The evil beach balls at the Gabba

They must be stopped, punctured and brought in for questioning. The Fun Police at the Gabba have been having a ball; harmless fun is now considered dangerous, or rude, or provocative. It has been the one blight on this Test, so much so that the Barmy Army have boycotted out of protest; their bugler was ejected and they’ve been segregated to nullify their “effect”.

It’s pathetic.

Beach ball


Video: meet the Aussie posse

Barmy Army beware the Aussie posse. I’m clearly a man of simple tastes, or none at all in this case, as I found this short video a bit tickling. It’s Yabba, whoever he is, and he’s training up some recruits to combat the stampede of the Barmy Army this winter. Anyone know who Yabba is? (Click here if you can’t see the video below)

England a ‘one man team’?

Actually that is a simplification of remarks that Matthew Hayden made in an interesting interview to The Wisden Cricketer magazine. I think if you challenged him on that score, what he would agree is that Andrew Flintoff is the player that made the difference between the two sides. He does add tremendous depth to England’s cause and I doubt England can be a real force in cricket without him.

Not that the likes of Simon Jones, Michael Vaughan and Marcus Trescothick are not great cricketers. It is just that Flintoff completes the team, instead of just having a collection of useful cricketers.

It’s notable that Flintoff made an impression on Australia; indeed, so much so that selectors immediately started looking around for their own version. They invested hopes in Shane Watson, and he’s got a bit about him; a hard hitting batsman and a fast bowler that can get the ball up at around 140 kmph. However he injured himself in the Test against West Indies at the Gabba and his place has been taken by Andrew Symonds. Symonds has proved himself a modest cricketer at this level, and is no match for Flintoff, at least in Test cricket.

And sadly Watson’s comeback plans have been thwarted again. He scored 201 before retiring hurt in Queensland’s win in the Sheffield Shield, and that injury has now kept him out of the ODI leg of the Bangladesh tour. Australia will have to look elsewhere to find a match-winning all-rounder.

Batting run amok

The final of Australia’s domestic first class competition is being played at the Gabba, with Queensland hosting Victoria. According to the competition rules, the host side only has to draw.

A couple of seasons ago, Victoria hosted the final and to ensure that they got the draw, they batted for ages to run up 710. Against Queensland.

Now that the boot is on the other foot, Queensland are taking a brutal revenge. A short time ago, Queensland were 4 for 880. Ouch!

Australia v West Indies, first Test, 1st day

Right, so Hussey’s in, Langer’s out. It’s a new-look Aussie side against a young, talented but inconsistent West Indies team. Chat away.

Australia v West Indies – the battle resumes

So, just a few hours to go until Australia play the West Indies and the latter unleash their “battery” of fast bowlers. It remains to be seen whether the battery is fully charged (geddit?) or a cheap, supermarket-branded throwaway which only lasts a day, at best. But, as Peter English says in his excellent preview, an Australia-West Indies encounter is always exciting and does, indeed, raise expectations. This is the start of the Aussie summer, after all, and is their first challenge since being humbled by the English.

For Australia, tonight’s game sees a debut for Mike Hussey who so impressed in England during the one-dayers in the summer. He looks a very fine prospect, and will add a much-needed spark to the fielding of Australia, quite aside from his obvious talent as a batsman. These are interesting times for Australia. I wouldn’t say desperate, or subscribe to some of the media’s feeling that this inexperienced side could slip up easily against the Windies – it’s just interesting. Hussey in; Kasper out; Gillespie out; Langer injured (“it hurts,” he said today).

And for the West Indies, Mr Walsh is quietly confident that the young battery of fast bowlers can trouble Australia’s run machines. Fidel “Castro” Edwards told Peter English: ‘I don’t bowl to hit people, I bowl to get wickets,’ which is surely comfort for all West Indians, not to mention the Australian batsmen.

Ryan will no doubt be posting his thoughts, so keep an eye on his blog. And if you have any comments about the game, you can leave them in a post which will “appear” magically at about 23.00 GMT/UTC. Perhaps someone can explain to me, again, why Stu MacGill has been excluded. Yes, I know Nathan Bracken’s a good bowler and yes I know the pitch is likely to assist seamers. But MacGill + Warne v West Indies would surely equal carnage?