30 June 2010
Just good to have the victory!
BATTING: 5-290 off 50 overs; MJ Clarke 99*, RT Ponting 92, SR Watson 41
The biggest thing that was sorted out was our batting in this game, which has let us down and ultimately a direct cause for the series loss.
Tim Paine and Shane Watson didn't put together another fifty run stand, but the top order recovered things collectively after Tim was dismissed for 8 runs.
I think the only issue Tim is having is that he is making starts but in doing so he's hogging a fair bit of the strike, which does in some ways add pressure on Watto's role. When taking time to get settled (eg. Getting to 30 odd runs off 50-60 deliveries) you're expected to convert those dot balls into a big total but increasing your scoring rate. Simon Katich and Michael Hussey are good examples at managing this effectively within their respective games.
Tim is a capable opening batsman. In 2009 I mentioned we needed firepower up top. I have changed my thoughts on this as Watto has taken on the aggressive role up top so I'd rather see firepower in the middle order. He (Watto) needs a competent opener alongside him who can rotate the strike to ensure momentum isn't lost and can hold the innings together if he goes early, because aggressive cricket doesn't always come off. For this reason I was keen to see Shaun Marsh get a chance open up. All Tim has to do is look to back himself, not get bogged down when he struggles to score and look to rotate the strike rather than push himself find boundaries like Watto does. He must do what he does for the Tassie Tigers.
Watto continues to show his importance at the top of the order. He's getting the job done. For his own expectations he won't feel he's getting the job done (going on to get a big score) but as a contributor he's doing a consistent job and putting runs on the board for us, and not wasting time in doing so.
Ricky Ponting was the guy to watch this game. Our Captain hasn't had a good series and with the poor batting performances colletively, we got an idea just how important he still is to Australian cricket with the bat. But the pressure was still on and he played a brilliant innings.
The maestro was at work! Beautiful shots with superb timing and he also found the gaps with ease and grace. It was also special as not only did he plug in his 79th fifty, but he reached 13,000 ODI runs! He's the third batsman in the history of the game to do so, the first Australian player to do so and it was special to see the moment. I've been fortunate to have followed his career from debut so every achievement I get to check is a memory for a cricketer whose achievements get taken for granted by many. Unfortunately after such an outstanding innings he was caught for 92 hauling one in the air. Be keen to see Punter pull out another one before the Tests against Pakistan! Would've been something had he scored his 13,000th run and brought up his 30th century in ODI cricket.
Michael Clarke supported Punter well. He got a bit pinned down in the early stages of his innings, but then managed to let loose as Punter gained momentum and probably just boosted Pup's gameplan. He was given some lifelines after trying to hit out, but he continued to back himself by running hard between the wickets and not overcomplicating his game. It was of course unfortunate to see him left stranded on 99* as Steven Smith took control of the closure of the innings, but I am a firm believer that the team comes first, so Stevo did a fine job at the end of the innings. You never know just how important each run could be. Pup had also let by a number of dot balls go by at the end of the innings by stepping outside the line of the ball and slashed at a few. In that regard he only had himself to blame. Doesn't take anything away from him though. He did the job for us and to do it alongside Punter was a big step up from our seniors. All Pup needs now is a return of that flashy confidence he had 3 years ago with his limited overs game, although the competition will heat up over the upcoming months.
The total was on the board, and a score of 290 was more than adequate to give our bowling attack something to defend and get out there to hit England hard.
BOWLING: England 212 all out in 42.4 overs; RJ Harris 5-32, DE Bollinger 3-38, SPD Smith 2-59
Quite funny that England scored 212 this game, what we scored last game.
Man-of-the-match, Ryan Harris is a rough Aussie bowler, who has the egde about him that would've made him slot into the early 90's side with ease. He did a fantastic job for us in the first few games and really stepped it up this game with the new ball. He bowled with genuine pace and hit his targets. He showed aggression, which I always love to see in any fast bowler and he picked up an awesome wicket when he bowled Kieswetter by just getting the ball to shape in. It pegged the off-stump back and we were on our way! When he gets his wickets he does it in fine style! Economical, balanced victims from both the top and lower order. He has had a dream return for the Green & Gold and hope he continues to stand strongly for us! Well done Ryano.
I do like the way Punter rotates our bowlers. You need to do it with a slightly 'under-par' bowling unit. Shaun Tait was used in a similar way and the way they over exposed to lengthy spells thereafter didn't help him. But using him in 2 over spells is effective and he's been fast, accurate (yes, accurate) and economic. His call-up was unexpected but a worthy one to put Taito back on the map for limited overs cricket. He looks confident too. I'm very happy for him.
Douggie B started out poorly, bowling the wrong line to Andrew Strauss who you should know loves to cut the ball and play anything square of the wicket. He pulled it back nicely though in a tidy return spell. He managed to pick up two wicket at the end of England's innings to get him a good boost in his attitude out there!Douggie is a Test bowler in my eyes, I haven't been the biggest fanatic of his spot in the ODI team, but there's no doubt he does his job with the ball generally and as we saw in the 3rd ODI when he displayed some brutal fast bowling at the end of the English innings he can be lethal. The learning curve in ODI cricket has just taken him a bit longer than his Test achievements.
Steven Smith had a great game. He did a good job with the bat getting vital runs for us with some crafty boundaries, but also delivered with the ball. The delivery to dismiss Luke Wright was a good delivery. At first I thought he generated a fair bit of spin to bowl Wright around the legs, but it was more drift on the ball than anything else. It was still great to see it happen. As always he worked like a dog in the field. Running hard and committing himself to the stop 100%! He's a touch expensive at times, but that's the life of a spinner, especially a wrist spinner.
He's a young man, is learning quickly and certainly sparks our side in the field. He's also close to a debut for the Baggy Green!
The final ODI will be on Saturday at Lords Cricket Ground.
There will try to snuff England out of a final victory and make sure we head into the Pakistan series with some pride and added confidence after our cricket was poor.
There was no one to blame, our cricket was just well below standards and we gave England an open door to take us down. We performed better a little to late with the bat but as Aussie supporters we know to never give in...the 3rd ODI should have indicated that, along with hundreds of other examples out there!
Well done Aussies, that was an impressive fightback!
* An early note: LIVE CHAT here @ The Baggy Green Supporters Blogsite for the T20s versus Pakistan on Monday 5th & Tuesday 6th. Check your local guides for the game!
Ricky Ponting brought up his 13,000th run in his innings of 92 runs. Reverse-sweep! Something innovative. Ryan Harris delivered the goods with an excellent spell of 5-32.
Copyright: Getty Images, courtesy of Cricinfo.com
Steven has been continually on the rise for New South Wales and displayed a match winning performance with his batting alongside Ben Hilfenhaus in the 1st innings of the first game against Sri-Lanka A, which was followed up by a match defining spell with the ball. FOR THE AUSTRALIA A TOUR STATS CLICK HERE.
After Nathan Hauritz was pulled out of the current ODI series due to injury concerns, he has also been advised to not participate in the Test matches. As a result Steven has the opportunity to join the side. As always, whether or not he plays it will still be invaluable experience for him to be around the squad.
Three players from the Australia A tour have made the Test match series, four if you include Tim Paine who was originally drafted into the side after Brad Haddin's elbow injury became serious.
Usman Khawaja (NSW), Steven O'Keefe (NSW) and Ben Hilfenhaus (Tas/Australia) put in good performances to get the confidence levels up as well as give the NSP the signs of form they needed to see. Hilfy is of course making a return as opposed to a debut after his knee tendonitis put him out of cricket for 8 months.
He was pulled out after his man-of-the-match performance against the Windies at the Gabba during the 1st Test of the summer, his first Test match on Australian Soil.
Looking forward to him returning to the territory where he was the top wicket-taker during the Ashes.
Other worthy News is that later today our guys will try to outclass England in this rather morbid ODI series. On a personal note it was a series I wasn't and am still not overly excited about, but a loss is a loss and it still isn't pleasant, especially after the Socceroos got booted out of the World Cup Soccer and the Wallabies lost to England in the 2nd game in Sydney 2 weeks ago in the Rugby.
I haven't seen the need to worry about our team though, it's more frustration than anything else.
We just haven't performed with the bat and we've put our under strength bowling unit under too much pressure.
The batsman are all capable to perform at the elite level, so that's why we haven't had a list of excuses. The guys know what they have to do!
Punter will know he needs some runs, Michael Clarke will have to face his own demons to try and overcome these confidence issues with his limited overs cricket and I wouldn't mind if Shaun Marsh has a go at the top of the order, while Tim Paine slips down the order. Watto and Tim have done a fine job up front putting together three fifty run stands, but I just feel Shaun may give a sensible role at the top, while having Tim lower down will be effective if we see another disastrous middle order collapse given he is doing alright in the middle.
Our bowlers were outstanding last game in an attempt to defend a low total, but just came undone. Captaincy or the bowling couldn't be blamed for that.
I don't expect a whitewash and I do expect to see an aggressive performance from the guys. Will need to try bow out on a high note with some tough, slightly more important cricket on the way!
27 June 2010
One thing that finish did show us is that once you get England's main momentum force knocked over, it's rather straight forward from there, then again we did have an addition. That addition was Shaun Tait who nearly put us back on the map for the series.
Atleast we also saw the One Day cricket is still exciting when given minimal scheduling.
BATTING: 212 all out, SR Watson 61, TD Paine 44
This total was terrible and during a chat on Twitter I mentioned we'd need a bowling miracle to pull us out of this one. It nearly camw true. But the frustration I mentioned in the article title is that from game 1 to 3, our batting has been following the same pattern but just gotten marginally worse. Tim Paine and Shane Watson once again put together a strong opening stand to set our batsman up really well to follow on. They then got out cheaply yet again. From there the middle order collapsed and we depended on some desperate scrapping from our lower order. 212 just isn't good enough and it was agreed upon by many that in order for us to claw our way back into this series, we needed runs on the board. These bowlers needed something to defend, something that would give them confidence. Our batsmen only made their job harder.
A lack of momentum was the main thing I can see. The general scoring rate was alright, it was good enough to get total's of 170+ with wickets in hand, but our momentum was the issue. It was the same in each game, accelerating rapidly up top, then falling apart in the middle while the lower order were left to try speed things up and as a result leaving settled batsman with too much on their plate. It was the same thing.
Shane Watson has been doing a great job. You could say that he's not going on from fifty with an effective enough result, but the fact is he is doing his job. Getting the runs on the board at the top of the order and doing it the way he does business. The only thing wrong with Watto's game is that he's gifting away his wicket to the English bowlers.
Tim Paine has been on and off but is supporting Watson as the two of them put together another fifty run stand together. He opened up nicely against Tim Bresnan with some aggressive batting.
My concern lies with our leaders. Ricky Ponting is concerningly out of touch while Michael Clarke just looks totally lost with his limited overs game. It's not even the Strike-rate with Pup, it's that his flashy, ambitious attitude is gone and he looks out of place. Punter just needs to get a damn good innings behind his name because he's clearly not going to be getting there with easing the ball around. He'll back himself though and will know better than anyone how he can correct this.
It also shows how important he is to the team when he is in form and how we still need runs from him.
Cam White and Michael Hussey have shown a similar importance to Punter. We have been heavily reliant on the two of them time and time again, in both T20 and ODI cricket. Huss has been exposing his stumps to the spinners and his timing seems a bit off in this series. I'm surprised he wasn't bowled in the first two games. I watched some footage from the first two games, it is something England came out looking to accomplish from the start of his innings in game 3. They are looking and getting it through the gap he's leaving between bat and pad when playing back to the spinners. He's such an important part of our ODI team but it shows how we struggle a bit without that injection of confidence from Huss' batting abilities.
Bottom line is our batting has been a concern. Without the runs we wouldn't have won and it's all been proven. Our batsmen will know it all too well.
BOWLING: England 9-214, DE Bollinger 3/20, SW Tait 3/28, SPD Smith 2/34
First off, Shaun Tait was terrific! He was called up to the side and delivered a brilliant spell of bowling. I like the way his spells get spaced out. It's a great tactical move from Punter and it worked well. Taito came into the side relatively fresh from T20 cricket and immediately got stuck in on the action to strike some fear into England. 'The Wild Thing' bowled Kieswetter up top and then displayed some good reflexes to get Kevin Pietersen caught and bowled.
His bowled with good pace but what has really impressed me is the control he shows. His action compared to the 2007 World Cup footage I have is so much smoother. He delivered an outstanding performance upon his call-up. He certainly gave us a boost!
Doug Bollinger was a beast at the end with the ball in hand bowling both Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann. He gave us that hope after Shaun Tait and Steven Smith began a potential collapse for England.
Steven Smith bowled very well also. He gave the ball good flight and wasn't showing any fear out there. The wickets came to him in the end. In the field he is still highly energetic and a joy to watch. Our bowlers gave it their best shot, but Tim Bresnan was a pain with the bat against us again as he edged the first ball of James Hopes over for four runs. Game over. So close, but frustratingly not enough.
The fact is, taking our score of 212 away, to derail England like that was something special and atleast we know these bowlers are capable of winning a game for us if we have something good on the scoreboard.
There's two games left to try rectify these issues. It is a concern to us as supporters. I can honestly say I knew this series would be tough, I don't know exactly why but it was a gut feeling and having a look at the bowling stocks it just seemed we'd need to play extremely well to grab that early momentum in the series. The guys can pull it all back together, they can come out and win these two games. But our batsmen need to perform, we need one guy to raise his bat for his century or atleast have our top 5 contributing valuably.
I won't get into any further negatives as this has already been a depressing write-up.
I'm still backing the guys to take the last two games. It will still be difficult though.
After that bowling effort at the end, it's good to know somewhere there's still that 'never give in' attitude in these players. Time for it to really come out!
Shaun Tait deserved his break. He's had a rough journey and to see him back in the Green & Gold at ODI level was exciting. He delivered a good fast bowling spell to make his mark.
Copyright: Getty Images, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
They won the second game by an innings and 17 runs.
The batting was the major turnaround and it was pleasing to see two Aussies score a century and another two of our players who were present in the Squad perform after getting call-ups to The Baggy Green for the Tests in Pakistan.
Here are the statistics for the tournament:
Peter George 2 matches, 56.3 overs, 11 maidens, 11 wickets, BBI 5/84, 15.27 avg, 2.97 E/r
Ben Hilfenhaus 2 matches, 58.5 overs, 20 maidens, 9 wickets, BBI 5/63, 17.11 avg, 2.61 E/r
Steve O'Keefe 2 matches, 48.0 overs, 10 maidens, 9 wickets, BBI 7/35, 20.22 avg, 3.79 E/r
James Pattinson 1 match, 31.0 overs, 8 maidens, 5 wickets, BBI 3/59, 15.20 avg, 2.45 E/r
Andrew McDonald 2 matches, 41.0 overs, 13 maidens, 3 wickets, BBI 3/17, 37.00 avg, 2.70 E/r
BATTING (over 50 runs to qualify)
George Bailey 2 matches, 3 innings, 260 runs, 154* HS, 130.00 avg 80.24 SR
Ed Cowan 2 matches, 3 innings, 164 runs, 126 HS, 54.66 avg, 49.84 SR
Steve O'Keefe 2 matches, 2 innings, 108 runs, 61 HS, 54.00 avg, 56.25 SR
Usman Khawaja 2 matches, 3 innings, 108 runs, 69 HS, 36.00 avg, 52.94 SR
Ben Hilfenhaus 2 matches, 2 innings, 92 runs, 50 HS, 46.00 avg, 63.44 SR
Peter Forrest 2 matches, 3 innings, 52 runs, 31 HS, 17.33 avg, 47.27 SR
Big game awaiting Australia today after a very concerning start to the ODIs. Three games to go and the game will be underway in a few minutes!
Come on Aussies!
George Bailey (Tasmanian Captain) lead the side for these games and stepped up when it mattered most to deliver a real Captains knock!
Copyright: Getty Images, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
26 June 2010
Peter George made another outstanding impact with the ball though to set things up for the game. If he continues to put in these performances, he will be a man with a future for the Baggy Green! He's been close before after a potential call-up for the Test series in New Zealand, but these brilliant performances will just keep him right up there.
His figures were 4/13, while Andrew McDonald delivered with the ball as well to pick up 3/17.
Usman Khawaja has made sure that the selectors can have some added confidence in his selection for the Pakistan Test series after he scored 69 runs in a very patient approach. It's always great to see the young guys give it their all.
A bloke who has just been on ascendancy is George Bailey, who is also our Skipper for the game.
George had a great knock in the 2nd innings of the 1st match but has followed it up with something special. He scored an unbeaten 154* which included 6 sixes and 14 boundaries at a rapid pace. It was 1 run short of his best First-class highest score. I am being bold in declaring I'd rather have a bloke like George built up for Captaincy at the elite level than Michael Clarke, although George has yet to play Internationally so I'm jumping the gun in saying that. The form he was in last season was impressive and having seen the way he's carrying his efforts forward is very encouraging. Despite things being a bit scratchy over in England, we have an excellent crop of talent waiting for the elite level. Anyone writing us off is in for a shock down the line. That's my opinion anyway.
Ed Cowan, who declared the pitch in the first game to be 'ridiculous', won't be complaining after his fine innings of 126. Alongside Usman they took us well past the Sri-Lankans total and then George Bailey just made it even more daunting for the Sri-Lankans who now trail by 292 runs.
It will be up to Ben Hilfenhaus, Peter George and James Pattinson to build upon their efforts as they tried to pick up a wicket or two at the close of play. Two days to go though, so plenty of time to take the match. But victory is there for the taking and I have no doubt the boys can wrap things up tomorrow!
Usman Khawaja made the most of his innings to just inject some confidence into his own game ahead of his potential debut at Test level for the Baggy Green.
Copyright: Getty Images, courtesy of Cricinfo.com
25 June 2010
* News: Nathan Hauritz out of the ODIs due to injury and is in doubt for the Tests against Pakistan. Steven Smith looking set for a debut alongside Tim Paine for the Baggy Green.
Shaun Tait has been called up to replace Ritz and the good news is Taito is already in action in the English T20 competition. Ritz is yet another causualty to the injury list, please may it not get any longer!
It was exactly the type of performance we didn't need. No use complaining, the only thing we can gamble on now is that the guys come out strongly in the next three games and win. That's the bottom line. Their seems to be a bit of a casual attitude around the team with this series. I'm not sure what it is, but it's something a few guys seemed to have picked up on. A type of complacency or confidence concern? I'm not quite sure but what happened last match, happened once again and this time we were one important bowler down.
BATTING: 7-239, 50 overs: CL White 86*, SR Watson 57, SPD Smith 41.
It was quite bizarre how similar things played out. Tim Paine and Shane Watson got us off to a flyer in a good attack launched against James Anderson and Tim Bresnan. Despite Watto trying to keep his aggressive intentions up after Tim Paine departed to give Stuart Broad his 100th wicket, he fell again cheaply. In an attempted pull shot, he mistimed it terribly and got out in the fifities zone yet again!
Ricky Ponting is having a very rusty time out there. If ever we needed Punter to step up it would be now, given the attitude around the side. We just expect it to be the Hussey/White show to get us out of the danger zone every single match.
So I do expect Punter to deliver something big soon, we need it from the Skipper!
Michael Clarke continued to struggle for consistency. It's either decent or a no show from him and I think it may be a concern because his confidence with his ODI game is evidently shattered. His body language doesn't shine with that flashy confidence he had just two years ago. It's a concern for the supporters.
Michael Hussey tried his hardest but he was bowled by a fine delivery from Anderson that just nipped back inside to beat the inside of his bat to knock back his stumps.
Fortunately Cam White played conservatively to steer the side out of another terrible position and did this alongside Steven Smith who was playing his first game of the series.
I made a joke with a mate of mine that it'd be funny if Cam also scored 87* like Michael Clarke did last game, because it would just continue to the pattern. He ended unbeaten on 86*. It was a decent innings but many guys will understandably point fingers at the way his innings lacked momentum. Despite 2 sixes and 7 fours, it was similar to Clarke in that he struggled for momentum at the right time of the innings. Generally he has no issues with letting rip when needed. Perhaps it was that the conditions played against him or he was not confident in our other batsmen, either way even his efforts couldn't get us past the 250 mark.
After 50 overs we only managed 239. Immediately, without Ryan Harris in particular or a fired up young Josh Hazelwood most supporters would have known in some circumstances our never give in attitude just doesn't seem realistic.
BOWLING: England 6-243, 45.2 overs; DE Bollinger 3/46.
Douggie Bollinger is a seasoned Test cricket who hasn't really made a huge impact in the One Day game in my opinion, but yesterday he outclassed our entire bowling unit.
Despite Shane Watson having a shorter spell for obvious reasons and only going for 9 runs in three very economical overs, every other bowler except Douggie went for over 5 an over versus England whose bowlers only saw one man with an economy rate over 5. All the comparisons add up when analysing a weakness.
Our batting is a concern, but with our full strength ODI bowling unit I wouldn't be too concerned. But these bowlers seriously need a score to defend. It's essential because England have a strong batting side (as I've mentioned many times already) and without something dominating behind our batting scoreline, it's going to be continually in England's favor, and they can smell the weakness already.
Ryan Harris has the ability to just get that bit of deviation on the ball to create opportunities and with him being sidelined, it just meant that two spinners and a handful of seamers would be a big ask. Andrew Strauss played well up front and proved me wrong with his aggressive game plan. I still maintain there's always a chance with him up top playing with that mindset. Kevin Pietersen didn't show much discomfort as well and then Eoin Morgan continued his heroics scoring another half-century and really showing what a cool customer he is with the bat in hand. He's becoming a thorn in our side! I have quite a bit of video footage of him and there are a number of ways to get him but as you see, once he gets going it is tough to remove him, similar to Michael Hussey. I would go as far as saying he is potentially becoming the English cricket teams very own version of Huss. Potentially I said!
Douggie did a good job. Three wickets, which were all big vitimes, were his for the taking and the only blemish to his figures were two No-balls. That's gifting the opposition opportunities whether or not they make use of the Free Hit or not. But don't get me wrong, it was good to see Douggie bowl a fine spell but he needed support. It didn't happen last night and we paid the price.
It was a very similar feature to that of the 1st ODI and Cardiff remains a gloomy venue for us.
There's still three games. But the urgency is even greater now. It will be very, very hard work because I do think the side is struggling with confidence. You just have to look at the warm-up games for starters. Someone needs to get back that Aussie attitude to get stuck into the opposition and give them nothing! I maintain this is the way to play the game and I just hope one of our guys can make a daunting impact. That's all England need to throw them off-balance. They just need to experience one almighty beating in a game and they are back on the back foot.
And I must say, even though I try my utmost best to be analytical to see the positives and not sledge our own players, I just think we are really missing Mitchell Johnson and the experience of Brett Lee. Even not having guys like Nathan Bracken, Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus is a concern as they bring the X factor to the side, some in different formats though.
No need to panic, the Third ODI will determine what will be the outcome for this series.
AUSTRALIA A are also playing their final 4-day game against SRI-LANKA A.
We mowed them for 78 and have already taken the lead.
Usman Khawaja is cashing in on his call-up to the Test Squad as he currently stands unbeaten on 47* runs, while Eddie Cowan is on 34*. That is highly promising seeing Usman peek at the right time!
Andrew 'Ginger Ninja' McDonald (who still has a Cricket Australia contract) took 3/17 while Peter George was impressive once again with 4/13. Ben Hilfenhaus and James Pattinson had victims behind their names too. It was an excellent bowling effort with not one bowler going for more than 3 runs and over!
The game is already in our hands. Good luck to the Aussie A boys for the next 3 days!
24 June 2010
Initially I had a voting poll up here asking your thoughts on the Test match series proposal. The majority of the votes were in favor of the Test series while clearly showing that 7 ODIs was just ridiculous way to go.
The good news is that it will only be two Test matches. My concern was that it would not only cause a bit of conflict with the Ashes build-up and risk injury to our players, but also just add some unwanted cricket to the already very busy calendar. This is a good way to go!
I am pleased with these fixtures, but I just hope the BCCI and The ECB haven't been plotting something together in an attempt to maybe lure some our more important players into injury.
I also hope the curators prepare some decent wickets because people are getting a bit sick of these dull, flat, lifeless wickets offering the bowlers nothing. It sucks the life out of the game and I am a fanatic of bowling in Test cricket.
But it's very pleasing though to see just two Test matches scheduled, while three ODIs have been a big cut down from the initial 7. This is good. It seems the lights are starting to go on with the Cricketing bodies that by moderating the number of ODIs....perhaps people will show an interest and then maybe we will hear the end of the continual media gander that cricket is dying.
Well done Cricket Australia and for a change the BCCI, you have put together a half decent Tour.
To see the fixtures for the tour in October, CLICK HERE.
23 June 2010
I rarely give credit to opposition players unless it's genuinely worth giving. But I have admittedly followed Eoin Morgan's career ever since the build-up to the 2007 Cricket World Cup. In fact I think if you scroll through some of my posts from 2008 you will find he pops up every so often. He just had an X factor about him when he was wearing the Irish green. There's an impressive calm about the bloke when he's in the middle. He doesn't get distressed, doesn't show much panic (atleast externally) and his stroke selection unexpectedly varies throughout his innings with elegant front foot shots boosted by his excellent timing capabilities or his cheek to improvise (the reverse sweep or that ghastly but effective T20 paddle scoop) and send a decent delivery behind the Keepers region.
He's an impressive cricketer and once again England have cashed in on some talent from the outskirts of their system. He needed the chance, had the opportunity and I never imagined the young Irishman from 2006/07 would've scored a century against us to secure a victory to go 1-0 up against us. He didn't need luck, it was a great innings in a rather boring match but the expectation on him to keep it up will be our advantage.
In my series preview article I stated the following, 'The bowling units are facing a big challenge. England have a team that is becoming more specialised and seasoned to many different formats. The way they have achieved this has been by stealing as many overseas players as possible, getting them tied into their Domestic circuit and then giving them an English Cap. The result is that they have good, diverse teams in T20, ODI and Test cricket. The batting is their strength in all forms of the game. Our bowlers have a growing reputation, but combined (Bollinger, McKay, Harris, Watson, Hopes & Hazelwood) they only have 18 games combined in English conditions at International level (15 games versus England in England). So it is a new battle ground for the ODI bowling attack.'
That was proven yesterday!
BATTING: 7-267, 50 overs bowled. MJ Clarke 87*, JR Hopes 34.
We could look at our batting as the reason this game slipped away.
Yes, the start was rapid but not promising when we lost Shane Watson, Tim Paine, Ricky Ponting and Cam White (in a rare failure)with our total under 100. Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke dug deep to push us onwards. After Huss was caught behind it was up to James Hopes and Michael Clarke too steer us as close to the 300 mark as possible.
I had a good feeling that 260 would be a defendable target to reach as it certainly seemed to be the par score on the type of wicket it was.
Pup had to play an important innings. We all know about the strike-rate issues but ever since the Commonwealth Bank ODI series in 2008 against India & Sri-Lanka where he bailed us out of jail a number of times, he hasn't really been in the hero seat with the bat. His momentum seems to be a problem. Not his strike-rate, his momentum! While James Hopes was opening up and trying to give us a chance which followed a good late innings assault from Nathan Hauritz (once again), Pup just struggled to advance the way he'd have hoped. At his strike-rate of just under 90, there's nothing wrong with that. He steadied the ship and played an outstanding innings displaying leadership and responsibility, but having taken all that time to stay there till the end, he just seemed to struggle to accelerate things at the right time and get one up on England. The recent public finger pointing with his struggles to score rapidly were exposed in the game. Just my oberservations of his lack of momentum shouldn't discredit him or be a point of failure in the game. He didn't give England many chances in his innings which showed he was in control and without his innings we'd have been out around the 200 mark. Our top order made starts but failed to build upon there efforts. It was the same for England, just one man made more than Pup did.
But 267 runs? I still reckon it was defendable, but given the obvious that our bowling unit is our weakness, we'd need to witness an impressive bowling performance from our guys.
BOWLING: England 6-268, RJ Harris 3/42, SR Watson 2/55
This is where we lost the match, not from the go but in the middle region of the game. If you look at Englands batting performance, it was a copy of ours to a certain degree. One man made it past the half-century mark and remained unbeaten while his team-mates made starts but failed to build upon this. It was the same for us with Pup unbeaten and the only bloke to go past the half-century mark.
The difference was Eoin Morgan played an innings that was just better than his.
England's batting is their strength so to have them sitting at 4/97 was a superb effort from our bowlers. Josh Hazelwood had a nervous start to his career but took 1 wicket on debut, when he bowled Kieswetter, who looks to be England's ODI & T20 full time Keeper now.
Andrew Strauss opened up with aggression so the chance of getting him out early would happen. I don't think Strauss is an aggressive player. He plays better when he takes on a conservative role. If you get him to play straight and on the front foot and take away the cut shot or anything on the pads from him, you have a chance with him early on. Throw in an aggressive mood with the bat, and you have another advantage on him. It's not how he plays his cricket. He's a traditionalist. Kevin Pietersen looked decent in his milestone match but a sharp catch from Punter in the gully ensured that we edged closer to having a go at their middle order.
Having dismissed their top four, Morgan and Luke Wright did a fine job in dampening our mood in the middle and during the middle stages of the game, even though the scores where close enough, they had set themselves up by not playing foolish cricket in the middle stages of the game. It was boring to witness but that is how the job gets done sometimes.
With our bowling attack, it would have taken something special to choke them for runs given the way those two guys just kept things moving so it was about wickets, which sadly didn't come quickly enough. Tim Bresnan played a cameo role and despite some fine bowling from Ryan Harris, the rest of the bowlers had a tough time as they were just played away with ease. Half-volleys and just an off night to bowl to their set fields ended up being costly.
Shane Watson is a great bloke and a key player for our team, but Punter, mate, he's not a death bowler anymore! Those days are over. I stand to be proven wrong but he's less effective with the ball now.
Ryano had a bit of movement early on in his spell, not as much as I anticipated, but he did a fine job for us. Perhaps he should just show a bit more attitude out there. Seems to make a difference for some of the blokes out there, like Nathan Hauritz.
On a positive note, despite Morgan's outstanding century I do think we can still take them down. This series will be a tough one to win and has started off on a bad note.
We have an inexperienced bowling unit against an effective English batting unit. If we can repeat what we did to their top order and then snuff the middle order, our batting will win the games for us. If our bowlers struggle though for their consistency it'll make the batting efforts less effective or just that little bit harder. The simplest of looking at it is this: Our batsmen have to give our bowlers the best chance possible at having a go at England with either decent runs on the board or a display of a sensible run chase. Against some teams we can afford to give away cheap wickets, but not this time. Not without Brett Lee, Nathan Bracken or Mitchell Johnson to strengthen the bowling ranks.
4 games left though and I am in no doubt that we can pull this back. Why would I have any doubts? England just had one guy who got the up on us while two guys supported him. None of their bowlers were a genuine threat. We gave away our wickets cheaply at terrible intervals, so if we rectify that, we should give our bowlers that extra margin of confidence.
I also see Punter needs another 51 runs to reach 13,000 runs! How awesome would that be if he can do it in Game 2. Given his evident rustiness it may take a game more.
Other news I tweeted is Tim Paine is set to receive a Baggy Green Cap next month! More on this later as the ODIs are the priority now.
Interesting, exciting and tense times for Australian Cricket.
22 June 2010
Another surprise selection is New South Wales middle order batsmen Usman Khawaja who had a superb season for the Blues, scoring 698 runs including three centuries, so Usman has earned his call up to the national team after the unfortunate injury to Phil Hughes and hopefully will take the opportunity with both hands.
The rest of the squad is business as usual with Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey and Marcus North making up the usual batting order for Australia. Steven Smith retains his spot as the 12th man.
Australia have stuck solid with the bowling cartel which has served them well, Dougie Bollinger, Mitchell Johnson, Ryan Harris, Nathan Hauritz and the returning Ben Hilfenhaus.
One thing that could disrupt the Australian's prepartions is the fitness of Brad Haddin who is struggling with an elbow tendon injury. Haddin is reluctant to lose his spot, battling through a broken finger to play in last year's Ashes but if he is ruled out, Tim Paine who is already over there would take his place.
Justin's player to watch: Marcus North
Marcus has been a contentious selection for the Australian team, with the media labelling him dead weight due to his lack of scores but his 112* against New Zealand in Australia's last series has eased some pressure on the West Australian. If Marcus fails to perform in these two tests though, he'll be back under the spotlight and may be the big omission for Steven Smith in the Ashes.
Australia's squad or the Pakistan tests in England:
Shane Watson, Simon Katich, Ricky Ponting (capt), Michael Clarke, Michael Hussey, Marcus North, Brad Haddin (wk), Usman Khawaja, Steven Smith, Mitchell Johnson, Nathan Hauritz, Ryan Harris, Doug Bollinger, Ben Hilfenhaus.
21 June 2010
Our last tall bowler was Stuart Clark who appears to be declining through his drop in pace. Before that it was the great Glenn McGrath. Both players relied on extracting bounce from the pitch by using their tall frame rather than pace. The three guys I mentioned in the opening paragraph use a mix of pace and bounce.
June 2010 could well be remembered as the month where Australia unearth a few tall youngsters. The month started with Josh Hazlewood earning a surprise inclusion in the current ODI tour of the UK. At 196cm, he is one centimeter taller than the great McGrath and he might grow taller than Clark who is 197cm tall. From what I have seen of Hazlewood (who has been compared to McGrath), he uses his height effectively like the fellow tall bowlers I have mentioned. From the u19 World Cup, he was clocking up 140km/h easily and even touched 145km/h which is around Morne Morkel's pace. If the speed gun was accurate during the u19 World Cup, then Hazlewood should have a long future at the top level.
Two days ago Peter George made his mark at the next level. He is the second tallest bowler in Australian cricket at 202cm, one centimeter shorter than Dorey who is 203cm. George made his mark last season with an amazing 8 for 64 against Tasmania in Horbart. He ended the match with figures of 11/131. George is more in the mould of Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark than Morkel or Harmison. He relies on the extra bounce he gets with a bit of seam movement to pick up the majority of his wickets. George is well and truly on the selectors radar as he was Two days ago Peter George made his mark at the next level. He is the second tallest bowler in Australian cricket at 202cm, one centimeter shorter than Dorey who is 203cm. George made his mark last season with an amazing in Horbart. He ended the match with figures of 11/131. George is more in the mould of Glenn McGrath and Stuart Clark than Morkel or Harmison. He relies on the extra bounce he gets with a bit of seam movement to pick up the majority of his wickets. George is well and truly on the selectors radar as he was called in as stand by for Ryan Harris during the Test Series against New Zealand in March. Currently he's playing for Australia A where he picked up his second career five fer against Sri Lanka A. It's hard to say if George will make it at the next level as I'm a fan that likes a bit of pace with the height but McGrath showed it's possible to succeed through height and accuracy.
Mitchell Starc, another bowling participating in the A series against Sri Lanka is more in the mould of Mitchell Johnson than the tall bowlers I have mentioned. His run up, appearance, bowling hand and even batting ability are similar to that of the much talked about Johnson. While I'm on similarities, their first name are Mitchell as well! From what I have seen of Starc so far, he relies on his angle, a hint of swing and seam movement to pick up his wickets rather than using his height. His pace isn't quite as quick as Johnson, he usually hovers around the high 130km/h mark. Starc certainly has the potential to go on and he is clearly regarded highly by the selectors as was shown when he was picked ahead of guys like Ben Cutting, John Hastings and James Pattinson for the A squad. He picked up 2 wickets in the Sri Lanka A match while maintaining a very respectable 2.9 economy.
The current ODI lineup contains two other tall bowlers in Clint McKay and Doug Bollinger. Most will know about them already, Bollinger is more of a swing bowler rather than a tall accurate bowler. McKay on the other hand is one that relies on that extra bounce and accuracy not to mention a very good slower ball to pick up his wickets.
The English are set to launch their own tall bowler on us with Steven Finn (2m) well in the frame to make his Ashes debut after a successful debut against Bangladesh where he finished with career figures of 19 wickets at 23 from 4 matches.
Of the bowlers I have mentioned, Josh Hazlewood appears to be the closest to the dream attributes I look for. However, if any of the bowlers can live up to the McGrath tag which seems to go onto any tall bowler, then we fans will have some enjoyable times watching the Poms, Indians and South Africans jumping about.
2.03m - Joel Garner, Brett Dorey
2.02m - Peter George
2.00m - Steven Finn
1.97m - Stuart Clark
1.96m - Morne Morkel, Mitchell Starc, Josh Hazlewood
1.95m - Ishant Sharma, Glenn McGrath
1.94m - Doug Bollinger, Clint McKay
1.93m - Stephen Harmison
20 June 2010
After scoring 42 in the 1st innings, followed by a maiden fifty, Hilfy was standing wicketless after Steven O'Keefe and Peter George had done most of the damage in the match.
However, he stood up to the challenege and ended with bowling figures of 5-63 after 21.5 overs at an average of 2.88 RPO.
Keep an eye out at Hilfy407.net as we make updates to the content over the next day or two.
Peter George was great in his spell to knock down the first five wickets of the day. In case you aren't sure, he plays for South Australia and had a potential call-up to the Test squad during the New Zealand tour incase there were any injuries. If he continues to deliver like this, the young man will be another contender for the bowling spot. With guys like Trent Copeland and Josh Hazelwood also putting in the performances, the future is looking good for our fast bowling stocks.
Steven O'Keefe had a brilliant match with his 7 wickets and scores of 47 and 61. Skipper George Bailey (Tasmania) took his catches and played a Captains knock in the 2nd innings, top scoring with 87 runs.
Andrew McDonald went wicketless but was as always economic and returned tidy figures, despite being wicketless. Matthew Wade also had a good opportunity after his mate Tim Paine was called up to represent Australia on the current British Isles tour. He has another good opportunity ahead of him so it's all a big learning experience for another one of our fine Wicket Keppers for the future.
The first ODI starts tomorrow at the Rose Bowl. I do think this series will be a challenge for the guys. Our bowlers need to be in fine form on the day because England's batsmen will come after them. That's their strength so if we can target that, it will be ours for the taking in my opinion.
Further analysis to follow.
For the Tour analysis article please CLICK HERE.
Hilfy made an impressive impact in his return to cricket after an 8 month injury layoff! The performances have put him in a good place for selection consideration to head over for the Pakistan Tests.
Copyright: Getty Images
19 June 2010
Middlesex won the toss and elected to give Australia a taste of their own medicine by opening with the devastating pair of Adam Gilchrist and David Warner. Warner's NSW team mate, Doug Bollinger showed he knows Warner's game very well recovering from the early boundary hit in his over to have Warner caught behind for 5.
Shane Watson started his spell well with his economy under 6 an over and he picked up the crucial wicket of Adam Gilchrist in the 16th over. Bollinger returned in the 20th over to remove Malan leaving Middlesex 3/86. Shah and Dexter ensured there would be no early tea with an 88 run partnership. Bollinger returned to give the c Paine b Bollinger its third entry.
Newman came in to put the icing on the cake with 55 from just 40 balls while Shah ended up falling short of his 100 when he holed out in the deep on 92 off the bowling of McKay. Shane Watson struggled at the death which balloned his figures back over the 6 an over mark and McKay had similar struggles after his first spell went for 5 an over.Middlesex set a competitive 273 at 5.46 runs an over.
Australia came out all guns blazing with Paine and Watson scoring 26 runs in 2.4 overs before Paine departed on 10 run out. Watson continued his assault taking Australia past 50 before he departed in the 6th over to a run out by Warner. Murtagh who claimed the run out of Paine, then grabbed 2 quick wickets in the captain and vice captain of Australia. Clarke departed for his second duck in a row while Ponting hit three boundaries before departing.
At 4/64, Australia were looking at another embarrassing loss on English soil which would have capped of the night after the English disposed of the Wallabies earlier in the day. Cameron White and Michael Hussey had different ideas as they shared a massive 176 run partnership which included White's third 100 for Australia which came off 114 balls. Hussey scored at a more subdue rate to normal with his 50 coming from 73 balls but it was the perfect knock for the situation.
When White departed for 106, Australia needed a relatively simple 34 runs from 38 balls. Steven Smith finished off the game with a quick fire 28 from just 17 balls as Australia won by 5 wickets with 13 balls remaining. Like in the T20 World Cup, Australia once again relied on Hussey and White to dig them out of trouble while Smith continued his love affair with batting with Hussey.
The match would have given the Middlesex players a lot of confidence as they performed well with bat and ball. For Australia, Doug Bollinger found form after an off day against the Irish. Watson's bowling was good earlier on and he showed glimpsed of returning to his best with the best. The biggest concern for Australia will be the bowling of Clint McKay and the batting of Michael Clarke.
Copyright PA Photos
AusA crumbled in the first innings with Sri-Lanka's off-break bowler Senanayake picking up 8 wickets in the first innings, followed by 1 more in the second innings, where the boys are currently 6/200.
Skipper George Bailey (57) and Steve O'Keefe (28*) will resume tomorrow.
On the back of Senanayake's 9 wickets, O'Keefe picked up 7 for himself. At one stage, according to the same Tweet by Ed Cowan they had about 6 guys around the bat. Usually you only see this sort of stuff in a tense situation towards the end of a Test match. These kind of wickets seem to be good as it balances out the art of batting and bowling, in a game where the balance is well out of place for bowlers with T20 cricket and flat wickets. At the same time it can also be incredibly frustrating for a batting team. Reminds me of the final Test of Australia's tour to India in 2004! It happens though and it seems the guys have managed to salvage something from it and have a good lead. Heading to day 3 tomorrow, and I don't see Sri-Lanka A taking it.
Steve O'Keefe also scored 61 in the first innings alongside Ben Hilfenhaus who played an unusual role in bailing the team out of trouble. They put together a strong 8th wicket partnership with Hilfy adding 42. Sri-Lanka A only managed 103 in their first innings, so you get an idea it's not easy going out there especially when the seamers are seeming a bit ineffective. It was really positive though to see even though Steve was the man in the destruction seat, the other bowlers were tidy in their figures. Of course I'm looking specifically at Hilfy and Andrew McDonald's stats. Andrew only sent down 2 overs, but in the 7 overs Hilfy bowled he only went for 17 runs. Seems the spinners will have the final say in this game!
Hopefully Townsville will be a better track.
George Bailey could do with a ton to boost his credibility after a fantastic State season.
Day 3 tomorrow! The first ODI against England will be on the 22nd, while Punter and the gang will take on Middlesex in a warm-up game at Lords today.
Adam Gilchrist will be leading Middlesex, while David Warner is also in their side. What a game! Despite having those two top Aussie blokes in their team, I hope the boys can send Middlesex down in flames!
Analysis to follow at a later stage.
17 June 2010
Ireland had one golden opportunity to bounce us in the ODI played in Dublin. Instead they got snipered by James Hopes, the late bowling change implemented by Ricky Ponting. Not only did Catfish pick up his best figures but it was his first 5 wicket haul in International cricket and it was a match winning performance.
His stats were: 9 overs, 5-14, E/rate: 1.55! Good on ya Catfish!
Ireland had it all ready for the taking. Less than 100 runs to go but they got taken out by the Aussies silent assassin!
They fought back hard for the last wicket in a partnership of 36 runs, but it was pretty much tickets for the Irish. No luck.
Ireland can hold their heads high. Our batting was bland and they bowled well.
Tim Paine held the fort to manage 81 runs but he took his time in doing so. Perhaps it was the rapid fall of wickets in given intervals that forced him to dig deep and really graft hard for his runs. He deserves full credit indeed in his tactical approach at the top of the order. It took him 122 deliveries to get there before being dismissed. It's a good start for Tim! He also took 3 catches.
Punter also started off slowly. It wasn't a lightning wicket, but perhaps frustration saw him give away his wicket by hauling out to the boundaries. 33 is a start so I'll take it ahead of England.
Shane Watson didn't get a duck but he didn't get many either, so I won't be surprised if he doesn't score against England and then goes onto belting them all over the show. Michael Clarke was dismissed for a duck so he will be pumped for the ODIs to open his scoring account on tour.
Cam White was once again reliable, scoring 42 runs. Alongside Tim they steered us in the right direction but unfortunately a middle order collapse kind of sold us short of where we should have headed.
250 plus was the par on that track, but fortunately the heroics of James Hopes' bowling saved their skin! There were contributions and it was in many ways a warm-up game so now with the dust swept, it's time to make the England ODIs count!
The bowling was also poor to start off with. 6 wides and 3 no-balls early on isn't what Punter will want to see from his bowlers. I see we went in with the three specialist bowlers and two all-rounders, while Nathan Hauritz got the nod with the spin duties. He was damn effective with the bat once again was Ritz! Was pleasing to see him launch a late innings assault. For a change it wasn't with Michael Hussey though! He picked up crucial wickets with his bowling and that would have given Ritz so much confidence in a time when he is continually under pressure for his spot.
He did a fine job.
Ryan Harris did alright with 2-40. A touch expensive but he's become an instrumental player in the bowling attack. Any wickets and any contributions to knock over the top order will be his duty! I'm eager to see what he can make of the conditions for some swing with the new ball against the English top order.
Clint McKay, who I must admit isn't my first choice, has had to step up in some challenging circumstances (notably India in 2009) but it will be another tick to the experience box by his name.
Douggie B wasn't spectacular but he was just loosening up. He's a more seasoned Test cricketer but we need Douggie to stand up now and work alongside Ryano. I expect him to trouble England, I really do. This game was just a way for him to try get his bowling back in the competitive zone.
So it was a start, and what a brilliant start for James Hopes! Best bowling figures and after a long layoff, it's great to have Catfish back!
Aussie A take on Sri-Lanka A in a four day game while the first ODI will be against England on June 22nd! If you are on Twitter, I will try catch you there.
Tough warm-up game, had its moments of concern, but the boys made it over the finish line. More analysis to follow in the build up.
Have your say!
James 'Catfish' Hopes picked up career best figures of 5-14 in his return to the elite level after an injury layoff. Awesome to see him step up big time!
Copyright AFP images, courtesy of Cricinfo.com
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In other news, while Australia try to chip away at Ireland who are chasing are rather below average score set by the boys (Tim Paine grafted hard for a solid 81), Cricket Australia announced the search has begun for a full-time selector.
About time, took them long enough to smarten up!
Chairman of Selectors part-time? I don't normally complain about the Australian cricket setup, but I've always found this to be a bit of bizarre concept of a Chairman of selectors who runs a law firm and has a very important job in contributing to Australian cricket.
Someone has to go to even it out at four selectors. I understand Andrew Hilditch's job isn't an easy one, I really do, as he had a massive task set before him with a team that was in a daunting rebuilding phase. But if I look back at some of my older posts (see NSP tags) pointing out how many times they contradicted themselves or played it too safe, it's rather frustrating as a supporter.
He's got something running for himself as it is, let him go. He atleast got it right towards the end of it all.
Cricket Australia are atleast getting a few things right in their current position of self created chaos and panic.
15 June 2010
The UK tour will be a different one, notably because the Test series the Baggy Green will be participating in is against Pakistan! Originally set to be held in Pakistan, drastic changes had to be made to the Australian fixtures and the ICC Champions Trophy when fixtures were taken away from Pakistan.
But with the English summer underway, the UK tour can commence with Test cricket and a handful of ODIs and two T20's.
The tour starts off with an ODI against Ireland in Dublin on JUNE 17th.
Ireland are the under-dogs, no doubt about that, no argument needed. You'd probably be daft to put your money on Australia as your winnings would just about cover half a pint, maybe one beer!
If you go with the luck of the Irish belief, there's always a chance they could pull off a surprise win against the boys, but I just don't see it happening.
In a way it is a warm-up game before going head to head against England in 5 ODIs.
The fact is that the side haven't played for quite a while now (New Zealand tour 2010) while the last time the team had an outing was for the ICC World T20 a month ago.
Hardly that long a rest, but in todays cricketing calendar this is considered quite a break!
So there will be some cobwebs to sweep aside but the main spectacle will be seeing the way the boys try to regroup and get the synergy intact.
Playing Ireland is a good way to start as ever since the loss to Bangladesh in 2005, followed two years later by a shock loss to Zimbabwe in a T20, the attitude has always been a respectful one to the under-dogs! I don't expect the side to show any changes to the Irish given it's been a bit of a breather since the last team effort. Ireland have already stated that they smell the opportunity to knock our confidence before taking on England. I expect them to do their utmost to back this belief.
Ireland can come as hard at us as they want. Our side needs to pushed and put under pressure. This UK tour is an important one, even though it isn't one the cricketing masses will be watching eagerly. It's all about the Ashes countdown now and any chance to play England and start the psychological warfare, I'll take it. Stuart Broad has voiced his optimism and cockiness, so Punter and the gang must take him up on the challenge. Be great to remind them of the 6-1 win and the 2009 ICC Champions Trophy semi-final, while addressing some payback for the World T20.
I'm really excited to see Ricky Ponting back in action. According to his Twitter status, Michael Clarke mentioned Punter is hitting the ball well. This is all we can gamble on for Punter's form as he's had a long layoff and doesn't really waste his time talking to the media anymore about his game. But it would be a real spectacle if he kicked into destructive, over-powering form! Be great to see him leading the side again, no disrespect whatsoever intended to Michael Clarke!
Shaun Marsh has also been recalled to the side after injury burdens that started up against New Zealand in 2008 caused some grief to his game. The question will be whether we see him up top along Shane Watson or Tim Paine?
This will be interesting. I don't think Shaun should bat lower down the order. He has become a conservative starter over the last two seasons but I feel if he can build upon his starts, which he struggled to do last season for the Green and Gold, he will present a good challenge for the English bowlers.
Tim Paine or Shane Watson up top? Watto is more suited as the aggressor and is likely to get a duck within the first two games but don't fret, it usually sets up a pattern for destructive power hitting! Watto's got to open!
Tim has no problems hitting out but his natural game seems to be executed via an elegant technique, reflecting his abilities in the longer version of the game as well as the skill to anchor himself through a 50 over game. Being in the middle order helps also him conserve energy for Wicket Keeping, but this isn't a concern to him as a pro.
I'd be going with the Watto/Marsh combination and keep Tim nestled in the middle order behind the likes of Cameron White and Ricky Ponting.
Cam White stepped up in his responsibilities for Australian cricket in England last year when he had to play at the number 3 role in Punter's absence. His T20 campaign was outstanding which followed a brilliant summer and in the England 2009 ODI series he scored his maiden-century as did Tim Paine. Bear's future looks great and I hope he makes an impression in this series. Personally, I'd love to see him put his Baggy Green Cap back on!
Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke are the blokes who can hold the fort. They do it in different ways though. Huss is the King of the late innings assault and has been in tremendous ODI form for a long time even amongst his Test match stutters, while Pup (yes, we all know about the strike-rate rantings) finds the gaps and executes the singles and controlled boundaries while complementing a more aggressive partner at the other end. The senior roles are essential in any Tour overseas. Pup will be out to prove a thing or two with his limited overs cricket.
The bowling units are facing a big challenge.
England have a team that is becoming more specialised and seasoned to many different formats. The way they have achieved this has been by stealing as many overseas players as possible, getting them tied into their Domestic circuit and then giving them an English Cap. The result is that they have good, diverse teams in T20, ODI and Test cricket. The batting is their strength in all forms of the game. Our bowlers have a growing reputation, but combined (Bollinger, McKay, Harris, Watson, Hopes & Hazelwood) they only have 18 games combined in English conditions at International level (15 games versus England in England). So it is a new battle ground for the ODI bowling attack.
Doug Bollinger will be the man to lead the attack. Hard to believe it's come about so quickly for Douggie B in limited overs. With Mitchell Johnson out of the system, it is up to Douggie and Ryan Harris to set the pace. Ryano could be a pain to the Poms with his swing bowling. He's no Hilfenhaus when it comes to swing but I'm confident the English conditions will present some good movement in the air and assist Ryano. Generating some outside edges and close-call LBWs with the new ball is what I expect to see from him. He needs the new ball!
Clint McKay and young Josh Hazelwood will be contesting for a position. I'm not certain who I'd be backing. I'm excited for Josh on his achievement for his call-up in Mitchell's absence. The chance to become the youngest ODI cricketer for Australia is awesome, but I am not entirely certain about him playing. Natural concerns I imagine which I hope get proven otherwise in the arena. I have always maintained that even if these guys don't get a game, just being around the team does wonders for their confidence, motivation and ambitions. His height is a major advantage to try bang the ball into the deck, a bit like Douggie B does so with a right arm/ left arm combo, if effective it'd be fantastic.
James Hopes is back! Catfish has had an injury layoff but is a valuable all-rounder. He does his job and gets on with things. He never overly impresses but he's a contributor in all facets of the game making him, in my opinion, a genuine all-rounder. He is better on the bowling front having the advantage over Shane Watson but if the team is stacked with batsmen while preferring to stick with guys who are primarily bowlers he may luck out. It would be even tougher for him if Mitchell Johnson was around!
Nathan Hauritz will probably be in the same area on consideration as Catfish, given the arrival of Steven Smith and the specialist spinner not being an area Australian One Day cricket has ever been too concerned with. If the conditions are suited to a spinner I would hope the Selectors seriously consider him. Ritz can also bat with some venom at the end of an innings, usually alongside Michael Hussey!
Steven Smith will be under a bit of pressure as it's his first Limited Overs tour overseas. It's a form of the game he is new to and with his batting being ideal for the longer form of the game, in limited overs cricket his bowling is the feature, making himself and Ritz contenders for the slower option spot. I'd imagine Stevo to get the heads up so he can get his hands dirty. He's an exciting young cricketer and in the field he releases so much energy!
The likely Squad (considering possibilities)
1 – Shane Watson
2 – Shaun Marsh
3 – Ricky Ponting
4 – Michael Clarke
5 – Cameron White
6 – Tim Paine
7 – Michael Hussey
8 – Steven Smith/ Nathan Hauritz
9 – James Hopes/ Clint McKay/ Josh Hazelwood
10 – Ryan Harris
11 – Doug Bollinger
I'd be happy to see the team go in with the strongest possible side. The reflection of the result in the game would be a better indicator how things are for the England games. Is the batting or bowling weak? How should things be shifted? Why were certain weaknesses apparent? Etc. These questions can be answered on the surface.
I do expect the side to walk this first game against Ireland. I also expect us to beat England in this series. Possible outcomes aside, I'm more interested in seeing the experienced blokes making an impression rather than our younger crop of players. It seems we need to stamp some authority with our seniors again which would make our younger ranks even more imposing!
The Squad in training, with Watto up front sporting the Top Gun shades. Who's going to make the cut, who's going to make a major impact this series?
12 June 2010
Before the start of the NZ tour, Steven Smith had been in red hot form including career best bowling figures of 7 for 64 against South Australia which he backed up with 772 runs at 77.2. This was the prime opportunity to give Smith a go with his confident sky high. For mine it was a missed opportunity, especially with the Ashes around the corner.
Fast forward a few months and we are now in a similar position but North has got the runs on the board this time. Since the NZ tour, Smith has cemented his spot in the T20I lineup and managed to finish as the second highest wicket taker in his first major International tournament. During the tournament he showed his vast array of deliveries including his wrongun, flipper and the most promising was his ripping leg break to Pollard.
While his bowling is continually improving, it should be his batting that gets him into the Australian Test time at the moment. His bowling is not quite up to the standard required to play as one of the main bowlers and putting him in the side as a bowler could well end like the failed Cameron White experiment. His batting on the other hand, looks to have no real weakness and he rescued NSW numerous times.
Pakistan cricket might be at rock bottom with the on and off field turmoil but their bowling remains one of the best units in the game. It would give a much more in depth look into any deficiency in Smith's technique. If North is retained, he will have a great opportunity to cement his spot for the Ashes, however failure could open the door right up for Smith to take his spot in India.
It's unlikely the selectors will pick Smith for the Pakistan series, but they have always been keen on picking two spinners in India. Steven Smith's teammate, Simon Katich knows all too well about the selectors fascination for picking a spinning all rounder. He was overlooked for Andrew Symonds during the tour of Sri Lanka because the selectors wanted a second spinner and an off spinner to back up the leg spin of Shane Warne. This time round the roles are reversed with Smith the leg spinner backing up Nathan Hauritz the off spinner.
Marcus North's off spin bowling is more than useful but with Nathan Hauritz in the side, his bowling is too similar to Hauritz for my liking. While we shouldn't pick a batsmen for his bowling, Smith and North's batting talent appear to be even, North of course has the advantage of four test centuries but in my opinion, there isn't much separating the two in this department. Fielding is the other department a player can be picked for, Smith like Symonds is a breath of fresh air in the field and he can field in the slips which has been a problem area for Australia recently with North contributing a great deal to this problem.
So is it Smith time? With the Ashes just around the corner, I feel it's a good chance to give Smith a run as a batsmen. If he succeeds, then the selectors no longer need to worry about playing two spinners (assuming Hauritz is still being picked) and they have a batsmen capable of counter attacking and a fielder that will save a lot of runs not to mention take a fair few screamers. The big question is do the selectors see Smith as a batsmen or a bowler? Given how they have selected Smith so far, it appears he is seen as a bowler and as I mentioned earlier, that could end very ugly if they want to play two spinners this way.
11 June 2010
As a cricket tradtionalist I am fond of One Day cricket as it's the form of the game I was first exposed to growing up. I believe it still sets a massive challenge for the modern day cricketer and that these games still have alot to offer the viewing public. But, there is no doubt that the format is losing popularity. What follows is an analysis of the 40 over vs 50 over debate.
40 over cricket could work very well. Simply strip off 10 overs per innings to make the 100 over game 80 overs in total. This would easily reduce well over an hour's worth of cricket while also ensuring a cricket battle that still has the essence of 50 over cricket, but by being reduced it will just add to the intensity and urgency within the match.
If anything it is a time saver with games probably producing a more difficult outlook for the result, having fewer overs may even level the playing field to keep interest-levels peaked.
The format has been tested and implemented in both the South African and English domestic circuits with successful results. Both these domestic circuits are competitive so having seen positive results emerge is great for the elite level of the game. If games also start at the usual time with shorter lunch/supper intervals, teams batting second may be at less of an advantage come night cricket where dew factors may not be as big an influence. At grounds where dew is an issue, come the Toss in an ODI, the team batting second will often feel discouraged immediately with the knowledge that if their opponents get away with the bat, their chances are minimised.
There are benefits with the 20 over total reduction for time, interest levels and the players energy levels.
I'd be happy to see 40 over cricket introduced as it still has the framework of the One Day game as we currently know it.
Traditional ODI cricketers will still be able to perform as they have done in the Domestic circuits following through the elite level and the Twenty20 specialist can have a blast as well, very much how we see it in 50 over cricket!
The latest innovative idea has been the concept of two innings each, consisting of 20 or 25 overs per side doubled up. So it's the batting structure of Test cricket, only tailored for the limited overs game. Even more analytically, it is two Twenty20 matches in one game.
Sure, it's an interesting enough concept Cricket Australia has come up with, but I do see potential damage with such a format.
Firstly, this wouldn't work at 25 overs per side. The time from switching after each innings, teams still needing decent time out after a total of 50 overs will be needed for their energy levels and the game will still be lengthy.
Secondly, it seems it will still be tailored to the Twenty20 specialists, where elements of the shortest form of the game become predominant in the tactical approach. I think many existing ODI cricketers would find this difficult, assuming teams would start again from scratch come their second innings.
Statistically it won't offer a cricketer the satisfaction they strive for from a performance perspective in reaching that classy century with a blend of aggression and patience or a bowler having sufficient time to work the batsman over.
A bowler has some advantage in the ODI format, where come Twenty20 it's the batsman's zones, generally speaking.
Thirdly, I think the momentum can be lost for both the viewer and the players. It will be testing on a players fitness and I think this is an innovation that would need to be seriously considered from these perspectives. It could even have drastic affects on the current playing field of ODI contenders as we know it.
The positives are there though. The disadvatages regarding conditions get evened out with the dual innings approach. It would give the supporter a chance to see their best players performing twice in a match with their respective strength and it would make for interesting debate during the matches from a tactical perspective as well as seeing how teams strategise. I think it would be safe to consider the realistic fact that we would not be seeing a revamp of ODI cricket but instead a whole new format!
With a new format it concerns me that we would maybe see the demise of ODI cricket for certain as this innovation would destroy every record, every achievement and every memorable game we have seen in ODI cricket. They were brought about within the framwork of ODI cricket. This innovation wouldn't be comparable, it would be unique.
Ultimately all the ODI history would be erased and any achievements that would follow on would be of a different nature and cricketing approach presented by the players.
That is a huge risk and threat to a form of the game the cricket traditionalists are passionate about.
And even if the idea of a dual innings was adopted, it would be in the best interests of everyone to make sure it was only implemented after the 2011 World Cup as this is still the test of 50 over Cricket.
What would happen to World Cup cricket? With 40 over cricket it would still be able to exist but with the innovation once again with Cricket Australia's suggestion, all the history will be tossed away and trampled on.
Killing the legacy and brilliance of a game driven by tradition and intriguing results just shows respect is being disregarded and it angers me to think the 'McDonalds mentality' will be the approach embraced in cricket, where it's about how much you can take as quickly as you can with no care of the consequence
It will be a sad day for Cricket.
The direct reason I hinted at in the introduction that has not helped the defence of ODI cricket is 'Overkill Cricket'.
There is too much Cricket played and ODI cricket tops this chart! Look how many players are injured in the modern game. That should be an indicator that player fatigue isn't a major consideration anymore when it comes to cramming fixtures anywhere and everywhere. With exhausted players playing series after series, where the results don't mean that much at times, the quality deteriorates and we have to suffer through it.
7 ODIs? Why 7? It's because bottom-line is more important to the Cricketing Bodies.
5 ODIs? Surely that's adequate so that people won't get sick of 50 over Cricket?
Having all these ODI games isn't doing any favors to protect this form of the game.
3 ODIs would be the best way to go as a general rule and then depending on the nature of the matches competition it could be pushed to 5 games. I can assure you we wouldn't have to worry about games being poorly attended such as the MCG dealt with last summer! That's just a solution that hopefully the big cheeses of cricket will realise.
Ricky Ponting has also expressed his concerns regarding 'overkill cricket' and how he strongly believes it's affected both the ODI format and the fans interest to show up game after game. In a Cricinfo.com source after the MCG recorded a low showing of supporters for the Australia's final ODI game against the West Indies last summer Ponting stated, "I'm not sure if the lack of contest had anything to do with it all, I just think we've played a whole lot. You look at all the days of cricket that the public have had to pay and go and watch through the summer, I think that's probably the reason why the numbers have dwindled off in the last week." With a problem like this being present, a cause and solution need to be considered quickly especially coming from a Maestro of the modern day game! Ponting himself is a tradionalist and I generally agree with the majority of his statements and take him very seriously on topics such as these.
I do have to laugh though when I see who the majority of these people are that bring forward these ideas or calling for the 50 over game to be put to rest.
It's not the supporters of the teams or the cricket fanatics who pay good money to go and watch games, the ones who leave their beds and forgo sleep in the early morning hours, with dedication to watch their side wanting only the reward of quality cricket.
It's become clear that the fans don't matter as much anymore. The majority of these people we hear from are in fact generally Retired Cricketers or Cricketing Officials who probably don't pay a cent to get into a game or because their time is up they don't care a great deal about the finer details.
I think the supporters, who actually keep the game alive, should be the ones who get considered with these potential changes and what they think. Proper research and a solid strategy from the ICC will be the key to seeing which way the Limited Overs cricket should go, and then see how the Domestic circuits respond globally to see if there is an International prospect.
So, 40 over cricket? I don't think it would be a concern and I'm sure it would work. But this dual over proposal? I wouldn't touch it and I would be gutted if we saw it get introduced for what damage it would do on a qualitative and historical level. I just hope that with these debates, where panic is apparent, that the right choice will be made with the best interests of the supporters, the players and the game of cricket being seriously considered.
Now as for night Test Cricket? Don't even get me started on this daft idea!
10 June 2010
The injury concern is also similar to Brad's, as both of their injuries flared up after the ICC World T20 campaign. Hads has been dealing with an elbow joint issue that has restricted his batting capabilities, while Mitchell had a rare injury which was an infection in his elbow!
Cricket Australia's medical staff have decided that, like Hads, Mitch should rest up and not participate in the early stages of the series.
There is a chance he will make the Test matches against Pakistan, but even without Mitch I reckon the bowling unit will be more than capable to get the job done. It's a short rest and sacrifice to make in order to rest up and recover ahead of an intense summer.
Josh Hazelwood, the young New South Wales emerging seamer who really boosted his credibility at the ICC U/19 World Cup in January, has been called-up to stand in for Mitch.
At only 19 years of age it is an exciting opportunity for Josh and he should handle the heat against England. It's important the young guys are given a chance, but I can't help feel it may be a bit too soon for him although he isn't short on confidence atleast.
Both Clint McKay and Ryan Harris are in the ODI team and both of them were strong in the Ford Ranger Cup. John Hastings (Victorian Bushrangers) would have been a bloke I'd have seriously considered as he is an emerging all-rounder who also ended up as one of the top wicket-takers in the FRC. But like Hazelwood, both of them haven't been around so you can't debate from an experience point of view, especially where new blood is concerned.
If Josh gets his chance I'll root for him loudly. To get the call-up at such a young age against some well experienced bowlers is a good achievement alone. He'll learn alot on the tour.
Also hoping that Mitchell's recovery doesn't take too long.
06 June 2010
Brad Haddin has taken a major setback after some discomforting pain in his elbow joint and as a result it's restricting him from taking on a proper backlift with his cricket bat. Logically this means he can't contribute in an all-round way which is expected from Hads and what is nowadays the general Keeper expectations to deliver with both bat and gloves.
He stated the injury came about during his centurion stand against the Black Caps in an ODI a few months back but gradually it became worse.
Commenting on the injury setback, Hads had the following to say (Source Cricinfo.com from the Sun Herald):
"It's like having tennis elbow, It has gradually deteriorated to the point where I can't hold a bat. The frustrating thing about it is I can still wicketkeep - everything else is fine - but I can't pick up a cricket bat and to play cricket you have to be able to bat."
"I had to wait a bit after the [Twenty20] World Cup to allow it calm down, it [the tendon] was pretty angry because we played constant cricket. I have to basically get the strength back into it [the tendon] and see how it responds."
I am not too worried by this news as Tim has had a great experience in handling pressure at the elite level and given some valuable contributions already with both the gloves and his batting skills at the top of the order. It's always exciting to see young talented guys giving it their utmost best to strike back at the opposition with pure determination and true ambition!
This also means he stands a chance to receive his Baggy Green Cap! What a moment it may be for Tim as he is surely the predecessor to Hads down the line.
So, expect to see Tim when the rest of the boys representing the Green & Gold when they take on Ireland, Middlesex and the old Enemy England in a total of 7 Limited Overs fixtures.
This will be followed up by two T20's versus Pakistan before taking them on in a Test series consisting of two matches.
The Australia A fixtures, where Tim was due to play as Wicket-keeper, will be the decisive games for NSP to finalise the Test Squad to participate in these two Test matches.
Matthew Wade is likely to step in for Australia A to replace Tim in those very exciting fixtures for Australia A against Sri-Lanka A.
Stay posted for more news and opinion as we edge closer to cricket getting back into action!
Tim celebrated his maiden century against England in 2009 after a debut call-up in that series. He will return to these hunting grounds against the Old Enemy!