did not mention a return, therefore he is by Cricket Australia's contractual system not on the billing anymore. I agree with Ian Healy in that it may show that there's a weakness in our ranks.
I believe Stuart MacGill still has alot left in him and young and upcoming spinners need the chance to prove their abilities.
This return could spark doubt in contracted spinners' mentality. It seems unlikely that such doors would be opened for the return graciously.
Whilst it is Shane Warne, the greatest leg spinner of all time and one of the greatest entertainers, there is a system and a reality. It's a great possibility but I for one just cant see it happening and lean more in favour of Warnie not coming back in.
On a basis of being fair to other players, the concept and reality I guess, I don't see Cricket Australia opening that door for Warnie to enter.
He would have to recommit and if they did allow him back in for JUST THE ASHES series that would be quite a breakthrough and would no doubt cause intense controversy. In my eyes, it just wouldn’t be cricket!I guess we will wait and see how Shane plays his cards on this matter, as nothings impossible for Warnie but I'd like it to be handled with great consideration.
On the tour news, The new format after the closure of World series cricket has been revealed. The Test series will see Aussie take on New Zealand and South Africa. The Test tour will see more than one side make their way into Aussie over the summer. The Commonwealth bank series will from now on see only Australia playing in each match and taking on one team at an interval of the tour, as opposed to 3 teams in one tournament (i.e. The two touring teams will not play each other).
It is more attractive and keeps the Australian and concerned touring sides supporters interested.
Click here for full fixtures, now including The Proteas and Black Caps tours to Aus.
19 May 2008
However, despite the draw there was extreme potential shown by the newer looking Aussie outfit. Despite the blue VB caps worn on day 1 and not the traditional Baggy Green caps (Which I see were worn during the Jamaicans 2nd innings, rightly so!) in their outfits (literally), there were very few faults from the players back in the Test match arena.
Simon Katich had a dream return and proved his Pura Cup season was a strong statement to the NSP (National selection panel). Not only was he Australia’s leading run maker (97 and 37*) he also bowled and surprisingly ended up with brilliant figures of 2/51 and 4/15!
With our lack of spinners Katich and Stuart MacGill caused plenty trouble for the Jamaican XI and has given hope since the departure of Brad Hogg and shown they are capable as a duo.
MacGill, having returned from a wrist operation, proved why he is rated as Australia’s best spinner. His figures say enough, 4/79 and 3/50.
Brad Haddin had a brilliant start for Australia in the longer form of the game.
He picked up 3 catches, 2 stumpings and an innings of 64 runs!
I have a lot of belief in Brad and whilst I don’t think he could match Gilly on an entertainment aspect I do believe he can become a much better, technically sound keeper than Gilly, in very prompt time too!
Brad has plenty time to make an impact on all of us.
Whereas Adam was a specialist batsman/keeper, Brad is a specialist Keeper/Batsman so he is perfect in filling the void for Gilly, ideally wicket keeping being his primary job which is what was required.
After 7 years in the Australian lunch line he has finally made his dream reality and his moment has arrived!
Andrew Symonds made his way to 86, which I imagine was done in typical Roy fashion. Phil Jaques (48 and 2) with Simon Katich set a good standard in an opening partnership of 95. The New South Wales team mates definitely set the first innings up nicely!
Our bowlers all chipped in and it seems the energy is back and Punter and crew are ready for the first test to ensure we show the cricketing world that Australia is still strong and ready for more challenges!
The first Test gets underway this Thursday, 22nd May, and whilst it may be a bit too early to say, I am feeling confident in Australia’s cricketing future.
There was a bit of a row, as mentioned ealier, regarding the players wearing blue caps with VB logo (VB is an Australian beer, aka ‘Victorian Beer’) on it and not the traditional Baggy Green caps.
This angered a few past Australian cricketers, but it seems the caps did the promotional job in the end! Now many of you know what VB beer is!
Players debuting for Australia are expected to receive their Baggy Green caps on Day 1 of the first test.
For those of you that believe in the tradition of the Baggy Green caps you will be pleased to know that in the Jamaica Select XI 2nd innings players were seen wearing the traditional Baggy Green! Click here to ease your confusion or disgust.
In the meantime keep your cricket senses alive and enjoy the return of Test cricket!
15 May 2008
In less than a week’s time Ricky Ponting and his army of Baggy Green players will take the field to battle against the West Indies in the first test at Sabrina Park, Kingston, Jamaica.
With the Australians warm-up match starting tomorrow against the Jamaican Select XI, it will be a great time to get the side to gel together and get back to the strategies of Test match cricket.
The sad news of Michael Clarke’s fiancés Father-in-law passing away on Saturday has delayed his departure for the tour and the shocking news of young and upcoming West Indian star, Marlon Samuels’ two year ban after ‘receiving money, benefit or other reward that could bring him or the game of cricket into disrepute’, while the side were on tour in India last year, will result in him missing out on the series.
Both events will have no doubt struck pre-match blues for both sides but this tour is sure to be exciting.
We will see a slightly different Australian side, with a few Baggy Green caps being handed out to debutants and a few older faces pulling theirs out from the dusty lockers.
We’ve had the IPL hype to keep the cricket frontier in action but now International rivalry is back in the front line!
Here’s an opinionated SWOT analysis to give a glimpse of a forecast for Australia’s upcoming 3-match Test series:
From 1994 Australia has grown stronger in the Caribbean.
Matthew Hayden & Phil Jaques have become a solid opening unit. Simon Katich is another dynamite Test batsman.
Players like Ricky Ponting, Michael Hussey, Michael Clarke & Andrew Symonds will know the conditions and experience is a valuable strength.
Stuart Clarke, who will be aiming to emulate the legendary Glen McGrath, can make a great impact if he can stick to his consistent game plan.
Our pace attack is a great one at that! Lee and Johnson as an opening pair!
Brad Haddin fills the void in the departure of Adam Gilchrist with equal ability as a specialist keeper and a crafty middle order batsman.
The overall Test squad line-up has plenty powerful depth
There has been some inconsistencies creep in to the team, mostly in the ODI arena according to Ricky Ponting, so those must be fixed, as there is a lot of intense cricket over the next year.
Time will tell what weaknesses we may conjure during the Test series.
We have a lot of new players to tackle a Test series in the Windies.
Inexperience will play as a weakness to these players in the conditions so its imperative key players perform in the early stages to set a foundation.
-New players means new opportunities and new skills bring in opportunistic dynamics. The newer looking Australian side boosts the desire to perform and continue our dominant Test match form.
-Our position at the top may not be under threat at this point in time but to maintain that incredible benchmark previous players have set is an opportunity for all players on this tour.
-The momentum of a Test series victory will carry a great opportunity to go strongly into the One Day leg of the tour.
A hungry and young West Indian side with growing potential, it’s a definite threat!
The bowling line-up is becoming a worthy competition and the young guns are being nurtured.
Gayle and Chanderpaul continue to be the experienced duo so their ambition to lead the younger players in a home series against Australia is an ambition to take seriously. Our batsman must be alert and on top of their game.
The Windies are known for attacking the bowling side and get the runs on the board quickly. This area of their game must be tied down, choke their strategies and make them create their own down fall.
I am confident in Australia taking this series in a clean sweep, provided synergy is there and the team is on top of their game. If there is a lack of consistency, which we saw sneak in this summer, the result may differ.
It’s important to feed the Windies as little opportunity as possible as they are a side who are starting to make a statement.
That statement is to fight till the end and they aren’t scared.
But then again, Australia never give up and the hunger for victory, especially now, is one that can never fill an empty stomach!
* Click here for tour fixtures
09 May 2008
The following tours are confirmed and listed:
The Bangladesh ODI tour (August/September),
The ICC Champions trophy, which Australia are the defending champions after 2006' event (September),
The Test tour to India (4 tests from October to November),
The epic South African tour, which the South African leg has been confirmed (February till April) and then the tour to England including the true battle of Test match cricket ‘The Ashes’, as well as 7 ODI clashes.
The ICC Twenty20 World Championship will take place in England in the same time frame as the Australian tour in England.
So much cricket ahead and so much more to still be confirmed!
Click here to see the dates & fixtures that have been confirmed.
The Australian team has been training hard for their tour to the West Indies in Brisbane and a lot of excitement awaits Australian cricket supporters.
With new players, players with slightly different roles and others returning to the squad again it will be a testing time.
However Michael Clarke, recently elected vice-captain after Adam Gilchrist’s retirement, will miss the start of the trip due to family circumstances. Clarke’s father has been ill with Hodgkin’s disease but it seems the father of Clarke’s fiancé, Lara Bingle, is very ill with liver cancer.
This news is most unfortunate as undoubtedly Pup was very eager to represent Australia in his first test cap as Vice-Captain. However, it is a situation I am glad Cricket Australia has let him work through with his family. Hopefully Pup can regroup with the squad fairly soon.
In the mean time Michael Hussey has been nominated Vice-Captain till Clarke meets up with them.
Brad Hodge will be sent over as a specialist batsman while Clarke tends to family circumstances. Hodge, who has been playing in the IPL recently with the Kolkata Knightriders, had a solid Australian domestic season and I hope he has put the nightmares of his dismal performances in last years Indian Future Cup behind him.
In the meantime I eagerly await the West Indian tour to commence where I am sure all who represented the side at last years prolific World Cup victory will be keen to relive some of those unforgettable performances.
Matthew Hayden in particular! I’m hoping Haydos smells the opportunity at each venue to craft some world-class innings’ as he did to lead us to many a victory in the World Cup.
Atleast it’ll be easy for him getting into St. Kitts with his honorary citizenship he was awarded in last years World Cup!