Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

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.