Justin Langer: it’s a game, not war

Found via Cricinfo:

“You’ve still got to have the courtesy to say: ‘Are you all right mate? You OK?’ I said to a number of their players: ‘This isn’t a war, this is a game’.”

Justin Langer after Ricky Ponting was hit in the cheek by Steve Harmison on the first morning at Lord’s. Ponting’s cut from the grille of his helmet required eight stitches

The only question I’d ask would be: why? Have Glenn McGrath, Jason Gillespie, Merv Hughes, Craig McDermott and other Aussie fast bowlers of the past 15 years be known to ask after a batsman’s health or wellbeing? I didn’t think so. It was a nasty incident, but perhaps Langer forgot that England were (and still are – I refuse to be downbeat!) up for a fight on that Thursday morning, and weren’t going to bend over backwards to see if Ponting was ok.

I can’t help feeling that the Australians aren’t great at receiving bullying tactics, but they’re past-masters at dishing it out.

Dave Podmore on the BBC

Dave Podmore, cricket ordinaire and the “nation’s greatest underachiever”, is back on the BBC and you can “Listen Again.” It’s an “Ashes Special” and sounds quite good

[thanks Wraye]

Gideon Haigh’s Ashes Tour Diary

Gideon Haigh, author and cricket writer par excellence, has an Ashes Diary up at Cricinfo which is well worth a read.

Defying the odds, and the Aussies

How England have won the Ashes in the past after losing the first Test, via BBC

Keeping the passion

Tim left a very interesting and discussion-provoking comment on ‘keeping, which I had failed to read and respond to. It’s worth reading (related to the Geraint Jones debate). Thanks Tim.

Stats, boring stats

Probably thanks to Avinash’s updates during the first Test, the blog has published its 100,000th word – an absolutely pointless statistic. Less pointless is AKR’s century of comments – what an innings, AKR! Full of deft glances and flourishing cover-drives – raise your bat to the MCC members :) Scott is two away from reaching the honours boards himself, and fellow Aussie Harry nine-away from a very quick hundred.

These stats can be found on the right of the main page.

One Nil, Nil One, etc

I haven’t offered my thoughts on Australia’s victory yet, partly due to lack of time and partly because I’m still undecided as to exactly what happened. But here are my thoughts for what they’re worth. Pretty much a ramble and a rallying-cry, but I’ve not the time today to spend any longer on it. I hope I’ll be able to reveal more about my blogging-hiatus this week or next.

Scott got me motivated to write something, when he mentions Matthew Hayden’s view of the English:

In the run-up to the game, there had been a lot written about England, and I’m not trying to be arrogant when I say this, but I don’t really care about them. We know that if we are playing to the best of our ability then England will not come close to us.

OK, yes – why should he care about the English? They performed badly in the first Test, and Australia are rightly one-nil up in the series. But it is his arrogance and total lack of respect which, in 2005, has caused the British public to have an un-rivaled hatred of the Australian cricket team. When Steve Harmison, who bowled magnificently throughout the Test, hit Ricky Ponting in the face, drawing blood, I don’t remember one Englishman coming to his assistance. Justin Langer did, of course, but English teams in years gone by would have at least asked if he was ok. Granted, English teams in the past decade wouldn’t have had the firepower to hit one of the all-time great hookers and pullers, Ricky Ponting, on the face – but that’s beside the point. The public hate this Australian team, and – as Scott points out – even at egg-n-bacon central, the public were begging for their blood.

Aussie bloggers have, on the whole, given England a better review of the first Test than the media (English or Australian). That first session was pure gold for the fans, even for Australians I bet. Years of drubbings had even caused the Australian media to, at times, call for an end to The Ashes – and all of a sudden, Harmison was hitting the top three batsmen on the head (yes ok, Langer was hit on the arm, you get my meaning) and they looked shaken and scared. It didn’t last; England let themselves down with dreadful catching, and scratchy batting.

But I like to think the tide is already turning. England have lost the first Test – yup. They’re one-nil down. But, catching aside, they showed enough to suggest England will take the 2007 Ashes. Harmison rightly moved up to 8th in the world in the ICC player rankings, and no Australian batsman looked comfortable against him. This series is by no means as dead as everyone thinks; if Hayden doesn’t care about the English, I doubt the English give a damn about him or Australia. This is a fighting team, with match-winning players who will be hurting more than they reveal.

Darryl Harper on David Shepherd

Fellow umpire Daryl Harper has posted his thoughts on the recently-retired David Shepherd, including this gem:

In August 2000 at The Oval, Courtney Walsh walked out to bat for the final time in a Test match on English soil. He was greeted with a guard of honour from his opponents as he entered the ground in his customary batting position at number eleven. As I stood with Shep and applauded the champion, David recalled that Don Bradman had been given a similar send-off on the same ground, 52 years earlier in his final Test match. As I returned to my position at the bowler’s end, I passed the big West Indian whose eyes were flowing with tears of emotion. I quickly mentioned the Bradman link as Shep had recalled, adding that the Don had made a second ball duck! Courtney threw his head back and vowed to do better than that. The first ball from Domenic Cork passed outside off stump and Walsh flashed at it without getting close. The second delivery was pitched on off stump and Walsh pushed forward with his bat. The ball eluded the wood and cannoned into the front pad, somewhere near the knee roll. It wasn’t a tough decision for me…..Courtney Walsh had emulated Bradman in his final Test innings in England.

England v Australia, first Test, Lord’s, Day 4

The covers are being removed, and play could be underway shortly. Inspection at 3.15pm. Emphasis on could.

England v Australia, first Test, Lord’s, Day 3

Morning all, day three at Lord’s. Should be a fascinating day, so long as the weather can hold out. cloudy here at the moment. Can England defy the odds and go for a win? Many thanks to Avinash who’s been doing sterling work providing you all with updates these past two days. Great stuff Avinash

Comments on the day’s play here, and let’s hope it’s another cracker!