Truly an innings to remember, Michael Clarke's unbeaten 329 against India at Sydney is arguably one of the best innings ever. Take a five minute break to watch the master in action, as he carts a hapless Indian bowling attack all around the SCG! Goodness knows why he declared!
Friday, 17 February 2012
Thursday, 9 February 2012
Averaging only 34, with a solitary hundred in his 108 ODIs to date, it's clear that Bell's potential is far from realised. Indeed, despite some breath taking performances, most notably against India at Southampton in 2007, and Bangladesh at Nottingham in 2010, a quick perusal of his career ODI scores reveals that Bell often fails to kick on after establishing himself at the crease. In his 103 ODI innings, Bell has lost his wicket 30 times between the scores of 30 and 49. Compare this with only 11 in his 122 test innings, and it's clear that going on to obtain that big, match-winning score in ODIs, has provided something more of a challenge for Bell. At first glance, this might suggest a problem in his mentality; a lack of concentration, a lack of hunger or a shirking of responsibility. To a certain degree, this is true, but i'd argue that Bell's predominantly orthodox approach to batting is his main downfall. As the game is developing, purity is regrettably becoming obsolete. A deeper analysis of the game, a greater deal of tactical nouse shown by captains and more athleticism in the field means that batsmen have had to develop and re-mould their game to ensure continued success; perhaps this has something Bell has failed to do. I wouldn't go so far as to say that Bell can't succeed unless he reverse sweeps and/or Dilscoops everything that comes his way, yet it semms that his strike-rate languishing at a mere 73.31, would suggest that his desire to play 'correctly' can often lead to him getting bogged down at the crease, struggling to rotate the strike, and inevitably piling pressure on both himself and his teammates. Perhaps the pressure of his slow scoring rate can lead to him attempting something out of the ordinary to remedy the situation, thus giving away his wicket (indeed, 'Ian Bell' and 'soft dismissal' aren't exactly an incongruous pair).
|Jos Buttler reverse sweeps.|
Now 29, and with the likes of Jos Buttler impressing the selectors, perhaps Bell has played his last ODI for England. Andy Flower has made clear that Bell is 'not too old to fight his way back into the side', but for me, it seems wholly unlikely that he will. The only slot available would be at number 6, yet Bell's style of play wouldn't exactly suit the more agricultural approach needed lower down the order. He should focus on regaining his form in the Test arena, where he has much to contribute, and leave the youngsters to take on the white ball.
Thursday, 26 January 2012
Having seen the way he's batted over the last couple of days, it's hard to believe that Ricky Ponting is approaching the end of his career. Crunching drives down the ground, searing pull shots through mid-wicket, his majestic 221 at Adelaide, during which he became only the third man to manage 13 000 runs in tests, was a showcase of his endless flair, style and talent. With no plans of immediate retirement, we can enjoy watching the great man for at least a little longer, but what does the long-term future hold for Australian cricket?
Without wanting to take anything away from Warner's efforts however, in my opinion, a couple of good knocks, against a couple of average bowling attacks, don't define a player. My judgement as to his longevity will come when he has battled Steyn, Morkel and Philander of South Africa, played the Indians (or even the rejuvenated Pakistanis) on the sub-continent, and opened the batting in an Ashes test as Lord's against England. If he comes through these challenges unscathed, then Warner will definitely be one for the future. Judging by his record, Warner has both the attitude, and the aptitude to rise to the challenge and forge a successful career at the top of the order for the Aussies. We hope..
His more recent outings however, have not been as fruitful. His last 5 innings against the Indians have yielded, wait for it... a breath-taking 17 runs. Breath-taking because a man who has shown so much promise, has at times looked simply clueless. At the moment, he's the only Australian having any trouble against a lackluster Indian attack. Warner, Clarke, Ponting and Mr. Cricket all have tons (or doubles) in this series, Cowan has two fifties, whereas Marsh has nothing. He's in serious trouble. With another innings victory looming for the Aussies, a chance for him to knuckle down and play a real innings looks slim. Indeed, he would be very lucky to have earned a place on the plane to the West Indies later this year based on his recent performances. Perhaps a short sabbatical from the international scene would serve him well - a chance to collect his thoughts, work on his game, and aliment his hunger to wear the Baggy Green for his country. It worked for Ponting and Clarke, it may just work for him...
Monday, 23 January 2012
|Time running out: How long until Ponting, Hussey and Haddin get the boot?|
|Hughes and Warner: The future of Australian cricket?|
Saturday, 21 January 2012
A quiet day for cricket today, so I thought i'd do a short 'On this Day' post.
21st January 1948 - George Headley.
The 21st January 1948 made cricketing history, as George Headley became the first black player to captain the West Indies. Headley led his team to a draw against England at the Kensington Oval, Barbados, falling to Jim Laker in the first innings for 29. For reasons unknown to me, he batted at 11 in the second innings, making an unbeaten 7, before declaring on 351-9, setting England 394 to win. England were 86 for 4 when the match was brought to a close. This test was the 20th of Headley's 22, in a war-interrupted career spanning 24 years. Headley, hailed as 'The Black Bradman' accumulated 2190 runs at an average of 60.83, with 10 centuries, 8 of which came against England.
Headley was never meant to be a cricketer. Whilst waiting for his passport to go to the United States to study dentistry, he was selected to play against a visiting English team led by Tennyson. After 78 in the first innings, and 211 in the second, Headley never looked back. Making his test debut in Bridgetown in 1930, his second test innings yielded 176 runs. This was followed by 114 and 122 in his 3rd test, and a marathon 224 in his 4th. A true genius, Headley destroyed attacks all over the world, and knowing his team's hopes rested on his shoulders, loved to play the big match-winning innings. Headley served as a beacon for West Indies cricket, with former Jamaican president Michael Manley hailing him as 'black excellence personified in a white world and a white sport'. One of the West Indies' true greats, it's a shame he didn't get the opportunity to showcase his endless talent in more than a handful of games.
21st January 1991 - David Gower and John Morris.
Less significantly, 21st January marks the anniversary of David Gower's and John Morris' infamous Tiger Moth prank on the 1990/91 Ashes tour to Australia. Annoyed at losing his captaincy, and oppressed by strict regime of Graham Gooch, Gower suggested hiring a Tiger Moth biplane to buzz the match between an England XI and Queensland. Having smashed two centuries earlier in the series, Gower, assured of his form, got himself out cheaply, feeling the game to be a waste of time. Gower and Morris took to the skies, buzzing the game with Robin Smith and Allan Lamb at the crease. They had intended to drop water bombs on their teammates, but luckily, for those on the ground anyway, the pilots managed to talk them out of it. Both players were fined £1000 and banned from the following summer's tests against the West Indies.
Friday, 20 January 2012
When a crowd of little more than 12 000 showed up to the SCG to watch the tournament opener, the organisers must have had a few nervous thoughts. Despite the empty seats in the stadium however, couches and armchairs all across Australia were occupied, as the first game's ratings dwarfed those of last year's final! Since then, both ticket sales and television views have gone from strength to strength, with Shane Warne's debut for the Melbourne Stars generating the fourth-highest audience in television pay-TV history, and the semi-final at the WACA between the Perth Scorchers and the Melbourne Stars selling out in just half an hour.
The tournament so far has provided some scorching entertainment, namely in the form of blistering centuries from Luke Wright, David Warner and of course, Chris Gayle. Will it however, rekindle the interest of Australians in non-Ashes test matches? Only time will tell!
More to come! Stay tuned...
Thursday, 19 January 2012
Sri Lankan cricket has had a huge shake up today, with its selection panel dissolved by the minister for sport, and replaced by another headed by Duleep Mendis. Following a poor performance against South Africa, coach Geoff Marsh, and captain Dilshan face losing their jobs, with Mahela Jayawardene in line to become the new captain. It seems strange that the government take such an interest in the national cricket team, with the Sri Lankan minister for sport, Aluthgamage, saying it is 'responsibility of the Sri Lankan government and the Sports Ministry' to take 'stern and appropriate action' to ensure that Sri Lanka becomes 'the number one team in the world'.
To me it all seems wrong, Sri Lanka don't need short-term change. Making Jayawardene captain is a short sighted move. What will happen when he retires? Much like India, Sri Lanka are coming to the end of an era of great players. Jayawardene, Sangakarra, Dilshan, Samaraweera are all 34 or older, and passing the captaincy around these four players will get Sri Lanka nowhere. Sri Lanka have already suffered through the retirement of Murali. With nobody prepared to fill his shoes when he retired, Sri Lanka have lacked that prolific wicket taker. Murali monopolised the primary spinners' spot for years, meaning that when he retired, nobody was sufficiently capable or experienced to take his place. Sri Lanka risk the same with their batting.
When i think of Sri Lanka, it's hard to think of a solid or established XI. Outside the big four, how many players have played regularly over the last few years? Not many. Sri Lanka have been extremely short sighted with their selection. A few bad performances and a player loses their place in the team. They're not thinking about the future; but the present. It's a case of 'who'll score runs today?' rather than 'who'll be scoring runs in five years?'.
3 poor matches for Kaushal Silva and he's gone. A few average games for Upul Tharanga and Chamara Silva and they're dropped. A test average of 33 for Paranavitana and he's not good enough. And i think we all know what's gonna happen to Thirimanne... Sri Lanka are trying to find instant solutions, rather than thinking of long term development. Look at England, every single one of England's top 5 (except Trott) have been in dreadful form at times. Imagine if England had dropped Ian Bell after the 2005 Ashes. Imagine if Andrew Strauss was never given another chance in New Zealand in 2008. Imagine if Cook was dropped before he went on to massacre the Aussies in the 10/11 Ashes. England have persevered, and thought about the future, and look where they are now; number in the world rankings. Where are Sri Lanka? 6th, and with 1 win in 18 months. And this is with the big 4...