28 February 2011

A Bit Of Batting

Lots of light and shadow today, let's start on the bright side:

Canada v Zimbabwe

Yay Zimbabwe won.... by a huge margin! Yes it counts, because Afridi's heroic fiver against Kenya counts as well. I am not sure if there is a lot to say about the bowling, everybody did a very good job, however I can't tell how hard it is to get the Canadian batters out, but today's performance should give one or two guys a nice little confidence boost.

Tatenda Taibu 98 v Canada (c) Getty Images

After a horrendous start -the first voices arise who want Coventry dropped- Tatenda Taibu showed his class and undug the Zimbabwean innings with a fine and well-tempered 98. Stick your hand up if you think that he should perform like that more often! Furthermore I am especially delighted to report that at the other end of the wicket Babyslug Craig Ervine kept his calm as well and together with Taters he built a total comfortable to defend for the bowlers.

Elton... ahh bahh. Cremy and Williams with a quarter ton each lifted the total to 298. Not chaseable for the Maple Leaves against the spin-based Zimbian attack, which got additionally boosted since Greg Lamb replaced Regis Chakabva, a move that certainly did not harm Zimbabwe in any way.

Ehhhaaarrr I am having fuzzy warm Zimfeelings in the tummy writing this, but one has to keep in mind that they won't last forever, but, they are nice for the time being. Go the Zims!

Netherlands v West Indies

Hmmm what was I going to say... let me think.... *rubs chin* You can't stop a Redback! Tommy Cooper take a bow. When the card house around him was falling apart he weathered the storm and attacked the Windies with a fine, very fine fifty, and even the Cricinfo commentary had to acknowledge that "this guy can bat". Good man Coopy Doo.

Tom Cooper 55* v West Indies, (c) Getty Images

There's not many words to lose about the rest, just one remark and you know who it's gonna be about: Pollard messed up Pieter Seelaar's excellent figures by smashing his last ball for six. Grr. Alexei Kervezee has unfortunately started to annoy me a little, Holland needs him to buck up. So to me, apart from Ryan ten Doeschate and Super Cooper, Seelaar is Netherlands' most valuable player. And I am not saying this in a fit of blind sla rage. He is a good sla and I hope someone will pick him up.


Okay so after this funeral service I would like to re-direct your attention to an absolute treat: Surrey's Mark Church and Gareth Batty have revived their round Ashes table.... locker room bench... whatever, and are discussing England's World Cup matches. Check out what they have to say about the incredible tie between England and India, Sachin Tendulkar's 756th ton and the difficulties in bowling to him, Andrew Strauss' monster innings, batting powerplays and Indian outfields, in episode 2 of their World Cup Chat (Part 1 about Eng v NL can be found here):


25 February 2011

How many of you

have actually realised the significance of today's Bangladesh v Ireland game beyond 'taking revenge', Bangladesh being expected to emerge victorious from a must-win-situation, or Asia's rumpelstiltskinoid battle against 'the West'?

Let Ireland's CEO Warren Deutrom remind you of this broader meaning -which also includes a look back at Bangladesh's recent history- and clear up some common misconceptions, such as the number of teams allegedly having a bearing on the length of the 2015 World Cup, and let him explain you what impact the ICC's decision could have on the funding of the successful Associate development programs. The words he speaks here largely apply to all smaller cricketing nations no matter on which continent or at what stage of progress. Globalisation is cricket's greatest chance to spread, to grow and bloom in formerly non-cricket-playing countries. It is in no one's interest to keep the lid on that just as we are starting to see the first results.

Or is it?

Go to 13:55 for the interview
Download (right click ► save target as)

And this is why I am sad that Ireland crumbled under the weight of their big chance today.


24 February 2011

From Red To Black

This is one of these posts a blogger doesn't really feel like writing so, apologies for the underlying meh-ness. In order to cheer ourselves up let's start with the completely unrelated screenshot of the century: Ben Hilfenhaus and George Bailey fuming out of their ears during the preliminary Big Bash final versus NSW.

After the triumph at the Big Bash the Redbacks are back to their normal South Australian level. Which is at the bottom of all non-T20 tables. I am sure they are simply burnt out after the long summer and mentally drained after the T20 cup. Perhaps I have also started to heart them so much that I would literally let them get away with murder. So for this reason here's just a little summary of a few mentionable moments in the recent matches:

After the T20 the Redbacks travelled to the WACA to cop two ringing slaps in the face.

"What positives can we take from these results?" Ha ha. Okay:

In the Shield match Nathan Lyon garnished his successful debut with six West Australian wickets, young quick Jake Haberfield took four, and Peter George upon his return to the limelight grabbed five and shone in particular in the second innings, probably reversing it square (the monster ^^). Michael Klinger made yet another ton, James Smith chipped in with back to back 60+ scores, and Mr. Slow-Hand Graham Manou added a fine patient knock to the total. Alas, the Boriers had the better cards on their hands... Hogan, Duffield, Pomersbach, Coulter-Nile, just to name a few.

In the Ryobi Cup clash following the Shield game it was once again James Smith who stuck his fist in the air and delivered his third 60+ score in a row, aided by Cameron Borgas, and on the bowling front Jake Haberfield. Tragically SA lost when WA sealed the win with the last ball. Sucks.

Dreariness and weariness seemed to have taken over, at least at my end of things, when the Redbacks returned home for another Ryobi Cup game to suddenly hand the Queenslanders a good birching. In the end it were 60 runs that separated the winners from the losers, the home soil seemed to unfold their magic for the Saussies. Aiden Blizzard was finally back in the runs with a fine 50, Dan Harris his helpful assistant. Bowling-wise tidy stuff was offered by Kane Richardson (3-21), who wrecked the entire QLD top order for single figures, Ben Edmondson and Nathan Lyon. Aaron O'Brien paid quite a price for his three wickets but so what.

Once on location, the visit by the Quoinsers continued with a Shield match. I am not sure how SA managed a home defeat by nearly 100 runs. Obviously the ball did plenty on the last day and James Hopes went through the SA batting order with a lawnmower. Positives: more patient stuff from Blizzard and Manou, a lone tragic hero called Doctor Daniel Harris on the last day, with an epic century among... let me... count... SEVEN ducks. Kane Richardson and Nathan Lyon are my personal favourites among the bowlers towards the end of the season. It's also nice to finally see Edo back in action for a few games. But now, ladies and gentlemen, let me present you with the....

Second innings bowling figures of Dan frickn Christian:
17.2    10    20    3    1.15

Thanks to Josh aka half-tracker aka the largest brain of Hampshire for pointing them out to me. Check out his phenomenal Netherlands preview at Clear Cricket and follow his twitterances. His Hants blog should claim a top spot on the reading list of all county cricket fans anyway.

I'd like to mention that Klinger didn't play the last two matches and the captaincy was handed over to Dan Christian, an idea I have warmed up to *very* very much. In the last Shield match Obi got replaced by Cullen Bailey, who did a good job. I hope the two guys are fine and just resting.

Alright, time for the state special of the day... SOK, Bailsgeorge, Cossy, Luke!

Steve O'Keefe has finally returned to the NSW bunch after his injury, and just to rub his allrounder value under everybody's nose, he delivered a loss-of-hair inducing knock of 49 in the split innings match against the Vics, just to go out when NSW were two runs short of the victory. Forksake. I hope his team mates aren't blaming him for this very close loss of the Ryobi Cup semifinal. Tragedy, your name is oscillating between Doc Harris and SOK.

Cosgrove/Bailey: Cossy made 120 in the Ryobi Cup match against the Vics, and skipper George Bailey added the other ton!!! And yes, Victoria won with the last ball and one wicket remaining. GARGHHHH. In such moments I would understand if the big man smashed a whole electronics store in. But revenge was lurking around the corner, in the Shield match that followed the split innings encounter skipper Bailey did not allow the Vics to steal the butter from his bread, 160 runs came off his bat and carried the Tasmanians to victory.

Cherry on top of the cream: Luke Butterworth (LBW) took five... (smooth transition...) only to burst into the most beautiful fireworks in the most recent Tassie match, a steamrollering defeat inflicted upon WA in the Shield, where Luke took the biscuit: 6-51 in the first innings, 6 overs for 5 runs in the second, and, the last and worst tragedy of this post, 100(-1) runs with the bat to lay the foundation for Tasmania's innings victory.

O ye people near and far, jump aboard the Butterworth bandwagon!!!

End of rant.


22 February 2011

The Cheeseheads

have managed the impossible today. No no, they have not beaten England by ten wickets, neither by ten Doeschates, although RTD must have descended from a higher level of existence; he looked otherworldly enough to accomplish the feat.

What I mean is that the Netherlands are the first cricket team in the history of mankind to have reached a huggability score of more than 100%. I am not sure how they did it, it is mathematically impossible, and I bet they can't even explain it themselves, but it has happened and thus we need to accept it as a matter of fact. No lid could contain the global burst of affection caused by the combined efforts of Ryan ten Doeschate, Peter Borren, Pieter Seelaar, our favourite run-getting machine and most noble South Australian ambassador Tom Super-Cooper, and their valiant orange fellows.

Now since this seemingly eternal barrier has been broken, I am sure the Zimbabweans are already chomping at the bit. They nearly rammed the door in with their bowling performance against Australia and possess the potential to follow suit with the Dutchmen very quickly. Go the Zims, you can do it, too!

Candidate No. 3, the New Zealanders, could jump over the fence very soon as well, especially as they are pitted against the Australians next, a pairing that always causes me to break out in loud wails of despair, and this time the Kiwis will be additionally burdened by the worries about their families and friends in Christchurch. I have of course banned the thought of this match from my mind until there's no way to escape it anymore.

But back to topic, as mentioned in the preview the Netherlands have to become World Champions, and if you are still not convinced of this obvious fact I can present you with the argument that, for womankind's sake, Pieter Seelaar (i.e. this guy) has to play as many matches as possible, before he inevitably disappears into the depths of un-televisedness again.

Capiche? ;)


21 February 2011

Cremy smiled...

... a lot. An ungrumpy Graeme Cremer is a rare sight and a clear indicator that Zimbabwe must have improved of sorts. He bowled some great stuff, at the world's best economy rate, took the key wicket, batted so well in the given circumstances and delivered Zimbabwe's top-score. All Cremer boxes ticked, and some more. He's easily Zimbabwe's MOTM, and that's enough for me to find this a watchworthy match, especially as his performance came against a good-looking Australian side. He'll hopefully take some confidence from his today's performance and deliver some more candy in the coming weeks.

Australia v Zimbabwe

Let's be honest, one could not really expect a Zimwin, but Zimbabwe battled hard and will seek to improve their net run rate against Canada next week. Prosper Utseya played a match similar to that of Graeme Cremer, bowled well and partnered up with Cremy for Zim's best collaboration. Heart-rending efforts by the two hangarounders, since the top order failed completely, and Elton was probably due a shit day after his recent mammoth totals. Charles Coventry looked like a fearful little deer against the Australian quicks; Taylor, Ervine and Taibu were clueless as well. Sean Williams provided the first eyebrow jiggle, which honestly surprised me, but not much else happened until Cremer and Utseya put some runs on the board.

Bowling-wise apart from AGC and Prosper one could perhaps still mention Ray Price; on the pace front I am not sure if there's a huge difference between Shingi and Chris Mpofu, both cost a lot and take wickets, and since Mpofu had the time of his life in the field today Zim will most likely stick to him, but I'd also be happy to see Masakadza in some of the coming matches.

One could also interpret the result as Australia batting carefully because they knew they could defend a medium-sized total. MOTM Watto and Michael Clarke provided the runs and I have to say while we all have got used to Watto being The Man Clarke's resurrection is still young and tender and needs to be nurtured carefully. Seeing him feel comfortable against the Zimbabwean spin gives courage, and he's gonna need a lot more of that in the coming matches.

The three-pronged pace attack of Tait, Lee and Johnson may have benefited from the Zimbabwean batting weakness but I think Lee is phenomenal to watch, Mitch with his 4-19 proved that today he was carrying a clear head on his neck, Dussey is Mister Useful, and Krejza returned the first results, especially as the batsmen, largely hopeless against the pace, were forced to go after him. So let's forget about the shitty warm-ups and look forward to the next matches!

Match notes:

Tatenda Taibu should attempt at an umpiring career, he's got a great pair of eyes in his head, got both reviews right and reaped Zim two wickets.

Shane Watson's new hairdo and -dye violates the Geneva Conventions. Sauerkraut nibbled into shape by a hungry rat. Godogodogod. Please, bring back the blond Watto.

Ray Price's smile looks like a pancake that got stuck to the ceiling and fell down five minutes later.

That's all from me for today


20 February 2011

Oh look, they got hammered

Minnows will be minnows will be minnows... no?

Bangladesh got buried under 370 Indian runs, no chance chasing this. But when the Tamim/Shakib partnership was broken, you could grab the Indian relief with your hands. I still think that Bangla will beat the Associates fairly easily.

Hamish Bennett: NZ's damage dealer
Footage by Cricket Online TV
I feel absolutely heartbroken for Kenya. Yay the Kiwis won a match, and the deservedness of that win is oozing from each figure in the bowling table, plus they really needed that victory under the belt, but my minnow heart is bleeding. No use interpreting the scorecard... if it displays the general state of the Kenyan cricket team, Afghanistan would perhaps have been better contestants in this tournament.

Canada fought hard against the Sri Lankans. Not only could they restrict them to less than 370 *g* and take seven wickets, but they also managed to surpass the Kenyan total of 69 by quite a margin. Rizwan Cheema tried to make the best of it and took Murali on the horns, before the old Lankan warhorse had the last word in this little duel. After their near-win over England in the warm-ups and their Hampshire humiliation (HamHum) at the Caribbean T20 one can safely state that the Maple Leaves are up for the challenge. I will need to re-assess their huggability rating ^^ However, nobody is exempt from the rule that in order to win you have to win.

What pisses me off most is that these results are water on the mills of those who support the decision that the WC should be reduced to 10 teams. I will not debate this issue here, though, just letting you know that I do not approve of this for obvious reasons. Go the minnows, put the man pants on, play freely, just do your thing! Canada have obviously internalised this attitude, check out the press conference skipper Ashish Bagai gave before the Lanka match:

Tomorrow Australia v Zimbabwe. Urggh.


16 February 2011

ICC World Cup - Who To Support

This ranking is based on the official huggability factor determination method and takes into account all thus far completed warm-up games.

The minnow teams are per se huggable because they are minnows. None of these sides has been huggability-rated before. The gradation looks as follows:

The Netherlands: 1.0
Awwww. Our lovely orange neighbours represent the European continent, liberalism, peacefulness, brain, dopeyness, tallness and yellow, holey dairy products. Nom. Redback Tom Cooper plays for them and their coach rocks (see below). I default-support them when the Germs aren't playing, so the Nederlands are my favourites for the throne. Let the Nethercoach Peter Drinnen (is he the nemesis of Hans Draußen haha) explain you why NL are hot.

Ireland: 0.7
Having not been rated before due to coolness, but a lack of huggability, this time Ireland reach 0.7 right off the bat. Absolutely admirable bunch of players, improving and getting better each day, and the most promising of the Associate countries to become a full member one day in the foreseeable future. They also have George Dockrell, ahem. Demerit points for Gary Wilson (Surrey), and captain Porterfield's complete unlistenability. Nevertheless: Europe! Europe! Check out CricketIrelandTV on Youtube.

Kenya: 0.6
The names of eight (!) of their 15 squad members start with "O". Besides, there are two pairs of brothers in the Kenyan squad  -the grumpy Ngoches and the friendly Obuyas-  and one uncle/nephew relation. Would you hug a mad hatter? No. But do you like the Crazy Cat Lady? Yes! Thus six huggability points for the East Africans.

Canada: 0.4
They humiliated Hampshire However, they are minnows. Also, they aren't India. And they came mighty close to beating the Poms today.

All of the big teams have been rated before, except for Sri Lanka and the West Indies.

New Zealand: 1.0
Absolutely no change from the previous rating, I could copy the exact same wording including the mad head grabs, desperate yelps and blind flailing. The addition of Kane Williamson makes things even worse. Oh man. Hugs, belly rubs, kibbles and a snuggle blankie for the furry little stumpybirds!

Zimbabwe: 0.9
No World Cup for Hopes: "High injury risk for huggee"
Unchanged as well. They don't really have a stinker in the team but they make me so arghhh! I have no clue how they are going to play any Tests later this year, as currently they are even struggling against the Associates. Much, much work still has to be done, but one thing is for sure, I won't run out of patience anytime soon.

Australia: 0.8
Australia have been humbled badly in their warm-up matches, both times by the big fat elephants of this tournament, India and South Africa (my two tips for the trophy). The reason is obvious: Punter is back, misery is back. Therefore no full points for the "scrambled eggs on legs". Concerning the K: beggars can't be choosers. He looks one of the more economical bowlers of the piss-coloured bunch, so yeah go ahead K, but don't forget, I got my eye on you.

South Africa: 0.7
Three bitter penalty points for ridiculing Oz, not taking Rusty, and Boofus quitting after the WC. But they gain two points for leaving Albie at home, persisting with Tsobie and Ingram, as well as including Tahir. In numbers: they lose 0.1 of their average original rating, but are still clearly on the huggable side (and will remain so unless the moon bursts, or one of Jacques Kallis' enormous buttocks).

Pakistan: 0.4 - 0.7
The precise score depends on the time of day, food status, whether I've just thought of Azhar Ali or Wahab Riaz, the prevailing intensity of insolation, the amount of time passed since the last Atif enjoyment, whether I've just seen a picture of a little kitten or Boom-Boom-Out-Fridi, and other permanently fluctuating factors. Well, it's a Pak rating after all! And a significant improvement of their original score.

Bangladesh: 0.6
The Deshis gain 0.1 because time heals all wounds. They are my favourites in the case that one of the hosting teams get their hands on the cup. Shakib, Rubel, Mahmudullah. Unfortunately Mashrafe isn't part of their squad. You so wish them to stun some of the hippos (no direct allusion to the Saffas, Strauss has a hippoid head as well). The niceness of their World Cup song has mushed my brains additionally.

Sri Lanka: 0.5
Recently I've always had a nice tummy feeling about them. Also, their president looks like a fat happy cat. The Lanks are quite a smiley bunch of people, I like their skipper, and the things I particularly hated about them -Malinga's hair dye, Malinga's stature, Malinga's bowling action- have grown on me in a weird way. Interesting.

West Indies: 0.3
Meh. I still don't have any measurable feelings of any sort about them, which actually disqualifies them from the ranking, since teams that cannot be rated cannot be rated, but let's just appreciate that Redbacks hero Kieron Pollard is in the squad, and Sulie hasn't pulled off any major antics in the past months.

England: 0.1
The Poms slump to one third of their initial score. Morgan is out injured, Tremlett, the bowling reserve, is mournfully sitting at home like a forsaken damsel waiting for Broad to break his neck, and Luke Wright looks like getting games. In English: I will support them against India.

India: 0.05
Half of their original score; 5% huggability yielded by the theoretical chance of Ojha getting a match if Harbhajan and his twenty replacements get injured, and Dhoni's ears. Ishant has lost relevance since his hair is nullified by his retarded idea that people are interested in learning the colour of his underpants.

► Final verdict:
If it was me pressing the buttons, either the Netherlands, Australia, New Zealand or Zimbabwe would win the World Cup. Preferably Australia, because my evil side wants them to stuff the cup down India's throats. And England's, for that matter.

Again. And again. And again. And again.

*gets knocked on the head with a stick*
*wakes up*
*rubs eyes*
*finds that reality is a stupid concept*


8 February 2011

Delayed Gratification

Big Bash Final: Redbacks v NSW Blues


Sorry for the late review, technical issues and the sifting and editing of over 400 screenshots prevented me from posting this earlier.

Interestingly the Blues did not even try to replace Khawaja, but just slotted Luke Doran in to strengthen the spin department. The Redbacks restricted the toss-winners NSW successfully and, against all statistical implications, chased down the target with 15 balls to spare. I am very satisfied to see the SA team win the Big Bash; as the most consistent and reliable side of the tournament they certainly deserved to lift the trophy. Commiserations to NSW, and see you at the Champions League! But keep one thing in mind: no SOK - no glory ^^

My Redbacks of the tournament:

Borgas and the Doctor sealed the fate of NSW
Dr. Daniel Harris. To think that I wanted him dropped at the beginning for his rather mediocre start into the season. Oh my. After all these years (haha) I still haven't absorbed the rule that you don't omit a classy player. Lesson learnt, hopefully! He also re-occupied the top spot in the batting table from David Warner.

Cameron Borgas. Came in late and grabbed what didn't make it onto the tree in time. Now retrospectively one has to feel sorry for him not getting any more matches; I think he's a powerful batsman and would surely  have liked to hammer a few more bowlers on the nut. But he is certainly going to the Champions League with SA, South Australia's very last T20 tournament as a state team *sneuf*

Nathan Lyon: give the guy a Shield game!
Nathan bloody Lyon. Jack in the box! Popped out and reigned. Wow. Also confirms my positive gut feeling about ACT. Was perhaps a wee bit excited in the final but got his men, is hopefully going to get a couple more matches this season. SA need to build him up and strengthen him carefully. The idea of SA being Australia's powerhouse of spin sounds just too seductive.

Adil Rashid - a treasure chest of variations
Adil Rashid. I so wish to say "hopefully they'll sign him again next year", but fork knows what's going to happen then. Will Adelaide retain most of its players? Or are they going to tear my heart out, dismember the team and spread the remains all over the continent like the body parts of Osiris? If so, who's gonna be the penis? We shall see and grab our heads.

Dan frickn Christian: huffing, puffing, grunting and snarling his way through the opposition
Dan frickn Christian. He's cool like that. To be honest I can't think of any other player who puts so much physical presence into his game. DC is always switched on 200%, which doesn't make any sense mathematically, but you know what I mean. The moment when Klinger sent him on I erupted in cheers, yeeeeaaaahs and air punches without realising it.  DC just grabs you by the collar and drags you through his innings whether you want it or not. Definitely a player who makes you feel the match with all fibres of your body. Massive fighter in the Redbacks front line, can't imagine the team without him.

Kane the b.....oon
Kane Richardson. Although he looks like my former school mate Tina he's got a lot of edge and bite to him. A wonderful talent and for me personally a great sighting, as you don't get to look at the 2nd XI players very often. Good variation, focus and confidence. Glad he got a chance to shine, certainly made the very best of this opportunity and recommended himself for higher duties. Obviously also won the Richardson-v-Cummins battle of the kiddie quicks on that evening (see figures).

Kieron Pollard, always a most welcome guest at Adelaide  (c) Redbacks Web
And of course the big happy man! Got SA off to a great start, laid the foundation for their cruise and will certainly be glad to see the team continue successfully after his departure, and win the trophy. Just imagine if he could play for SA in the Champions League. Whoohoo. I guess it'll all depend on the IPL again.

Match notes:

Succumb to the lamb!
Luke Doran, NSW's next spin kid
If someone had said we would get so see another spinner as unkempt as Nathan Lyon I would have laughed in unbelief. But Luke Doran *really* needs to see a sheep shearer. On topic, he did a fairly ok job, didn't get belted around overly, and had the second best econ after Tidy Thornely, which is not particularly wondrous as he was wearing the boots of The SOK. Neat performance from the U19 World Champion, looking forward to seeing more from him.

Pat Cummins bowled a thrilling over, which also included a 149.5 kph delivery. The kid is amazing, just 17 years old. At 23 he'll probably bowl 157 kph missiles. One of the big discoveries of this tournament, and although captain Clark pointed out that NSW must not heap too much workload on Pat's narrow shoulders I think that in a few years we will see the Baby Blue dragonslayer knocking at the door of the NSP with a battering ram.

Happy End for Aaron O'Brien after Klinger bewitched him successfully
Aaron O'Brien, the guy most easily to recognise from behind because of the wiping cloth that has grown to his butt, oozed tons of class and purity. Felt great to suffer another fit of Obi madness, and I'm happy that he got an extra interview during the match. I bet my top of the back of the leg that he's going to continue this form seamlessly in the Shield and Ryobi Cup. Undoubtedly among my favourite Redbacks players; orderly and neat with the ball, and always ready to take the next ripper.

Nerves, nerves, nerves. NSW should have been all out in the 17th over ^^

Get well soon, SOK.

Stuey ain't learning it! Last time he brought Moises on against Pollard, obviously entirely ignoring the history between these two potato heads, and this time he sent him into the ring again when the situation required a sewing machine; himself, Cummins or the choker Thornely, who inexplicably got to bowl a single over. Jeez!


Oki doki that's it for now, not sure how intensely the state cricket can be covered in the next weeks, as the World Cup will soak up a lot of my attention, but should Dan Christian belt another 150 off 70 balls accompanied by 6-28 I will let you know very certainly :P


4 February 2011

Elephant Encounter: The Final Battle

Hrrumph! Pitbull wolfed down the half-baked Rana on a sauce of Naved Oranges
Big Bash preliminary final - NSW Blues v Tasmania [scorecard] /
Big Bash final - Redbacks v NSW Blues - preview

Deary me. I hope my fairly correct Cassandra call before the preliminary final does not prove any expertise of the game, because my next octopus oracle foresees a tough struggle on Saturday. David Warner and the NSW pacers have indeed beaten the Tigers at Hobart and bestowed my personal dream final upon me... but as I am watching the latest TASsacre I must admit my enthusiasm is rather stifled. Jebus help! If Pat Cummins bowls like that in the final the Redbacks will have a hard nut to bust.

Let's have a look at the details:

Both Steve O'Keefe and Usman Khawaja have been confirmed as absent due to injury, and while Uz will be replaced by Peter Forrest, the lack of SOK magic is hopefully going to nip the Blues in the butt. Remember, he defeated the Spiderboys almost single-handedly in their first encounter at Adelaide, and while the Redbacks spin battery is in full bloom and possibly going to thrive further in the final, NSW might be tempted to play Luke Doran this time, who has been a part of the squad for a while. However, after the bloodshed at Hobart they could be inclined to continue with the quicks and Thornely.

The Redbacks on the other hand have suffered the loss of Callum Ferguson, who is off to play the last dead rubber in the ODI series. That means a return of the Super Cooper; I'm not saying he is a weak link, but his form has been suboptimal in the last matches he played and he got dropped for Cameron Borgas. The Netherlands will be a tad worried one should guess...

11 wickets, avg. 11.54: are you kidding me? ^^
I don't feel a lot like juxtaposing the batting line-ups, just a few thoughts: Dave Warner and Dr. Daniel Harris are about head to head at the top of the batting order, and both sides have accumulators as well as pinch hitters at their disposal, with the Redbacks probably being a little more classical in their overall approach, while the Blues rely on the whacking power of Ben Rohrer, Daniel Smith aka The Mad Butcher, as well as Moises' muscles; with Phil Jaques filling the anchoring role that is embodied by Michael Klinger in SA.

But  the actual battle is imho fought between the two different types of attack, spin and pace. On the one hand I'm curious to see how this pans out, if the South Australian Tweaking Troika made up of Nathan Lyon, Aaron O'Brien and Adil Rashid manages to tie down the rampaging Pitbull; on the other hand I'm not keen to witness Pat Cummins, meanwhile the leading wickettaker of the competition, rip through the Saussies and leave yet another trail of blood behind. The RBs need to try and see him off and get the runs off Henriques, Coyte and Abbott, or whoever else is bowling and whose name isn't Stuart Clark.

Well well. Both of the finalists topped my personal wish list for the Champions League, and while some people might say that the Blues rather limped than stormed into the final one also has to consider their utter depletion, with large parts of the team being out injured or playing for the national side. Reaching the finals with the second and third string line-up deserves respect, and we know what they are capable of pulling off at the international level, if all key players are fit and available.

But now let's look forward to the weekend, go the Saussages! :)