McGrath versus New Zealand

Similar to England’s unattractive use of Giles versus Tendulkar in 2002, it seems New Zealand has used similar nullifying tactics against the Might of McGrath. Amazingly, he averages only 32 against the Kiwis.

Ian Smith just made a fascinating comment about McGrath and Warne. In the 2001 Ashes series, the gruesome twosome took over 60 wickets between them. 60! Yet in the following year (or was it the same? Probably was), against NZ, they only took 11! England’s mental weakness and previous torture at their hands the cause? Or did NZ just do their homework? Probably a combination of both, but I do bloody hope Vaughan invites Fleming over for a long chat about how he nullified McGrath…

It’s looking like a hot day at The Gabba, NZ 11/0. McGrath’s running in like a 20 year old…

Australia v New Zealand

One of my favourite series starts in just under 7 hours (00:00 GMT); Australia v New Zealand. On paper, it always seems NZ are going to be crushed by the mighty Aussies. But NZ are a tough unit, and often perform better than their critics expect. Unfortunately, James Franklin is injured, which leaves a bit of a gap in their “attack.” It’s also unclear whether Fleming will play. Shrewd captain is Fleming….the cynic in me ponders whether this “mystery” illness might be his first pyschological warfare attempt!

Meanwhile, things are a lot brighter for Australia, so much so that Ponting insisted on rubbing handfuls of salt into NZ’s early wounds: [via SMH]

I think we’ll be very well-prepared for whatever New Zealand throw at us in this game

On second thoughts, that’s not nearly as Australian as I first thought. Had S.Waugh still been captain, something along the lines of “Ah, listen mate, they’re alright New Zealand, but we’re Australian and will crush ‘em” is what we’re used to. Aussies going soft?

And here’s fat-boy-slim and his kid [sighs of "Oh no, not another Warne"]. Warne junior needs to get that front leg forward and in-line; hasn’t his Dad taught him anything?

Fat boy Warney

England arrive in Namibia

Perhaps they tried to beat David Boon’s beer record on the flight….look far too happy

Anderson and Giles smiling.  It's not on.

SURREY ANNOUNCES £10 DEAL FOR FINAL DAY OF THE ASHES

Surrey CCC are offering tickets for The Ashes 2005 for £10. Well, not the whole Ashes, obviously…just the 5th day, September 12th. Sounds a good deal – and it’s great to read of England’s positive vibes!

Cricket fans can come and see what could be the greatest day’s cricket of a generation for only £10

England tour to Zimbabwe starts

Well, after all the talk and debate, England are off to Zimbabwe.

Not a happy chap - Michael Vaughan

However unhappy people are about the tour, England are there to play cricket and win 5 matches. They really must ensure they develop as one-day players and try to take as many positives out of the tour as possible. They have several debutants – Matt Prior, Simon Jones, Kevin Pietersen – all of whom need to perform well. Simon Jones in particular has a pretty golden opportunity – amazingly, he’s played just ten limited-over matches in his entire career!

Meanwhile, Simon Hughes has been waxing lyrical about Andrew Strauss in the Telegraph. I too think Strauss has the nous to be Thorpe’s successor, so obviously Mr Hughes stole my thought…

Sky TV poised to get more England matches

Ack, this is worrying news

More of England’s home Test and one-day matches are likely to be available to subscribers to satellite broadcaster BSkyB if a joint bid for TV rights is accepted by the England & Wales Cricket Board.

[via Cricinfo]

It’s just a matter of time, I suppose, before Sky owns all cricket on TV – requiring anyone who wants to watch cricket to subscribe to Sky Sports. Very, very worrying. This will surely frustrate the ECB too who are desperate to promote Sky to a wider audience (but who are so poor that they’ll accept the highest-bidder). Channel 4, the current FTA cricket broadcaster, says:

A report in the Guardian last week indicated that Channel 4 were keen to retain some coverage, but with cricket still attracting what are seen as relatively small audiences, they are believed to be receptive to idea of diluting their commitment.

When Channel 4 bought the rights for all home Test Matches (in 1999??), they said they were commited in promoting the game of cricket – and they’ve done a good job. They have some brilliant, intelligent and funny commentators – far superior to Sky’s [with the exception of Holding and Gower] – and I’m amazed they’ve crumbled so soon.

Just a matter of time now…

Smith starting well…

SA Captain started well today against an Indian XI – 86 he made. Interesting, albeit brief, series between these 2 countries. India have just been reasonably hammered by Australia in their back yard, and SA have been struggling on and off the pitch. Both have a lot to lose! I’m also fascinated to see how Jennings licks them into shape – I read he’s appointed Pollock and Kallis and bowling and batting coaches respectively. So, what’s your role then, Ray?

Harmison’s 7-12

I sat down in front of the fire this afternoon (chilly here – just above freezing) and put on a DVD I bought highlighting England’s tour of the West Indies this year. What a great buy! I’m a huge fan of Steve Harmison – he has a similar awe-inspiring effect on me as Curtly Ambrose did 10 years ago, when I first started watching cricket.

GBH

It was brilliant watching Harmison’s performance in the First Test in Kingston – 7 for 12! 7 wickets for 12 runs. 12 runs conceded for 7 wickets. No matter how you put it, it’s an amazing statistic – this is against the West Indies in the West Indies; the same place where England were bowled out for 46, ironically 10 years almost to the day! This time round, it was their turn – and they made just one run more

Strauss “a man of substance”

Andy Strauss

Being a Middlesex supporter, and having shouted Strauss’ name from the rooftops for several years, I was absolutely over the moon watching him this year perform so well for England. To cap it off, Rod Marsh is now singing his praises – completely, utterly deserved:

(From the ECB) “English cricket needs people like Andrew Strauss in the England team because he’s a man of substance.”

Basically, the article comments that Strauss is making the most of what he’s got, which I think is a little unfair. Having followed his career, I’ve seen him make some seriously impressive innings (emphasis on make / construct). And throughout the summer, he consistently produced excellent innings for England. A hundred on a player’s international debut is a deeply magical happening – not one that can happen through luck alone. It requires thorough hard work, mental aptitude and immense skill. Just look at the player many regard to be England’s “best” batsman (and I agree), Graham Thorpe; he made his debut in 1993 against Australia, and was the last English bat to score a hundred on debut. I see a lot of similarities between Thorpe and Strauss…

Anyway…it’s a good article and worth a read

Ashes 2005 PPV for Aussies?

Disappointingly for the Aussies, it sounds like coverage for the 2005 Ashes series won’t be free-to-air. More here.

It emerged yesterday that cricket fans may miss out on free-to-air coverage for the first time in 30 years.

A sign of the times, I’m afraid. Sky Sports – who steal nearly £40 a month from me (otherwise known as $ky :) ) – have covered most England tours for years now. They simply outbid the BBC, which isn’t difficult. Channel 4 cover England’s home-series, and are FTA, but still Sky manage to cover at least one Test during the summer.

Nowt you can do about it, Aussies :(