See Adelaide and retire

I’m not sure what to make of this. But first it was Damien Martyn and now it is Nathan Astle who have responded to a great win by their teams in Adelaide by announcing it is time to retire.

It’s better then seeing Naples, I guess. But I am still offended.

So, will Roy deliver this time?

Australia have chosen Andrew “Roy” Symonds to replace Damien Martyn in the middle order for the Third Test, a selection that is strongly suggestive of Ricky Ponting’s clout at the selection table. Symonds, to my mind, has not done anything of note to justify his inclusion in Australian first class cricket this season, but Ponting’s faith in Symonds has been unbound for a long time.

I hope he’s as right as he was when as captain of the 2003 World Cup team, he demanded Symonds be included, despite the general consensus of pundits and wise men that Symonds, for all his talents, was a ne’er do well. He had been given multiple opportunites in ODI games since 1999 and had not taken them. However, Ponting’s faith that he would deliver when it mattered in one-day cricket was proved spectacularly correct in 2003, and he’s been doing it ever since.

And the likes of me have been happy to be proved wrong to boot.

Last summer, Symonds finally made his Test debut, and oddly enough a similar story of underperformance and hestitance that marked his early ODI career returned. He lost his place in the side, but clearly he hasn’t lost the confidence of his captain.

And I certainly hope that Ponting is right. For if Symonds unleashes as we all know that he can, then he can be the most devastating striker in world cricket.

He also brings some more bowling options for Ponting. The once feared WACA pitch is now on life support, with ground-staff scouring the West Australian countryside for the right sort of soil to bring it back to its old self. There is hope that it can be revived for the 2010/11 Ashes series, but this time around, it is likely to be a near-death experience for pace bowlers.

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.

Damien Martyn announces retirement

Damien Martyn has retired from all cricket with immediate effect. Bolt out of the blue, this one. He’s been replaced by Andrew Symonds for the third Test – and the little-known Adam Voges.

Martyn, who was married in the off-season, has usually tried to avoid the spotlight and is travelling today. “I’m aware of the tremendous challenges facing Australian cricket, including this current Ashes series,” he said. “Such challenges require people who are more than 100% committed, dedicated, disciplined and passionate about the game, what it seeks to achieve and how those involved in the game can best serve cricket.

“I feel, therefore, it’s time for me to move aside. I have enjoyed everything the game has given me. I have gained from it more than I could have ever imagined.”

[...]

“I was flabbergasted when I got the call,” Symonds said. “I thought I was a million to one to play this series, especially when they went for Pup [Michael Clarke] when Watto was ruled out. I dug out my baggy green the other day when I was moving some stuff around and wondered if I would ever put it on my head again. That’s still up in the air but I’m obviously a fair bit closer to that moment than I thought I was.”

More at Cricinfo.

Australia vs South Africa wrap

I’m not the only one bored with the VB series going this long. I listened to the radio for most of the day while watching the play, as I was getting close to an act of violence if I had to listen to any more of Tony Greig’s insufferable inanities. Peter Roebuck was clearly even more bored then I was since he was more keen on discussing his charitable foundation’s activities in Africa then the game, and he follows my lead in calling for the format to be scrapped.

The game itself was actually good, and Adam Gilchrist was back to his sparkling best, scoring 88 off just 66 balls, with 14 glorious boundaries. His innings was theoretically terminated by a mis-played pull shot, but the actual thing that got him out was the commentator’s curse; as he passed 80, they started talking about double-centuries. He admits he was thinking about it himself, so obviously he got out.

Ponting, Martyn and Hussey all tucked in as well against a very weak South African pace attack, and settled on 344. Chasing that monster of a total, South Africa were just on the edge of possibility until Mark Boucher got out after scoring an excellent 76. They ended up with 287 for 6, which is a huge score in itself.

So a pretty meaningless game in the great scheme of things, but an entertaining fixture, at least compared to what happened in Melbourne on Friday. The difference was that the pitch here was good.

Statistical oddity- Australia scored 344 for 7 in 50 overs, with only one 6 for the innings. And that didn’t come up till the 46th over. Australia scored 300 in 45 overs, without going over the rope once. Bizzare.

Twenty-2o game at Brisbane

There was a Twenty-20 game tonight between Australia and South Africa at Brisbane tonight, and our intrepid Will covered it for Cricinfo.

Australia walked all over South Africa, and Damien Martyn and Andrew Symonds had a bit of a hit and a giggle.

I talked to Will after the game, and he confessed to loving it. I must admit I loathe Twenty-20. I don’t like the thinking behind the game. Cricket needs to be popularised, but that is REAL cricket. You do not see the Royal Opera Company hosting Madonna at Covent Gardens, so I’m not entirely sure why cricket needs this sort of comic caper.

Football’s own goal

Enjoyable piece by Jim Maxwell on his Ashes blog:

Comparing the conduct and behaviour of cricketers and footballers has won respect for cricket, as football opens its doors to more of the same histrionics that demean the integrity of the game.

Yes, sledging or the art of mental disintegration can be distasteful and unnecessary, though it’s occasionally leavened by subtlety or humour.

One of the outstanding virtues of cricket is the acceptance of the umpire’s decision; Damien Martyn’s leg before dismissal in the second innings of the Third Test a prime example.

Steve Bucknor erred in not seeing or hearing a serious inside edge, but Martyn took his leave, surprised but not hysterical with rage like footballers who have become perennial dissenters.

And then there’s the image of Andrew Flintoff consoling Brett Lee after England’s gripping win/Australia’s narrow loss at Edgbaston.

Lee reciprocated at Old Trafford, when a weary Flintoff couldn’t take the last wicket.

These chivalrous acts have revitalised faith in sporting ideals.

Football’s own goal has been a failure to address the ugliness of petty cheating and indiscipline. Moves aiming to restore order and integrity are occurring, with a structural review by the English FA, but that won’t come soon enough to stop players and managers from disrespecting referees’ decisions.