27 September 2009

A TOUGH SLOG BY A HEROIC MITCHELL JOHNSON

It was indeed a tough slog to get a total that was daunting enough for the West Indies team to chase down, but Mitchell Johnson really had to show some real toughness to slog the boys out of a rather concerning situation.
But with no warm-up matches and a bunch of rather tired cricketer's it did show.
The Wanderers wicket seemed to be a bit of a battle-field at first with inconsistent bounce and plenty assistance for the spinners to get some tricky bounce.
So the Windies won the toss and it is safe to say they played very positively together but not collectively enough to cause an upset. I'm not complaining, I actually couldn't deal with another Bangladesh/Zimbabwe scenario.

Shane Watson can consider himself unlucky after he received a screamer of an inswinger from Kemar Roach first ball!
Even some of the best would have struggled to sort out that one. So Watto's tournament is still waiting to be opened up with the bat, but he was highly effective with his dubbed medium pace bowling. Watto is looking 'bowling fit' so hopefully the best of the injuries are behind him now.
Ricky Ponting played another master-class innings.
What ever it is he did in that time off after the Ashes, it really has worked!
I don't just declare it a master-class innings because it's Punter logging in his 69th fifty, but the way he handled the conditions showed his class. Tim Paine played a sensible knock up front and is settling in nicely to the One Day opening role, but will learn with time his own art to building an innings from the starts he is consistenly generating. But in contrast to Punter you could see how the conditions were tough. Tim took a couple to the grill and his hands took a good couple knocks too (his Keeping was still brilliant)!
Not to say Punter wasn't in the red zone, but the way he handled it was impressive.
Sensational timing and confident stroke play paved the way to 79 runs, but not for the first time has spin undone Punter's excellence at the top of the order.
Nikita Miller, who played against us in the Windies last year, was brilliant. In 10 overs he only conceded 23 runs with no boundaries against his name and with two prize wickets, that is very admirable. Luckily for us Nathan Hauritz followed the trend to perfection and played a key role in the bowling defences. Sorry, but Ritz has the defensive title to his name once again, and for very good reason too!
The middle order collapsed a bit, with Callum Ferguson managing a nifty 20, but things seemed to dip very quickly and quite dramatically!
This may be concerning when you consider the facts that India have a strong spin bowling unit and if our middle order don't do their homework I just feel India could cause some problems. But if Michael Clarke were to make a comeback his strong ability against spin bowling will be valuable, but the situation seems to suggest that he will not be featuring. Not to rule out our middle order who are more than capable of big contributions individually, but it's just a good point to discuss.
I don't think the boys have been playing to poorly against spin recently, but they really need to be on top of it with two massive games in the waiting.

But where there is fault, there will be correction but time to talk about the exciting power of Mitchell Johnson in the lower order.
It was in March that Mitch walked out to bat against the Proteas in the 1st Test at the 'Bull ring' and he played a crucial knock of 96. He has the shots, that cannot be argued with! His clean hitting, powerful striking and athletic energy with the quick singles really raise the intensity to the lower order and his innings was crucial in the end. Without that quick fire 73* - featuring 3 crisply hit sixes - the Windies would have possibly snuck over the line. But he went for the slog and with Brett Lee playing a slightly passive innings in support, their partnership was not only an exciting one but the match defining passage of play.
Mitch has remained very humble and respectful when approached by the media, and I'm proud of the way he will never exclude his batsmen for their contributions.
But come on Mitch, give yourself a pat on the back mate! The Wanderers stadium has something special going for Mitch!

The bowlers did a good job I thought, but the extra's are a pain. 36! Yeah, 36 extra's. May as well have been the contribution from Dale Richards who was unable to carry on playing. But I reckon Nathan Hauritz is just doing a fantastic job, and a bit like Callum Ferguson, the two of them have done their work quietly and stealth-like while being instrumental in the team setup.
Ritz cleaned out the tail-enders quickly and the game was wrapped up in style.
Binga was a touch expensive but the no-balls weren't an issue, so that was a very pleasing factor. The bowling is a wait and see case still, with Doug Bollinger in the mix now too, whereas the batting needs an injection of aggression and tight partnerships. Let's not forget, Indian spinners aside, there is the Gambhir, Tendulkar combo to deal with and Rahul Dravid is far from rusty.
And MS 'Capitalise' Dhoni is an ODI specialist and as the Skipper I choose to rather not underestimate him.

There will need to be immediate adjustments to the performances, but Punter has stated this clearly in the media. India are always up for a fierce encounter and Pakistan are playing a very ambitious brand of cricket which is certainly giving them plenty confidence to go to the finals. But the good news for us is that if we beat India, it would be an almost certain progression to the semi-finals.
I'm not going to get into the 'if's and hows', because there's only one thing to do. Win, win, and win again to retain that Trophy.
Still alot of hard work ahead, and improvement to do. It's an important time to be confident in the team, especially against India and Pakistan.

3 comments:

Jawad said...

I wouldn't be too thrilled if I were an Australian player or a supporter. Australians were lucky...verrrry lucky. Magic Johnson has once again saved Australia and it goes to show how the Australian batting has declined over the past couple of years. As I mentioned before, the middle order is inexperienced and if Hussey gets out, he is exposing the middle order. Hussey needs to do well in this tournament, otherwise I feel the end is near for him. I sure hope it is. I hate seeing in-form players out of the side. He has been playing a tourist for the past couple of years and his excuses of ''too much cricket'' are getting tiring now. I still remember Damien Martyn and how there were times he single handedly saved Australia and won them the Champions Trophy. They need a player like him, who can play an anchor role if the going gets tough. Brilliant mind, stylish player and those cover drives were jaw dropping. Although a bit of a weird and unpredictable personality. Some geniuses are that way, i suppose.

Overall, Australia needs to improve and improve quickly. The bowling hasn't been much too desirable either. India and Pakistan have a good chance of beating Australia. If they stick to their strengths and get the Australian top order out cheaply, they could put them under pressure.

This tournament has been very interesting and enjoyable to watch. Simply because the results have been pretty shocking. Good to see teams who've been written off at the start of the tournament, doing well.

Sylvester said...

Watson has 3 ducks in a row and averages 1 in his last 4 games, starting to become a real worry. His bowling makes it harder to drop him. Hope he finds form soon else we got some problems. White could be a candidate for opening, or he needs to move up to 5 at least as hes struggling at 6 again especially against spin which is probably why he went so well at 3 since he came in against pace. But Watson also has a spin weakness so we probably would only be moving the chairs but if Watson continues like this it might be time to try White there.

Bowling is a worry, the Windies bowlers looked way better than us, it seemed the pitch totally died when we started so hard to gague accurately but it was poor bowling Hauritz and Hopes forced to get us back in it. Siddle was average early on, released the pressure far too much just like he did in Test cricket and we can't have him going at 4 an over with Johnson and Lee.

Jawad said...

Watson might be the only experienced player after hussey. He does bring some balance to the side with his bowling option but lately i think he looses concentration after scoring a 20 or 30.

I think Huss played decent today. It's a shame the game against Ind might be washed out. Good to see them take the powerplay earlier on to pace increase the run rate.