Tag Archives: Australia

Weekly Tidbits: England is back, Nathan Bracken to Bowl Spin, Dhoni’s Gesture and more…

9 Dec

England resumes…

The England team is finally back in India to complete the tour. Looks like the ECB’s security advisor gave a go ahead to the tour after his short diplomatic visit to India last week. I am sure the cricketing fraternity and BCCI will be relieved! And the PCB must be wishing that they had enough money to buy any number of cricketers and cricket boards around the world!

Are the English players really happy?

Bracken to bowl spin???

Well, that is quite a strange news! Nathan Bracken, the ODI pacer of Australia, is working on improving his test selection chances and the opportunistic route that he is taking is via spin bowling. Everybody knows that Team Australia is in the lookout of the right composition for their test side and the main problem is lack of good spin bowlers. It seems, Nathan even unleashed his spin against Tasmanians in a domestic match and took 8 wickets!

Could it bring a positive change to Australia and Bracken?

On a lighter note, could Shaun Tait have done it as well :) His injuries and fears are related to express fast bowling alone, so…

Dhoni’s gesture

India’s no-nonsense captain, known for his unorthodox ways of living life and cricket, has donated his income from two matches for the terror victims in Mumbai. Good gesture MS! I wish many others, who are after running high profile restaurants and fitness clubs, did a similar job.

PCB considering neutral venues

The Pakistan Cricket Board is seriously considering the option of a neutral venue, for the planned tour of India to Pakistan, due to the terror situation in both countries and the looming worries of a military action. At the moment this seems to be the only chance for Pakistan to play some test matches in the next four to five months or so.

Team Australia in problem solving mode

28 Nov

After their debacle in India hardly a couple of weeks ago, the Team Australia probably already figured what has been missing in them. The following have been the real issues for Australia.

  • Their experienced batsmen like Matthew Hayden and Ricky Ponting did not fire at the top of the order
  • The bowling department lacked versatality with no quality spinners around. Stuart Clark, who is almost in the McGrawth pedigree, was injured
  • The mood swings of extremely talented all rounders like Andrew Symonds is costing the team a lot and the team composition and morale suddenly changed

Australia is searching for and in need of a new combination

There is no doubt that Shane Warne or Glen McGrawth cannot be easily replaced. However, what they could do is to get the team composition right and build the team around that principle. At the same time too much of experiments can cost them a lot as well. For example, there is no explanation why Shane Watson and Shaun Marsh need to wait forever to have a fixed slot for themselves. With Matthew Hayden hopelessly out of form and getting no younger, can’t they fix the opening slot first?

The spinner slot seems to be the biggest issue for Australia at the moment. The experimentation is continuing here with even mediocre spinners getting recall – Nathan Hauritz being the latest, who is back to the squad after a break of seven years or so. I really can’t see a quality spinner coming out of the current probables – once Warne and McGill were gone, it was a big void there!

Brett Lee, who has been fighting some personal issues, is still not anywhere near his best. Fortunately, Mitchel Johnson and Stuart Clark are doing a decent job to cover that up. But outside Australia all of them may suffer.

What is going good?

One good thing that has happened to Australia, of late, is the comeback (again) boy Simon Katich‘s form. When you are in and out of the team (think of VVS) it’s very hard to come back motivated but Katich is an altogether new person now who is matured and who really want the baggy green cap. Hope Cricket Australia appreciates his effort at least now. Another good thing is the Captain-next, Michael Clarke‘s form as well as energy levels. I guess, he may get into Ponting’s shoes earlier than we all thought.

Good luck to Australia’s future plans! A few things are getting better with the ongoing home test series against New Zealand. One needs to wait and watch whether the same will be the case against quality test sides.

Australia – New Zealand test series – 1st Test Review

25 Nov

We had an exceptional test match at the Gabba, Brisbane that highlighted the bowling performances mainly, by both the teams. Barring Michael Clarke and Simon Katich in the first and second innings respectively there were not any great batting performances. Good to see that Michael Clarke is getting more and more ready to take over the reigns where as the always sidelined and soft spoken Katich is suddenly everything of Australia’s top order with Hayden and Ponting miseries continuing.

New Zealand’s Lazy approach after initial spurt

Time and again this has happened. I thought, New Zeland got out of this mode after Vettori started showing more and more fighting spirit and pouring in more inspiration. But none of the New Zealand batsmen showed the intend to stay longer and infact, they lost the match on second day itself. After restricting Australia to a mere 214 in the first innings, they should have taken a vital 40-50 runs lead in the first innings. Had the game spread into the whole of 4th day, things could have been different.

Pace Bowling…

This is the first time I am seeing the teenager Kiwi, Thimothy Southee bowling! In fact, after seeing him ripping through Aussies’ top order in the first innings, I thought a new star is born for NZ. Anyways, Chris Martin is getting a little older. The Martin-Southee-O’Brien pace combo looks good though the main difference between the New Zealand pace team and other test playing nations pace battery is that NZ doesn’t have a quality left hand pace bowler. Nevertheless, this is one of their finest attacks in years.

I guess we are talking too much about the NZ bowling here. Australian bowling attack seems to have regrouped very well after they fell apart in the dead pitches of India.

Hayden and Ponting

Both these old stalwarts failed miserably again. Ponting is also finding it difficult to cope with his low over-rates yet again. According to me the main problem here are two:

1. Not having a quality spin bowler who could bowl 20 or 25 overs in two or three spells every day. The all-pace attack usually consumes more time.
2. Too many left-right hand combinations in the opposition team.

It is high time the Australian think tank did something about this issue. This can also prove to be bad for the opposition team as their momentum is sometimes lost due to Ponting overdoing stuff on the field.

Despite the victory, the Australian team is not the same again and I am predicting that their downside is yet to be seen (along side the recession that the world is witnessing right now)

Tail Piece: The media seems to be too much obsessed with what Andrew Symonds is doing on a daily basis. I guess, it’s time to leave the talented all rounder alone so that he gets back on track as early as possible.

Border Gavaskar Trophy series review – One hell of a performance by the Indians :)

12 Nov

For the last one and half months, cricket fans around the world got to see one of the best test series ever involving two great test playing nations. The Border – Gavaskar Series 2008 was exciting not just because the Indian won the series 2-0, but it also put an end to Australia’s dominance in World cricket. More importantly, India seems to have combined high energy, great motivation levels, team combination and the urge to perform under its new captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni and coach Gary Kirsten.

Turning Points and deciding factors

According to me, the folowing were the turning points of this series that took things in India’s favour.

  • Excellent opening stands in almost all tests by Sehwag-Gambhir as well as Sehwag-Vijay combo
  • The partnership between Zaheer Khan and Harbhajan Singh, in the drawn Bangalore test, when Australia was on top. India managed to save the first match, just like the rain hit first test in the 2003 series down under, where the draw inspired the things to come
  • Kumble sitting out in the second test at Mohali, Mahendra Singh Dhoni taking the reigns and inspiring the team to a win. Dada proved why he’s a fighter yet again! Amit Mishra, the debutant, ran through the Aussies lineup with a Fiver in the first innings. An allround bowling performance in the second innings proved too much for the Australians
  • The Delhi test will only be remembered for batting feast and Kumble’s retirement. I personally thought that he should not have played that match but gracefully retire when Dhoni showcased his leadership skills!
  • Fab 4 one last time together, in the fourth test, proved too much for the Australians after a Dhoni led team decisively beat the Australians. Ponting’s decision to continue with his part timers to escape a match ban cost him the test and the series!
  • The ‘lucky’ Indian captain Mahendra Singh Dhoni winning all his tosses meant that there was no stopping for India. Toss is a real decider in the Indian conditions, so…

What was the difference between the sides?

Barring the injured Anil Kumble and out of form Rahul Dravid, it was really an excellent series show by Team India. India’s bowling attack was versatile and almost all the time pinging for wickets. Batsmen and all-rounders backed up each other and performed as a team. Dhoni’s leadership by example was a treat to watch and so was the spirit within. The only improvement area, perhaps, is the ground and slip fielding.

Australia on the other hand were marred by their poor team selection, especially in the bowling department. Their speedsters could not reverse swing the SG balls and their spinners were not causing any major challenge to the Indian batsmen. Australia’s major batsmen really did not click nor were they consistent. This added additional headache to the bowlers.

Ponting’s captaincy was below par as well and he even showed his personal grudge against own team mates on and off the ground.

Learnings

Phasing out the old warhorses one by one and inducting the right people at the right time is something India is doing great and it is really working (at least within India). Australia on the other hand is still struggling in the bowling department after improper succession plans once McGrath and Warne were out.

Another learning is that the Australian team right now is just like any other team and they can be beaten by anybody. They may regroup and try to attack the way they used to do, but the skills do not seem to be the same anymore.

Two stalwarts going out

And for the stalwarts – Anil Kumble and Sourav Ganguly – that are going out, I will be dedicating separate posts soon…