The elephant in the room

I’ve just been watching Inside Cricket, an Australian television cricket show where former Test players Brenden Julian, Mark Waugh, Allan Border, and Damien Fleming, have been discussing the First Test, with an English contribution from Graham Thorpe.

They all failed to mention the really big story that came out of the First Test and that is that England were beaten by three bowlers.

Brett Lee is the elephant that none dare mention; his contribution, especially in England’s second dig, could politely be called ‘crap’. He got a wicket because Kevin Pieterson gifted him one in the first over this morning, but really, he was a very fierce bad rabbit; his bad record against England just got worse.

And the pundits on television did not mention his name once. After all, the less said the better.

I’m a huge fan of Lee in one day cricket- in that form of the game, he keeps on performing, and while he keeps on taking wickets, he should be taking the new ball. But his Test performances, especially against England, continue to be ordinary.

Someone on the radio said at some point that ‘you can’t argue with 200 Test wickets’. Well actually you can. Just ask Jason Gillespie. Lee’s inability to take wickets has been glossed over in the hype of a big victory, but I do wonder if he is a luxury that Australia can afford over the course of a five Test series.

Corporate monsters couldn’t give a Fourex

Couldn't give a fourex
Australia’s chief selector, scourge of Poms and all-round good guy Allan Border has been forced to resign his post as chairman of selectors because of a ‘conflict of interest’ involving beer sponsorship. I am not making this up.

The former Test captain recently fronted advertisements for XXXX Gold, owned by Lion Nathan, which is sponsoring beach cricket this summer in Sydney, the Gold Coast and Perth. Border will represent Australia in the tournament, alongside greats such as Dennis Lillee, Jeff Thomson and Dean Jones.

That, however, does not impress Foster’s, a major sponsor of cricket. It recently announced a new deal with Cricket Australia, in which it would no longer be the naming rights sponsor of the triangular one-day series, but increase its commercial involvement at grassroots level.

Geoff Donohue, corporate affairs spokesman for Foster’s, said the XXXX campaign involving Border was little more than ambush marketing.

“We think ambush marketing is fairly un-Australian,” he said. “I will leave you to decide whether what they are doing with their current advertising campaigns is ambush marketing.

“I guess Allan has [resigned as a national selector] in pursuit of his own commercial interests. But we are thrilled with our association with Cricket Australia and the Australian cricket team, and we’re more than happy with the access we have to the current players.”

If you are that thrilled to be associated with Cricket Australia, then I’m sure you won’t be that miffed with Allan Border continuing his association with the XXXX brand that has been ongoing for the past twenty years.

Fosters: couldn’t give a fourex about, well, anyone.

Paul ‘fatty’ Vautin’s catch

Australians will know all about this catch, but it was new to me. Paul Vautin, former Rugby League player, takes a really fine catch in an Allan Border testimonial match in 1993. The catch itself isn’t the greatest in cricket history, as they say it is, but it’s worth watching just to hear Tony Greig get way too excited!

ICC innovations structure isn’t very appealing

It has been reported in today’s paper that the ICC are considering a trial where players can appeal against the umpires decision. They are talking about using the Champions Trophy as a test bed for the idea. I noted the other day that the players don’t take the Champions Trophy very seriously, and it appears that the ICC does not either.

The ICC cricket committee, chaired by Indian great Sunil Gavaskar and including former Australian captain Allan Border, will debate whether players should be allowed to appeal against a certain number of decisions per innings if they feel they have been wronged by umpires.

An appeals system has been used in the National Football League for years, and the ICC denied such a process in cricket could undermine the authority of the standing umpires.

“What we are looking to do is increase the already high numbers of correct decisions made by our on-field umpires without diminishing their role and this approach has the potential to do just that,” said Dave Richardson, ICC’s general manager of cricket.

Presumably, a captain could appeal, say, two contentious decisions per innings and ask that they be referred to the third umpire. The standard of international umpiring has been a big issue recently.

The standard of international umpiring is in fact fine, if you ask me. Australia toured South Africa and Bangladesh and played 5 tests and 8 odi games and I don’t remember a single contentious decision.

While I am a crusty old curmudgeon, I do not in fact have a problem with new ideas in cricket. However, I do have notions about the proper place to test new ideas, and the ICC Champions Trophy, whatever its merits, or otherwise, is not in fact one of those places. If the ICC had asked a member country to test its ‘supersub’ rule in a domestic competition, the flaws in the idea, which were manifest at the time anyway, could have been demonstrated in a slightly less public manner.

Brian Lara breaks Allan Border’s record

As expected, Brian Lara moved past Allan Border’s record aggregate of Test runs, and is now the leading scorer in Test history. Legend. Cricinfo have a few things on him, including Vaneisa Baksh on his odyssey; George’s list of his greatest moments and my gallery of his life.

Australia v West Indies, 3rd Test, 2nd day

Brian’s on 202, and is 12 short of beating Allan Border’s record number of runs. A momentus event – assuming he gets it. We ought to have a few things at CI to celebrate this (again, assuming he gets the 12 needed) including a rather splendid gallery.

Chat away