It’s been a terrific, exciting start to the summer – who could’ve predicted there would have been so much drama & controversy in these 10 ODI matches? Most people rightly thought Australia would trample over Bangladesh and, although England fans were hopeful of doing well in the shorter game, most would have expected them to quickly assert their authority. This hasn’t happened yet. The giant of world cricket is definately awake now, but appears almost sedated.
Against England, in that stormy encounter, I didn’t think they were red hot – at a time when Australians, such as Darren Lehmann, fully expected them to have hit their straps. Had the rain not intervened, England looked ready for another win – and don’t forget, Australia lost 5 for 37 in 6 overs, at a time when a score of 280 looked possible.
Today, more questions than answers remain. Following the admittedly absurd, yet unsettling allegations of Matthew Hayden swearing at some kids, they’ve been below par against Bangladesh. Gillespie again struggled, and Kasprowicz really looked very poor. “Lack of match practice” is an excuse which will soon lack credibility – this is their tenth match so far in their tour: played 10, won 4 lost 4. These are world class bowlers in the rare situation of looking bemused about their own form. If they’re bemused, so are we.
Darren Lehmann, who has slotted in brilliant at Sky, has patriotically defended his country and is at pains to point out (every game) that they are improving – are they?
Their batting today, thus far, looks ropey at best. 102-3 and their captain and run-machine Ricky Ponting is, in my eyes, definately having technical problems. His head is still falling away to the off side, and he survived countless appeals for leg-before. Having watched Ponting a fair amount, he’s often had trouble early-doors – but this is his 10th match, and he hasn’t yet fired. It must be a concern to him. Harmison trapped him leg-before in a recent game – and I predict he’ll pick him up again in the Tests a few times.
Gower, on sky, seems to think Australia’s sub-par performance is due to their opponents – the lack of spice in the game, the small crowd and so on. But this is Australia – the World Champions, the all-conquering machine of world cricket. “The only inspiration I/we need is representing our country” was a common tagline of Waugh and Taylor in the past. They don’t have bad days – and they certainly don’t have this many this often.
No doubt Australia will walk home with this game at some point, and no doubt Ponting will continue to dodge the media’s questions about his and his teams form. Saturday is but 2 days away, and is being thought of as “the first game of the summer” for The Ashes – will the monster be awoken?