Friday, 30 January 2009

Bill Frindall MBE - `The Bearded Wonder'

I was going to harp on about how South Africa has just whipped Australia (again) but then I learned that Bill Frindall had died and he seems so much more important. Bill was scorer and statistician for Test Match Special, the BBC's radio cricket commentary show. His accuracy and knowledge of cricket statistics is unmatched and he will be sorely missed.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Michael Vaughan Interviewed

Not a bad interview with Michael talking about his future and how he feels good after a rest. He also talks about the KP row. What is certain is that Vaughan is in a lot better shape than Headingley, behind him, which looks like a badly ploughed field.

Friday, 9 January 2009

Matthew Hayden

How could Australia replace an opening batsmen like Matthew Hayden? The simple answer is that they cannot and a look at the graph below reveals just why Cricket Australia has been reluctant to drop him. A truly remarkable record consisting of thirty centuries and twenty nine further scores of fifty or more. Twice he has scored hundreds in four consecutive Test matches and twice more he has scored centuries in both innings of a match. He also, of course, held the world record high score of 380 (marked in white).

Wednesday, 7 January 2009

KP Resigns, Moores Sacked?

Kevin Pietersen has resigned as captain of England and it seems that Peter Moores will be sacked. What a sorry way to run a cricket team -- they are not even playing cricket at the moment!

Monday, 5 January 2009

Hayden's SCG Swan-song?

The upcoming fourth day of Australia v South Africa could be a defining one for Matthew Hayden. After a long string of low scored (he averaged less than 35 in 2008) there must be a chance that failure at the SCG could be his last Test innings. He has already had an enormous bit of fortune -- near the end of day three Dale Steyn trapped him directly in-front in what was easily the clearest LBW of the series (helped by the fact it shot along the ground, Hayden didn’t have a chance). Hayden was amazingly given not out. Even the terribly biased Channel 9 commentators admitted it should have been given. Big man, big day.

Biased? The Channel 9 commentators. During one spell Doug Bollinger had a couple of close-ish LBW appeals. On one of them Michael Slater called out ‘come on umpire give one’. How very professional. Next thing we know they will be claiming Nathan Hauritz is a spinner.

As I said Hayden had a huge slice of luck in day three...but he wasn’t the only one. The ball hit the stumps twice in the South African innings and did not knock the bails off. It all helped South Africa make 327 on a badly deteriorating pitch. With 150 run lead it is Australia who are in control.

Thursday, 1 January 2009

Big sticking plasters needed

If it’s not bad enough for Australia that their results have taken a beating, their players are having problems too:

  • Brett Lee has a broken foot and needs an operation. He will be out for at least eight weeks (as predicted).
  • Shane Watson, the man made from Crunchie, has a stress fracture of his back and will be out for at least six months
  • Andrew Symonds has a knee problem and is having an operation on it (tomorrow).
  • Stuart Clarke has had elbow surgery and will be out of the side for some time

New world order

In ten years many events of the last decade will be lost in a sea of vagueness. However, that is not true of 2008; the financial events of the past year will be analysed for years to come and their repercussions have still to be fully felt. For cricket, 2008 has also been a significant year, with two momentous happenings.

The first of these events was the IPL and the massive cash injection it has brought. 20:20 cricket was largely ignored by India until they won the Twenty20 World Championship in September 2007. From that point on it has been full-steam ahead with the IPL spending million dollar sums on international players. India went from a ‘difficult place to tour’ to a land filled with milk and honey. Talk of ‘cricketer burn-out’ magically disappeared in favour of making a gap in the schedules for the IPL and other 20:20 tournaments. 20:20 has changed the face of cricket and will continue to exert a large influence in 2009 and above.

The second major cricket event of 2008 has been the demise of the Australian Test winning machine. Australia has been virtually unbeaten for the last decade and beyond. Australia losing a Test match was an event of note and losing a series was a very rare event indeed. However, in the past few months Australia has lost two Test series: they were soundly thrashed in India after a good start and have been similarly beaten by South Africa at home. Australia has lost four of its last eight Test matches. The reasons for the slump in form are clear to see – a number of world class players have retired and the holes they create cannot be filled easily. In particular the gaps left by Warne and McGrath swiftly followed by MacGill and Hogg have left Australia with a barren bowling attack and without a spinner of note. This is excellent news for everyone except Australian fans. It means that Test matches will be closer and everyone has a realistic chance of beating them. There are now three top sides in Test cricket: India, Australia and South Africa. The rest are playing catch-up.

Of course not everything has changed with England playing the same first six players in their last test of 2008 as they played in the first Test match of the 2006/07 Ashes series, with similar results...