Archive for the ‘Ashes 2006’ Category

Australia complete win For the first time in 86 years, the Ashes has seen a whitewash. And from the moment the cricket became a sideshow to the three retirements, it was always clear that there would be mini battles that would be played out.

And so there were. McGrath vs Warne, Langer vs Hayden and not for who will win it, but who will complete the final rites. As it turned out, McGrath got the last wicket and Hayden scored the winning runs. But the biggest result of this Test would be that Australia have come to the end of an era.

And there is finally hope for a new generation of players to make their mark. And this applies to players from other countries too! Maybe now someone can beat Australia!

Australia’s next Test assignment is an easy one against Zimbabwe (albeit away) in September. But thereafter come 6 Tests against Sri Lanka (2) and India (4). And this would be a real tester for them before their away tours to Pakistan and the West Indies in 2008. So time is on their side for rebuilding.

But a big “thank you” is in order for McGrath and Warne for being the fantastic sportsmen they have been and to Langer for his grit and making opening batting an art. Thanks, guys. You will be missed…

Testemonials: Shane Warne | Glenn McGrath | Justin Langer timeline [All via Cricinfo]

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It’s indeed very rare that India goes into the final Test of an away series with a chance of winning the series. They do have the chance this time around and would be foolish not to have a go.

But they are also in a peculiar situation because a draw would allow them to come back home without losing the series and that doesn’t happen too often when India travels! But the first thoughts must be to try and win and if not, then draw. Well, d-uh!

But for India to win, there are some things that need to happen:

  • Sehwag must not play: Apart from a couple of good catches, he has contributed nothing to the team so far. Sure he picked up Morne Morkel’s wicket in the SA 2nd Innings at Durban, but that cannot be why he is in the team. He is an opening batsman and scores of 4, 33, 0 and 8 (avg: 12.25) are simply not good enough. On the other hand, Gautam Gambhir, who played the makeshift two-day game between the first and second Tests, managed a 79*. So if Irfan Pathan can be sent back on grounds of being ‘not in form’ without even playing a Test, Sehwag can surely be sent back after failing in two.
  • Munaf Patel should play: VRV Singh has done a pretty good job of it so far, considering he has played only 4 Tests so far, but if India are serious about winning the series, Munaf Patel simply has to play. And now that he’s fit and Vengsarkar feels he has had enough practice too, it won’t do any harm in fielding him in the final XI.
  • Someone needs to talk to Dravid and Tendulkar: VVS Laxman and Sourav Ganguly have shown signs of a fight. Tendulkar did that only on the third day until he threw his wicket away. Someone needs to tell him that his wicket is the most important in the team and losing that has psychological effects on both sides. Of course he knows it, but reinstating that could not hurt. As for Dravid, maybe one of the touring commentators (like Gavaskar or Shastri) could have a word with him and tell him to just hang around… he is crucial to India’s success and the link between the top order and middle order. His failure is instant pressure on an already underperforming middle order.
  • Umpiring needs to be fair and consistent: While neither team can control this, the ‘uncertainty’ from umpiring decisions needs to be taken away. Asad Rauf giving Dravid out both times to bad decisions is unacceptable. So is Sreesanth’s decision in the fourth innings at Durban. Who know what could have happened after that? And while it has been said often, there is a desperate need for more umpires on the ICC Elite panel. Even David Shepherd thinks so. And yes, I think the third umpire too should be neutral.

I sincerely hope India makes it through… not often that the bowling is making the opposition (home) dance to its tunes! And please watch out for Ntini!

1st Test Scorecard | 2nd Test Scorecard

Oh, and about the other Test series going on (yes, the Ashes), England may as well forfeit the game, say it’s 0-5 and save themselves some pride for the ODIs coming up. The stage (with three retirees) is simply too big for them to perform on now. Prediction: Australia should win by an innings and plenty!

Glenn McGrath First it was Martyn. Then went Warnie. Then it will be McGrath. That leaves the current Australian team with only a few seasoned campaigners, all of who are well into their 30s. Let’s face it, Ponting’s not exactly young at 32. Neither are Gilchrist, Hayden or even Hussey for that matter. Maybe Hussey has the most time left.

But 12 months down the line, the Australian line-up could well look dramatically different…

Australia Test XI in Perth (3rd Test, Ashes 2006)

  1. Matthew Hayden (35 yrs)
  2. Justin Langer (36 yrs)
  3. Ricky Ponting (32 yrs)
  4. Michael Hussey (31 yrs)
  5. Michael Clarke (25 yrs)
  6. Andrew Symonds (31 yrs)
  7. Adam Gilchrist (35 yrs)
  8. Shane Warne (37 yrs; retiring for sure)
  9. Brett Lee (30 yrs)
  10. Stuart Clark (31 yrs)
  11. Glenn McGrath (36 yrs; retiring for sure)

This would remain largely unchanged (perhaps with the exception of Andrew Symonds) till the final Ashes Test, but the next Test Australia will play after that would see a very different side indeed…

  1. Matthew Hayden Any takers?
  2. Justin Langer Any takers?
  3. Ricky Ponting
  4. Michael Hussey
  5. Michael Clarke
  6. Andrew Symonds He may HAVE to play!
  7. Adam Gilchrist (?) How long?
  8. Shane Warne Stuart MacGill?
  9. Brett Lee
  10. Stuart Clark
  11. Glenn McGrath Shane Watson?

This makes only 5 of the current 11 certain starters (subject to fitness, form and selection). Not a nice situation to be in. What’s worse, is that none of the new crop would get a chance to be groomed alongside the two great bowlers. And let’s face it… Brett Lee isn’t exactly mentoring material yet. He himself has a long way to go before he can be considered someone who can groom upcoming bowlers.

The average age of the current Australian side is 32 and a half years! And if they keep blooding players at 31, that will always remain the case. But so long as they are winning, what’s wrong with that?

The trouble is that at some point, they would run out of experienced quality players who can be called up from domestic cricket to face the vagaries of the international scene. Just take a look at the differences of the careers of Michael Hussey and Michael Clarke. Both bat in the middle order and both have had some good times. But after a rousing start, Clarke fell away and was on the sidelines for a short while. Which is when Hussey came in. To be honest, they are both captain material as well and Australia would do well by appointing the younger one as the next captain. Ponting should perhaps start the ‘grooming’ process immediately, if he already hasn’t.

One generation of Australian cricketers has perhaps already missed the boat. People like Hussey and Clark (Stuart) are lucky that they got a chance so late. Clark owes it to the burned out Gillespie while Hussey owes it in part to Steve Waugh, Andrew Symonds and maybe even Michael Clarke!

But to be fair, the future doesn’t look too promising and while the larder may not exactly be bare, it appears rather thinly populated at this point. For most names that are often discussed or recommended are in the ‘late bloomers’ category.

In some way, this is following the trend that the great West Indian side of the ’80s faced. The last two of that legacy, Walsh and Ambrose, had to struggle to keep it going. Australia may well be headed down the same path unless they take some risks in the short term and set things right for the long term. A crop of players like they have had over the last 20 years is rare and even by their standards, it will become rarer again.

One hopes that in the rarified air of high success, they don’t lose sight of the crowd at the bottom that is perhaps ready to be given a chance.

Shane Warne ia back and he’s doing what he does best: terrorising English batsmen! The latest installment in this 12-year payment programme came at Adeleide.

And some have likened his terror to that wreaked by hands running amok in an English castle. The story ‘The Beast With Five Fingers’ could well be Warne’s autobiography title except that it has already been taken by W F Harvey!

Anyways, Warnie’s more of a myth to the Indian fan having not had to see their team suffer at his hands. That, of course, is speaking relatively. But it sounds better when said absolutely!

Come on, Pommies! Stand up to him. At least once!

[Via: The Telegraph]

 I sure hope I do not jinx this for England, but they are looking good in the ongoing 2nd Ashes Test. Paul Collingwood is close to a hundred and one hopes he does get there this time around. Kevin Pietersen is also looking in good touch and might just make the Aussies pay with a big score. I sure hope so!

But more than the English batting display, what interests me is how the English bowling would fare. On a pitch where the Australians are struggling on Day 1, there is a good chance that the Aussies may just pile up a massive total putting pressure on England. And then again, they have that wizard Shane Warne who can make the most of a Day 4/5 pitch if Australia does manage to get a massive total.

Whatever the case, the series seems to be well and truly alive and England may just be able to get something out of it. Or have I spoken too soon?

There is some great coverage of the Ashes to be found at Cricket 24×7, Six & Out and The Burnt Bail among others. Check it out. 

[Scorecard via Cricinfo]

Not really fair, is it?

A bit unfair, no to write off the England team after just one day, no? Especially if we were to remember how the last series panned out… And day 2 has not been exactly one-sided now, has it?

And if music is your thing, here’s a song about Brett Lee killing Freddie Flintoff. Sing it to the tune of Queen’s Bohemian Rhapsody.

Brett Lee just killed a man

Bowled a ball around his head,

hit his temple, now he’s dead.

Freddie, your time has come

Your Ashes urn was here but now it’s blown away


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It’s Ashes time and while the ‘mind-games’ have been on for a while, the biggest piece of news has been Marcus Trescothick pulling out (rather suspicously, if you ask me) and Steve Harmison declaring himself fit. I mean, isn’t someone else, like a doctor, supposed to do that?

The other good thing to have happened of late is that cricket season is well and truly underway. West Indies struggle against Pakistan, India wait for the clouds to clear so they can take on South Africa and the Ashes is just around the corner…

Fun shall be had!


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