Monday, 20 December 2010

Lefties can be a real match winner

The unforced break that Mitchell Johnson endured could really have done him a favour. He went away and worked on his action, got his arm higher, and returned with getting his inswinger back.

When a left arm over can bowl at pace (around 90mph) and get the ball to swing back into the batsman it creates real problem. With one delivery, the ball will go across the batsman, making the outside edge vulnerable. However, when he is able to get it to swing back, then this brings bowled and LBW into the frame in a big way!! To protect his outside edge a batsman likes to get as far across the wicket as possible, but, if he knows that a bowler is likely to dart the ball back into the stumps, it makes this movement very risky. The past masters of this of course were Alan Davidson and Garry Sobers and these deliveries, plus others, made them legends.

In a recent past article I mentioned how an all rounder’s confidence can go high with one department of his game helping the other. Johnson top scored in Australia’s first innings, and, surprise, surprise his confidence soared enough to give him brilliant bowling figures and back to his best. A timely improvement for Australia when they really needed him to perform. A performance that may yet lead to a drastic change in Ponting’s legacy as a player and captain.

With England trailing by a sizeable margin fortunes may change very quickly. GAME ON!

Thursday, 16 December 2010

Dig in for the Ashes and an early Christmas present!

It is not that surprising that Australia were able to rally and post a better and slightly more acceptable score of 268 in their first Innings in the 3rd test, after being 69 for 5. Perth, as most know, is a very fine wicket, but, it always produces bounce, especially with the new ball. There will be huge disappointment and embarrassment from the earlier part of their batting order as they failed again. However, once the hardness went out of the ball it showed that, once a player gets in, it is a good wicket on which to bat. Hussey, Haddin and Johnson showed just this.

The England openers of Strauss and Cook did very well in keeping their wickets intact for the opening 12 overs of the England innings. England now have to DIG IN and see the new ball off and, hopefully, carry on batting in the same way that they have done so far on this tour. If (all) the batsmen are able overcome their initial overs at the crease they should be able to give England a healthy first innings lead. A lead of around 200 plus would be extremely useful and psychologically give Australia big problems.

As expected the wicket was very suitable for the 6 feet 8 inches Tremlett (of Surrey) who was brought in to replace the injured Broad. However, he still had to bowl well on it to take the wickets and he did not let anybody down! After the win in Adelaide England must now be looking to complete a win in Perth in the same manner, except this time it should be with the seamers taking the lion’s share of the wickets instead of Swann.

We have only completed the first day of the test match, but, if England can win in Perth and secure the Ashes, what a Christmas present to the England fans!!!

Thursday, 9 December 2010

Panic – It’s all new to the Aussies. Can Warne be tempted?

In this Country, and in the England cricket camp, we have been used to quite a few poor cricketing performances, but this is not the case in Australia where they have been top dogs for well over a decade. They have had a poor six months and the dismal performances in the last two tests against England has caused panic as this is NOT something with which they are not familiar. One or two more similar performances by their team and they are at risk of ‘imploding.’

Today we read that a group of businessmen are endeavouring to entice Shane Warne out of retirement by offering him $1M. If that is so, and the selectors were in agreement, how can we NOT reach the conclusion that it is sheer panic!! To revert to a retired 41 year old, whom the selectors have not seen fit to give the captaincy to in the past, gives no other signal than ‘panic.’ Australia is going through a period of rebuilding and I think for them to even consider the word ‘rebuilding’ is a bitter pill to take. Of course, with a cynical eye on the situation, Warne may never have had any thoughts at all of returning to the fray, if so, turning down a million dollars, could be a clever marketing ploy to lift the value of his other commercial endorsements!!!

In the England camp, I am absolutely sure that under the guidance of Strauss and Flower, England will maintain exactly the right approach at Perth, the next test venue. Australia is on the slide and England will be concentrating on keeping this path going in the same direction.

Perth should be great viewing!!

Wednesday, 8 December 2010

Beef's in a stew!

England’s super win in the Second Test can create mixed reactions. English supporters may want to crow, whereas Aussie supporters bristle with annoyance, disappointment and retaliation.

These feeling are not restricted to the public! Rumour has it that Ian Botham and Ian Chappell had to be separated in the car park in Adelaide last Monday after the test, where they carried on a 30-year gripe. I have played with and against both and, anybody who chooses to mix it with Beefy, must be fairly desperate in their attitude.

Both are good guys and not only fathers but GRANDFATHERS. Both were really super players who did a fantastic service to their country, and, during their playing days and after, made derogatory comments about each other. When they played they took competitiveness to the end degree, but, I think it is rather sad (for both of them) that they cannot accept that time has moved on. The game is richer for their contributions and accept they both championed their countries and confrontations will always arise.

In cricket, as other sports, most successful sportsmen write biographies and, if their book is not to appear bland, comments are often made which are unpopular with other players and officials. This, for me, is all part of the overall profession and life is too short for the grudge to borne for an extended period. Time passes for me too and I have seen wonderful liaisons and friendships from arch enemies that has warmed those around them who knew them when times were different. One can only hope!!

Eat your heart out Bill Lawry!!

During the last Ashes Tour in Australia in 2005, the legendary Bill Lawry made my blood boil. The scene was the very well known pre-test breakfast in Melbourne, attended by 1,500 people, carried live television and was hosted by an Australian MP. Bill Lawry was on a cricket panel and was mocking the 400 – 500 Brits who were in the audience. He was ramming the poor performances of the English Team down the Brits throats and saying “if the Aussies had performed as badly as the Brits, you would not see any Aussies here today” and said “I don’t know how you can support this lot.”

When the Aussies gloat it sometimes even embarrasses the more conservative Australians – it sure angered me. I went up to the stage and asked the MC for the microphone. Looking at Bill and the Aussies, I reminded them of the ‘winds of change’ and said “I have played in test series against another very strong cricketing nation, The West Indies, with the results having gone full circle!! I had played in a series that we won, one that we drew, and one that we lost, completing the circle. It is easy to follow a team when you are knocking sides over and winning, but, I want to see how many of you lot are will still be around when your team needs you, when the pendulum turns – because it will!! As one, the Brits stood up and cheered and clapped and, surprisingly, the Aussies shouted “Good on yer mate.”

The series still has along way to go, and still time for anything to happen, but England could hardly have asked for a better start to the first two tests. Australia have lost tests before, but, I cannot remember when they were we so disjointed. Their situation has not been helped with Ricky Ponting, one of the all time greats and their talisman, having such a run drought.

Shame…………nobody likes to see the Aussies struggle!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Tuesday, 7 December 2010

KP the all rounder...

Strange how things happen. No sooner than me suggesting to Kevin Pieterson about bowling a few overs to help the side and increase his confidence level, than he takes a vital wicket and, who knows, could have been the key factor in England's win? This had nothing to do with me as the timing meant he could not even have seen it. However it made sense as confidence is an all round characteristic whether batting, bowling or fielding. KP had success in all three departments.

Broad's injury is hearbreaking for the lad, after all his hard work in preparation for the Tour, but this could mean a fortuatous break for Chris Tremlett? This is the kind if break that typifies a team's or individual's luck. Let's hope so.