Tuesday, 21 October 2008

Are Australia, the new England?

Blimey did Australia take a beating in the second test against India; I don’t think I can remember Australia taking such a thumping. I saw quite a bit of the match and the 300 run victory to India was completely deserved. India out-batted Australia and then out-bowled them. They even out-fielded them at times. Australia’s performance was that bad that it reminded me of a few of England’s – it had the classic Team England traits:

  • An ineffective first-day bowling attack that somehow gets into a ‘reasonable’ position then blows it big-time
  • An un-spinner that the opposition love facing
  • A poor batting performance on a flat track, followed by
  • The other side smashing it all around with little difficulty that makes everyone think ‘oh, this really is a magnificent batting wicket’. A fielding captain who daren’t put his un-spinner on, followed by
  • 58-5 and 195-10 in the second innings with a complete inability to hit the ball and an opener that thinks he can help by smashing the ball out of sight
So can we enjoy a winter of Aussie bashing? We will see, it was only a week ago that India had to bat all day to save the match. India was magnificent at Mohali ... can they do it again next week?

Monday, 20 October 2008

It's not about money

The Stanford games are not about money. Not about money at all. It's all about pride. How do I know this? Because Kevin Pietersen says so: http://news.bbc.co.uk/sport1/hi/cricket/england/7680092.stm

For me, people go down in my estimation when it is clear they are not telling the truth...

Saturday, 18 October 2008

Sachin Tendulkar

Sanchin Tendulkar today became the leading run-scorer in Test Match cricket, overtaking Brian Lara's figure. His innings of 88 also saw him be the first player to reach 12,000 Test runs. The innings was also his 50th Test fifty (which is not a record), falling twelve short of what would have been his 40th Test century. The graph below charts Sachin’s remarkable Test career, the centuries are shown in orange; the 150 and above scores are shown in gold with the double centuries in red. His career average has been above fifty for almost a hundred Test matches since April 1997. Remarkable.

What is not shown on the graph is the way that Sachin Tendulkar has made his runs. His technical excellence, strength of shot combined with sublime timing makes it always a joy to watch ‘The Little Master’ bat. In addition he has managed to do all this whilst being constantly under an intense media spotlight and to act, almost without exception, with decorum and humility. Without doubt Sachin Tendulkar is by any measure of the game of cricket a true great.

There will always be arguments amongst cricket fans about the best batsman. Is it Lara or Tendulkar? Where do Ponting or Kallis measure up. In a few years all these batsmen will have retired, let us enjoy them while we can.

Tuesday, 7 October 2008

Graham Hick

Graham Hick has just retired from first class cricket. In a remarkable career he made 136 first-class centuries and averaged over 50 (52.23). He is also one of a select few players who have made single, double, triple and quadruple centuries in first class cricket. In addition, he was a dominating one day player making a further 40 one-day centuries, five of which were made whilst playing for England. Graham had a difficult entry into Test cricket, it took him more than a year to make a half century and his reputation is such that most people consider his Test career disappointing. Interestingly, for someone who had such a slow start to his career Graham’s figures after 19 matches are almost identical to Michael Vaughan’s. After 19 matches Hick had made 1091 runs at 33.06 with one century whilst Vaughan had made 1095 runs at 36.50 with two centuries. The graph below shows that he had a more prolific spell in the middle of his career before tailing off in a long decline.

Michael Atherton famously declared England’s innings closed at Sydney with Hick on 98 not out. It is commonly believed that this event undermined Hick’s confidence and led to his decline in Test cricket. The graph below suggests it is not that simple with his average high point occurring after that innings. It must have had some effect though and interestingly I have heard Michael on TV saying that in hindsight he wished he had not declared.

Whatever people believe about Graham’s Test career one thing is certain; his first class figures are remarkable. He must surely go down in history as one of the best county players of his generation.