25 December 2011

Australia v India - Five Hours Before The First Test

The current 22-legged experiment by the mad dawgs scientists at CA: David Warner, Ed Cowan, Shaun Marsh, Ricky Ponting, Michael Clarke (capt), Michael Hussey, Brad Haddin (wk), Peter Siddle, James Pattinson, Nathan Lyon, Ben Hilfenhaus (!)

(How Wes reads this line-up:
OMG Hilfy is in the side HILFY IS IN THE SIDE OMGGG world do you hear me Hilfy is baaaaack. Please don't get hammered :/ )

A fearsome and female-friendly selection from: Ravichandran Ashwin, MS Dhoni (capt/wk), Rahul Dravid, Gautam Gambhir, Zaheer Khan, Virat Kohli, VVS Laxman, Abhimanyu Mithun, Pragyan Ojha, Ajinkya Rahane, Wriddhiman Saha, Virender Sehwag, Ishant Sharma, Rohit Sharma, Sachin Tendulkar, Vinay Kumar, Umesh Yadav

(How Wes reads this line-up:
Hehe Dhoni... has the ears of an emperor! Well... of an emperor's elephant. Still have to see a pic in which he looks shit. Ojha... induce melting process in 3... 2...1... lol 'Wriddhiman' lol lol. Umesh Yadav hopefully I'll get a good stream!!!)

In English:

Bring it on.


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23 December 2011

Josh Taylor: My favourite game of 2011 – Zimbabwe v Bangladesh, Only Test

There was perhaps a question over height. However, there was never a question over whether or not Kyle Jarvis deserved his fourth wicket of the innings. Umpire Dhamasena raised his finger to trigger celebrations on the pitch and amongst those who had come to watch. Never before had a contest between the 9th and nominally 10th ranked test teams carried so much significance. Following five and a half years in a self-imposed exile for reasons not entirely cricket related, Zimbabwe returned to test cricket under the guidance of Alan Butcher and with a young, highly talented captain in Brendan Taylor.

Zimbabwe flag by Alpak
Though four Zimbabweans made their test debuts, including new ball pair Kyle Jarvis and Brian Vitori, a team unity was clearly visible, one that rose far above the turmoil and divisions of decades previous. This was a side selected on merit, eleven players incredibly proud to be the new faces of Zimbabwe cricket. Bangladesh’s captain Shakib al Hasan won the toss and after three nervous overs, including an unbelieveable missed run-out opportunity, Tino Mawoyo crashed three off-side boundaries off Robiul and Zimbabwe were away.

A century opening stand was followed by three figures for Hamilton Masakadza, a man almost ever-present in the side during the years in exile. Bangladesh clawed the innings back, taking 8-66 but on a Harare wicket showing movement in the air and off the pitch, 370 as a first innings looked imposing. And so it proved, as despite decent innings from Shakib and Mohammed ‘in-out-in-out’ Ashraful, debutant Vitori utilised left arm swing at pace to take 4 wickets and dismiss Bangladesh for 287.

Following a shaky start to the second innings, it seemed apt for Taylor to strike his maiden test century, removing all but the slimmest of hopes of a Bangladesh victory. A declaration at tea on the fourth day displayed how intent the home side were to win and despite some entertaining slogging from Abdur Razzak, the match was only going to end one way. Kyle Jarvis generated away swing to great effect, accounting for four batsmen including Robiul, to end the match.

It was a victory toasted not just in Zimbabwe but by most cricket supporters around the world. Much had been made of the plight of cricket in the country; a victim of political instability, of players departing for pastures new and of rapidly dwindling resources. People rightly hark back to the times of the Flower brothers, Campbell, Johnson, Streak, Olonga. Of course they were days to savour, but Butcher built this current side with the future very much in mind. To move on fully from troubled times is the best way for this ‘new’ test nation to progress, and the 4th to the 8th of August 2011 was the perfect first step.

As for Bangladesh, well they were always going to lose out on this tour. Had they won, they would have been dismissed as minnow bashers. On the other hand, a loss served only to amplify the voices querying their status as a test playing nation. Zimbabwe meanwhile went on to face rather more substantial tests against Pakistan and New Zealand, but nobody could suggest (well, except for Scyld Berry) that test cricket would be better off without them.

~ ~ ~

You have just read a guest contribution by Josh Taylor, the friendly Hampshire squirrel from Clear Cricket. You can get in touch with Josh via Twitter (@halftracker) and Facebook (Clear Cricket: page, profile).


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12 December 2011

Australia v New Zealand At Hobart: Who Let The Doug Out?

Hobart, day 4
Kiwis, you've stunned me!!! Congratulations, back pats and hair tousles on your most important Test victory in 20 years.

Coming to Hobart New Zealand found familiar conditions and exploited them to maximum benefit. A fair while ago, when thinking about my favourite grounds, Hobart seamed (haha pun!) to me like a natural extension to the row of New Zealand cricket grounds, not just for its picturesque seasidishness but also for providing conditions that more often than not guarantee a high degree of entertainment for the fast bowling fetishist, no matter in which format of the game. New Zealand's young talents were given a more than condign frame to show off their skills, and boy they did. What a historical triumph for new skipper Ross Taylor and a side in the midst of renewal. Young Doug Bracewell, who routinely finished the job for the Kiwis, Dean Brownlie the middle order batsman, 22 year old Trent Boult, and Chris Martin, the Benjamin Button of Kiwi cricket, seized the chance to stomp their feet down and tear the Australian batting line-up apart. Daniel Vettori tragically had to watch the thriller from the sidelines but The Man will be more than pleased with the result.

On the Australians, you have to mention the Vics. Man Of The Series James Pattinson delivered some amazing goods, and with both him and Cummins two extraordinary fast bowling talents have been unearthed for future apocalyptic crusades against the enemy. Even though ahead of the Test I had not got tired of mentioning that in Hobart also Peter George gets 10 wickets. On a side note, the loud howls of the warcry "Vics do it better" are based on the assumption that only Pattinson and Siddle had been able to reap the Kiwi wickets. A bizarre misconception. The wickets would also have fallen, if the selectors had picked a bunch of Indians for the attack.

Oh. I'm beginning to see my mistake here. ^^

David Warner shoved his big fat bat up his critics' digestive channels, and certain people who had been backing him to deliver were hopefully running around in their backyards in the middle of the night with the Australian flag in hand (true story, the latter). It still makes me laugh like a maniac to look at the scorecard and see the highest score of the match, an unbeaten century, stencilled behind David Warner's name, in a game played on a minefield in the lushest of greenhouse vegetation. It's been a long hard battle for Pitbull to reach Baggy Green honours, and unlike any other First Class batsmen complaisantly nodded through, Warner successfully defeated the windmills in the shape of the ever-doubting ignoramuses. Long may his rise continue.

Nathan Lyon showed again his remarkable character, coming in at 11 with a respectable number of runs to get he was determined to finish the job, just like when he helped Australia to double their score in the now legendary Saffa Test. And in my opinion the goal was absolutely within reach. But I am wondering a bit why he basically was on strike all the time. Perhaps Warner should have stepped up here. I'm not saying Pitbull was concerned about the well-being of the asterisk behind his score. But surely he has taken an important lesson from this match: when you are batting with the tailenders, you carry an additional load of responsibility.

An extra word on David Warner and Nathan Lyon. Until the start of the second innings a number of people who you'd expect to know matters better were doubting Warner's maturity as a player of the long format. The same applied to some opinions about Nathan Lyon even after he had proven his value in Zimbabwe and Sri Lanka. Views were presented which obviously stemmed from fallacies such as "I and the majority of my readers and listeners only know Warner from the T20, thus he is not suitable for the longer format and will fail" or "Neither me nor my audience have heard of Lyon before, therefore he is a ridiculous pick for the Australian Test side and I feel fairly safe mocking him". Not only does this thinking expose severe flaws in the respective person's logic, but you have to be wondering why people who are paid to write and talk about Australian cricket have no idea of Warner's evolution or have seemingly never heard of Lyon, not even of his leading position in the Big Bash table of wicket takers. But wasn't there also a selector who preferred to walk his dog while Australia were playing Test cricket... I do honestly expect from a professional or semi-professional cricket writer or a panel show of cricket experts to present the facts to their audience and not to simply mirror their readers' or listeners' uninformedness to an extent that makes the average follower of Australian cricket sink into the ground with embarrassment. /rant

Picking a video to round off this post has not been an easy task but eventually I settled for a Peter Siddle press conference, which reminded me of the reasons why I used to collect his interviews :D

That's about all the scrambled egg inside my head can come up with for today. I'm looking forward to the clash with India. Some Indians are already celebrating the victories before the matches have actually taken place. Let's just wait and see what happens.


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4 December 2011

Australia v New Zealand Round 1: New Faces, Old Story

Lessons from this match:

All hail the brave Lyon king rawwwwrrrrr, 7 for 88 in his first Test on home soil is not bad for an offie with just a dozen or so First Class matches under his belt. Michael Clarke is in stellar form, and loves Nathan Lyon, too. It is overwhelming to see the amount of appreciation, which the hesitantly welcomed Canberra boy is beginning to receive. The Redbacks, who plucked him off the heavy roller's seat and chucked him into the Big Bash arena with stunning results, have ironically lost him to the Australian Test side before they could actually benefit from his talent in Shield cricket.

Those were the times... Nathan Lyon on his way to utter Big Bash success

The looming chopping block brings out the doggedness in Punter. Muss is still struggling. Phil Hughes manages to get out when Australia are chasing 19. David Warner carries the bat on debut. Vics do it better. Hahahaha joking! They are just lucky sometimes.

And the Kiwis minus Dan still collapse like a card house outside their backyards against proper opposition.
Except for Dan Brownlie and Jesse Ryder, who makes 36 in tributoid anticipation of Mark Cosgrove's Test debut.


No in fact it is Dan frickn Christian who will possibly stride out into the arena in Hobart!! Well, with some likelihood. Yes he is regarded as inconsistency on legs, but in my opinion he has been improving steadily in the last two years and I hope, and know for that matter, that if he receives the Baggy Green he will fight like a Spartan and ram his claws into the Kiwis' eyes and sink his teeth into their soft bodies and tear out lumps of flesh and gnaw on their bones and... ah you are getting the idea. He will totally be just Dan. Read more about his deservingness in this article by Adelaide Now, and the respective Cricinfo announcement.

Dan Christian as himself

Since Callum Ferguson has totally fallen off the edge of the world - or does anybody actually remember that this guy was once regarded as the future of Australian middle order batting before he sacrificed his health for his fatherland, came back strongly, but nobody freaking cared!!! - I'm now schlepping sacks of fruit and nuts to the temple of DC in order to make him bang in the door of the Australian Test side.

You can facepalm some more over my delirious Redbacks hype if you follow the South Australia Redbacks FB page :)


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1 December 2011

Cricket On The 1st Of December

Germany WK-batsman Kashif Mahmood supports Bayern München. Poor bloke must have been hit on the helmet pretty often.

India aren't playing. I am endlessly sad and aggrieved. The Harbhajan Singh bashwagon has inevitably come to a halt. And with Surrey signing Murali Kartik an ambassador from the land of the roaming moos is once again going to be a pain in the butt of a team I support (Middlesex in this case).

South Africa are hibernating for another couple of weeks. Sleep won't come though. As soon as they close their eyes a bright boyish smile appears in front of them, slowly running apart until it exposes huge ugly fangs like rusty knives, ready to tear into the flesh and souls of the South African players.

Pakistan. Has any of you guys heard anything about Shahid Afridi Pakistan? I haven't. For proper information please contact the cricket teams of Sri Lanka and Bangladesh, should they still manage to pick up a phone.

England have ceased to exist. Hurrah!!!

Australia and New Zealand: no known activities. But admittedly I have not been able to keep track of them anyway, since I'm heaps busy maniacally sacrificing lens cleaning cloths at Daniel Vettori's altar.

Zimbabwe: No news either. And now excuse me, I have to go and roll myself in Brendan Taylor's lucky socks.


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