Cruel game for those on debut


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How bad must Malinda Warnapura be feeling? To get a Test golden duck is bad enough, but a golden duck on deboo, as Richie would say, against Bangladesh on a featherbed when your partner gets a ton must be crushing. He’s unlikely to bat again in this match and may not get another innings if Upul Tharanga returns from injury.

The only other deboo goldie I can remember was Alan Wells in 1995, caught Sherwin Campbell, bowled Curtly Ambrose. Again, most other batsmen did well on that track, including two hundreds (Lara and Hooper) and six others who made it to 80 and didn’t convert (four were out in the nervous 90s). Wells did at least make an unbeaten 3 in the second innings, but that was his lot.

I’m sure there were others?

Blimey Marto, we didn’t mean it!

From the Corridor last week:

Martyn (Retail Manager): The irritating but smooth bloke you’re always trying to get rid of but customers love him and he sells just enough to keep his place.

I think there’s a bit more to Damien Martyn‘s retirement then meets the eye. With Martyn, there always is. He is a sensitive and wary character that doesn’t care for the spotlight, and he’s had enough of the guff that comes with being a Test cricketer. That’s what I am guessing has happened here.

He wasn’t always so shy though.

Martyn was the brightest star in a ‘new wave’ of talented young Australian batsmen that emerged around 1990. He captained Australia’s under 19 side that toured England, leading the likes of Adam Gilchrist. There were plenty of other good players in that ‘new wave’ like Matthew Hayden, Darren Lehmann and Justin Langer. But there was no doubt that ‘Marto’ was the best.

He was ‘fast-tracked’ as they say, and along with Justin Langer, he was cast into the furnace of facing Ambrose and Walsh and co at their height in 1992-93. He proved he had the makings, scoring a vital half century in the same match that Warne first made his name.

But he couldn’t score that breakthrough century that would have sealed his place, and there were stories going ’round the traps’ about his attitude. He had replaced Dean Jones in the side and brought not only a Jones-like talent, but a Jones-like mouth. When he specacularly failed to bring Australia home in a Test match the next summer, he was made the scapegoat, and cast back into the grind of State cricket.

The demotion was hard for Martyn and he lost his way for several years. He was even dropped from the West Australian side for a while, and it seemed a great talent had been lost.

I do not know what it was that turned things around for him. However, he got back into the side when Ricky Ponting injured his knee prior to the New Zealand tour of 1999/2000, and made some valuable contributions. However he was a different sort of player- still as elegant and obviously talented as ever, but clearly not altogether anxious to attract attention.

He piled on the runs though, and had the support of his team-mates. 2004 was his golden year, as he scored centuries against India and Sri Lanka that were crucial to series victories. In 2003 he had played in the World Cup Final with a broken finger and still scored a masterful innings, albiet completely over-shadowed by Ricky Ponting. And this year in the ICC Champion’s Trophy, he was playing as well as ever.

Well, whatever is behind this, good luck to ‘Marto’ in whatever he decides to do. He got married in the off-season, and maybe he just wants to settle down and enjoy life. He left plenty of fond memories in the minds of cricket lovers not just in Australia but around the world.

Now that’s Test cricket!

Right then, that’s the sort of cricket I want to see.

Tough, hard as nails, no mucking about, just getting in down and dirty.

Before we have any complaints that England ‘batted slow’, I just want to point out that it used to be always like this. Steve Waugh’s first day as captain was in the West Indies and Australia crawled to be 6 for 174 at stumps on Day 1. Off the full 90 overs. Of course, you don’t want to rush when you are facing Walsh and Ambrose.

And Australia went on to win that game by a mile.

No, today’s play was classic cricket, at its best. The Adelaide Oval was packed, the pitch was perfect, so it was just head to head between batsmen and bowlers. And a lot of what we saw in Brisbane flowed through to this game. England can bat well enough, but they just let themselves down with poor concentration. Strauss, Cook and Bell all gave their wickets away, after playing themselves in. These guys just have to kick themselves, because they’ll never get a better place to bat.

Not that it was that easy out there, because Australia did bowl well. Clark was the pick of the bowlers, even though he was confused as to why he didn’t bowl more. To be honest, I wasn’t entirely surprised myself- Clark was bowling beautiful lines and all, but you want to be bowling Lee in conditions like this. Lee bowled plenty of rubbish between his best bowling, and that is actually more likely to get you a wicket

That’s how Bell got himself out.

Even though England have had a strong day, as an Australian I’m not too worried yet. Once both sides have had a bat, it will be easier to tell who is placed the best. Australia’s batsmen are good at concentrating as well, and if England back themselves to score 450, Australia’s game-plan will be to first get something like that themselves, then, if possible, to build a first innings lead and try to erase the worry of a fourth innings chase.

But having said that, it has been a very good day for England and they will sleep well tonight.

Scorecard 

How to bowl on Australian pitches (video)

A lesson to England, Steve Harmison or indeed any fast bowler on Australia’s pitches. They’ve since changed, and aren’t quite as quick or bouncy, but length bowled here by Curtly Ambrose is just marrrrrvellous.

Ambrose not in tune with the game

Fascinating interview at Cricinfo with Curtly Ambrose provided by PTI, in which he says cricket was never his real first love. Regular Corridor readers will know that watching Ambrose sparked my interest in the game (and my fondness of West Indies cricket today), so it’s quite disheartening to hear him speak of the game in such a detached manner.

Cricket gave me an identity but it wasn’t my first love,” he explained. “I did it as a job, for me basketball and music were my true passions. I started the game very late, at around 21 years, and didn’t enjoy the day-to-day discipline. I packed up when my body told me to do so. I felt happy to be out of it.”

He added that he did not miss cricket at all. “Now I don’t even watch the game. I have hardly watched a full game since I retired. I sometimes see a few snatches of play on television and that’s about it. I might not even come to watch the first Test on Friday.”

There is an irony in his comments. When you consider how devastating he was; how brilliant a bowler he was for so long; what presence he had on the field with his gangling medallions and perfectly rythmical approach to the crease, and he didn’t even want to be there (on the basis of these quotations). Yet on the eve of West Indies’ first Test against India, they could benefit from someone half as good as him – especially if they are to make good their renewed fizzle and spark in the field following their 4-1 demolishing of India in the one-dayers.

Oh well. Heroes have a habit of failing to live up to ones’ expectations. Despite his comments, he always appeared to give his very all to every match I saw him play. It was only the batsmen who wished he was bowling a basketball…

Video: West Indies v Australia, Third Test, 1999

I watched this video (14 mins) the other day of the West Indies against Australia, in the third Test at Bridgetown in 1999. For various reasons, that particular year was a total bloody washout for me, and I missed a lot of the cricket that went on. So it’s great to see a video of such a tense Test, and doubly great to see messyrs Ambrose and Walsh. However, what struck me most was…

  • How roly-poly Shane Warne was back then
  • How superb Austalia were under Steve Waugh
  • Jason Gillespie used to bowl quickly
  • Jason Gillespie swung it and moved it off the seam at will
  • Glenn McGrath used to bowl quickly
  • Glenn McGrath swung it and moved it off the seam at will
  • Glenn McGrath was an angry, bitter, and quite remarkably aggressive competitor
  • Australia must miss having Mark Waugh in the slips

Rightly or wrongly, Australia of 2005 are nothing compared to the 1999 model. The old model had bite, power and uncompromising aggression. The new model seems a bit lost; their warhorses and spearheads are, to be blunt, blunter than they once were. Watch the video and see if you’re as surprised as I am at their slick, machine-like qualities.

As a sidenote, what a knock by Lara!

Steve Waugh warns West Indies

But if the Windies waltz around imagining they are all Viv Richards then they may as well not turn up.

So concludes Steve Waugh in his recent column, where he warns West Indies against complacency. And, as ever, it appears Brian Lara has the world and his aunty on his shoulders. If he rises, his team might too. If he doesn’t, will the rest of his side bother to rise to the occasion? Ryan posted a link on similar lines earlier.

While we know all to well the crisis West Indian cricket finds itself in, Waugh’s handbrake analogy is very good and very true:

West Indies has undoubted talent with a dangerous batting line-up that can tear attacks apart. It is one that has enough strike power with the ball to cause problems, but it all hinges on their attitude which has acted like a handbrake since they lost Ambrose and Walsh.

Those halcian days of Walsh and Ambrose seem so long ago. And someone else (maybe it was Waugh himself?) recently said that the last time the West Indies toured Australia, they did so with Courtney Walsh. He of 500 bloody Test wickets – and they still weren’t a force. “What hope have they now?” was the argument. Come on, Windies – show some guts and fight the good fight.