28 November 2010
England's fightback was insane as we only managed one wicket!
Andrew Strauss, Al Cook (double ton) and Jonathan Trott all scored centuries and that's the way to go and try save yourselves from losing a test match.
I won't get too into the bowling but here are some thoughts.
The fielding was a let down. Catches were dropped and no matter how tough the chances are at times, when trying to secure a win in the 1st test of an Ashes, especially knowing how this team needs a win for momentum, those catches were so costly. I think I counted four, but may have missed other spills. That was point one.
Other factors was related to our bowling unit just losing the plot a bit. They were ineffective on the Gabba track second time around and were pitching it all over the place. For Strauss on a slower track, anything wide of off stump that is back of a length, you will get punished. First innings we got him on a bouncier surface when his eye wasn't really in. The LBW appeal he survived first ball against Hilfy could have changed everything, but it wasn't to be.
Our X factor, Mitchell Johnson, is a serious worry. He really is. The threat Mitch faced is that his confidence could get hammered going to Adelaide. I know he almost gets selected by default given that on his day Mitch is brutal to the opposition, but it's hard to select a bloke where we're constantly waiting for 'that day' to happen when it's not exactly frequent at the moment. A side without Mitch would be odd, but it does seem there is talk (even from Ricky Ponting) about Doug Bollinger or Ryan Harris getting the nod for the Adelaide Oval.
Giving a rest for Mitch may be a wise move. I don't see it being daft given his recent performances. I'd be open minded to the change but I say it again, you can't just blame Mitch. Alot does rest on his shoulders to inspire the bowling unit as he is the X factor, but all in all, the bowling unit was something else when the second innings emerged.
Strauss made a game of it, atleast I thought there'd be a bit more time. After a gruelling time out on the field, he declared leaving us 291 runs for victory from roughly 41 overs.
A win, a loss a draw, anything was possible under the circumstances. A draw was seeming the most likely event and as they only managed 1 wicket, they called if off.
Our side has been struggling to win key moments that would have otherwise define the result in many of our performances over the last 2 years (changing most of them for the better), however they have also been crumbling under pressure, especially with regards to batting. Every test there has been the tension while waiting for a batting collapse, usually courtesy of the middle order.
When Simon Katich departed with the score on 5, that fear probably kicked in.
Fortunately the batting isn't the talking point after this test.
Ricky Ponting batted incredibly well in his stand of 51*, where he was attacking with powerful pull shots that, it must be noted, were executed with perfection. His head was still, focused on the ball and he was solid during his short stay, given that he went at well over a run a ball. His front foot shots were a spectacle too.
He was due for a century (having made a century in the last three Ashes series openers, two in Australia) but the game was called off. Stoked Punter showed some positivity out there.
Shane Watson cashed in on some runs as he added 41* to assist Punter as they managed 1/107 before a draw was called for with the series in the balance, just like it was after Cardiff. Should we be fretting or not?
There is a bit of hangover after this game.
After dominating three days, England have taken the momentum, just like they did at Cardiff. What is really worrying is Mitchell Johnson, as mentioned already.
I do think we may see a change, which is needed.
On that note of Mitch, Michael Clarke is a huge concern with his back. He was humiliated by the English who, in my opinion, targetted him with tactical brilliance knowing his back would restrict him. When they hit him on the helmet is was disturbingly amusing as he was totally vulnerable out there.
His fielding was at an all time low and I am certain had his back been okay, he would have been consistent. It's a concern.
Marcus North failed to make an impact batting but he did take our one and only wicket!
Alot to contemplate ahead of the Adelaide test.
Watson, Katich, Ponting, Hussey (yeah, he's made his mark again), Haddin and perhaps Siddle are the only guys guaranteed for Adelaide.
I think panic is going to affect the side badly but if they want to win, perhaps a strong consideration for Harris or Bollinger is required. I hate sounding negative, but if anything all of this just seems to be open minded observations.
I know which way I'd be turning for Squad selection come Adelaide, but I'd like to hear your input.
Quite a game though. Two six wicket hauls, a hattrick (Go Pedro!), nearly two double centuries while there were five centurions for the game. How about it. Quite a stats opener.
26 November 2010
I based my opinions on form and recent performances, which it is fair to say Huss wasn't exactly inspiring confidence in the most loyal of supporters like all of us at the blogsite here.
However, as I wrote early, he's arrived early for the series. Let's hope it's an inspirational stay until Sydney.
Starting the day with a short trail, the day started off with Hads racing away to his half-century to give himself some early momentum and this also took alot of pressure of Huss. Huss was cautious to reach the triple figure mark, but it's incredible how a guy can go from being a lamb to the slaughter to showing why he is one of the best in the world. Better judgement of his off-stump was evident, he negotiated each delivery on merit with confidence and when he attacked, he was a brutal bastard! Incredible power in his pull shots and he worked hard to get to that century.
What a moment it was. He came out like the guy we know in limited overs cricket, with a scent of off the Huss we knew back in the 2006/07 season. He was inspiring throughout (forgetting that edge on ball 1) and when he played a typical cover drive through the covers and pierced the gap, he roared loudly and proudly knowing he was there. It rolled away for four and as ran by Hads giving the high five, he screamed so loudly, you almost felt the joy within as the confidence that has been so distant for so long just poured back into his cricketing character. What a moment. I think he let out a scream that lasted like 10 seconds!
From there it was continued quality where he ended up passing the 150 mark and then surpassing his best of 182. Sadly he fell 5 short of a maiden double century for the Baggy Green.
But you know, I don't really care too much because he went for it in style. Instead of nudging it around and taking a lifetime he just went for broke. Unfortunately he found the fielder and the shot that had been so strong during his innings, lead to his departure, but damn, take a bow!
I just watched his centurion moment again! Wow, just spectacular. Hoping for more.
Just a pity Shane Warne was commentating when it happened.
What an innings, what a memorable innings and along with Peter Siddle's hattrick and 6 wicket haul, it's been a memorable three days for the Baggy Green.
Brad Haddin was quite awesome. After getting too his fifty he became alot more chilled out at the crease, letting Huss take control. It was quite a change to Hads take a backseat instead of trying to be the main attacker of the partnership. His support role to Huss was admirable and perfect in nearly every way.
Hads worked the ball around nicely but in typical Hads style you had to expect some moment of madness.
That came when he was on 94, charged down the track and whipped a perfect straight lofted drive over the boundary for six.
He tried this in 2008 against The Proteas but hauled out to long on. Not this time, he charged, executed it and was successful! 100 runs to Brad Haddin and an epic way to bring up any milestone. He had some lifelines, but that's what you need.
On that note, the crowd at the Gabba has been terrific! Really encouraging for the players.
The partnership was massive but of course, all things have to end. Hads was dismissed, Huss continued to charge on but that was really it.
Xavier Doherty showed alot of promise in his maiden innings for the Baggy Green and played some wonderful cut strokes and some effective cross bat shots to the leg side. Very good little knock from him and the lead ended up being more than enough to give our bowlers a good chance to bowl at England for day 4, while also knowing that Hads and Huss really have given us the best possible chance at winning this game.
England are 0/19, with Strauss nearly getting another duck, surviving a first ball beauty served up by Ben Hilfenhaus. Aleem Dar was on the money and the referral was unsuccessful. On a final note for this post, the Umpires have been excellent. They've been alert, taking their stand (against Broad in particular) and are really doing a fine job for the image of Umpiring. Kudos to them.
© Getty Images, Courtesy of cricinfo.com
He is currently unbeaten on 81*, with a solid looking Brad Haddin at the other end.
They have put us back in the game and we aren't too far behind now.
If we can find a way to advance that lead to over 100, we are in a very strong position for the remainder of the test.
Throughout Huss' downslide for test cricket I have regularly voiced my support and backing for his place. I believe that a player of Huss' class and knowing his work ethic off the field, that he would come right.
When he finally scored that century in the 2009 Ashes series (even though it was too late), I really believed that would be the turning point.
Sadly, it wasn't to be. While his limited overs form continued to be world class and he was still the run machine for us and the mission impossible man, things have continued to be dull at test level for him. Kind of inconsistent, but not the extent of a guy like Marcus North. Huss looked a wreck in comparison.
The thing that was mentioned on the blog a while ago was that all of us felt us needed to go out there and do one thing. Play like he does in limited overs cricket!
It's kind of breaking the traditional rule that you stick to what works for you in each form of the game, but if you looked at his well below average performances for the Baggy Green in comparison to those efforts for the Green & Gold, it's obvious that Hussey needed to go out with no complacency, be the aggressor and just attack with confidence. If it doesn't work it doesn't work, but I'd rather see a guy go out with confidence to attack and make a statement, than a guy nudging and leaving with reflexes letting him down and his off-stump being a mystery.
The wonderful innings I saw today was a sign of the Hussey from 2006, the Hussey that I still proudly support in limited overs cricket.
Seeing him flashing away with those classy cover drives and trademark pull shots was a delight. He edged his first, which was a scare, but thereafter he made us all proud.
Only one obstacle: He needs to ensure that his early arrival for the 2010/11 Ashes series remains a permanent one for the series.
Brad Haddin deserves alot of recognition, as even though his timing was all over the place, when he executes those straight drives he's one of the classiest looking blokes in world cricket. Importantly, he grafted and has endured a patient stay. We don't need any daft moments from him.
Simon Katich logged in another half-century, which he'll see as another potential century gone begging, but other than that it was a concerning day watching our key batsmen stumble.
Punter is due for a century this test match, but he didn't last long only managing double figures, Clarke is still a mess and his back will be affecting him and now we'll have to deal with a confidence knock at that too (see how England nailed him with short pitched bowling?) and Marcus North did a Marcus North.
We just have to be positive that Huss and Hads will come out tomorrow and continue to play the brand of cricket they displayed today, which really was inspiring. The fightback has begun and as my mate Matt wrote on twitter, 'All I want for Christmas is a first innings lead'.
Don't we all! If anything, this test should produce a result.
Still on a buzz after Peter Siddle's hat-trick!
Huss playing the trademark pull shot. A very good sign for us.
© Getty Images, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
25 November 2010
After losing the toss, which I wasn't worried about given I wanted to see our guys bowl on the Gabba track first, it didn't take long for things to ignite.
Ben Hilfenhaus made sure the first ball was a safe delivery, that wouldn't raise eyebrows like Harmissons unforgettable hurler. Hilfy kept it outside of off and that was enough to settle some nerves. It then happend, short, close to Strauss' body and he flashed at it. Strauss is a very strong player of the cut shot so to get him playing at that delivery was a bonus so early on. He struck it well and it cruised to Mike Hussey, who took it perfectly. Hilfy got the start we needed.
My article a few weeks back was relatively close to the analysis. Must be how Hilfy felt.
Jonathan Trott is a dangerous player and it was amusing, that after doing some quick analysis with another fanatic on twitter, we decided Trott is a candidate who regularly gives his wicket away by seeing them spiral out of the ground.
Shane Watson managed to do some of that Golden arm work and well, he bowled Trott. Got to love it when an analysis falls into place! Seeing Trott go was a relief. I see him as a great threat than Kevin Pietersen.
From that moment on it was the Peter Siddle show. Al Cook, KP and Ian Bell managed to put some decent scores behind their names but a moment of history was made when Peter Siddle dismissed Cook, then Prior (bowled!) and finally Stuart Broad (LBW, he really does look like a mix between Tin Tin & the Malfoy kid from the Harry Pothead films) to get a hat-trick on the first day of the Ashes, also on his birthday!
Broad asked for the referral but when Aleem Dar's hand went up, I can't express the pride I felt at that moment and how pumped I was for Sids to achieve that. What a moment, even better to see it happen in real time on not on a highlights deal a few years later.
He ended things with 6/54 from 16 overs. He was wayward at times but when he pushed his length to a fuller pitch it started to generate results.
That spell of bowling has set this test match up, but more importantly, it took all the momentum away from England. That was so important.
One issue we've had is the inability to get rid of tail-enders. I think the last 2 years has been the period of tail-ender resistance! Siddle supporting Hussey, Steyn supporting Duminy, Sharma supporting VVS, Anderson supporting Panesar...even in limited overs it's nailed us personally (Malinga recently). So to see Xavier Doherty not only get his maiden wicket for the Baggy Green on debut, but to see him clean up the tail-enders for England (including the rat, Ian Bell) was a very pleasing sign of hopefully, things to come.
He finished with figures of 2/41 from 13.5 overs.
I think what really sealed the day was Shane Watson and Simon Katich hold the fort till the end of play, seeing as at 0/25, trailing by 235 with 10 wickets in hand.
Getting England all out for 260 (20 off those being extras...hmmm?) was a huge effort that Peter Siddle can take a bow for. He was a machine out there. Damn, you can't feel the ambition when he gets a wicket. I reckon some of the English cricket supporters were pumping their fists in the air when he got that hat-trick. Kind of contagious.
Anyways, that's the wrap for Day 1 and if this is anything to go by, this series really is going to be one of high energy and intensity.
The battle has begun and as the slogan for this summers Ashes states, "History will be made".
On Day 1, Pedro Siddle already has a chapter of his own.
Peter Siddle's appeal to capture his moment!
© Getty Images, Courtesy of Cricinfo.com
24 November 2010
Brad Hodge continued his quest for a shock return to the One Day International arena with his third hundred in 5 matches against Queensland. Hodge has been a consistent run scorer in all formats but has been continually overlooked for a recall. However, his current hot streak might be a bit too hard for the selectors to resist.
Last season he scored four hundreds in 11 matches at an average of 69.11 with a strike rate of 93.53. This season he has three hundreds in 5 matches at an average of 138 and a strike rate of 103. Those sorts of numbers would be more than enough to get a normal player into the side but whatever fallout Hodge had with the selectors and maybe Ponting has really stalled his career.
It is high time the selectors put that aside, in Hodge they have a player that is capable of scoring at a run a ball from the top 3 and last to the death to hit out, something which Shaun Marsh struggles to do. Marsh is essentially the backup opener but it is hard to find someone that is in better form than Hodge at the moment.
What could count against Hodge is his last ODI series which happens to be where the World Cup is being held. In that series he scored 59 runs at 10 with a strike rate of 55 from 6 innings, his worst International series. He was moved around the order which never helps a player but you have to take your opportunities in the Australian setup.
Hodge will struggle to break into the starting 11 with only the number 7 spot open which wouldn’t suit Hodge’s game not to mention the selectors like filling that spot with an all rounder. Also Callum Ferguson would be a better fit for that spot. His ideal spot is filled by captain Ricky Ponting which is definitely not up for grabs. The opening spot next to Watson could be a spot for Hodge but that would mean moving Haddin back down the order. In terms of making the 11, he will struggle but he would be a very handy backup option if required.
Two possible bolters lie in fellow Victorians – Aaron Finch and Matthew Wade. Finch lacks that hundred to really push his claim but he is an aggressive opener and is in the form of his life at the moment. Wade would provide a backup keeping option and he has played as a specialist batsmen before so he would offer the versatility that the selectors could be after. What he offers over current backup in Tim Paine is his aggressiveness, his career strike rate is 89.5 and his strike rate this season is 109 from 3 innings. He won’t let you down whether he is opening or batting at 7 which I feel is a weak point for both Haddin and Paine who have struggled to hit out at the death.
So if the selectors are after a backup opener then Hodge is the man they are after, in terms of backup keeper I would pick Wade over Paine.
Image from Getty Images
Sylvester's look at our bowlers ahead of the Ashes: VIEW ARTICLE
I took a look at the probable Squad (confirmed) as well as some thoughts: VIEW ARTICLE
* This article is by Dan 'Stapo' on of our regular contributors. I'm posting on his behalf.
It was as an amazing trip to Brisbane last weekend for the All Stars Weekend in Brisbane. After winning a competition for a rare chance to compete being the 12th man for a team of stars, the Australian Cricketer's Association (ACA) All Stars, which was made up of the best players from the KFC Big Bash last season, while the Aussie Fan team was selected by the Australian fans via the Johnnie Walker web site.
Friday November 19
Arrived at the Gabba for the selection process of the 12th men.
Former Australian test batsmen Darren Lehmann and Australian fast bowler Michael Kasprowicz are present.
The first test was bowling and batting in the Gabba indoor nets. Everyone batted and bowled at each other and then faced the bowling machine in the nets.
Then it was outside for slips catches and high catches on the Gabba playing field.
“Boof” looked after the slips catches and Kaspa looked after the high catches towards fine leg.
At the end of the process the 12th men were selected. Michael Lloyd and Michael Small were the most deserving and took their places along side the teams for Sunday’s match.
After the 12th man had been selected, Kaspa joined us for a long discussion on the current Australian test team make up and noted the number of spinners that Australia has had since Shane Warne retired after the last Ashes test in Sydney in 2007.
The likes of Nathan Hauritz, Stuart MacGill, Bryce McGain, Beau Casson, Steve Smith, Daniel Cullen, Brad Hogg and Xavier Doherty have been tried in the almost 4 years since Warne’s retirement. Kaspa also mentioned he felt that “too many fast bowlers” had also been tried since Glenn McGrath’s retirement in early 2007 from test and one day international cricket.
Saturday November 20
Was a relaxing day doing nothing much until night time and out and about to meet with some the players who had arrived early for the big game the following night. Had a few beers with “Boof” and learnt a few interesting things while the English Premier League on the TV. Not a bad way to spend a night in Brisbane!
Was more a more relaxing day before the biggest day of the weekend.
Sunday November 21
Early morning wake up for the All Stars fan day at Allan Border Field.
Arrived at the ground to meet with some of the players from both the ACA All Stars and the Aussie Fans team. David Warner, David Hussey, Xavier Doherty, Dirk Nannes and Matthew Hayden arrived on stage for some media work and then signing for the fans.
Spoke Haydos for a while after the media commitments and he noted the recent discussion of the Australian test team and said Australia would win the series. Interesting to note Haydos will be going in the Sydney to Hobart race this year and will not be at the Boxing Day test as he so often was during his outstanding career.
Had a chat with Warner and Doherty before leaving the fan day was good to meet Doherty and he seems a confident bloke given that he has just only arrived in the test team this week, hopefully he goes well and his left arm spinners can cause the English batsmen some trouble in the series.
Sunday afternoon was off to the Gabba for the pre game dinner with “Boof” as the guest speaker, Darren can certainly drink as I saw first hand over the weekend but his knowledge of cricket is just as impressive. Darren really is like David Boon and I am sure in his playing days really did push “Boonie” to the drink!
The game starts with Haydos and with his “Mongoose” bat it was a very impressive display from a man who has not played much since the IPL earlier this year. One thing you have to say about the former stars of the Australian team is that they never lose their ability, as Warne and McGrath have also shown in the IPL and in the All Stars game last year. They never lose that competitive edge and desire to win!
Was a fitting end to the night for Haydos to bowl his rarely seen spinners (he used to bowl medium pace in his playing days very occasionally for QLD and Australia).
Only downer of an entertaining night was seeing wicket keeper Tim Paine break his finger opening the batting for the ACA All Stars against left arm quick Dirk Nannes. Hopefully he's back on the park soon.Rest of the night was the real highlight of the weekend after the match it was off to the after match function with the finalists from the weekend and the players from the match.
Had a good chat with Callum Ferguson who happened to be in a great mood considering it was his birthday....why not! This guy really could one day captain Australia.
Now all the fun is done lets bring on the Ashes and lets support the great Australian cricket team. No more worrying about who's in, let's just support the guys 100% as Ian says.
Well worth supporting the Baggy Green.
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The 'once in a lifetime bowler', the 'leader of the pack', the 'wayward Johnson', whatever you want to call him, this man is one of the most talked about cricketers in the history of Australian cricket. He drives fans mad with his inconsistency but fast forward a century in time and his horror Ashes series last year will be seen as a pretty good return according to the stats. That is Mitchell Johnson in a nutshell, he can look wayward, out of sorts, wrong seam position, etc but he has a knack for producing that 'lucky' wicket. He has done it so often that we have become use to it. He comes into the match on the back of a 5-fer and a 100 in the game against Victoria.
I expect Johnson to be firing come Thursday, his venom will be ready to strike and we may even see a hint of swing.
A swing bowling star, while he has lost that vicious swing that he had when he bursted onto the seam, he still is our genuine outswing bowler. He has been working hard on his straight ball to complement the outswing. Hilfenhaus is at the other end of the spectral compared to Johnson, when you look back in the history books at say his India tour you will see he went fairly average. However that was far from the case, he bowled with good aggression including a very good bouncer, got swing at times and keep the runs dried up. He was unlucky at times and did suffer a bit from the flat tracks but the tour was certainly no write off.
Hilfenhaus should be a handful at the Gabba with the green top that is expected. If he has the straight one, off cutter or in swinger going then expect a lot of wickets from him. Else he may experience more unlucky moments but the English will definitely be wary of his swinging abilities.
The man that is in the good books with all the right people. A very lucky man who is expected to pip Bollinger. Describing Siddle has become very cliche, terms such as 'hits the bat hard', 'all day bowler', 'gives it his all' have become so overrated. While this does describe Siddle, it shouldn't be the main reason he gets into the side. Siddle was average last summer taking 11 wickets in 6 matches against the West Indies and Pakistan.
Siddle's key is his pace, if hes down in the lo 140km/h or even below that then he lacks that venom in his ball and becomes easy meat for the opposition. But when he is in the high 140s then he starts hitting the bat hard. The problem lies in his back being unable to sustain this. He offers a very good bouncer as Gambhir found out and can swing the ball at times. A jack of all trades but master of none at the moment, if he does end up mastering one then expect the wickets to flow.
The unknown man who has been termed the X-Factor. He is described as a consistent bowler that keeps it tight while being able to get the odd wicket. His ODI debut showed there is a lot to like about him. He has the arm ball which caused the Sri Lankans some problems and he got their best two batsmen out. Since then hes also bowled Simon Katich around the legs before being picked as the surprise spinner. It's hard to know how he will fare, the ODI performances give Australian fans hope and is probably the reason why so many people voted for him over Hauritz in the various polls done on the newspaper websites.
Watson deserves a mention on the bowling front. While he can look pedestrian at times, Watson is another jack of all trades but unlike Siddle he has mastered the art of reverse swing. He is our best reverse swing exponent, his lack of pace means it isn't quite as lethal as it could be but still proves very handy on those tough wickets. He is an aggressive bowler and likes using his bouncer which also happened to get Ricky Ponting last week. At times he can hit the 140km/h mark but recently he has been in the low to mid 130s. If conditions are favorable to the bowlers then Watson is the man to exploit them, he will also offer consistency plus the odd wicket on the flat pitches.
And there you have it, my analysis of our expected bowling lineup. There is hope for us Aussie fans and what was a dreadful last week had one shining light in the form of Johnson.
23 November 2010
He managed to hold his own during the throw downs where it's reported he went about his usual trademark display with the bat at test level. This is fantastic news under the circumstances. Even though Usman Khawaja was probably really psyched to have the call-up given Pup's back worries, it looks as though he'll pull through, meaning Usman's debut will have to wait another day.
Peter Siddle looks set to be the third seamer alongside Mitchell Johnson and Ben Hilfenhaus. I'd have had Doug Bollinger as my ideal guy in there, but perhaps Sids has displayed better fitness and stamina to have a decent crack out there. Although we all hope the bowlers won't be out there for too long. Hopefully because we'll be watching them cane the Poms.
I'm really excited to see Hilfy back in action. His 2nd test in Australia, his first which was also at the Gabba, will prove to be a great opportunity to witness. He had Strauss a few times during the 2009 Ashes and I can't wait to see our King of swing get out there! The main thing I'm really hoping for is a maiden 5-fer for him.
And the biggest worry we have in the bowling department is simple. Which cricketing personality will Mitchell Johnson show up with at the 1st test?
The batting is something we'll just have to wait on. I am very confident that our guys can all get the job done against the Poms. They're experienced and most of them have had some decent form, however, the Sheffield outings were forgettable, except for Michael Hussey, who we all felt had lost his aura for test cricket. The ability is still there somehow after he churned out that century for WA, but all that's done is probably give him the confidence he needed. After reading an interview that was conducted with him, it seems he's aware he is on his last stand. I just hope that he can go out of this Ashes series on a high. I do think the changes will be inevitable despite the result of the Ashes.
Victory will probably raise some wonders about Simon Katich, Huss and perhaps Punter. We all know Punter is under immense pressure, but as you will see if you read back over my articles building up to this series, I have rarely brought up concerns I have over Punter.
He's a big event sort of bloke, and I still believe he would have done something special in that final Ashes test in 2009 had he not been run out.
He's still our X factor with the bat, like Mitch is with the ball.
I think we have a good indication what the side will be come Thursday, but this seems to be it. This Ashes series is going to be bloody tough for the Baggy Green, I'm behind the guys 100% though, as one of my mates mentioned something on Twitter...the closer it gets, the more confident I'm becoming.
I'm starting to forget all about the NSP rubbish and Cricket Australia's annoying marketing gimmicks, but it's time for the supporters and the representatives of the Baggy Green.
It's our time!
Probable Ashes Squad: 1st Test at the Gabba
Ricky Ponting (Captain)
Michael Clarke (Vice)
Brad Haddin (W/k)
Xavier Doherty (Debutant)
22 November 2010
Steven Smith who was essentially picked in the reserve batsmen spot when the 13 man squad was announced, he can now being seen as the Marcus North backup unless the selectors have changed their minds again and swapped him back to a bowling all rounder. There in lies the first problem, given Shane Watson is already the all rounder in the side and if he got injured then Steven Smith more than likely wouldn't replace him then why is Smith in the side just to replace one batsmen? If he is good enough to replace North in the side then he should be good enough to replace any batsmen.
We should be picking players based on their batting ability first, if they bowl then that is an extra but it certainly shouldn't be the reason for picking a player. I'm more than comfortable with Steven Smith's batting but the selectors aren't as they showed with Paine batting above him. So if that is the case then he shouldn't have been picked in the squad in the first place and Khawaja should have been named in the squad to begin with.
Once again this shows the selectors love affair for having a spinning all rounder in the side, they spectacularly dropped Simon Katich for Andrew Symonds after he made 125 and 77 not out in Steve Waugh's final Test match. The reason given was the selectors wanted an off spinning all rounder. Since then Marcus North has joined the queue with his off spinners preferred over David Hussey whose First Class average is still well above 50 compared to North's one which is a touch over 40.
The second problem relates to the previous problem in picking our best batsmen. The selectors seem comfortable enough having a batting order of Clarke, Hussey and Smith but when it reads Hussey, North and Smith they aren't so comfortable. So if that is the case then skipping the first problem where Smith shouldn't be in the side, then clearly there is a lack of confidence in Hussey and North. If we go back in time and replace them with say Steve Waugh and Darren Lehmann, would the selectors then be uncomfortable with picking Smith to replace Clarke in the side? More than likely not which means we aren't 100% confident with Hussey and North, if that is the case then they shouldn't be in the side.
So as we move on from the week where Doherty was essentially given his Ashes debut, to now having the selectors picking our reserve batsmen to replace only one player in the side and the continued love affair with a spinning all rounder. Just to point out I'm not against the selection of Khawaja as that is one of the few good calls being made lately and I'm confident he can get the job done if needed, this is once again an attack on the selectors.
19 November 2010
I am pleased to report our boy Stapo is having a blast up in Brisbane and will no doubt be filling us in on all the details of his epic adventure. Kind of surreal experience and he will be meeting the Baggy Green Squad soon.
Here's the Squad for the Gabba test for the 1st test of the 2010/11 Ashes series:
Ricky Ponting (capt),
Brad Haddin (wk),
The obvious observations is that Hauritz is a goner. That is probably more so because of his Gabba track record than anything else, but he was under immense pressure given his average form and lack of intimidation. I personally wouldn't rule him out for Sydney. But with his loss for the test, comes an opportunity for Xavier Doherty (yes, another debutant) and Steven Smith.
Given the Gabba's recent history, a spinner isn't a necessity but I have always maintained the belief you should have one, however I do know that Smith offers more with the bat, which is beneficial but I do have this dreadful feeling he will get a pounding against the English batsmen with his developing leg spinners. England's batsmen have, in all fairness, found some kind of form. The Sherminator may prove me wrong, but if he does play I will back him.
As for Doherty, a genuine spinner, probably more suited down South, but I am not worried about his selection.
We are due a decent spinner soon. Every 2 decades one seems to emerge.
Notably, O'Reilly in 30s, Benaud in the 50s, Mallet in the 70s and of course Warnie in the 90s. Who's next, could it somehow be Doherty?
As for the seam bowling unit. Hilfenhaus was a given for the Gabba. The only test he has represented Australia in on Aussie soil, he was Man-of-the-match...at the Gabba. Bring on the swing!
I am really annoyed Ryan Harris didn't get his opportunity. Perhaps, just perhaps his knee really did flare up again? Maybe New South Wales had an issue that there would be no seamers to represent them? Lame jokes and conspiracy theories aside, I am pleased with the bowling unit. Obviously Harris was a certainty for the test but that knee worry has opened the door for Sids to make a return, and I know he won't like seeing a Pom in his way.
Mitchell Johnson is our X factor and has to come out in top form. He will demolish the Poms if he's in form, but as we know, Mitch is totally unpredictable. I have a good feeling about him, I think there's some ferocious emotions just waiting to be unleashed.
The batting now? Mitchell Johnson got a century! And what seemed to be even more amusing was Huss decided to really confuse the crap out of us by scoring a really gritty century for WA. I must admit I am so stoked for him, but look back over the past 12 months, he's been far from convincing. Having read his book numerous times to try understand his mental preps and see how he's probably handling these lows he's been encountering, all we can hope is that the Huss really dominates and finds that spark we all remember from Incredible Adelaide.
The rest were pretty much below par. Not always a bad thing. Each guy in this side is capable to get a bloody good score behind their name. Pup was brilliant for New South Wales, but we all knew Pup would find form. His back is the worry. As for the rest, well, we have to wait for the same fate as Huss. That's the wait and see game come the moment.
Wait for the 25th and take it from there. Just support the guys 100% and see if the NSP have called this one.
We wait for England now.
AUSSIE CRICKET BLOGS TO FOLLOW:
Kirby: Thoughts from the dustbin / Twitter
Jarrod: True All-rounder / Twitter
Justin: The Randwick End (we charge him AU$10 to run this site) / Twitter
Nesta: 99.94 Cricket Opinions
CRICKET FANATICS (some with Blogs) TO FOLLOW ON TWITTER
Dan 'Stapo' (one of our contributors)
Sylvester (one of our contributors)
Steve Bernard (Involved in Cricket Australia's team management)
18 November 2010
So, a huge congrats to our man Dan and I'm super stoked for him.
Let's hope he's got all his notes to give the Baggy Green a good hard talking too. The plan is that Stapo is going to be acting as a serious motivational speaker and will have Steve Waugh's Bible on hand to not only speak the truth (play for the pride of the Baggy Green & not Cricket Australia's marketing objectives) but to also give a heartfelt speech about how as supporters; despite the depressing inconsistency the team has displayed, the unbelievably poor job the NSP has done over the last 2 years and the fact we invest a hell of alot of time to still try and enjoy the show, WE ARE STILL 100% behind the Baggy Green and will remain positive that they can regain the Urn.
Go on Stapo, make us proud!
As you would have seen by reading Sylvester's articles, he has pointed out the more concerning facts ahead of the Ashes. Our batting department is a scare and all we can hope for is that come the 25th when it matters most, those XI guys who walk out onto the Gabba will be hungry to play in the most important series of their lives.
It is upsetting that people have lost alot of interest in Australian cricket. I owe alot of this due to the NSP not having a full time selector and never really taking proper responsibility for the selection blunders they've made and how they've gotten away with as much as they have.
I know they have a hard job, but they've made it even harder for themselves! I do get angry that the supporters get pushed aside more and more and that the marketing plans Cricket Australia send out there are just not coming across as genuine anymore.
I could go on and blame the IPL, the ICC for being a bunch of wets with all the corruption in the game as well as not addressing the scheduling concerns that's been making it asking for both players and supporters to give a damn about every series played.
But I do believe that should the Baggy Green win this series, the interest will peak again and it's safe to say that this mad world may make some sense again. Maybe it will be a ripple effect for the game?
One thing I have missed is seeing a team show their pride in what they represent, no political correctness, no predictable post-match presentations, just total love for the job they have.
That's it, showing it! I want to see the guys go out there and not say a thing to the Poms. Just go out and there and do the job, play some aggressive cricket with unquestionable pride. Whatever words get said must happen out on the playing field where it matters. No more pointing out the Poms weaknesses, as we have our own to worry about.
I want to see a team of Australian cricketers get out their on the 25th to fight for what they believe is theirs. I want to see them do it for the tradition, the history but most importantly, us!
As supporters we dedicate alot of time to the game of cricket. One thing this blogsite has always stood for is that cricket must come first. What is good for the game, which is indirectly stating what is good for the players and their supporters? The big cheeses and corporate bodies that govern the game have forgotten that and it sickens me.
But, here at the blogsite we do put in alot of effort to not just try share our analytical thoughts and sometimes overly emotional outcries, but I'm sure many of my mates out there who also sacrifice time to share their thoughts, will all say how you want something back. It's not always a win, it's just knowing as supporters you are being appreciated and that you aren't just being some little git moaning about everything but rather just sharing what you feel is important for the game, your team and your fellow supporters.
This Ashes series will be interesting to see how it tests a supporters courage and belief in the Baggy Green. Even when it may get bleak out there, it's essential to try and grab a few cold ones and start to strategise how you'd like to see the team come out of their dilemna.
It's a negative time for Australian cricket, but there's so many positives. One is that we have a bowling unit that are operating under healthy competition. They seem to gel well as a group and each bowler has their own attitude to bring to the playing field as well as the all important skills!
This mustn't be overlooked. If you had all the bowlers fit and ready to go, it's safe to say you'd have to contemplate a bit. I like this alot! It's a good sign of things to come.
The batting is a worry. It's actually a huge worry. But you know what? There's stuff all we can do! We just have to hope that these Sheffield performances have made a few of the guys realise this game gives no one a smooth ride and that there's one hell of a storm coming. This Ashes series they are under pressure and they have a massive challenge ahead. I honestly think it's going to be mentally excrutiating for most of the guys.
All I hope is that they can do the job, they all have the ability and I have the confidence in all of our team. However, it's fair to say that if we have any poor performances from certain guys, the changes have to made.
If the Ashes doesn't end up in our cabinet, the NSP must go. Simple as that. Get rid of Hilditch, get a full timer in there who kick some ass and ensure that Australian cricket is everything. I still don't know how he got the job? That's another rant altogether.
See, it's too easy to get negative.
With less than a week to go, it's time to embrace the moment and get ready for a monstrous summer of gruelling test cricket! Predictions are pointless (hence why none of you betting blokes get Email replies from me) heading into this series as I think our number one job is to find the positives and feed off those. I'm not overly confident, but I'm not for one second going to let defeat come into my mind. I'm still going to be stubborn and say England have no chance of beating us...but I won't rule out a draw, but then again, that's as good as defeat!
What's the point of my article? Well, besides Stapo's awesome news, nothing much really. Just me sharing a random, unstructured article to just let each and every Australian supporter know that even though we're in a gloomy stage (and cricket for that matter) there is always hope and if you study each guy who has a chance to play for this team, they have their own stories to tell and obviously their own hard earned ability to play cricket at the elite level. We can be a part of their stories and the history of this Ashes series.
Let's back the guys as best we can and never forget though, it's not always about the players, or the team, but for the game of cricket.
Long live cricket and good luck to the Baggy Green (by Baggy Green, that means the players and YOU the supporter!
17 November 2010
Ricky Ponting (captain) - 7 from 27 balls out trying to drive Copeland which ended up caught by Haddin. Wasn't watching the game so can't comment further.
Simon Katich - 1 off 23 balls, played away from his body of the bowling of Butterworth caught by third slip Bailey.
Shane Watson - 6 off 16 balls and 13* of 25 balls. Yes this is still the first day! First innings was dismissed as he attempted to leave the ball from Butterworth, Watson gloves the ball through to Jones behind the stumps. Remains not out in his second dig.
Michael Hussey - Duck off 18 balls playing at a short one from McDonald edging it to second slip which happens to be his brother. No regrets at all from David Hussey regrets this.
Marcus North - 17 off 51 balls aka 4 runs away from his 100. Out to a full ball from Patterson, edges it to David Hussey.
Mitchell Johnson - 82* off 88 balls including 12 fours and a six, hes still at the crease and is the best performing batsmen in the Australian squad.
Philip Hughes - 2 off 13 balls. Never looked comfortable in his short stay which in part was due to the conditions which were ideal for seam bowling. Tremlett and Shahzad caused him a bit of problems with the short stuff. In the over where Hughes got out, Tremlett pitched on leg stump with Hughes watching the ball pass him and above his middle stump. A few balls later Tremlett pitch its on middle stump and has Hughes playing across the crease with his footwork all over the shop ending up in an edge which Strass at first slip makes no mistake of.
Usman Khawaja - 13 off 32 balls including his trademark pull shot for one of his two fours. The other was a drive which caught the edge going wide of third slip. Looked alright at the crease but with the ball doing so much, he ended up with a lot of plays and misses especially to Shahzad who bowled beautifully. Shahzad finally pitched the ball up and on offstump, Khawaja lunged forward for a forward defence but only ends up edging it to Prior.
Callum Ferguson - 7 off 8 balls came and went in a flash including showing his crisp timing. From his second ball from Shahzad he powerful drove the ball which bounced over the bowlers head resulting in 3 runs. The next was off Bresnan who appeared to be releasing the pressure when he gifted Ferguson a short and wide one which he punished to the fence with a beautiful cut shot. However 3 balls later he got an absolute jaffer from Bresnan which squared him up and took the edge giving Prior a simple catch.
Steven Smith - 59 off 121 balls. He ended up being the last of the recognised batsmen that was in the Ashes squad when he departed. He started the innings solidly bringing out his solid defence from his unique technique. The commentators were talking about how he is similar to Graham Smith in being bottom hand dominant. After a few solid overs of rotating the strike, Smith got a short ball from Bresnan which was head high, and as we have come to know from Smith he hooked the ball in his unorthodox way with the ball flying for six. A great shot to watch especially for the Smith fans. He hit 5 fours in the end including a cut to backward point to bring up his 50. He loves his pull shot and was always looking to use that shot where possible. Against Monty he was using the sweep a bit too often which caused him some problems early on especially when he was trying to sweep the ball outside of off stump which resulted in a huge appeal. He eventually choose the right balls to sweep of Monty. In defence he looked very good against Monty. In the end he was bowled by another ripper from Shahzad, the ball moved in taking Smith's inside edge rebounding onto the stumps to end a well made 59 under pressure. He showed great courage, heart and maturity during this tricky period something which is desperately needed in Australia's lineup atm.
Doug Bollinger enjoyed his return to Shield cricket when he was greeted by a green top where he had seen NSW bowled out for 97. Bollinger ended up with 3 for 25 from 11 overs including former Australian batsmen Mark Cosgrove. The star of the show was Trent Copeland who picked up his forth 5 fer in 8 games taking 6 for 51.
All in all it was a bad day for the batsmen. They will be looking for a better showing in the 2nd innings.
15 November 2010
I wish I shared the same optimism as the writers and maybe they like me know deep down there won’t be changes and are only writing these articles to sell the papers. Having gone through numerous periods where the selectors could have dumped North and Hussey, I would be very surprised to see them changing their tune.
Since returning to West Australia, North scored a century against South Australia in the Sheffield Shield and 94 against Victoria in the Ryobi One-Day Cup. Now using our selector’s criteria, it would be a huge shock if they dropped North. When North returned to West Australia last season after a very average display against Pakistan and West Indies, he ended up with a even more dreadful 102 runs at an average of 12.75 from 4 matches. He still made the cut to New Zealand and did his trademark career saving hundred. This is the mess the selector’s have got themselves into, if they drop North for the 1st Ashes Test then essentially they have told the world that if you perform in Shield cricket you will get dropped but if you fail you will still get picked.
Michael Hussey is in worst form of the ‘collapso’ pair, he has gone 7 matches without a hundred and 7 innings without a fifty. His only match for WA resulted in a duck and 3. While Ricky Ponting was given the luxury of playing Sheffield Shield cricket for Tasmania hence missing the 3rd ODI, Hussey was left in the ODI side to play Sri Lanka. Just another one of the selector’s crazy logic. They denied Hussey a chance to prove himself against the English. Hussey made 71 in the first ODI, but even during this form slump in Test cricket his ODI form has always been very good. The knock really doesn’t answer any questions regarding Hussey spot and he will only have played two first class matches before the Ashes. Hussey has a few more brownie points compared to North but they will be all used up when Hussey is named in the Ashes starting 11. Of the collapso pair, Hussey is the one under most pressure but even two ducks in WA game against Victoria would still see him picked given North did similar last year and made the cut.
Nathan Hauritz is the other contender under threat. Ricky Ponting is clearly unhappy with Hauritz’s style and told him to bowl more like Harbhajan which resulted in Hauritz being taken to all parts of the ground. He left India with 6 wickets at 65 with an economy of 4.3. The last part was the worry, Hauritz was picked for his tight bowling, he ended up leaking as much runs as Johnson did. Hauritz’s return to Australia brought about a smacking from David Hussey and newcomer Michael Hill. He returned in the second innings with both their wickets and probably enough to save his spot. Hauritz is the most under threat of the trio but unless the selectors decide to go with an all seam attack, it would be very surprising to see another spinner taking his spot. If that were to happen you would think that would spell the end for Hauritz’s turbulent career.
The other player whose head has been called for by the media is Mitchell Johnson. He is one of those annoying bowlers for his critics. He is wayward, can leak runs at a rate of knots and picks up cheap wickets. These cheap wickets have become his trademark to the extent where we now celebrate them. The hardest thing for the Johnson critics is the stats won’t back you up. In the Ashes where the critics were at their peak, he ended up with 20 wickets at 32.6, certainly not stats you could use to drop him. Then in a similarly poor series in India he ended up with 8 wickets at 32.6 again not stats you could use to drop him. He played in the ODI series where he returned with 1 wicket at 128. Now there is stats you could use to drop him however this was a ODI series not a Test one. The selectors have had chances to drop Johnson but he has avoided the chop and I don’t expect that to change come the first Ashes test.
So that is the 4 players most under pressure to keep their spot. Hauritz remains the one under most threat but from a seamer rather than a spinner. I hope I am proved wrong and changes are made in particular to the middle order but I have come to know how the selectors think and this would be out of character for them to drop anyone. The 17 man squad is nothing more than the selectors fulfilling their objective to Cricket Australia’s marketing campaign while also easing the pressure on them by not picking the wrong backups before a full round of Sheffield Shield matches and Australia A fixture.
When it comes to spinners the selectors are completely at sea and if it came to choosing one of them to prevent the world from exploding we probably would be all dead! If the number of spinners that have come and gone wasn’t enough to show this, then their latest selection most certainly does. In picking Doherty, the selectors have once again shown their liking to strong ODI performances or in the case of Doherty one strong ODI performance. O’Keefe was picked as the Australian A spinner which indicates he is second or possibly third in line for the spinners spot since the selectors have a fascination with Steven Smith as a spinner. So in selecting Doherty which I would say was on the back of his ODI debut, he has jumped past O’Keefe into the number two spinners spot.
Doherty has done very well since finally cracking the Tasmania Shield side with 12 wickets at 24 from 3 matches last season and 9 wickets at 28 from 2 matches this season. So it’s not like he has been chosen sole on his form in the limited overs format, he has also performed in the first class arena. But going back to the Australian A selection. If Doherty was being looked at as backup for Hauritz then surely he should have been picked in the Australian A side.
What is not on Doherty side is his overall record as a spinner. In 34 first class matches to date, he has 82 wickets at 48.8 with a strike rate of 84.8. The selectors picking spinners with those sorts of stats isn’t uncommon as Steven Smith was also picked with a first class average in the 40s. Such is the state of our spinners stock and the desperation of the selectors to find the replacement for Warne, the standards for picking a spinners has slipped drastically to the extent where a couple of 5-fers will see you grabbing your first Baggy Green cap.
The man who should feel aggreived by the selectors indecisiveness is Stephen O’Keefe, who has done nothing wrong apart from being not the greatest limited over bowler and playing for NSW. In his only match this season he has 7 wickets, last season when given the opportunity he picked up 15 wickets at 31 from 5 games, which for a spinner is considered good. His overall record reads 33 wickets at 25 with a strike rate of 49 from 9 matches which makes for very impressive readings, the best sort of figures we have seen from a spinner in a long while. Admittedly they aren’t from many matches and there are still questions to whether he will succeed at the next level, but that record certainly didn’t deserve him going from the potential backup spinner to missing a place in the extended Ashes squad.
The problem here is not so much with Doherty but more with the indecisive selectors. The selectors have a history for making players lose confidence, the prime example of Beau Casson who performed solidly before his Test debut where he was again solid. Then out of nowhere he was dropped because he was a Left-arm Chinaman bowler. Now you have O’Keefe suddenly dropping out of the picture for reasons which still remain unknown. According to the chairman of selectors, Andrew Hilditch, “One of the biggest decisions we will need to make is whether we go into the first Test in Brisbane with a right-arm offspinner or with the variation of a left-arm orthodox bowler.” Last time I checked O’Keefe was a left-arm orthodox bowler.
I know we shouldn’t read too much into the squad as it seems to be a lucky draw at times with our selectors, however it makes no logical sense in picking a player for Australia A and then completely overlooking him when he has done nothing wrong. The question remains, would Doherty have been picked if he didn’t make his ODI debut or if he didn’t take his 4-fer on debut?
It's a big challenge for some, a career definer for others but all in all, despite the criticism, the favouritism and optimism, all of these players will hopefully be doing one thing for all of us...playing their hearts out to try regain that Urn and give us something to cheer about. If they just give it their best and show us that they're giving it all or nothing that will be enough for me to cheer loudly and proudly for each and every guy who goes out in that starting XI for the Baggy Green.
The Squad selections were very close to what Dan and I had selected in the Baggy Green contributors Ashes XI Squads:
Without further to do, here's the Squad.
For a change I won't be diving into an indepth analysis, but rather layout my ideal pick to go out onto the playing track come the 25th, even if it's somewhat unlikely.
The other contributors may chip in with a rant or two, but we want to hear YOUR say as well.
I would say, I'd have rather seen Andrew McDonald there over Steven Smith, so contradicting myself given my Squad selection, but his recent performances and our potential need for an all-rounder of his calibre may have been more desirable.
AUSTRALIAN 2010/11 ASHES SQUAD:
Simon Katich (NSW)
Shane Watson (NSW)
Ricky Ponting (Captain) (TAS)
Michael Clarke (NSW)
Michael Hussey (WA)
Marcus North (WA)
Usman Khawaja (NSW)
Callum Ferguson (SA)
Brad Haddin (wk) (NSW)
Steven Smith (NSW)
Mitchell Johnson (WA)
Nathan Hauritz (NSW)
Xavier Doherty (TAS)
Ryan Harris (QLD)
Peter Siddle (VIC)
Ben Hilfenhaus (TAS)
Doug Bollinger (NSW)
NSW: 8, WA: 3, TAS: 3, SA: 1, VIC: 1, QLD: 1
IAN'S IDEAL STARTING XI:
Likely his last series, his form has earned him his spot.
Watto been epic for the Baggy Green, hope it continues this series. It was against England his opening career began. Long may it continue.
Ricky Ponting (Captain):
Massive series for Punter as Skipper & batsman. Bring on the runs Skipper!
The number four promo has been bleak but if his back holds up, Pup is going to be a huge key player for us.
I forget in which innings you can expect him to make a big score, but I'd be giving Marcus a go. Good fielder, useful part-timer and some confidence may see him get the job done. It will be a once off chance for him. Capable!
Many have been unsure about Fergal, but just because you don't have 20 centuries to your name or an average of 50+ doesn't mean you can't debut. He's shown the maturity in limited overs and as a bloke I wanted to be a part of the Baggy Green family for a long time, I will root for him 100%!
Brad Haddin (wk):
Hads has experience and is the best man for the job. Tim Paine was damn good, he did the job and gained invaluable experience but it's no surprise Hads got the job.
In all honesty, I'm inclined to go with Douggie over Mitch, but purely given Mitchell's X factor to get a freakish amount of wickets, often in a single spell, has driven me to go for him. The Gabba is his old home ground, so I'd give him the nod.
His stats at the Gabba aren't great but he has been a fair performer. Doherty will definitely put pressure on him, but Ritz has to be given a chance especially the decent effort he put in for NSW recently.
Ryano did a bloody good job for the Bulls recently with 9 wickets in the game. He has returned from injury and I hope he's strong and ready for 5 days of gruelling test cricket. He's a fighter and I dig him. He's a resident to the Gabba, get him out there!
I had a dream that Hilfenhaus and Harris opened the bowling at the Gabba. England crapped off big time. Two genuine swing bowlers, with similar pace and decent credibility as well. Hilfy was our leading wicket-taker in the 2009 Ashes and one of our most consistent bowlers. He's a bit shy in the wicket taking column, but some healthy competition (and team work) alongside Ryano could make this duo effective.
Share your thoughts and follow the Baggy Green on Twitter as well as our contributors.
13 November 2010
Shahid Afridi, usually enough said when talking about hit and miss batsmen. That was until Marcus North strolled out to Johannesburg to make his test debut. He has taken the meaning of hit and miss to a whole new level which I never thought would be possible.
Hit and miss has been defined to be a batsmen that either makes big scores or none at all. For this article the judgment will be based on the percentage of scores under 20. For good measure scores of under 10 have also been calculated. Not out scores below 20 have been ignored.
|Marcus North||Andrew Symonds||Shahid Afridi||Yuvraj Singh|
|Scores < 20||62.5%||36.6%||51.1%||46.9%|
|Scores < 10||43.8%||25.5%||24.4%||26.5%|
Two other batsmen in Andrew Symonds and Yuvrag Singh who are also known as hit and miss players have been added for comparison. It is clear that North leaves all his competitors in his wake on both fronts. North has played the least amount of innings of the four with 32 but he has already racked up 20 scores which are under 20. In comparison Afridi and Yuvraj have 23 and 24 respectively but with at least 10 more innings.
So as expected before North arrived to the test scene, Afridi was the king of hit and miss closely followed by Yuvraj. Despite his reputation, Symonds was far more consistent with his starts compared to the other two. When scores under 10 are taken into consideration, North is the outlier as a Statistician would say. The other three players are around the 25% mark for scores under 10 while North is almost double this.
Not only is North an outlier in terms of the stats but hes also the odd one out when you take into account the style of player of each player. Three are naturally aggressive players while North is a cautious to steady batsmen. That makes his claim to fame even more surprising as you would expect the aggressive players to be more hit and miss.
It should be no surprise where the core of the collapse problem has come from. Between the 26th December 2006 to January 2009, Australia only had two scores under 200 from 20 matches. Compare this to February 2009 (North's debut) to present, Australia have five scores under 200 from 20 matches including one total under 100. Clearly the hit and miss North is one of the main reasons for these collapses, his partner in crime Michael Hussey hasn't fared much better in this period.
Back to the topic at hand, North clearly is the king of the hit and miss batsmen that I know of. Now I don't know if North is the most hit and miss batsmen in the history of the game, if not I'd certainly like to know the player that tops him. As a final note, North's current Sheffield Shield scores for this season reads 10, 101, 19 and 1 i.e. 75% of his scores being 20 or under, enough said.
Even some celebrities are embracing the Baggy Green, as well as some of Englands most beloved.
10 November 2010
WATCH VIDEO: That's what it feels like to play in the Ashes
While I amounted to nothing more than a club cricketer (Wicket-keeper, come medium paced swing bowler and a batsman who looked cool pretending), this is how I imagine it would be opening the bowling for Australia at Gabba for the 1st test. Enjoy! Plenty more articles and opinions from the contributors to come.
You sit in the dressing room staring at the floor. Your head is bowed down and your feet are tapping away. The sound of cricket studs on the floor is all around you, getting louder by the second as your anxiety starts to get the better of you. As the Australian team prepares to walk out onto the Gabba for the first session of the 2010/11 Ashes series you feel your palms are sweaty and the atmosphere has turned from pure excitement to the unknown, your emotions start to swirl. You try to calm yourself down so you breathe in deeply. You do it again, and again but it only adds to the intensity that surrounds you as deep within the changing rooms, the muffled sounds of a packed ground has begun to wake you up. This is reality, you are going to be representing the Baggy Green in the Ashes! Before your mind goes on a philosophical journey as to how you got here, the 5 minute notification is signalled and your senses explode. The nauseating, light headed feeling you experienced when you arrived at the ground this morning has hit back even harder. You stand up proudly, readjusting your Baggy Green cap that's been nestled on your head for sometime already and you enforce what ever self-belief to can to combat your nerves, while composing yourself against the feeling of diziness. Your team-mates look surprisingly calm, but come on, they've done this before, they're more than prepared for this, right? That's how it seems, but as the team start to march towards the exit of the room everyone goes silent.
The crowds buzz is louder and you realise with each step forward, the dream you've worked so hard for is far more intimidating than you'd ever imagined! You're seconds away from the ground and it's like a gladiator ring! So many legends have been in your shoes but each has their own legacy and story to tell. It's time for you to make history. It's all happening in terms of hype. The sounds are deafening, the vibe is intoxicating and it's surreal hearing the crowds in full song.
Game time is approaching and as soon as you walk out onto the Gabba field, the light blinds you. It's definitely not a dream. As your eyes adjust you are greeted by a sea of green and gold all around the Gabba. The adrenaline kicks in and you charge onto the field with your Baggy Green brothers, touching the Australian flag as you run by it.
You now have a moment to look all around you as the sight before you fills you with immense pride.
Ricky Ponting calls the team over in a huddle to embrace the moment and use the adrenaline to inspire the team with one final boost before play begins. It may be the most important step to regain the Urn.
In the huddle he speaks calmly but assertively, stressing his point that while the moment is something to absorb, the team needs to be alert and flawless for the first session to try and get one up on the Poms. A clear mind and not being overwhelmed by the Ashes rush is crucial. You ackowledge everything he says and want to do your utmost best to try and carry out what Punter has encouraged you to do. Just before the huddle breaks, before the Baggy Green will take their places to send down the opening over to the English openers, Punter looks to Vice-Captain Michael Clarke and they nod in approval. "You're going to be opening the bowling from the Stanley Street End, mate. You know what to do", Punter says to you, looking right at you with a confident look and a comforting tone. Immediately that makes you hungry for that new ball, but as you walk towards the pitch where the Umpires are waiting, it dawns on you..."I'm going to bowling the opening ball of the Ashes!".
At 23 years of age you've broken through the State circuit with outstanding performances and even surprised yourself along the way! You've been knocking over some of the opposing States finest batsmen with consistency and even started developing a reputation that as soon as you get that red ball in hand, you can sense the complacency within your opponents mindset as to how will you be swinging that ball for the session. They know it too well, but the English don't really. It's been enough to get you to this match, but importantly your biggest test is now. All the hours of practice, years of match experience at different levels and of course the emotional rollercoaster rides you've dealt with along the way, have all been designed to get you here. You will be opening the bowling for the Baggy Green in the Ashes! You feel the stiffness in your joints so you make a mental note to stretch and stay loose.
You can hear your team-mates having a good chirp, only just. The buzz is electrical around the ground. You see Marias Erasmus, one of the standing Umpires at the end of the pitch where you will be bowling from, waiting for you to hand over your Baggy Green cap to make your way to your run up. You greet him and hand over your cap. He wishes you good luck and about 10 metres away he calls back to you. You turn around and he throws you the Kookaburra cherry. It stings your hands as you catch it. The fresh leather, the perfect shape, the lethal weapon that you hope will bring you loads of wickets and of course victory for your team and the Australian supporters all over the world is in your hands. You hit your run up mark and stare down the track. Suddenly the excitement goes and another instinct takes over...you see your enemy.
Andrew Strauss, the English Captain has taken guard. You can see Brad Haddin and Shane Watson's mouths constantly yapping, undoubtedly giving Strauss a few inspirational words, but you can't hear it. You stare at him and just for a moment he seems to notice. He looks calm and very collected at the other end, but let's see how he handles it when the moment arrives when you test him with a barrage of fast swing bowling, with some tricks you've got up your sleeve. The execution is near and you sense it when Erasmus' arm points out at chest height, signalling you to wait his call to play ball. Strauss is marking his guard and as soon as he lifts his head back up to take guard, Erasmus' arms drops and the crowd seems to go quiet, very quiet...until you hear the call, "Gentlemen, let's play." At that moment the crowd begins to raise the noise, with a booming crescendo, it's your signal to begin your run up. You run, you pick up speed, you feel the seam position in your hand, the creases get closer, the delivery is split seconds away, you fight the tension within your body and you let rip! The first ball of a series can often be the most memorable, not always a positive, but you're on the money. You hurl the ball down the track, it pitches outside of off stump and it swings away from Strauss. Your outswinger (to the left hander) is effective, and Brad Haddin moves swiftly to his left and snatches it cleanly and he pops it to Marcus North at first slip. You follow through as Strauss let's it go. He immediately pulls away and strolls to square leg. You still take a second to glare at him. "The muppet", you think to yourself.
"Okay, perhaps that was a little to full. A guy of his class won't play at those. Better get it at a better length."
You wonder what the Channel 9 commentators are saying about that delivery? What the millions of people watching this will be expecting you to deliver next. The same delivery again, but just a little more in line of off-stump and not as full should get Strauss deep in thought.
Mitchell Johnson tosses you the ball from mid-off and offers you some encouragement. You don't really hear Mitch but just having him there to cheer you on helps.
You calm yourself and run in again, the crowd roar is like a repeat of the first ball. You really throw your body into this delivery and to your surprise the ball leaps a bit off the wicket, Strauss was in two minds about that. He ends up just leaning away from that and letting it fly by at waist height, swinging rapidly away from his body. It reaches Haddin at head height. Okay, atleast you pitched that where you wanted it, but you didn't expect it to carry like that. This pitch really does have some life in it!
The best news is that you're getting it to swing a lot more than you're natural capability. No runs on the board, 4 balls to go.
The next delivery you're not noticing the intimidating atmosphere as much as before but you're body feels good, really fit for the challenge. Your mind is set on the battle! Time to mix it up. You change the seam position and charge in. You pitch it up fuller and get it swing into Strauss from about middle and off, a slight change in tactic. He plays it with soft hands to mid wicket, watching it all the way onto the bat, but he's picked the fielder. "Dammit", you exclaim loudly. He picked the swing. No worries, still got a few more tricks to keep him thinking. The ball is retrieved with ease by Simon Katich who throws it right back to Haddin who is right up at the stumps in Strauss' ear. Alistair Cook at the other end stands alone, unphased. You make eye contact with him as you walk past him. Time to make Strauss play at the next one and maybe you can have a go at him.
You decide it's time to throw something wide for Strauss to fish at. He's a mighty strong player when given some width and a chance to cut the ball forcefully so you pitch it in back of a length like your second delivery but quite wide of off-stump. You take the pace off allowing him to see the ball and hopefully his instinct takes over. It happens so quickly and just hearing him middle the ball makes you furious. It flies off the bat and you watch the ball rocket to gully, it has four written all over it, when suddenly Michael Clarke commits himself 100% with a sensational effort to stop the ball, as he just gets a hand to it. He plummets to the ground, but atleast the ball isn't a blur anymore. Instead you see the red ball deflect off his hand and it snails towards Ben Hilfenhaus fielding down at third man. It allows Strauss time to run back for the second. You may not have Cook on strike, but atleast Strauss is on the hunt for runs. You applaud Pup's efforts and Mitchell runs up to you to walk you back to your mark. "Don't allow that mate", he tells you, "smash his grill!" You stare back down at Strauss when you reach your mark. Just the sight of two runs next to his name disgusts you. His smug look is displayed on the big screen, which flashes over to you. You look exhausted already but the mind games out there, the thrill of the moment and the desperation to end this over on a high, it's all a must for you. Just over 5 minutes into the game and you're feeling the rush of the Ashes. Two balls to go.
You see the three lions of Strass' helmet. That's the target, and you think to yourself, "I'm going to belt him right there, where it hurts both physically and maybe I'll take some pride with me." You don't take your eyes off his helmet. You're steaming in, you want to knock his head off, you want to be the dominant contender. Putting your body on the line you push yourself to generate as much power as possible and bang it in short. The ball rockets off the Gabba surface and blitz' towards Strauss head, but he's watching it like a hawk. Elegantly he weaves away as you just manage to see it trace past his grill...like Mitch wanted it! You let out a moan as your body releases all the built up energy just to deliver Strauss that little beauty of a bouncer. You make sure you follow through gracefully to not exert too much pressure on your knee and make sure you get as close to Strauss as possible. He grins back at you, he's up for the challenge. Words will only motivate him, so you stay silent. The crowd loves it as you face off, you know though it's more than a show down. It's your reputation, a chance to knock over the English captain in the first over of the 2010/11 Ashes would be epic. 149.3km/h states the speed reader. Time to make this dream a reality and get one up for the Baggy Green but with a change in pace.
Walking back to your mark for the final delivery, you remember the game plan Ricky Ponting mentioned to you. You look towards the stands and see your fellow supporters, the soldiers of the Baggy Green in their numbers, screaming loudly and proudly for you. They want that Urn back, but right now they want to see you give them hope. That sight of the green and gold supporters giving you unshakable support is indescribable. You decide it's time to give them their first celebration.
Mitch hands you the ball, it's shining nicely, the boys have been working hard keeping the ball in perfect condition. You give it one last shine, enough time to see Punter and second slip spitting at the surface before clapping his hands together and nodding right at you. It's time to dish up something surprising for the last ball of the over.
You ease your grip on the ball as you run in, the crowd are louder than the first ball and this alone gives you that final bit of momentum as you hit the bowling crease, hard. Your bowling action suggests you've given it everything to get it up to 150km/h, but instead you let the ball seam out with ease, just rolling your fingers across the seam, allowing it to slide out slower but ensuring you can get the swing needed to to move back into Strauss. In a split second, he lunges forward, premeditating the delivery and plays straight at it, but he's too early, he's through the shot and the ball swings in past his blade and hits his front pad. You can see off-stump clearly but that middle stump isn't visible. It looks good, very good, this has to be it!
You turn around to Erasmus going up for the appeal, you're running backwards pointing back at him, screaming, "HOWZAT?" at the top of your lungs. Sweat starts to roll down the sides of your forehead. At first it sounds like you're alone but the appeals join in with you loudly, ambitiously and confidently.
Erasmus is summing up the appeal and slowly but surely his right arm begins to raise and you know you've got him! You close your eyes, clench your firsts and roar with delight! You got Strauss, the plan has been executed to perfection in the first over. He takes a long look at the track, back at his batting partner Cook whose just been a witness at the other end. He nods and Strauss departs. No need for a referral, no need to argue, he's gone!
You're overcome with pride and relief and your team-mates rush towards you, totally ecstatic. You can't help but feel some serious emotions take over as the players crowd around you, some of them guys you used to dream about playing alongside. It's all too much and even though it's a small part of the series, it may just play a defining role in this test match. High fives and bear hugs go on as you find some self-control over your emotions. Cricket is a simple game?
1/2 reads the scoreboard after 1 over. You have just delivered the first over of the Ashes and you feel drained!
You retrieve your Baggy Green from the Umpire and as you make your way down to third man, a few more of your team-mates run by and pat you on the back.
You stare at the emblem on your cap and then place it back on your head, the fit is perfect and wearing that cap right now, well, you wouldn't replace it for the anything in this world.
The overhead announcer calls out your stats for the over which is followed by a wonderful, booming applause from your supporters. The Gabba is alive and you're the man of the moment, and damn it feels incredible!
You stand there as the crowd, somehow, manages to calm down a bit. Those brief seconds allow you to contain yourself and even though it was a handful of minutes in a series, a split second of your career, you know you want more, you know you need more and importantly, like your team and the supporters cheering behind you, you want to win back that Urn!
It's time to take back what's ours. Best wishes to the Baggy Green bowlers as they take on the old enemy. To me, that's my way with words to describe what it must be like be a fast bowler representing the Baggy Green in an Ashes series.
08 November 2010
Victoria v Tasmania
In one of the tense clashes of the week, Tasmania provided what people may call an upset against the reigning champions in four day cricket Victoria. They won the toss and elected to bat, after a stumbling start , Mark Cosgrove rewarded his new state with his first century for them, scoring 159. Damien Wright was the best of the Victorian bowlers taking 4/56 and Tasmania were bowled out for 326.
In reply to Tasmania’s 326, Victoria could never gain much momentum with Xavier Doherty ripping through the line-up taking 5/83 off 82 overs, with Luke Butterworth chipping in taking four wickets himself to reduce Victoria to 276, 50 runs behind Tasmania’s first innings score of 326.
Tasmania’s second innings was much like their first without the hundred by Cosgrove as everyone chipped in to give them a total which could be defended by their bowling attack. Travis Birt top scored with 68. This left Victoria 284 to chase in one day for victory.
Victoria looked certain for a defeat when Aaron Finch departed with the Bushrangers still needing 196 runs, Matthew Wade and Rob Quiney combined to fight back and lift Victoria to 230 before Wade fell victim to Doherty for the second time in this match. Quiney was left to try and score the last 54 runs with only the tail for company, they fell 23 runs short, with the Tasmanian bowlers ripping through and Luke Butterworth backing up his first innings four fer, with a five fer to end with nine for the match. Rob Quiney was the last man out, once he had reached his century, falling to Ben Hilfenhaus.
Result: Tasmania by 23 runs
South Australia v Western Australia
In contrast the exciting clash we had at the MCG, the Adelaide Oval featured a match which had a bonanza of runs, with wickets sprinkled in. South Australia much like Tasmania won the toss and elected to bat, on the usually flat Adelaide wicket. There was also the threat of rain, which struck several times in the game, which helped the causes.
Between the bouts of rain, South Australia build a monstrous first innings total of 452, which took 110 overs. Callum Ferguson, Aiden Blizzard and Michael Klinger reaped the rewards of the wicket scoring 129, 141 and 89 respectively. Ferguson’s innings was important, with the selectors watching on the stands, conversely Mitchell Johnson had a shocker taking 3/120 in 27 overs, not good preparation for the Ashes.
Western Australia were nowhere like the Redbacks in their batting, only two batsmen scoring over 50 runs (Swart and Shaun Marsh who made a dogged century of 137). Aaron O’Brien the chief destroyer taking the prize wickets of Michael Hussey for zero and Marcus North for ten, adding this to two more for figures of 4/74. WA only made 295, still a fair way behind South Australia’s first innings score and thus were forced to follow on.
In their second dig, Western Australia just batted their way towards the draw although they lost Swart and Hussey cheaply, Shaun Marsh and Marcus North started the resistance, the latter scoring a century which may have saved his position for the first test in Brisbane.
Result: Match Drawn
Queensland v New South Wales
Much like the bowlers paradise which greeted Australia and Sri Lanka on Sunday, it was a much more juiced up pitch for the game between New South Wales and Queensland. New South Wales much like the other two sides, who won the toss this round, batted.
The bowlers were licking their lips and whet their whistle slightly after dismissing both New South Wales openers but some stubborn resistance from Usman Khawaja on a lively pitch, scoring 60 while everyone else fell around him. Once he left though, Nic Maddinson fell shouldering arms to a ball. Ben Rohrer combined with the tailenders to get it to a respectable score of 262.
Queensland were looking good before they lost two quick wickets, before the close of play but was this a sign of things to come tomorrow? Yes it was, Mark Cameron ran through the Queensland batting lineup, taking 6/22 along with Scott Coyte taking the last two wickets to dismiss Queensland for a lowly 75. NSW of course enforced the follow on, with a lively pitch greeting them.
Once again, Mark Cameron and Trent Copeland were the two guys who ran through the Queensland line up, taking 5/30 and 4/42 respectively. Scott Coyte with his first ball, in his new spell took a wicket to get his hat-trick and become one of a select few to take one. New South Wales finishing the game within two days!
Result: New South Wales win by an innings and 91 runs.
Shield performer of the week
We were actually spoiled for choice, with great performances this week and I’ll have to give it to Callum Ferguson bringing up a century which may of got him a spot in the first test side. Notable mentions to Mark Cameron’s 11 wicket haul and the Scott Coyte hat-trick in the New South Wales dominant performance.
Welcome to The Baggy Green Blogsite! Thanks for reading this article written by Justin.To comment on this article, click on the 'Comments' tag at the end of the article or you can contact me on @Dragonpunk12