Posts Tagged ‘cricket’

Was there was a mix up at the airport and we ended up with the Trinidad Croquet Club by mistake instead of the West Indies cricket team? (more…)

I was running a separate blog for cricket-related matters but because I have decided to collapse the number of my blogs once more so the incredible importance of cricket musings is returning here to The Rant.

My rant is about the selection – and non-selection – of Australian spin bowler, Nathan Lyon.

Nathan Lyon

Nathan Lyon

For the first two Tests of the current Ashes series against England, Lyon was overlooked in favour of rookie Ashton Agar. In his debut, Agar became a sensation after scoring a fairytale 98 while batting at number eleven on debut. And that’s all well and good – except he isn’t in there for his batting but as a spin bowler selected ahead of Lyon. What makes that selection more than a bit puzzling is the fact that he was selected while carrying a finger injury which stopped him from gripping the ball in a normal

Ashton Agar

Ashton Agar

off-spinner’s grip. This detracted from his deliveries, with more over-spin than side-spin.

Why select a bowler who cannot hold the ball properly?

In the Second Test, Agar was injured again, this time on the field before he had bowled a ball, pulling something in his hip from memory. He did limp his way into a few overs and the delivery was definitely improved, suggesting the finger injury from the First Test had improved.

When watching Agar bowl, I have no doubt that this rookie definitely has something. He does have appreciable turn and nice flight. But he is only 19 with next to no experience. So why rush this kid into the team when he has barely even learned the basics yet?

The loser in all this has been Nathan Lyon. But his efforts during the Third Test and the current Fourth Test, about to move into its fourth daywhen he finally took his place back in the team show who, for my money, should have been selected as the primary spin bowler in the first place. He has bowled well, taken wickets and was unlucky not to take more.  Might we have seen a different result with Lyon in the side for the first two Tests in the 2013 Ashes series?

Here we are, shortly to resume play after lunch on the Fourth Day of the First Test, Australia v Sri Lanka.

Things are evenly poised at present but my predicition is for fireworks tomorrow on the last day. As I type, Australia is 2/146, giving a lead of 260. The Australian batters will need to accelerate the pace to put them into a stronger lead but also leaving enough time to bowl Sri Lanka out.

Where I predict things will become interesting will be with Australian off-spinner, Nathan Lyon. I believe he has bowled better so far this summer than his actual statistics show. He has a lovely, flighted delivery that can turn nicely in the right conditions.

This pitc411189-nathan-lyonh is deteriorating with uneven bounce but even more importantly for Lyon, there is a very distinct patch badly scuffed on pretty much the perfect line and length for an offie. My prediction is that Lyon shall lead the bowling on the last day, his bowling becoming hand grenades, turning and jumping from that particular patch on the pitch. But the Sri Lankans have greater experience against spin bowling so fireworks may well be in store.

An exciting last day is definitely on the cards, even with two sessions still to come today.

And so it finishes…

Posted: December 3, 2012 in Ranting
Tags: , ,

Time for one last relevant cricket post for now

As I begin to type, Australia is now 6/198 in its chase of an unlikely target of 632. The fat lady is doing vocal warmups in her dressing room.

There is absolutely no doubt that Australia has been comprehensively outplayed by South Africa in the final Test in this series. Hashim Amla demonstrated beyond all doubt that he is worth all the talk before the series about just how good he is as part of a batting display by the Springboks that really showed just how lacking in penetration the largely inexperienced Australian bowling lineup was in this Third Test. I cannot help but wonder what things would have been like with a fit Peter Siddle back in the team rather than both still recovering from their marathon efforts in the Second Test. But they weren’t there and while Mark Starc and Mitchell Johnson both took wickets, the breakthroughs were a damned long time coming. Then the South African bowling attack, lead by Dale Styen having finally showed just how damned good he is, bowled fast, aggressively and accurately. Plenty of Australian wickets have fallen not through batting errors but being beaten by superior bowling.

The better team is about to win this match. But yet again I am left wondering why in hell we only have a three Test series. I did a quick check earlier today. The past five series between Australia and South Africa have been four series of Three Tests and one ridiculous one of only two Tests. And now yet another Three Test series is shortly to conclude a day early.

Why? Why? Why? These teams are as competitive as all hell. They play hard, fast, exciting, attacking cricket that provides plenty of thrills and excitement. But we only get to see glimmers of it all. For six series now, we are yet to be actually given a proper series of five or even six Tests. And I am unable to find a single justifiable reason for it.

It is bloody ridiculous. And as a dedicated supporter of the Australian team, it has to be said that I don’t like seeing a series finish up like that.

Australian cricket lovers have been given a real treat so far this summer. At the start of the Third Day of the Third Test against South Africa, the Australian team are really up against it. The first two Tests were draws. The draw at Brisbane in the First Test was largely the result of rain but we got to see some wonderful cricket. The Second Test went right down to the wire in Adelaide with excellent play by both sides.

Come the Third Test in Perth, things were nicely balanced. But the marathon efforts in the Second Test by Australian bowlers Peter Siddle and Ben Hilfenhaus saw them unable to fully recover in the just three days until the start of play at the WACA leading to a largely rookie Australian attack despite the return of Mitchell Johnson.

A fighting comeback by the South African batters saw some respectability in a total of 228 but which should not have meant much of a challenge to an Australian lineup. But their bowlers, particularly Dale Steyn smashed the Australian line-up. Steyn’s delivery to remove the incredibly dominant Michael Clark was as close to perfect a delivery as you are going to get as a combination of line, length, pace and just the right amount of movement in the air. Clarke didn’t do anything wrong except possibly in that his form was too good – other players would probably have missed it entirely but Clarke was batting well enough to still get an edge. Then with the pitch flattening out a little, Graeme Smith and Hashim Amla accelerated the pace putting the South African team in a dominant position after only two days play. Matters are more finely balanced than the match figures may otherwise suggest but as things currently stand, it is hard to see the Springboks losing from here.

I have to pause before the main rant in order to give some major credit to Amla. He dominated at the crease from almost the moment he arrived. 3340His footwork against the quicks was quite remarkable. At one point, against a sharply paced ball that was very wide, he didn’t have to reach for it to crack it to the boundary, he had moved all the way across in a remarkably relaxed manner  that you just don’t see against the quicks, to then belt it. His anticipation of where a ball is going to be bowled is quite remarkable. And as I type, play has just recommenced and Amla has made the single to bring up 100 off only a ridiculously low 89 balls. Aggressive, hard batting but without going the slog and while being bloody hard to bowl to. In a way, it was a pity that he did not bring up that 100 yesterday in Doug Walters 100-in-a-session style as he was batting well enough to do so.

So now we come to the really stupid thing, the ugly thing. This is only a three Test series. It features the number one team against the number three team on number three’s home grounds. This was always going to be a cracker of a series. And ever since South Africa was readmitted to international cricket status, all clashes between the two sides have been crackers, full of top cricket and serious competiveness. But we still only have a three Test series. This is insanity. It is ridiculous. It is a bloody insult to the players and the cricketing public. And it is an incredible waste of an opportunity.

Let us assume that South Africa win this Third Test. If it were a five Test series or even a six Test series, the stage would have been set for an incredible remainder. The players would have been pumped. The crowds would have been pushing through the gates in venues like Melbourne and Sydney in droves.

But none of that is going to happen because we only have a pissy little three Test series. Here it is only early December but this summer’s series against South Africa is just under two days short of completion.

Why?

Why only allow three Tests for what was ALWAYS going to a real rip-snorter?

While I am sure there will still be some good cricket yet to come in the upcomingThree Test series against Sri Lanka, why on earth would the cricketing authorities purely and simply waste this brilliant opportunity for a real series that goes a damned sight longer than being all over by early December?

This is not the first time we have all, including the players, been insulted by stupidly short series between Australia and South Africa and here we are, doing it again.

Bloody pathetic and a brutally wasted opportunity.

Can anyone think of a decent reason why the cricketing authorities would have bothered with this stupid programming? No, I didn’t think so.

What a stupid STUPID waste.

A couple of years back, I set up a separate blog for writing about cricket. However I have been consolidating blogs to make things easier to maintain so my cricket posts are returning here to the Rant.

The First Test in the Australia v South Africa series is well underway, approaching the end of the Third Day as I begin to write, after the Second was washed out. Unless Australia has a particularly woeful effort with the bat, I suspect a draw is on the way.

My interest is in some issues outside immediate play.

The Digital Review System has been in operation for several years now. I was unhappy about the way it had been implemented, with predictive technology being used to overturn umpiring decisions by at times, the slimmest of margins. This is not what was intended by the system – it was supposed to be a means of overturning the howlers, the really bad decisions that sometimes occur. As I have blogged before, Billy Bowden is my pet hate in that respect – when he’s off, he’s really off.

The use of the DRS saw predictive technology ie Hawkeye, playing a crucial role; in the case of an LBW, if Hawkeye predicted a ball would have otherwise gone on to clip a stump by a slim margin, then in basic terms it was out. This was a slap in the face to umpires as they have an instant to make a decision. If it is close then that is not good enough as an element of doubt creeps into the mind. The rules are quite explicit on that point – the batter has to be actually ‘out’, not possibly out, not probably out. The application of the review system also saw Hawkeye being used as if it was infallible, a position I was dubious about from the outset. On one particularly memorable occasion, a batter was dismissed, bowled, with the ball just barely clipping the stump enough to dislodge the bail. And they were out – no question. Yet for some unknown reason, the television commentators on Channel Nine at the time played Hawkeye’s view of the delivery – and to their mixed embarrassment and amusement, Hawkeye showed the ball as missing the stumps!

While it has taken inexplicably long for them to do so, cricketing authorities have finally acted in a sensible fashion. No more relying on predictive technology showing a ball would have just barely hit the stumps or just barely missed. In the case of an LBW, it has to show that at least 75% of the ball would have gone on to hit the stumps. There are to be fewer decisions overturned when there was little in it to begin with. That is taking the review system to what it was always intended to be – to provide a means of rectifying the howlers – a belated but sensible decision.

Something I am not quite so keen on is the introduction of Channel Nine’s ‘spider cam.’ This is a wire suspended above the ground, carrying a camera which appears to have a form of rotating lens head, judging by some of the shots. And the nature of the camera vision being shown is undoubtedly impressive, bringing a whole new visual element to things. However technology should never be permitted to interfere with a game.

With the introduction of ‘spider cam’ cricketing authorities had to rule on what happens if the ball hits the camera or its wire. Answer: dead ball.

How high is this suspended wire at say the Gabba where this Test is being played? I don’t know. However if the authorities saw the need to make a provisional ruling in advance, then it is not an unreasonable assumption that the camera and its suspension are within reach of the ball.

Is it fair that a batter can belt the hell out of the ball, only to have it declared a deadball because it clipped the spider cam? Or a fielder have his catch overturned because on the way down it was judged to have given the wire a nudge? Even worse, could we be headed towards a whole new area of argument of whether or not the ball struck the camera or suspension system? Do we need to introduce yet more technology to determine whether or not the spider cam technology has cause to force a call of ‘dead ball?’

Sorry, Channel Nine. In this instance I believe you are in error. A pretty picture from the introduction of new technology is not justification for the potential introduction of more dead balls and interference with the game. Technology for the benefit of the broadcaster should not and must not be allowed to act in a detrimental manner towards the game itself.

And now for something completely different…

Posted: September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized
Tags: , , ,

This is my first blog about cricket for a long time now. Ages ago I switched cricket posts to another blog which has been allowed to go dormant. However last night I saw some an example of decision making by the Australian hierarchy that is simply nothing short of nonsensical so this week’s primary Rant returns to the cricket field.

If you know anything about Australian cricket, you will be well aware that one of our most dangerous players in the short versions of the game is David Hussey. He can come in during the second half of an innings and drop a very heavy foot onto the accelerator. In the 20-20 version of the game, this ability is even more valuable and he can brutalise a bowling attack. Yet Hussey, D is more or less out of the current line-up, being pushed into a position of rotation for an available slot. And why? Because of the appointment of the captain.

The current captain is George Bailey. I am aware of Bailey’s existence but not much else. Yet, rather inexplicably, he has scored the captaincy ahead of much more experienced players. His appointment as captain gives him an assured place in the batting order. And if that place is in the middle of said batting line-up, then someone else has to go. Hence Hussey, D onto a rotation list of players hoping to get at least an occasional slot.

The only acceptable justification for this situation is if Bailey is justifying his place there ahead of Hussey, D. So let us look at some statistics.


BAILEY
HUSSEY
Matches
8
Matches
38
Highest Score
42
Highest Score
88
Total runs
125
Total runs
756
Centuries
0
Centuries
0
Fifties
0
Fifties
3
Ducks
0
Ducks
3
Balls faced
110
Balls faced
621
Total innings
8
Total innings
35
Average
25
Average
23.63
Strike rate
113.6
Strike rate
121.74

  

Here is a reality check. A far less experienced player has been made captain out of the blue and despite his lack of results behind him, his presence has seen one of the real destroyers shoved onto the outer, despite the latter’s average being much the same as Bailey’s but with a noticeably higher strike rate and stronger proven record.

I know virtually nothing about George Bailey. For I know, he is a male equivalent of reincarnated Mother Theresa in which case I would sincerely apologise to him. But regardless of how good a bloke he may or may not be, his position in this team is simply not justified ahead of David Hussey yet the ability of the Australian team to lift its current ranking from a very dismal tenth position in the world rankings depends on the team’s overall strength. And more than any other version of the game, the 20-20 game is more a batters game than any other. Yet one of our strongest middle-order batsmen has had his effective career put pretty much on hold for a captaincy appointment that defies any of Austen’s Sense and Sensibility.

Did we win our first game by defeating Ireland? Yes. But, with all respect to my distant Irish kindred, so what? And please don’t go getting excited and point out that Ireland defeated Pakistan in a World Cup match. When the Pakistani’s have an off game (and despite their continuing stream of talented players, they have a lot more off days than ones when they’re on) the local pub’s eleven could beat them. After the beer has been flowing for a while. And don’t forget that, rightly or wrongly, the spectre of match fixing and throwing games etc still hangs heavily over the collective heads of the Pakistani team. So we can pretty much take that Irish win out of consideration for beating Australia. Don’t get me wrong Ireland possibly has more fight in them, shot for shot, ball for ball, than anyone else in international cricket. The extent of their improvement in only a few short years is nothing short of remarkable. But they still should not have a realistic chance against Australia at this tiem. The captaincy of the Australian team played no meaningful role. I could have come out of my decade’s retirement from low-level club cricket and captained that Australian team to a win in those circumstances. So George Bailey is yet to be actually tested. And meanwhile David Hussey must wondering just whose toes he trod on to be treated as he has been.