29 July 2010
Those of you who are registered at the Forum, I hope you guys will enjoy having some good chats with other fanatics of this great game we are all connected to.
It will be the regular hang out for a month and a bit with the lack of cricket until late September, there's only so much myself, the other guys here at the Baggy Green and Kirby can rant on about.
So, go register yourself at the Forum!
The two new sections are more socially driven:
1) The unrelated say:
This is a place where you can have your unrelated say, be it about life, music, movies, travels...beer...whatever goes, just try keep it clean.
2) The Sports corner:
Discuss any sports other than Cricket here. Rugby Union, Rugby League, Soccer, Tennis, Golf, F1...you get the drift.
Any feedback or help required, give me a shout. In the meantime I see Sachin Tendulkar got another century and the 2nd Test match between India and Sri-Lanka is set to meet a dead end. No surprises.
Punter is certainly out his range to catch up to Sachin now, but I just want Punter to reach forty Test centuries and I will be pleased.
2nd highest run scorer in Test cricket behind Sachin, 3rd highest ODI run scorer...why complain with those achievements already?
Anyways, that's all for now. Have a look at the latest article trying to understand the two sides to Mitchell Johnson and as always I will ensure the content is as relevant and up-to-date as possible.
26 July 2010
In Australia, Mitch is our go to guy, the spearhead bowler who can intimidate the best of batsmen. He's no joke in Southern hemisphere conditions. He's bloody brutal when it's his day. When Mitch hits the good length, notably to the left hander who may be expecting him to bowl it into him at an angle when Mitch charges in over the wicket, he often gets the ball to straighten up on the good length with his genuine pace. Most of the time it brings about the edge or it knocks back middle and off-stump. His consistency is better in Australia and he is able to put a few more tricks into the bag. His slower ball proved to be a match-winner in New Zealand earlier this year and his rib cage directed short ball against the Proteas produced two of the best fast bowling spells I have ever seen, the first in Perth where he took 8/61 and the second in Kingsmead, Durban where he stuffed up Graeme Smith's hand again and Jacques Kallis got one of the chin.
His performances against these two teams, both being Southern Hemisphere based, would prove to be no flukes. In Australia, Mitchell has played the bulk of his cricket. With the Kookaburra ball in hand he's highly rated and in these conditions he thrives.
His bowling average in Australia sits at 25.39 after 17 games. He has taken 84 of his 158 wickets in Australia.
Against SOUTH AFRICA in Australia: 3 games, 17 wickets, averages 25.88
Against SOUTH AFRICA in South Africa: 3 games, 16 wickets, averages 25.00
Against NEW ZEALAND in Australia: 2 games, 14 wickets an an insane average of 11.00
Against NEW ZEALAND in New Zealand: 2 games, 12 wickets, averages 23.08
Against the two noted Southern Hemisphere teams, where the Kookaburra ball he has one heck of an impressive statistics review.
Even against Pakistan, who he doesn't have a good overall average against due to his recent well below average performance, he has done alright against in Australia.
Against PAKISTAN in Australia: 3 games, 12 wickets, 25.66.
Conclusively, given the Stats and the capabilities of a team like South Africa in particular, we shouldn't be getting too concerned about him ahead of the Ashes series. Without the likes of Glenn McGrath around, we are actually seeing the reality of life for a fast bowler...endless dips and continual battles to conquer all territories to gain the stats that reflect their ferocity.
Mitch has been a concern lately, no doubt about it. I can understand why he is seen as 'over-rated', especially if you only started following his career in the 2009 Ashes series.
I still think we are going to see something wild again this summer for the Ashes, on a positive note. This current team may be seen as average with their collective performances but I don't count out an aggressive comeback at all.
Optimism and his cracking record in Australia/Southern Hemisphere aside, we need to look at the other Mitchell Johnson, the one who England supporters have a good laugh about.
In 7 games in ENGLAND, he has taken 23 wickets at an average of 37.73.
Two of these games were recently against Pakistan at an average of 72.33 (shocking) where he only picked up 3 wickets. In the Ashes Mitch was terrible in the beginning.
There were off-field incidents that affected his concentration and alot of hype had been placed around his emerging all-rounder status. It only took two Tests to see the ICC Player of the Year become a disaster.
He did pull things back, but it came too late and guys like Ben Hilfenhaus and Peter Siddle had already taken too much upon themselves while Mitch just became deflated.
The recent tests in Pakistan didn't involve any off-field drama or a bunch of hostile English supporters pissed out of their minds. It was simply proof that Mitchell Johnson has an issue with English conditions with both the bat and ball and had a poor series, simple as that. But there has to be a technical issue!
With thet bat in hand facing the Pakistan bowlers in those swing conditions, anything the forced him to play with a straight bat ended his efforts quickly. When Mitch can play cross-bat shots he's in his zone but throw in some swing and he usually gets an LBW or bowled dismissal.
On a bowling note though in England, the Duke ball has a higher seam than the Kookaburra ball. It requires alot more work to keep the swing going and when at it's most effective usage, the swing can last a hell of a long time in the correct bowlers hands. The pronounced seam and different feel with the ball in hand can throw off many seam bowlers.
Mitch has issues with the ball not to mention slopes and overcast conditions that generally push a bowler to have more than a Plan A, when on tour in England. Michael Holding, a Windies legend, even put this out as a likely scenario for Mitchell's worrying performances in England.
He also had an elbow infection, perhaps this may have in some minor contributed?
It's hard to say exactly what is the specific difference when it all rests with Mitch at the end of the day, but the Stats give decent evidence it's the entire conditions package giving rise to the issues, as his Southern Hemisphere performances (more recently the New Zealand tour and Tests versus Pakistan) are unbelievably better than his efforts up North.
England just isn't his hunting ground at this stage of his career.
What are your thoughts on this?
As we find ourselves in a quiet period for Australian cricket, the Indian tour approaches.
If this recent tour in England is anything to go by, Mitch is in for a torrid time in India. Besides the far from ideal bowling tracks the curators repeatedly produce, the SG ball in India is similar to the Duke ball for starters. Secondly, if Mitch bowls as short and wide of off-stump as he did to the Pakistani batsmen, the Indian batsmen (which is their obvious strength) will sit on the back foot and put him away to the boundaries all day long. Lastly, the Indian crowd aren't going to be that much friendlier than the English gang. It can be quite intimidating.
His Stats in India aren't pretty either, easily his worst on paper.
In INDIA: Played 4 games, 13 wickets, average 40.07.
When we played India in 2008 and lost to them, we had Peter Siddle making his debut in the worst place to debut as a fast bowler and Mitchell had yet to deliver anything to make us go, 'Damn, this blokes awesome!' Since then we have seen Mitch as his best and at his lowest.
How he goes in India will be a confidence thing, because the conditions and his previous efforts don't put together a convincing portfolio.
It's his final burst for the Baggy Green before the Ashes begin, and call him over-rated, a slinger or a NSP favourite, Mitchell Johnson has that X factor as a strike bowler. When he has a great game, we know about it. Similar to Ricky Ponting, Shane Watson and Simon Katich, when they have a bad performance, we see the impact.
It will be a while till we see the Australian Mitchell Johnson outclass the Mitchell Johnson we have seen in England, but this is Mitchell's biggest cricket challenge yet, both psychologically and performance related. Even the best of cricketers took a while till they really got going with things.
An interesting Stats review I did shows our current crop of bowlers versus McGrath after 10-11 games:
Ben Hilfenhaus has 42 wickets (11 Tests)
Mitchell Johnson had 42 wickets (11 Tests)
Peter Siddle had 44 wickets (11 Tests)
Doug Bollinger has 44 wickets (10 Tests)
Glenn McGrath had 34 wickets (11 Tests)
Who'd have known in such early days, Glenn would go on to be one of the greatest fast bowlers of all time! Even after taking 150 wickets, he still had many, many achievements to claim and conditions and sides to conquer. The battle in England is one that may take Mitch a while, but his Ashes campaign really is an important one.
That's Test cricket and a good tour to India may produce the bit of confidence he needs injected into his focus to strike back at the English batsmen. It will be a true test though playing for the Baggy Green.
Mitch had an equally dull time with the bat in hand as his All-rounder status took a back seat. All of us need to back the bloke as best we can to see if he can regain his epic game ahead of the Ashes.
© AFP, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
Click here to go register yourself at the Baggy Green Forum to dicuss the September/October 2010 Tour to India.
24 July 2010
The teaser poster has been released for the Pakistan cricket teams upcoming movie, titled 'Mission Impossible XV', produced by BoomBOOM cricket. The release is a 15 year celebratory special edition.
The genre has been classified as an Action/Comedy/Horror/Drama with a Pakistani panic factor twist to the dramatic ending of what should have been a short film.
Other notes: It was filmed in England, Shane Watson and Brett Lee will not feature on the soundtrack and the costs were covered by the ECB and the MCC.
That brings to an end a rather forgettable British Isles tour.
Atleast the Wallabies won the Rugby.
Doug Bollinger (3-51) and Ben Hilfenhaus (3-39) did an outstanding job. With 7 wickets in hand for Pakistan, sitting at a comfortable 3-137, Douggie picked the edge and Tim Paine took another catch! 4 down, 6 to go!
With only 40 runs to play with, it would require no margin for error, and it nearly turned out that way.
Hilfy struck 3 runs later, getting his first wicket of the day with an edge that just carried to Tim. It was an excellent piece of outswing bowling that had Umar Akmal caught between his natural game or to go on the defensive.
It got better as Hilfy picked up one more wicket, with Marcus North taking one hell of an excellent catch that bolted towards him. The catch was taken and victory was still possible. It was actually very amusing as opposed to thrilling that Pakistan were once again staring down the road of defeat in a Test match.
Controversy struck when Kamran Akmal, who had become the key wicket, was caught by Michael Hussey in the gully. Huss was sure he caught it, but TV replays were called upon as the ball may have touched th ground before going into his hands. They were the worst possible camera angles you could ask for to find evidence he had caught it. The poor visuals meant the catch was turned down. You can trust Mike, so what the heck was with that?
Huss had one more chance as he took a catch at gully to give Mitchell Johnson a wicket and claim back the catch, but it was too late.
I did enjoy the way the guys still celebrated as if we were in it with that 7th wicket. They didn't give in.
Ricky Ponting didn't do a great deal wrong with his Captaincy. I thought he had some very good plans in place for our bowlers. They just struggled to execute. The decision to bat first wasn't the best given our results at Headingly over the last decade and a bit, but none of the experts expected conditions to favor Pakistan like that.
Come day 4 of the Test, Pakistan managed to get over the line with 3 wickets in the bag.
It only took them 15 years to get there. The series ended 1-1.
The series brought about some interesting moments/achievements.
- Ricky Ponting reached 12,000 Test runs and passed Sir Brian Charles Lara on the all time run-scorers list. He also achieved this in his 247th innings, as did a certain Sachin Tendulkar. Interesting.
- Shahid Afridi retired from Test cricket and allowed Salman Butt an opportunity to lead Pakistan. Not a bad start; a win against Australia & his bowlers dismissed the guys for 88 runs while was the top run-scorer for the series.
- Steven Smith scored his maiden half-century with the bat, while he sent down 31 overs and has three wickets to his two match statistics.
- Tim Paine, our other debutant for the Baggy Green, took 11 catches & 1 stumping and did a good job with the bat in the 2nd innings of both Tests.
- Ben Hilfenhaus is now into the forties with his wicket tally and was our most promising bowler by a mile, with just a few issues in the 2nd Test after that shoulder injury. He took 8 wickets in total.
- Shane Watson took two 5-fers. No one expected that, no one! In total he took 11 wickets for the series, including a career best of 6-33.
- Marcus North also added 6 wickets to get his career best bowling figures with a match winning spell in the 1st Test. Both Marcus and Watto failed to deliver the goods with the bat though. Marcus now comes under the selection spotlight.
- Simon Katich took his run of consistency to a new level, but unfortunately he didn't carry it into the 2nd Test. It ended an insane run of what seemed to be never ending half-century achievements. He scored the most runs of the batsmen for Australia with 187 runs.
- Mitchell Johnson was stripped off his all-rounder tag by Cricket Australia and it was passed onto Ben Hilfenhaus. When Australia take on India or The Proteas, this will be reconsidered.
- Mohammed Aamer is a very special find for Pakistan. How well did this young bloke bowl! Whether he makes it past 25 years of age before falling into the 'average' column like most sub-continent seam bowlers do, only time will tell.
- Kamran Akmal will be able to sleep again, for the first time since January 6th 2010.
- Rudi Koertzen has retired. It's like the fall of the Empire.
Got to hand it to our boys despite the below average performance they put in for day 1.
They didn't give in, never lost hope and put all the pressure back on Pakistan right until the winning run was scored. That attitude will need to remain strong for the upcoming Test matches against India and of course The Ashes against England.
* British Isles Tour stats and quick notes will be up during the week sometime.
In the meantime go register yourself at the Baggy Green Forum.
But he (Imran Farhat) adapted to the conditions and now Pakistan are eyeing victory with only 40 runs needed, 7 wickets in hand. They will still be nervous, but it will only take them two good overs to try close the deal on this.
It's only taken them 15 years to try get into this position.
Our batsman tried bloody hard. That 1st innings was a let down and to set Pakistan a target of 180, while bowling them out for well under 300, that's a good fightback in my books. That innings has cost us, simple as that. Ricky Ponting had played so well on day 2, but out of all the ways to go out, he lunged at a ball well outside of off, in fact the widest delivery of his innings. Glad Punter ended his tour with some runs.
Michael Hussey was dismissed off a brilliant delivery by Mohammed Aamer, using the seam smartly to get the ball to rip off the deck. Michael Clarke held the fort though as he really looked set for a century. Powerful cover-drives, confidence against the spinners as he went into attack mode and of course excellent running between the wickets.
Always good to see Pup perform for the Baggy Green, but more so when it's done alongside Ricky Ponting, our other leader. We needed a centurion, I thought Pup was going to be the man to get there.
Sadly for Marcus North, he couldn't contribute with the bat.
I hate it when there is talk about a guy getting dropped, I really do. The fact remains clear though that Marcus has been struggling for some unknown reason. He hasn't looked out of form, he looks short on confidence. That is never a good sign and despite his fine bowling effort in the 1st Test which really was quite an achievement for a part-time spinner, it's his batting that puts him in the middle order list of the starting XI, and after the lifeline against the Black Caps, one would feel that's it for now.
My gut feeling is that he will have to be given a rest to analyse what's going on. Whether he's dropped or not that's another question. It would be better to give a guy a break when he's in this kind of a rut and if he can make a return, that's his good fortune. It was a mistake the NSP made with Michael Hussey.
Usman Khawaja and Cameron White would be the two guys I'd be hoping for consideration, Khawaja the more likely candidate given he's with the side for experience growth opportunities. Callum Ferguson was in-line when Michael Hussey had his form issues, but injury cast Fergal aside so now we see what will happen.
The Selectors will have to decide what will be the decision regarding Marcus' future as he's at that age where it is hard to make the return.
What are your thoughts?
Steven Smith was the man of the moment scoring 77 runs!
What an innings, brought back some distant memories of an Andrew Symonds/ Adam Gilchrist assault. The confidence became so visible in the young blokes batting out there once he got to 20 odd. From there it was the Steven Smith show, and damn was it entertaining.
2 sixes in a row and 9 fours and a maiden Half-century in his 2nd Test. Given the match situation and the way he created the big hitting opportunities, it's still early days but that X factor we have lacked, is there. It's all about experience now for the young man.
I thought Tim Paine (33) played one hell of an innings to try get us back into the match. His dismissal was horrid and even a lower order batsman would have had nightmares after going out that way. He was caught while swatting a ball well outside of off-stump that just just hopped off the wicket courtesy of Danish Kaneria. Aweful way to go out against such a crappy delivery, but the damage had been done. Tim's been working like a dog behind the stumps too. Acrobatic leg side diving and clean gloveswork, all strong signs for his future. He's had a good start to Test cricket, pity he couldn't get a maiden half-century as well.
Mitchell Johnson has struggled with the bat against anything that forces him to play a straight bat shot. Anything that requires a cross bat shot, he has no issues, but anything that requires him to play with the straight bat, it usually brings about his downfall.
I thought Ben Hilfenhaus showed some serious courage out there as he blasted 3 boundaries off Pakistan's star bowler in one over. Hilfy was eventually caught for 17 (one above his average) at first slip playing he shot he probably wishes he had rather looked to just bash down the ground. Awesome innings though and throw in Doug Bollinger to just give Steven Smith the time and support he needed to go crazy out there with the bat, it was the best chance we could give ourselves after that shocker 1st innings.
The target was 180 and after a drop catch that Watto should have taken, Pakistan advanced with a strong 2nd wicket partnership.
Ben Hilfenhaus was once again the break through bowler but he lacked the support he needed from his companions, not the first time.
He sent down 6 overs and ended the days play with figures of 1-16 and he dismissed the danger man, Salman Butt. Unfortunately, Doug Bollinger's set-up to get rid of Farhat backfired early on in his spell, that continued to bug him until he finally picked up two wickets.
He bowled Farhat (so getting his victim at last) and then had Umar Amin caught by Tim Paine for a duck. He returned figures of 2-37.
Shane Watson had a good game plan in order but let far too many just drift down leg side, as he was easily clipped away to fine leg. Pity after we've seen some outstanding bowling from Watto.
Mitchell Johnson's bowling has probably concerned a number of supporters. Understandably, England isn't a happy hunting ground for him.
But he was butchered through the off-side a stack of times by Imran Farhat and he was bowling very short and very wide of off-stump to the left-hander. Yet when he managed to get the radar on track and bowled straighter, he nearly found the outside edge a few times. Maybe he's trying to hard, maybe there's still some discomfort from that elbow injury or maybe it's just the nightmares of the Ashes with the Duke ball? Either way, he's had poor time by his standards. I'm very confident though he will bounce back in Australia, but we need a turnaround from Mitch should he go on the Indian tour, which he most likely will. Bowling like this there, the Indian batsman will chill out on the back foot and carve you away all day long. Come on MJ, turn it around Champ!
So what will we see in an hours time?
I imagine Punter will look to use our strike-bowlers in quick spells to see if we contain them for a few overs, or do we see Marcus North and Steven Smith try and create some opportunities like we saw at Lord's?
Even for me I think 40 runs is far too few to play with. Ideally 80+ and I think we'd have had them. This is too easy, even by Pakistan's standards.
But, I'll lose hope only when Pakistan get those winning runs. Until then there's still the faintest glimmer of hope for the Baggy Green.
Steven Smith smashing his way to his maiden Half-century for the Baggy Green.
© Getty Images, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
22 July 2010
That 88 all out is always going to make things really difficult for the boys, but our bowlers have given us a chance as they dismissed Pakistan for 258. The lead was a bit daunting at 170, but the boys are fighting hard. Nothing better than never giving in and fighting till the end. It's what being a supporter is all about, the thrill of Test cricket. Shane Watson has 11 wickets for the Test series at present. Who'd have thought Watto would put us back in this Test match...with the ball! It's funny to think Marcus North and Watto could be the men who will haunt Pakistan in their nightmares if we can pull off a victory here.
As always, I try to stay positive and analyse the possibilities to pull off a win, even though it is all up to the 11 men out on the playing field, these guys are all highly capable of pulling anything off. Restricting the lead to 150 was essential given our inability to put together an innings of 350 with comfort lately. It was 20 runs too many for my liking but only making 88 in the 1st innings, I'd take 170.
As the conditions evened out and our batsmen didn't panic or get overwhelmed, things started to look better.
Our seamers leaked things a fair bit early in the day. Mitchell Johnson is someone I have to point out. Mitch is a spearhead bowler, a strike-bowler. His job is to bowl fast and create the opportunities, by any means.
He has had good pace, one aspect he needs for his job, but there doesn't seem to be a definite game plan out there for him. or so it would seem.
I have attached a pitch map of his and you will see, the ball is sprayed all over the place, but within a corridor that is in actual fact, relatively straight. His ball that dismissed Umar Akmal was fantastic. Straight, fast and leaping off the track to find the outside edge of the right hander. That is Mitchell's zone and perhaps that is the plan, bowl straight and fast. If only he didn't spray the ball as much. I imagine Punter will want some kind of consistency?
If he gets bounce off that mid-length, it could be Perth '08 all over again when he delivered that bloody marvellous spell of fast bowling.
Ben Hilfenhaus has everything working in his favor, all he needs to do is control the swing factor by hitting his marks, which he isn't doing for a change. Granted, he had a bit of an injury stuff up last Test.
Against the right handed batsmen he's looking good and getting them to throw the bat out a fair bit, but to the lefty's he is just dragging one too many down the leg side that are being put away with ease. If I were Hilfy, I'd be looking to just hit that good length while keeping that bouncer handy...never know who it could take by surprise as we saw with his second wicket of the innings. Michael Holding brought this up in actual fact.
Bowling to the left-handed batsmen seems to upset his line and length quite substantially, but he has picked up some big wickets of the lefty's. However, in comparison to the right handed batsmen, it's easy to see where Hilfy is being thrown off.
Our bowlers have done a very good job in my opinion. It's just some discipline issues, which have undone our batsmen on a number of occassions since the Ashes 2009.
By simply tidying things up I am confident in our bowlers abilities. Two seam bowlers, left arm with genuine pace, and one right arm bowler who is a natural swing bowler with some useful pace boosts. With Siddle and Harris in the system, I think we're in an okay situation. Steven Smith hasn't done alot of spin bowling after receiving his Baggy Green, but he will be a huge factor come the Ashes 2009, while Nathan Hauritz works his way back to recovery.
Shane Watson was a beast with the ball though! 6 wickets, another 5-wicket haul, very unexpected once again. His bowling is clearly compensating for his rather unappealing batting lately. He's had a poor run by his standards, which is expected after such a brilliant run of form, but it's never good to see him and Simon Katich have a hiccup. It's actually rare to see both of them have a bad run with the bat in the same innings. We are seeing how dangerous it can be!
But back to his bowling, Watto was excellent. His efforts have really given us a chance in winning this Test, it really has. In his pitch map you can see he kept it simple, hit his line and length around the 6m mark (considered a good length), which will always tempt batsmen to have a lunge at him. If Ben Hilfenhaus could set himself into a similar pattern we could see our two right arm seamers (yes, Watto is being thrown into this category for the time being) cause some destruction come the 2nd innings by frustrating Pakistan.
On a batting note, Ricky Ponting has stepped up when we needed him too. He went passed the 12,000 run mark and here's an interesting Stat for you:
It took Sachin Tendulkar 247 innings to reach 12,000 runs. It took Punter 247 innings.
Quite an incredible little bit of Stat fun for all of you.
Punter looked good. He's struggling to judge the ball early on his innings seaming back into him (LBW cautions) but when he gets set, I still love watching the legend bat. His energy levels seemed to go through the roof at one stage. It was encouraging.
He went confidently to his half-century, and he rebuilt well with Michael Clarke to try their best to lower that deficit to give the team the best chance possible to put Australia into the lead and advance things. The seniors stepping up is always very inspiring too see.
Punter is currently on 61*, while Pup has been sailing along with 32*, giving good support as Punter has his focus on playing one hell of a Captain's knock out there.
The day ended with us trailing by 34 runs with 8 valuable wickets in hand.
The rescue mission plot is thickening!
Day 3, it will be an exciting day of cricket. After that SCG victory we certainly still have the aura to hurt Pakistan's confidence in any run-chase but we will have to hope our guys can steer us to the 200 run mark lead. Still alot in this game, alot of competitive cricket required from the Baggy Green. Never lose hope, never give in, the Baggy Green can take this game. Would be quite something if it happens!
I am not a big fan of Rudi Koertzen, but damn, he was solid with his Umpiring during our second innings. Watching the footage he took no crap from the Pakistani bowlers. Not falling for the pressure with their deafening appeals.
I think given his two rough decisions for the Test already, he's now going to make sure he's the man in control in the middle. Come on Rudi, bow out in style and be lenient.
21 July 2010
It doesn't happen every decade. I still think we are in the game though, especially with rain lurking about Leeds.
Tim Paine was our top scorer as we were dismantled for 88 runs. It's still hard to believe.
It was interesting to hear the commentators all declare that they'd misread conditions but were also stumped as to why the batsmen performed so poorly. We have handled swing conditions many times with success and dominant performances. Why was this so different?
Four LBWs up front tell a tale regarding the situation out there but I was sure we'd atleast recover somewhere along the line. We only had one dull decision and that was dismissal of Michael Hussey, otherwise it was a good demonstration of discipline using the conditions, which probably threw them off balance a bit. I expect Rudi Koertzen to give one final shocker before he trucks off at long last. Just for the sake of it, give one that's not even considerable for an LBW, just give the slow death.
It was a bowling high for Pakistan!
Nice start for Salman Butt as the new Skipper. Dismissing us for our 7th lowest total and also adding 45 runs to his own Tour stats.
Our bowlers struggled at first. Mitchell Johnson was wayward and didn't look threatening and insisted on going for that LBW again and again. Ben Hilfenhaus couldn't find his line and length, which affected his chances of making the conditions give him the wickets we needed. He was the guy Pakistan would have been worried about facing. Doug Bollinger was economic but he didn't bowl anything that tempted the Pakistan top order to have a go at him and create any opportunities.
But, after some thick outside edges and showing a dominant hold over the first session of their innings, Hilfy struck back, finding his rhythm and swinging the ball back into the left hander to knock Butt's stumps back. After a shocking start, he pulled things back really well and nearly found the outside edges a few times.
Shane Watson was the unexpected strike bowler again, which is where he is contributing series. He's a bowler, all of a sudden not a batsman. He picked up two wickets and the timing was good. Two new batsmen at the crease for Pakistan and their lead is now nestled at 60.
If we can find a way to dismiss them with that lead not exceeding 150 (which will be tough but far from impossible), our batsmen then have the task to finally find some synergy and score, let's say, 350 to 400. That would give Pakistan the task of scoring 200-250 odd runs to win this.
Nothing's a given, it's just me looking at the possibilities and the realistic possibilities on this track if you want some hope. Pakistan are the masters of their own demise, so hopefully they do it once again.
Take the rain into consideration which is bound to affect time in this match as well as possible issues with the light, we could still hold them off from a victory.
I just don't believe in giving in as a supporter, no matter what. 88 all out, have a laugh.
'Do you want to see Murali get that 800th wicket, or not?'
My first major memories of Muttiah Muralitharan was during the 1996 Cricket World Cup, so I hadn't really paid attention to him in the Test match arena. I only started watching cricket avidly around 1993/4 so I didn't see him on Test debut back in 1992. But looking at these statistics, he's something!
Despite the speculation I have had at times regarding his bowling action (I'm not the only one), the fact is the guy still got all those wickets and has done a fantastic job for Sri-Lankan cricket. The journey in Test cricket is coming to an end, this is his final Test match, being played against India. He has claimed 102 of his 797 wickets against India.
He took 5-63 in India's first innings, where they were dismissed for 276 runs.
Another 5-for claimed and just 3 wickets needed to reach the 800 wicket mark, just 3 wickets, 8 Indian wickets left to grab.
It's becoming fairytale-like ending that he gets a 5 wicket haul to get closer to those 8 wickets that were required before the match commenced.
But now to answer the proposed question, I don't want him to get 800 wickets.
That isn't said in spite or anything, I just like the idea of the 800 wicket record being left untouched.
It would be great to see him get that record, and should he get those remaining 3, it would be a special achievement. Really impressive and remarkable, but I'll put it this way.
Sir Donald Bradman, 99.94 average, never reached 100 and he just needed 4 runs.
Ricky Ponting not scoring that Test century at Lord's cricket ground, assuming he doesn't get back there.
Matthew Hayden's Test innings record being beaten soon after by the now retired Brian Lara.
There's many more of them but you are starting to get the point.
So, maybe seeing Murali end it all on 799 would just give it some kind of significance, the Stat that just mocks and begs some bowlers out there to try and get close to that milestone.
As a milestone, it would be quite something to see him get 800 wickets, but from a traditionalist and exclusive point of view, I wouldn't see it as a sad thing if he didn't get 800.
Still one hell of an achievement to have 797!
20 July 2010
Marcus North has been ill. This also happened during his very impressive first Test series representing the Baggy green in South Africa, 2009. Now, after a 6 wicket haul that surprised us all, he is doubt once again for a Test after a good performance in a different zone of play. But for Marcus it all counts with the bat. Steven Smith had a very testing, but good debut as our emerging spinner as he picked up 3 wickets in the 2nd innings of the 1st Test.
So, while Marcus bowled a match-winning spell with the ball, he is in this side to make runs and he knows it all too well. There's no reason why he shouldn't do it either.
This has been a scenario for him after his summer Test performances against the Windies went sour and he struggled to keep things together against Pakistan. He redeemed himself against The Black Caps by putting some good scores on the board to boost his confidence from both a selection and performance perspective. With a Test series in India around the corner and a return to the ground where he scored his 2nd Ashes century for us which drove the side towards victory, he will be watched closely by many to see if the memories spark something special with the bat or whether he can just keep his head above the water and put in a solid performance to assist the team.
Hopefully he recovers in time, otherwise Usman Khawaja is eyeing a debut.
Ben Hilfenhaus stuffed his shoulder up, having only just returned to the side. He was our best seam bowler for the Test match, so not having him in the side would be a big loss as he also performed well at Headingly last year where he picked up 5 wickets. I don't see this injury putting him out for an extended period, but it could result in the team deciding to rest him up before the Indian series and the Ashes. It is his left shoulder, so while it isn't his bowling arm, the shoulder plays a huge part in his bowling action, so if there is an injury niggle there it would be affecting his effectiveness in his action.
Like Marcus, we will wait and see if he practices before the game and whether he is cleared for the game. Peter George is in-line to debut, even though Clint McKay has been called to cover.
Otherwise, the rest is clear. Simon Katich has continued to be Mr. Consistent, Mr. Reliable, anything suggesting his good form. Last year at Headingly he scored, 0. Surprise, surprise.
Shane Watson, Ricky Ponting and the already mentioned Marcus North will be desperate for runs. Punter had a good start with the warm-up game against Derbyshire scoring 116, but he has yet to extend that recently achieved run lead well beyond Brian Lara! Watto has been off colour since the ODIs so I just have a feeling we can expect something good from him. Michael Clarke looked solid on the 1st Day of the 1st Test at his newly appointed position at number 4, scoring 47. He just needs some time at the crease and you can expect Pup to make runs.
Tim Paine had a fantastic debut at Lord's with the gloves, damn was he good! Looking forward to seeing him continue his duties at Headingly.
The bowling was good in the 1st innings, but the 2nd innings was rather different. Mitch struggled for consistency, Douggie gifted half volleys and they got punished. Is it the Duke ball? Was it the conditions favoring the batsmen that perhaps knocked their confidence? I'm not too sure, but remember this. Mitch finally came to the party at the Ashes in 2009 at Headingly where he picked up a 5-for in England's first innings. Mitch will pull it together this Test.
So with the series up 1-0 up to us, we can't lose it now, but we can extend that winning streak against Pakistan with another victory here. Without Afridi and Salman Butt debuting as Skipper, eyes will be on the Pakistani camp.
The expectations from players and supporters are very clear ahead of the 2nd Test.
Feel free to discuss the Test match here at the Blogsite or the Forum.
17 July 2010
While the cricket calendar is relatively quiet, I decided to get stuck into this now.
For the article on the final days play of the 1st Test and Marcus North's magic with the ball, click here to be redirected if you didn't have your say.
Three new pages have been added recently:
1) Venues: An overview of the major cricketing venues for Australian cricket.
2) State teams: A rundown of the State teams that participate in Australian State cricket competitions.
3) The Baggy Green Forum: A new place where you guys can network socially. The forum, while external, is still associated to the Blogsite, but it just gives a place where you can have your say on the cricket whenever you want and not being dependent on what articles are currently up.
Hope you all like the features and a few of you who have asked me about this recently, or well before, here you go. Feedback is always welcome and valued here.
The 2nd Test against Pakistan starts on Wednesday, July 21st at Headingly. I'm confident the boys can take the series 2-0.
* Runners up of the Sheffield Shield 2011/12 (2010/11 winners)
The Tasmanian Cricket Association is based in Hobart at the Bellerive Oval, Bellerive.
Tasmanian Tigers side after winning the Sheffield Shield 2010/11.
Tasmanian Tigers Website:
Queensland supporters refer to the Queensland Bulls when speaking about their team.
Stuart Law led the Bulls to their first Sheffield win after 68 years in the contest. They claimed the title in the 1994/95 season. They produced a hat-trick of wins from 1999/00 to 2001/02 in the contest.
They also had Sir Vivian Richards and Wesley Hall of the West Indies represent them.
Queensland celebrate their 2011/12 Sheffield Shield victory. © Getty Images
The South Australian Redbacks were the fourth team to join Victoria and New South Wales in the founding of State cricket.
* One of New South Wales' KFC Big Bash Sides (The Sydney Sixers) won the 2011/12 title.
The New South Wales Blues produce some of the best world cricketers, unquestionably! The State also has the tendency to churn out really exciting, young talented cricketers.
* Winners of the 2010/11 Ryobi Cup
The Victorian Bushrangers are one of the strongest State sides in Australia, being superior in both First-class, List A and Twenty20 cricket. The history of Victorian cricket is special as well.
16 July 2010
6-55 is officially his best figures with the ball in hand for Australia and where he lacked with the bat, he made up for us come the moment of the Test match were we needed something special. He was assisted by our fielders who were sharp and did it by the Australian standards we expect to see. Always a thrill to see top fielding.
Well done Marcus, took us all by surprise there...maybe even himself.
And how about Tim Paine? That stumping to get rid of Salman Butt just rounded off a superb debut for him. He let through very few byes, gloved the ball cleanly and then that stumping, well, that just rounded it off for me.
He's made an impression, and on debut for the Baggy Green he did his job. That innings of 47 runs would have given him serious motivation after his nerves bogged him down in the first innings.
Marcus and Shane Watson will go onto the neutral honours board for their respective achievements with the red ball. Didn't expect that.
Ben Hilfenhaus had a wonderful return and picked up a key wicket during the morning session to kick start things, when it did look a bit dull out there. He was patient and the pick of our seam bowlers. Even when the swing conditions died down, he kept his plans simple and executed things tightly. The best of all was Hilfy's classic knock of 56*. A maiden half-century for the Baggy Green. What a player and he did it with the bat when we needed it. Most wouldn't have expected that.
The victory was our 13th in a row against Pakistan and one man who we owe alot to is Simon Katich. In a previous article (I think Day 2) I listed his innings list post-Ashes 2009. What a player! He's the player you want to watch for patience, determination, mental toughness and serious concentration skills while at the crease. That is Katto and long may his form continue for us. Scores of 80 and 83 ensured we had one player who had consistency throughout the Test match. He was sharp at short-leg too, as he usually is!
Another debutant, alongside Tim Paine, was Steven Smith. He didn't have a good time with the bat and was sent back with two LBWs, but he picked up 3-51. He showed some serious guts out there, which is what a leg spinner needs. But again I write it all. He's 20 years of age, a leg-spinner with promise and a big future ahead of him. Have to expect a few shocking deliveries here and there.
Well done Stevo and Tim upon your completed Debuts for the Baggy Green.
The 2nd Test we will have to look towards a batting improvement. Conditions were fantastic for the fourth day to bat, and we did get the rough end of the deal, but seeing Ricky Ponting (who will leave Lord's with a dismal record sadly), Marcus North and Shane Watson step it up next game would be beneficial but also important.
Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke had some time out there and played well when they got things going with their Test abilities, but synergy will need to take effect for our batting to appear dominant because it was anything but that. They will all be well aware of this.
It's pleasing to know Punter can turn to guys like Marcus and Stevo for spin, while having Pup and Katto as well, if our seamers find conditions to be unhelpful.
And the news of Shahid Afridi?
How was that. Retired from Test cricket. A bit sad, as he is an entertainer and has the ability to motivate and inspire his team-mates, which is why he would have had the Captaincy duties. But this is Test cricket and he admitted in an interview his temperament isn't right for the game and won't benefit the team in crunch time. A wise decision. He is made for ODI and T20 cricket, so he can pursue things there, while Salman Butt now has the Captaincy for Test cricket.
That will work well in his favor as he also batted really for Pakistan throughout this Test.
Afridi is at a stage of his career I guess where readapting his game isn't an option. He now knows one way to play and that's to hit out. In Test cricket it won't work, and while the game needs entertainers, sometimes they aren't cut out for every form of the game. He can stand down with some pride and he's been honest in his decision. That should be respected by Pakistan supporters. Discuss it at the Forum if you wish.
Victory by 150 runs and another one for the Baggy Green! Well done boys.
Off to Headingly next. Let's see how the boys go there. That Test starts on the 21st of July.
The Baggy Green forum is now active, so head over there, REGISTER yourself, get your profile up to speed and then get posting!
We encourage you to keep contributing to the article's where possible, but this opens another networking channel for Australian cricket supporters and the valued readers of the Blogsite.
Feedback is welcome, so let us know what you think.
Follow the LINK BELOW to the Forum Static Page on the Blogsite and then redirect yourself to the Baggy Green Forum via the given Links!
Another NEW page has been added: Australian Cricket Venues.
15 July 2010
Simon Katich once again just got on with his job and played another excellent innings.
Mr. Consistent, again. But Katto was dismissed in the 80s again as well, so that's 80 and 83 for the match and that century slips on by. I was looking at his Stats and post-Ashes.
He has scored in the 80s four times, in the 90s three times and has cashed in on two centuries. He gets the job done and it was another catch behind to end his Lord's Test with the bat.
Marcus North made a start but was eventually dismissed feeling at a wide one, but he atleast got a start. It's better than another duck or single figures and he did support Katto in a decent partnership to push our lead forward. They departed right after each other.
It was great to see Tim Paine score 47 in his 2nd Test innings. Only one Australian Keeper has scored a fifty on debut and that was Adam Gilchrist! No surprises there, and Tim fell three short of the mark. Once he got going, the nerves just disappeared. It was brilliant!
He played freely, ran really well between the wickets and put the pressure back on Pakistan.
I must add, he has done a near flawless job behind the stumps. He's made it look easy out there and has done a fine job for the team. Impressive on debut at Lord's with the issues Keepers usually face/
It was totally different to his debut innings where Pakistan were all over him and he went into his shell (I quote a regular reader on this). Alongside Tim, was Ben Hilfenhaus, after Steven Smith had another LBW go against him.
Hilfy and Tim put together the highest partnership of the innings and to do it for the 9th wicket, it doesn't get much better than that! After Tim departed, in a very good innings as mentioned, Hilfy had Douggie Bollinger took matters into their own hands. Now, we can all agree Douggie can hang in there but he isn't always a sight with the bat, but he really has batted so damn well this Test. Playing with a straight bat as much as possibel and with pretty quick usage of his feet in the crease, it's allowed him to have quite a good time out there as Hilfy surprised many viewers!
Hilfy scored his first First-class half-century against Sri-Lanka A for Australia A last month. Less than a month later he did something even better. A half-century for the Baggy Green at Lord's. It was an awesome innings!
He left the wide balls early on, played a defensive shots confidently, gave his best commitment as he scampered quick singles with Tim and then when Douggie joined him, he took some initiative and tried to hit some wild slogs, a few which came off. Best yet, Hilfy finally hit a six batting for Australia! He brought up his fifty playing through mid-on and ended unbeaten on 56* when Douggie was finally bowled.
The tail-enders did quite a job in the end, and the lead that didn't even look probable to get to the 350 I hoped for, ended up going well beyond 400.
Our seamers had some hard luck and found it tough out there. Alot of deliveries just missing the outside edge, some mistimed shots flying over the infield, yeah it was frustrating. But Pakistan's top order, once again Salman Butt, made the most when conditions changed and the wicket became quite flat, which has been spoken of at Lord's a fair bit by the commentary team.
Hilfy was unfortunate that two LBW decisions were rejected (the one at the close of play was one Rudi Koertzen could have stuck his finger up for) but it was pleasing to see Steven Smith get his first wicket in Test cricket.
He's had a Test match were he only scored 13 runs with the bat and has 1 catch to his name, so it was good he got some overs in and picked up a wicket. Will give him some good confidence.
Tomorrow the game will resume and Pakistan have 9 wickets in hand and still trail by a very daunting 326 runs.
I am hoping for some good seam conditions early on in the morning and if we can get a couple of wickets, we can then chip away at them for however long possible. Early breakthoughs are always effective to gain momentum and just try mow away at the batsmen.
It's been a good Test match thus far.
Capacity: 16 000 (Recorded at most: 16 719)
Ends: Church Street End - River end
Ground of: Tasmanian Tigers/ Tasmanian Cricket Association
1st Test Match played: 16th Decemer 1989, Australia vs Sri-Lanka
1st ODI Match played: 14th January 1988, Australia vs Pakistan
1st T20 Match played: 21st February 2010, Australia vs The West Indies
The joke is that Tasmania are usually a few years behind, which is factual when it comes to cricket! The Bellerive Oval only hosted it's first Test match in 1989 with the first ODI appearing a year earlier, approximately 100 years later than the main Grounds in Australia.It is a stunning setting when overlooked with the Derwent River behind it.Like Western Australia, it was also a bit of a logistics issue which is one reason for the lack of history and tradition it has in comparison to the other grounds on mainland Australia.
The Bellerive recently had floodlight erected after rather lengthy, heated debates with local residents. It was necessary in order to put Tasmania well onto the cricket map as having the floodlights, Day/Night cricket can now be hosted. To celebrate this addition The Bellerive Oval staged its first T20 International in the 2009/10 summer against the West Indies. It was brilliantly attended with a record attendance.Recent history was also made by Ricky Ponting, Baggy Green modern legend and a Tassie local maestro with the bat, when he became the first player to score a double century in a Test match at the Bellerive Oval. This was achieved against Pakistan in the 2009/10 summer. It was his 5th double century too and doing it in front of his home ground was a delight!
Capacity: 33 597 (maximum was 50 000 for the Bodyline climax!)
Ends: River end – Catherdral End
Ground of: The Southern Redbacks/ South Australian Cricket Association (SACA)
1st Test Match played: 12 December 1884, Australia vs England
1st ODI Match played: 20 December 1975, Australia vs West Indies
1st T20 Match played: 12 January 2011, Australia vs England
A ground of tradition, the Adelaide Oval or 'the Oval' (not be be confused with the Oval in England) is not only a beautiful setting but has a historic look to it. The scoreboard is still updated manually with volunteers helping with the score changes and inside it can get excruciatingly hot! It was designed by Kenneth Milne and recorded the first game in 1911!
The grassed seating areas (notably 'the Hill') are prominent features while the St. Peters Cathedral stands tall just outside the grounds. On the Hill you will find supporters either building plastic beer mug snakes or blokes generally laid back appreciating the cricket with a cold one in hand! The Hill was established in 1898 from the banks of the River Torrens.Further history is that the ground that saw the climatic end to the Bodyline Ashes series where it is recorded that 50 000 cricket mad people flocked into the Oval.The ground also holds Aussie Rules Rugby and in recent times International Seven's Rugby.
The Oval underwent considerable changes in 1989 that were back then recorded at $9 million AUD.This introduced a new media area, smartened members area and a new stand. In recent years the ground saw construction take place during the 2009/2010 Summer Test match which has been the redevelopment of the western stands and the overall re-construction valued at $95 million AUD.
The new look at the Adelaide Oval
Capacity: 42 000
Ends: Stanley Street End – Vulture Street End
Ground of: The Queensland Bulls
1st Test Match played: 27th November 1931, Australia vs South Africa
1st ODI Match played: 23rd December 1979, Australia vs West Indies
1st T20 Match played: 06th January 2006, Australia vs South Africa
While not a good looking stadium by any means, the 'Gabba (shortened word for 'Wooloongabba') attracts many fanatics for big staged cricket matches while also being the venue to often kick off Test cricket for the summer.
The conditions at the Gabba are said to be the most testing on a player's energy levels during a Test match with humidity and baking heat. The Gabba was also the ground to stage Australia's first Twenty20 International.
The ground is most famous for being the setting for the first tied Test match played, where Australia tied with The West Indies. Frank Worrell and Ritchie Benaud were two mighty famous cricketers involved in this match! The vintage footage of the run out is still broadcast from time to time with Wesley Hall bowling the final over.
Capacity: 24 500
Ends: Members End – Prindville Stand end
Ground of: The Western Warriors
1st Test Match played: 16 December 1970, Australia vs England
1st ODI Match played: 09 December 1980, Australia vs New Zealand
1st T20 Match played: 11th December 2007, Australia vs New Zealand
For a ground that has a reputation for being one of the fastest bowling tracks in the world with mean pace and bounce that every fast bowler dreams of bowling on, the history of the ground is a short one for Internationals.
Originally a swampland, the WACA (pronounced 'Wacker') was established in 1890 and only hosted it's first Test match in 1970 with the first ODI match being played 10 years later.The reason for this is that with the transportation 'back in the day' it was a logistical nightmare to stage an International in Perth and then have the teams hauled across the land to other States. Therefore it was seen as a ground that hosted mostly tour matches rather than International games, when the tour Teams' ships would dock at the harbors in Western Australia. But now it is a credible ground that is not only the fast track for world cricket but also being Australia's biggest ground in terms of the playing field.
Capacity: 46 000
1st T20 match played: 09th January 2007, Australia vs England
The SCG has changed drastically over the last 30 years. The original Hill that was comparable to the MCG's Bay 13 for loud intoxicated fanatics, was taken out with the introduction of modern seating areas. The final turnaround was the introduction of floodlights and an electronic scoreboard. However the Pavillion still stands as a key feature of the SCG.
As the earliest established ground that also hosted the first Test match, it has been the battleground for some of the finest Test match battles and dramatic One Day Internationals for Australian and neutral contests alike.The most recent highlights have been the controversial ending to the 2008 Test match where Australia beat India with Michael Clarke picking up three wickets in the final over of the Test to secure victory, and then Australia bowling Pakistan out in the defense of a very small target on the final day of the 3rd Test.It is also remembered by many as the Ground where modern day Legends Steve Waugh, Glen McGrath, Shane Warne, Matthew Hayden and Justin Langer have concluded their Test careers for the Baggy Green.
It was also the first ground to host one of Kerry Packer's Day/Night World Series cricket match in the late 70's.
Donald Bradman had one of his moments of brilliance at the SCG by scoring 452 runs against Queensland for New South Wales, which was at the time the highest First-class score. One of The Don's finest achievements!
There is a realistic possibility the Ground may no longer be the home ground of the New South Wales Blues. It would bring to end a long standing home of tradition for New South Wales cricket.
Capacity: 100 000 (maximum recorded approximately 130 000)
Ends: Members end – Great Southern End
Ground of: Victorian Bushrangers
1st Test Match played: 15th March 1877, Australia vs England
1st ODI Match played: 05th January 1971, Australia vs England
1st T20 Match played: 01st February 2008, Australia vs India
The MCG is a gladiator ring for a modern day cricketer, and if caught in a brawl the crowd can make the atmosphere deafening and intense! The echoes of the crowds singing or general banter is loud and it is known to be one of the most intimidating places to play cricket if you aren't on the crowds favourite's list.Bay 13 is the red zone, characterised by some cheerful blokes who are not shy to express their opinions to the fielder who is the unlucky victim to stand by the boundary ropes. Heckling and sledging can go on throughout the day with no rest for the wicked!
With its massive grand stands, the MCG is a major attraction for One Day and T20 cricket with the fanatics pouring in. Recently the ground recorded it's lowest attendance ever for an ODI game but this can be declared a result of overkill cricket fixtures and a dead rubber encounter.For Test cricket it is the venue for the traditional Boxing Day Test where families pour into the Ground to enjoy a day at the cricket dressed head to toe in their supporters gear. The Ground has been hosting cricket matches at Internationa level 1877 when Australia played England and this tradition continued when the first ODI was played against England as well.
It is also seen as the home ground to Cricket Australia with their headquarters based in Melbourne, Victoria.
14 July 2010
The final score was 253.
Douggie showed some real courage out there. He took three or four deliveries to the body and hung around with Michael Hussey to get us past a total that would secure some kind of a psychological advantage, although that score was obviously concerning.
We knew if the conditions were good our bowlers were sure to trouble the Pakistani batsmen. Sure enough, the plan was executed brilliantly!
PAKISTAN: 148 all out. SR Watson 5-40, BW Hilfenhaus 2-37, DE Bollinger 2-38, MG Johnson 1-31
At first Ricky Ponting had Douggie B bowling from the Nursery end, while Ben Hilfenhaus operated at the Pavillion end. Immediately Shane Warne commented on this while taking on commentary duties and suggested switching them immediately to opposite ends.
The very next over, Mitchell Johnson came into action and Hilfy and Douggie operated from different ends. It didn't take long for Hilfy to get back in action at the elite level and he picked up his first wicket upon his return to Test cricket. Good move by Punter.
He pitched the ball on a good line and the ball just swung enough to find the edge and Tim Paine bagged his first catch in Test cricket. Not too long after Hilfy had his second, this time picking up the wicket of one of Pakistan's debutants with his outswinger doing the damage!
Hilfy bowled a great spell up front and really set things up for us. He would have been operating under a bit of pressure after the long lay-off but it was awesome to see him get the job done!
I liked the way Punter was right in there with the tactician side of things as he shuffled his field around, regularly consulted his bowlers and while having an attacking field our bowlers just did their best to hit their spots and maintain consistency.
Mitchell picked up his first with the faintest of edges to Tim, to give him his third catch and we had Pakistan in trouble, it was ideal.
Salman Butt held things together but ran out of support until he was bowled.
All three of our seamers did an excellent job and then Punter decided to try something different.
Shane Watson has become a specialist batsman, where before he was a specialist bowler come middle order batsman. But, he is a better bowling option in Test cricket (he's no longer a ODI death bowler, let's be honest on that) and the gamble paid off. That's the way the game works, sometimes it works and other times it backfires.
Watto had both the Akmal brothers trapped LBW in his 1st and 2nd overs, those wickets were crucial to get as early as possible. The situation was ideal and out came Shahid Afridi!
Okay, it was an entertaining innings and he belted Watto around the ground in typical 'Boom Boom' style, but let's be honest, it was a daft innings!
I understood the initial attack he produced. Pakistan needed some momentum and some kind of an advantage. With Salman Butt going along at the other end, Afridi understandbly hit out wildly at first. It is his first Test match in a very long time and he is a bloke who can inspire this young Pakistan team with real positivity in his performances. I do give him that and he did a fine job in the field working his bowlers over. But after he reached 20 odd with the bat, he could have tried to settle down and establish some kind of a partnership with his batting partner. Nope, he tried to go for broke and gave Watto another wicket as Mitch took one at mid-off. Innings as good as over, Pakistan in deep trouble.
The rest was too easy. Watto bowled Butt was a beauty of a delivery that knocked back his stumps and Butt stood perplexed. Watto needed one more to end the innings and get his first 5-for in Test cricket. After some extra rain delays, an edge produced to third slip presented Steven Smith a catch which he took cleanly and that also gave Stevo his first catch in Test cricket!
Congrats Watto on the achievement, can't say it was expected but he claimed it.
Watto had found his way onto the newly revealed Neutral visitors board Centurion & 5-wicket haul boards. Our seamers produced the goods and defended our low batting total.
The lead was over 100 runs, the perfect setup is in place.
And Steven Smith didn't even get to bowl in his debut!
We are currently in the lead with 205 runs. It's alright, but we had a crash in the top order after a good start from Watto & Katto. The two of them put together an opening stand 61 before Watto was dismissed for 31.
Punter will likely never see his name make the centurion board at Lord's as he was dismissed for a duck. Upsetting after his century in the warm-up games, but we'll see how he goes at Headingly. But I guess it's always good when even the games greatest don't achieve certain things in their career. It makes them human. After all, Sir Donald Bradman never reached that 100 run average, despite just needing a couple of runs to get it in his final Test.
That's what makes this game so special, nothing is a given and somethings are better left unachieved.
Huss joined Punter in the poultry den while Michael Clarke only managed 12.
Once again though we have Simon Katich being the lone ranger, the gritty and seriously determined guy he is! He's the right man to have out there in this situation. Come on Katto, make up for that 80 champ!
He will be partnered by Mitchell tomorrow at the crease, with Marcus North, Tim Paine and Steven Smith really needing to show up with their A-game tomorrow. We need it from them.
We can't afford another middle order collapse. We need a lead over 350 for this game in my opinion. I don't care for how few runs we could maybe knock Pakistan over for, it's not about that.
It's all about having the pyschological advantage and then going in for the kill with the strategies in place. Pakistan generally fold under these circumstances.
This game may have had rain delays but it is moving along at quite a speed and has been a thrilling game thus far.
I hope tomorrow is another good days play, but I would like to see our guys pick up that target so that we are having a bowl at Pakistan by atleast the last session.
Great days cricket for our bowlers, but now the batsmen have to show up.
After a delay at Lord's due to a wet outfield and then light issues, the Umpires finally decided play could commence. I would have been happy to have seen us have a bowl at the Pakistani top order. Shahid Afridi won the toss though upon his return to Test cricket, and decided they would bowl. Traditionally speaking we always bat first, but judging by Punter's body language at the toss we may have had a bowl first.
Things started off loosely. Shane Watson, who should be set to make some good runs come the second innings, was dismissed in single figures courtesy of a combo dismissal! LBW, then bowled, although it obviously goes down as bowled on the scorecard. I do admit it was an amusing dismissal, but I'm glad it stated bowled and not LBW as Watto has a bad history with LBW decisions.
Ricky Ponting is still finding Lord's a ground he struggles at. He has yet to score a half-century at the ground and is still dreaming of finding his way onto the visitors centurion board in the visitors dressing room. It may be his final chance and something he'd really want on his CV, but he did achieve something else. Punter is now, officially, the 2nd highest run scorer in Test cricket, as he moved ahead of one of my personal favourites, Sir Brian Charles Lara.
Sachin is still ahead by plenty of runs, but it was good to see. We saw Punter achieve 13,000 ODI runs not too long ago in the ODIs against England, and it was in 2008 when he reached his 10,000th Test run. 2 years later, he makes his way past Brian. Well done Skipper!
His innings though ended sharply, with a reflex catch taken by the bloke at short leg. It was quite a catch, and it was his first catch in Test cricket. Punter had to go. One thing I will comment on is Mohammed Aamer's growing habit of running into our batsmen. It looks innocent and he is a young man who would show genuine delight dismissing a player like Punter. But he did it to Michael Clarke is the ICC T20, and did it again yesterday, just getting in Punter's space a little too much. He had the entire track to celebrate but made a note of barging Punter's way and Punter, understandably so, probably just nudged the kid out the way with his elbow.
I do think it's a subtle way to provoke our seniors and physical contact is not on in cricket, unless it's Andrew Symonds! That's just my opinion on the matter anyway.
Michael Clarke was given the promotion to number 4 at long last. I have been in favor of this for a long time now and am very pleased, he's earned it. Michael Hussey has been outstanding for us at the number 4 role, but I just feel, given his confidence in limited overs cricket in the middle order (5,6 or 7) and the ability he has to bat well with any lower order batsman and steer us in the direction to recover from any situation will be valuable in Test cricket as well.
I am glad to see Huss at number 5. He's certainly doing a fantastic job for us in this Test at the moment.
Simon Katich though continues to be a Champ opening up top and shines as Mr. Dependable. He should probably have atleast another 4 or 5 extra centuries to his name.
I just enjoy watching him bat so much. He starts out cautiously and takes a lifetime to get his innings going. He frustrates bowlers who try to get him out LBW given his unique crab-like shuffle from outside of leg to dead centre and before you know it, he has occupied the crease for 2 hours or so. Then it just takes one bowler to loosen up to much and bang! Katto will capitalise, as Afridi experienced yesterday. Katto took some time at first as the conditions were really difficult by the looks of things, but he made it look easy eventually. Sadly, he edged one that shaped across him and he fell 20 runs short of a century at Lord's. So close, but it was a good innings. Generally if Watto screws up, Katto carries on and reverse the scenario, Watto will usually make up for a rare Katich blunder.
Pup was impressive! He played his finest test match innings at Lord's last year during the Ashes, again in my opinion, and showed lots of confidence out there in this particular innings of 47. He has become a Test cricketer and we are all well aware of this given the limited overs changes in his game. But what will amuse alot of people was the way he just let the blade attack the Pakistan seamers! The bulk of his innings was built with glorious, elegant strokes through the covers. Anything he could drive, he was onto it. He raced away to thiry odd and a strike-rate that'd suggest he is taking on the mould of Damien Martyn in some ways!
He was very unlucky to be given out LBW. In realtime it looked fair enough, but I just think at Lord's when when the ball hits the pads and you can see middle and a bit of leg stump, taking into consideration the angle the bowler was delivering the ball at as, well as the general swing present at Lord's, I think it was a decision taken quite lightly.
After that dismissal, things looked good though. Damn, how quickly this game can change! We get reminded every season.
Marcus North, bowled for a duck. Tim Paine is struggling to combat the nerves and has been performing well below what he is capable of. He's a tailored cricketer for this form of the game and his nerves and complacency got the best of him and allowed Kaneria back into the game, who then produced a fine spell of bowling. Steven Smith, LBW for 1. Stevo can consider himself unlucky as hot spot indicated a decent edge off the bat onto the pad, but with Rudi Koertzen at the other end in his final Test, you can expect a few hiccups from him. Sadly, it was a rude awakening for Stevo at the elite level. He can feel hard done by. Still plenty opportunities ahead for him, but the game situation had changed.
Mitchell Johnson was bowled in fine style. Wrong'un, leg break, wrong'un, leg break.....bowled! Excellent bit of bowling and MJ was gone.
It left alot of pressure on Huss' shoulders with a middle order collapse where the middle order only put together 11 runs. Not exactly a joy to witness.
Ben Hilfenhaus tried to give Huss some support but was bowled with by ball that seamed into him, and now Douggie Bollinger is the last tail-ender standing. Douggie is no batsman, but if he can just keep a cool head and stay in there to give Huss the time he needs, we can make it past 250, which is something. Huss has done this with a tail-ender on a number of occassions.
I do believe we can trouble Pakistan in these conditions. I really do, but my gut feeling would be anything below 300, we will be kicking ourselves for that regardless of the outcome...it happened last year during the Ashes Test at Lord's.
But, if Huss can get us past the 250 mark and then try some kind of assault against the Pakistani bowlers to get us towards 300 it'd be good. He did it with Peter Siddle! But, then again, it could also all be over in a matter of deliveries. Either way, we'll have to bowl damn well whatever the outcome is, but let's see how Huss and Douggie B go.