Wednesday, March 31, 2010
Sunday's play was them doubling their score and us batting bravely and with heart.
Even second behind the Bective etam of this year is an achievement.
Well played each any every one of you City fellas.
Saturday, March 27, 2010
City United 144 (Ben Cleghorn 35, Cory Callcott 30, Josh Allen 28x) v Bective East 3-151 (Ben Cleghorn 2-48)
It would be pointless to sugar coat the situation after the first day. Against a side which has been undefeated all year and which is strong right across the park, the prospect of taking 17 of their wickets whilst scoring enough to catch them and set them a target is a daunting one. However ... stranger things have happened on cricket fields. Faced with the question "what is enough runs against Bective", we could ony must a semi-target which proved inadequate but it wasn't for a lack of trying. Cory Callcott batted with great responsibility in the middle order helped by the agile garden decoration, Robbie Smith. The ever reliable Josh Allen was again superb in the tail. He found an aly in Ben Cleghorn who played probably his best innings of the season. With the ball, all of our bowlers tried hard and Paul Lawrence gave another gutsy spell for the team despite a reoccuring back injury. Josh Allen was quick and Ben Cleghorn bowled a twelve over spell which caused all the Bective bastmen concern. Simon Bellamy bowled well early in the innings. All the bowlers probably bowled too many wide full balls but that's better than dropping too short. It's all before us but there's nothing to loose. To paraphrase the President, "it's footprint time!"
Friday, March 26, 2010
Administrators, regardless of the country or countries they purport to represent are never slow to tread in the horse shit once the horse has bolted.
In Pakistan, almost everyone who toured Australia this summer has been fined, suspended or cast scornful glances. To make sure they cover all the ground they should have first looked over before the players trod in it, some, like Shahid Afridi are being punished twice for offences just to make sure. As a result, no one is talking to anyone and as usual, no one seems to know what is going on in Pakistan cricket. Still, no change there and what a glowing example it is even down to the local club level. Ah, self-interest. How well it drives the decision making at the local club. It would be otherwise called avaris but its too hard to spell.
In England, the Second XI competition is to have its 40 over games (previously F4's I guess) turned into four innings of 20 overs. Lord knows what you call that? halfF40 maybe or 2T20? As most of the second eleven bowlers will be downsized to the status of pie chuckers, perhaps they could consider calling it the Four & Twenties comp? What a terrific way to take the game forward. Tests could be reduced to four set days with one innings each day giving South Africa the edge should they chose to race the latest sensation from the Veld, the left handed Rilee Rossouw into the side. Yesterday he almost Barry Richards first class record for the most runs in a day by a Sarth Efriken. Better still, play Tests as a one day game starting at 2pm, under the Four & Twenties format with eleven batsman a side and bowling machines at one end.
What a spectacle. Still, we need to cater for those who wander through life with brains packaged by Birdseye. My only concern is that many of the spectators at these limited or even very limited overs games (now there's a coincidence in terminology) is that, as we are all born with only so many words in us which when exhausted brings on our demise ... well, how are we going to cater for corpses dropping in their seat in the midst of a mexican wave or another Dave warner six. I mean, initially we'd boo them when they don't jump up but after that I mean. Mobile morgues I guess?
Northants, wise to the new developments in English cricket, have just signed India's Phil Hughes.
Meanwile, as England prepare for their defence of the Ashes, James Anderson is still trying to understand why his knee troubles him so. Smart fella is Jimmy, judging by this quote when asked about the injury "It can be quite difficult to decipher what is a niggle and what can cause you problems - because as a bowler you are never really 100% fit. You always have a niggle or two. This one started as a niggle and just got worse and worse." Be careful Jimmy, there is a frog looking for you with a pimple on its bum.
To the real news and Dan Vettori plays his 100th Test on his home ground, starting tomorrow when the Kiwis take anoth tilt at the Aussies in Hamilton. He'll have a new old man at No 3, with Matthew Sinclair almost certain to take over from Peter Ingram. Having been on the outer from Tests for two years and at age 34, he will bring experience and toughness to the role but I'm not sure it will be enough to expect him to be the acnchor of a big NZ first innings score. Its true that two of Vettori's five hundreds have been scored here and Brendon McCullum played a strong hand but only when it was too late. When will NZ stop relying on the man in glasses to make it happen and started shoulding the lad themselves? The best news all week was the thought to include the kid Kane Williamson. For the Black Caps to grow again, they have to start growing talent. What better place to test your talent against the best?
For Australia, Watson will return and the team physio, Phil the Greek, has assured the media that as Watto has strained, torn or rupture 95% of his body already, he shouldn't miss too many more games in the future. There are, however, concerns about his camera angles.
This game will be tighter as Austalia don't care and its been a long season. They should win but they might have to raise themselves for an unexprected scrap. I fell a big hundred coming from Ponting.
Thursday, March 25, 2010
Wednesday, March 24, 2010
In Melbourne, Victoria have just completed a mammoth thrashing of the "eh" boys, with both teams chock-a-block with relative unknowns (your auntie's second cousin) and only Hussey and White as remnants from the Shield final played five years ago at the Gabba. In that game, Victoria were batted out of existence by Qld's first innings of 6-900, as Jimmy Maher and an unusually fit Shane Watson got doubles and Martin Love and Clinton Perron scored big singles. Victoria folded up their deck chairs early as another youngster, Mitchell Johnson took 10 wickets for the match.
Luckily for Hussey and White, who both featured in the Vic's second dig in Melbourne, James Hopes and Chris Hartley were fellow time travellers from that earlier match in Brisbane. It's so much nicer dishing out second and third courses of revenge in person.
McGain got second innings wickets but he's a leggie from old and unlikely to play too often above this grade. Too loose. Control was Warne's greatest virtue and as he was the first, a second is unlikely to surface for a while yet. As a guide to how long we may have to wait ... let's see ... by the time John Howard is out of cricket ...
Many said Victoria, despite their outstanding season, couldn't win a Final without Hodge and at 6-75 with their big guns having already shot their pop, Many was looking right. Who is Many? Must be a Jewish commentator? The opinions of the Zion Zealot hadn't figured on a tail that was intent on having runs to bowl at and successive partnerships from Matthew Wade, John Hastings, Doug Wright and Darren Pattinson quadrupled the precarious earlier position. It was this recover that turned and eventually won the match.
Faced with a fish they had let off the hook, many of the Northerners got starts but only Broad got runs. From there, Qld's game was like Hillary at the top of Everest ... it was all downhill. White and Hussey feasted and the lesser known Vics all came to the table for at least some of the courses.
The pleasing thing about the Victorian victory is that it was just. They have been the most consistent team all season and deserved another etching on Lord Sheffield's symbol of what was then Victorian colonialism. Apt, would'nt you say?
For Hussey and White, it was just so much sweeter.
Tuesday, March 23, 2010
Wrapping up the performances, how much can we take from the consistent bowling of Ryan Harris and the second innings whirlwind of Phil Hughes? Not a lot, actually because neither are destined to be wearing their green caps for long unless injuries become prolonged. Harris is a good performer and has some crossover cred from the short game to this loftier stage but he can expect to have the same chance of stopping Peter Siddle from returning in his place as a herd of flirtatious friesians might have of avoiding the bull. Hughes at least had some fun on the last day and like Katich, he enjoyed the favour of not only a bad idea but also the bad interpretation of a bad idea. He's often in two minds and neither are fit for the realities of Test cricket. This slap and giggle effort isn't likely to redeem him and is the first score of note, in nine innings spread over four countries, which has exceeded 40 and made at a time when it didn't matter.
Pressure has a way of bending realities. The best at standing the strains and stresses wear the Baggy Greens the longest.
I was looking for Aces the other day and found McIntosh - admittedly only a Spade but still, he might polish up. Had I been looking yesterday I would have found instead a Joker called McCullum. You know the Joker, he bobs up from time to time but nobody knows when. He's flashy and in your face but doesn't really belong to anyone's tribe. Perhaps that's a little harsh because McCullum batted well, in one of his more restrained efforts in a Black Cap (make no mistake, Kiwis treasure their head wear every bit as us Aussies). At least he and his still pimpled Skipper - the inspiration for Harry Potter - showed that there is fight in this Kiwi outfit.
In the end, this was a match in which Ponting and his men didn't so much apply the blow torch as the steam roller. Bollinger and Harris were good, Hauritz unlucky and Johnson was Johnson ... just like the little girl with the curl, when he is good he is very, very good but when he is bad he is horrid. He can still disappear for sessions on end, waiting perhaps for someone to upset him. It doesn't matter to Ponting as his theory is runs, scored fast, will bat your opponent out of the game and the bowlers can please themselves. He learnt the first half of the equation from a predecessor, Mr Tubbs. The second half of his conceptual construct is just pure Ponting.
But it wins matches and it won this one.
Post match, Harry Vettori had a few things to say about the referral system. He's too honest this lad. He's also right. The way the rules are framed for the use of the technology manages to find short falls but not in the cameras, infrared or otherwise. Can you believe we have welcomed technology to the table to remove or at least greatly reduce human error, only so the third umpire can exercise more of the same. The Thirdies need a new framework which removes all of the legalistic terminolgoy and guidelines and conditions and just asks one question ..."is he out?" Apply the same need for certainty which has always existed everywhere from backyards to Basin Reserve (there, I got it in one last time) and you have the ability to make a decision.
Australia far too good.
Monday, March 22, 2010
Yesterday at the Basin Reserve - I just like saying that name as it sums the Kiwis - so again, yesterday at the Basin reserve, at least one of the lesser aces may have shown his face. Not Vettori, who despite his elevated status as a batsman, is ocassionally an Ace of Diamonds but rather a potential Ace of Spades in Tim McIntosh.
Some say McIntosh's are outdated and this one certainly bats like an old timer but at least he has spent nearly six hours at the crease against the blustery conditions the Australians have bought to bear against the Kiwi deck of cards. He may be worth building a suite on. He alone looked prepared to fight.
Leading the way for the fast moving, hot air mob was Doug Bollinger, a man long on enthusiasm even if a tad short on top order thinking. If ever a cricketer was more aptly named, I'm scratching to think of him or even her. The man just bubbles and fizzes and after a few sips you find yourself smiling.
Its an uneven contest and will be still until New Zealand nurture more Crowes and less Taylors. Here is ultimate dangerous result of eating a diet of fast food cricket because its cheap, nasty and done with with quickly. When you eat this way too much, you have no idea of what to do with a three course meal.
Speaking of meals, looks like by lunch time 4th day the desserts will be over.
Saturday, March 20, 2010
They might have been fooled into thinking the track was placid after Australia's two men from the West scored hundred with apparent ease. That man from the real West - Sydney's - gathered up a recovery hundred which placed his love life in proper perspective and should quell those with robust thoughts which they planned to crush his apparent metrosexual bones with and in doing so, end him. No other act he can complete in the years ahead will more assure him of the Captaincy when his turn come on the musical chair.
The other, from that mythical West where holes in the ground mourn the tailgate of trucks and girls are grown to match the prettiness of the sand and sea ... North from the West, scored a redemption hundred (again) with all of the assurity of man who does so every other innings and leaving poor judges, such as myself, wondering how we could have entertain doubt.
Ponting's "early" declaration is a new habit he seems to like repeating but as usual, it's an interpretation from someone else's phrase book. He has always led as though original thought should be shunned and worn bonnet's as homes for the coach's bees. The first time it fails, he'll brush it aside and just bat and bat and bat. Still, regardless of who planted the seed, Ponting has slapped this particular baby to life in recent Tests to wondrous effect.
NZ have started the way they will finish. Watling left to his first ball from Bolinger and then Ingram, having helped add 11 runs in 12 overs dared the Mad Cossack Johnson to a game of Russian roulette in a dash which was a quick half-single at best and ended with the full chamber in his mouth. Oh those Russians.
A postcript to the days play was an interview Ross Taylor gave the media after play, the best gems of which follow.
"We are behind the game now," Taylor said. "The way Dan and Guptill started showing some fight towards the end there was giving us a bit of hope. Tomorrow's going to be an important first session. If we can get out there and not lose a wicket or one at the most, we're back in the game."
An important first session? So far, NZ have lost their top four in a session and a half. The last time I checked, every session of a Test match is impotant. By Taylor's definition, if they lost only one wicket and put on a hundred, NZ would be half out and 250 behind and then, according to Taylor, they'd be back in the game! What if Vettori is the one? I guess when you get your stamps licked and envelopes posted as often as the Kiwis have in the last few years then that position would be akin to being neck and neck!
Lunch time Day Four, tops.
Friday, March 19, 2010
The first Test against the Sheep Shaggers has begun at the Puddy Basin Reserve (is there any other Test venue in the world that is called a reserve?) and several things went as planned or should I say expected. Shane Watson, long overdue an injury, is out with a thigh strain and with those thighs it's no wonder they are strained. I think its caused by flexing them in black and white. Apparently the Australia conditioner and part time souvlaki supplier Alex Kountouris has received the most mail since Bradman was the sheet anchor, with offers from young woman claiming the credentials needed to massage that wounded thigh.
Watson out injured ... surprise, surprise, surprise and if that's not enough, Hughes drops into the team and is caught in the slips after four quick boundaries in another act fully anticipated. I for one am now prepared to say its not going to happen for the Hughes kid. He should go back to first class cricket and in all likelihood stay there. Be a hero in a Blue cap because Green's not going to be your colour.
Australia to win both these games comfortably because Dan Vettori is not a number six and the fact he has scored more runs, taken more wickets and more catches than any other Kiwi in this 1st Test line-up is wonderful for him but a sad testiment on the rest. All of our state sides and most of the 2nd XI's would beat this NZ side. In fact, I'd back the NSW U/19's. They'll be competitive with the ball but their batting has no spine and at times, were it an offence like the voluntary tackle in league, many of NZ's top six (for that read anyone above Vettori) could easily be accused of voluntary dismissals. Vettori will battle away and McCullum and Martin will snort like a bull but to no avail.
The selction of Ryan Harris was necessary against such weak opposition why not take a few giant leaps and bring in Josh Hazelwood and even better, the by now well prepared Steve Smith. The kid is a brilliant fieldsman, an aggressive bat and serviceable leg spinner. If not, send him off on camp with Shane Warne. Sure, he'll come back smoking and with numb texting fingers but he'll be able turn something, hopefully the leg break. Abandon North? Probably but let's face it, he would have been a surer bet opening than Hughes.
Meanwhile, in a match that has some meaning, Victoria and Queensland are going to play this one to the death but its unlikely they'll need the fifth day. Neither side has blokes who can play the long innings but both have handy attacks. It should be attacking cricket.
Tuesday, March 9, 2010
Should you have a prevailing need for more detail, if in fact, you are that sort of person - and here at the Tragics, we won't judge you - just click on the photo to enlarge it.
Personal Issues Force Clarke Home ... batsman leaves one day series
Crowd Antics Spur On Johnson
Ponting Happy With Successful Reaction
Out Of Form North Pleads His Case
Australia's Season In The Sun - rating Australia's successful summer
Apart from items one and three further underlining the class difference at the top of Australian cricket between the sort of sensitivity we would all like to see in our own boys when compared to the thug next door, don't all of these headlines have an air of predictability about them. If batsmen could have picked Murali's doosra with as much efficiency as the public can pick tomorrows cricket headlines, Mr Google Eyes would only have half the wickets.
Same old, same old.
- Australians behave like thugs on the field because the NZ crowd is atrocious ... no, some of them behave like thugs because they are thugs
- The Skipper approves just as long as we win because in the end, its not how you play the game, it's if you win. Wind back a couple of months when Ponting made that call on a wet Sydney morning in arguably the worst piece of captaincy in the history of Australian cricket. But a few days later Australia won, so he was right and Lango's wrong ... right?
- Clarke places his relationship - one he hopes will be for life - above another meaningless ODI tournament, all be it with famous names on the trophy. The public's reaction is to scorn him, call him soft etc etc etc
- North has taken to the media to try and retain his Test spot because, he realises where real power resides in Australian cricket. The media have been selecting our teams and sacking players since the fiasco with Allan Border's retirement
- and Australian cricket endlessly self-promotes the team. Yes, they couldn't have done more this summer (apart from score centuries). No losses and 17 wins from 19 but against two teams so rife with internal division and possibly even the whiff of brown paper bags filled with greenbacks and phone calls from a shadowy figure who uses the pseudonym Jack. For Pete's sake! We may as well have played the City United Thirds for most of the season! Despite all the clean sheets, the two 3 blot Test scorelines still only has us at No.3
The real news and real dangers come in a headline hidden way down the page ...
Sheffield Shield Final Could Be Axed
Why? To allow Cricket Australia to stage an expanded T20 Big Bash. When will cricket authorities learn that it's simple mathematics. If you cater for the lowest common denominator, that's what your game becomes ... low and common.
Friday, March 5, 2010
One conclusion is eminently clear - they don't. For most of the time they just lumber on from one crisis to the other, often bailed out by a higher authority who have paid professionals at their disposal and more experience at making a cock of things.
A second is similar - whilst the details of what these organisations design in their meetings vary (camels from the idea of a horse comes to mind), the nature of how they do it is all too similar.
I should add at this stage, intentions are almost always honourable and so many of these sages on community stages work hard at getting it right, only to get it horribly wrong.
You will all know many examples so I'll only levy the argument with one.
Last weekend, two enterprising first grade skippers from the fourth & sixth placed clubs in Tamworth, both needing maximum points from their last round match to secure end of season positions, decided, after consultation with the umpires, to declare both of their innings closed at 0-0, therefore ensuring both had a chance at securing outright points. The side batting third therefore batted and scored enough runs for three West Indians innings and clearly were well placed for outright points. Nice day's work.
Then the bush lawyers from the fifth-placed club took out their combs and fine-toothed the sacred laws of the MCC and the not nearly as sacred rules of the TDCA until a case was mounted on the grounds that the skippers had made a mistake in the how and therefore inspiration was to slapped on the wrist with a brick. Law 14, correctly stated showed that had the skippers wished to jointly declare at 0-0, their teams would have had to take the field, which they didn't. Therefore, both innings are deemed to have been forfeited therefore interpreting that the winning side could only receive 4 points (6 for 1st innings, 10 for outright normally). Problem is, Law 14 also goes on to say that when an innings is forfeited it is deemed to be a completed innings.
Both teams should already have 3 points for the first innings tie. The winning side should get 7 and the losers 3.
Oops. Bet that flies to roost at appeal and comes back to squirt egg and others barnyard delights on the grey faces.
The second yell from the peanut gallery failed to proceed to a vote but it was on the basis that both skippers had contrived to create a result outside the spirit of the game. It's nice to know that such meetings can occasionally let the wind come under the door and blow some common sense in.
Some left, wondering what they did wrong, others with the eggshells they had clutched at, now firmly in the safe reservoir of pockets to be used to cover other, future disappointing results on the field, where the game, spirit and all, was supposed to be played.
I'm getting old and I'm wondering why I'm not drinking pink gins yet.
POSTSCRIPT: Delicious, ironic rain fell yesterday and will fall again today so that all matches will end in draws. God is in his heaven!
Tuesday, March 2, 2010
He’s a hero because he doesn’t play for money or accolade or recognition – he plays through a combination of a sheer unadulterated love of the game and because he likes the time away from being owned by the man or managed by the woman, to be spent with his mates on Saturday. It’s not like football and never will be. For five or six hours, it’s just man time and much of that is understanding the value this time can be in forming relationship and learning to be the man everyone expects him to be. Before he can dress like – look like – the different expectations people have of him, he needs to stand naked and like what he sees.
Saturday afternoon, playing in the local Club’s colours with other blokes is the most naked he’s prepared to get.
At first, he’s 14 and in his first season – probably in the 4ths with a tribe of beardless youths and one or two old hands who teach as much of the spirit of the game as the skills. These first steps to manhood are largely taken in the footsteps of others, mostly the old hands on a Saturday but sometimes the first grade stars at training. Every word of the dashing number four, fresh from a match winning century, is absorbed and replayed with every shot and every delivery, the junior listener testing his own performance against the advice. When a boy comes to cricket this early, it’s hard to know whether his love of the game is more of an obsession than the acquisition of pubic hair.
There will be a top score in the teens which he’ll talk about for days, including a four blazed past point which actually went chest high through a vacant second slip, but why ruin a good story with the facts. He probably bowled a few overs, maybe even snagged a wicket. Either way, he will have learned some secret men’s business without knowing it and if a father is on the scene, they’ll have more to talk about, even if Dad is only listening.
By 19, the average club man has probably played a lot of 3rds and the odd game off 2nds before going off to uni and continuing his love affair of the game through a haze of stimulants he’ll never talk about at home, nor remember. Maybe he gets a few fifties or bags wickets in three or fours but comes home to The Club over the Christmas break to fill in. The older men remark his height or his pace or his solid defence.
In his twenties and mid thirties, as life goes on around Saturdays, the best of his skills will rise and peak and he’ll probably play a bit of 1st grade, without ever cementing a place but that’s okay, because he preferred the blokes in 2nds anyway. There will be golden days, maybe half a dozen at best, in those fifteen years. Days when centuries are scored or Pfeifer’s snared or classic catches taken. Moments when he suddenly rose above himself and understood the magic of the game played at its glorious extremes. Finals will be won and days taken from the boss to recover from celebrations.
All the while, he’ll revel in his mates and never quite understand why their company away from the rough outfields and rougher wickets of park cricket is different – apart from when they are enjoying the sponsor’s facilities. Why are you lost for words when you bump into Thomo outside Woolies?
Then in those last five to ten years, as the skills slip and the excuses for not attending training mount, he’ll be eased back into the thirds, where he’ll bat at seven and only bowl when the captain can’t think of anyone else. By then, it won’t matter: he’s worked out what playing his game was all about and now when he bumps into Thomo, he can keep the conversation going for fifteen minutes before Thomo just about pulls a note from his mother out of his pocket as an excuse to get away. Thomo’s ten years younger. He’ll be on the executive of the Club by now, maybe even making phone calls on Friday night or Saturday morning chasing those with girlfriends or hangovers or bosses who only ever played football.
Then, as fifty approaches and he starts to get that vague notion that he’d rather be gardening than gaining bruises from next year’s Mitch or Brett or Doug, the Club President rings in August to ask a favour.
“Bob, there’s this crop of youngsters coming on from the juniors and we were wondering ...”
On that first Saturday of the season, surrounded by bright eyes tossing cricket balls from hand to hand or practising their forward defensive shot, he knows everything that came before this moment, dressed in white, was a rehearsal for the one or two seasons left when he will be elevated to hero status by players who won’t have to play for Australia to be forever grateful for his leadership in their first seasons ... for his footsteps to follow.
As another Australian season ends, leave Ponting and his players to the press for their plaudits. Instead, seek out Bob and the other real heroes of the game, buy them a beer and say thanks.
You owe them more than you think.