Gimme a tailender

It’s perhaps a bit disconcerting that I should admit this, but what the heck. I find the current India / Pakistan series completely dull and utterly arduous. I’m not actually watching it – more’s the pity – but, by all accounts, it sounds like a dreadfully painful match. I want Ashes cricket and I want it now. I want Steve Waugh to be grinding a hundred; Mike Atherton to scratch out one of his even uglier innings; I want Merv Hughes to spit at Peter Such, and laugh at his pathetic attempts to get bat on ball; in fact, I want a return to genuine tailend batsmen.

The loss of tailenders has been a disaster to cricket. They are now a rare beast, lurking among the local leagues around the world. For the lower-order batsman playing for their countries, they can now either hold up and end or score relatively freely. WHAT? I didn’t sign up to that, thanks very much. What about our tailend heroes? Tufnell, Such, Fraser; Hughes, May, McGrath; Walsh, Ambrose, Benjamin. And, of course, Danny Morrison, although his record-efforts of saving a Test (correct me if I’m wrong, which I usually am about anything historical) do edge him out of the class of a genuine muppet.

I want these back. I don’t want super-slick, multi-dimensional, do-it-all (and B&Q) players. I want batsmen that can bat brilliantly. When the batsmen roll their arms over, I want them to do a Bob Willis impression (his bowling action, not his suicidally-dull voice) and make a fool of themselves. Nevermind if they concede 12 or 30 from the over – give us some chuffing entertainment and stop taking it all so seriously. And I want brilliant bowlers; bowlers who couldn’t bat even if they had weekly training sessions with Boycott and Bradman. I want them to fall over, ideally on their stumps, or on their arse, with predictable regularity. Make them look foolish, and give the fans what they want!

Not a clue what I’m on about, but perhaps it explains my dislike of cricket’s new found “slick” and shiny and business-oriented nature. Graham Gooch, when he did his Bob Willis impression, had me in fits. It wasn’t that funny, in actual fact – it just demonstrated cricket’s ability to be bigger than just a game; for there to be interesting and funny parts to the days play. Tailenders were apart of that (“Way hay, it’s Such and Tufnell! Here. We. Go!”). Nowadays, the emphasis is on etching out as many runs as possible, an admirable statement of intent – and one I admire especially when England play – but let’s not forget cricket is a game, and everyone involved should treat it as such.

Australia v World XI, Super Test, Sydney, Day Three

Day three. Australia “on top of the World” (ho ho). What a load of nonsense.

West Indies v South Africa: dullness personified

I don’t know who I’m more annoyed at or upset with, South Africa or the West Indies. Albeit on a flat track, the West Indies have embarassed themselves further in this Test Match. They’ve already conceded 4 hundreds – even allowing Ashwell Prince to make one. That said – and although South Africa’s run-rate is at 3.5/over – there were periods today where South Africa just stopped and did nothing.

All this talk that they’re (South Africa) “on track again,” and “on the rise,” is just bullshit. Most division 1 County sides in England could take the West Indies to a draw these days; most Australian states would beat them without too much bother. And yet South Africa, and Kallis in particular, spent parts of the afternoon session doodling along as though they were 200-5. West Indies posess not a single bowling threat [1]. Yes, South Africa are ahead of the game; Yes, they’ve scored over 500 runs but 3.5 runs/over against THAT bowling attack just says to the world: “We’ve won the series, we don’t want to lose this game.”

I was similarly annoyed throughout England’s tour earlier this year, where South Africa were often behind on points and constantly played the waiting game. They’re a very boring side to watch, these days.

[1] Incidentally, Dwight Washington, who was just about managing to get the ball down to the other end of the wicket at 78mph, is down as RF on Cricinfo. Oh, how they wish…

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…