The wrong final at the wrong time

Australia are about to take on West Indies in the ICC Champions Trophy Final. Now that they are there, I hope they win, of course, but in the great scheme of things, it would have been much better if the team had ‘lost’ their game against India so the locals could have had something to cheer about and the Australian players could have had appropriate preparation for the Ashes.

Because I can not think of one Australian cricket fan in a thousand that would consider this ODI game to be more important then the Ashes.

No offense to the West Indies, who have played some super cricket in this tournament, and their resurgence is something that cricket fans around the world have been waiting a long time for. It’s just that there’s other things happening in November that are on Australia’s mind.

What would have been better for Australia? Playing in this final, or having Glenn McGrath playing for NSW in the Sheffield Shield this weekend? You don’t need to be a Rhodes Scholar to figure that one out!

Of course, Cricket Australia is as much to blame for this fiasco as anyone. They really did not have to have a triangular tournament in Australia this summer; the five Tests could have been spread out until early February, and then a 5-match ODI series vs England would have been the ideal warm up for both sides before the World Cup. That would have been just ideal from a cricket point of view.

Sadly, it would not have been ideal from a corporate point of view.

Live discussion: West Indies v South Africa, 2nd semi-final

Who will meet Australia in the final? It’s between these two. I’m pretty interested in the Champions Trophy all of a sudden, if only because it would make my month if West Indies not only made the final by ousting South Africa, but went on to retain their title. It’d be as good as finding a loose fiver down the sofa.

Live scorecard. Get chatting!

Angry India fan kills nephew

There is no doubting India’s obsession/addiction/love for cricket but stories such are these are rare, thankfully so, and a bit disturbing. It’s a bloody game:

Madness for cricket has cost a child his life as his uncle – a police official – banged his head on the floor after India’s loss to Australia on Monday. The Chandigarh police registered a complaint against the relative on Wednesday.

[...]

According to the parents of the child, Malkit Singh was watching the crucial Champions Trophy match between India and Australia, played at Mohali near here, in their house in Sector 30 and had an argument with other family members over India’s poor show in cricket.

In a fit of rage, he picked up the child and banged his head two-three times on the floor. Before the child’s family could react to save the child, the damage had been done.

More at DNA.

Australia v New Zealand, 1st semi-final

Worth keeping your eye on this match. Especially with Australia two down for not very many. Live scorecard.

Sarwan and Gayle’s tour diary blog

Ramnaresh Sarwan and Chris Gayle are blogging their Champions Trophy thoughts at Cricinfo, which is worth keeping an eye on. See here.

Live discussion: England v Australia, Champions Trophy

So then, a mere 32 days before the first Test at Brisbane and these two sides – both not at their best – face eachother in the middle of India. As Shane Warne recently pointed out on his site, the conditions in India – muggy, slow pitches and all – don't mirror in any way those in Australia. Little can be taken from the result of this match – or can it?

I'm posting this on Friday as no doubt I'll fail to wake up in time to watch the match – I don't have Sky, either, so I might be making an early-morning trip to the pub. With a hangover. The omens are not good for me, let alone England.

So, let's get some discussion going. Here's the Cricinfo live scorecard. Get chatting! 

Does England’s one-dayer against Australia matter?

Open forum. Everyone's getting excited, me included. But do these one-day matches mean anything? Can either side take anything from a win? Will the losing captain spout the same old "awww yeah mate, this is only a one-dayer in India" line?

There will be a post up at 9am tomorrow for you 'orrible lot to get chatting in but, in the meantime, post your thoughts on the hype below. 

Champions Trophy lets her hair down

Patrick's getting far too excited about the Champions Trophy (frankly, it's even woken me up too) and sums it up rather appropriately

If the Champions Trophy were a woman, it would be one of those rather plain librarian girls who turns out to be gorgeous when she lets her hair down and takes off her glasses, only to turf you out of her house at 11pm just as your courting is getting fruity

Pillow talk with the Champions Trophy brunette librarian would probably be filtered/limited by a BCCI or ICC spokesman underneath the bed…

An Australian perspective on West Indies’ win

I see our esteemed editor is excited because Australia lost a ODI game last night against the West Indies.

This isn't actually a shock- I've seen West Indies quite a bit recently, and while they are still capable of an absolute shocker of a performance, their best cricket these days is really quite excellent.

The first point to be made is the pitch- in contrast to the other two fixtures played at the Brabourne stadium, the pitch was excellent. There was reasonable consistency of bounce, and batsmen could play shots with confidence, although it did get a little low in the evening. Good batsmen like Adam Gilchrist and Michael Clarke were able to compile a decent innings by applying themselves to the conditions.

The reason that Australia lost was that only Gilchrist and Clarke were willing to do this. Gilchrist was quite restrained and in the conditions his 92 was a masterpiece. Clarke also provided excellent support, and while they were going, it looked like Australia would pull off a win regardless of the dismissals earlier in the innings.

It was not to be, though, and the reason Australia lost was simply that in the end, Gilchrist and Clarke were left with too much to do. Shane Watson and Andrew Symonds got themselves out with terrible shot selections, Ricky Ponting was simply beaten for pace by Jerome Taylor, and Damien Martyn was a bit unlucky with his placement. It is rare that a side, even as good as Australia, can give away four prime batting wickets cheaply and still win.

All in all, though, it was a pretty good game. Australia surprised early by giving the new ball to Nathan Bracken, who did enough with it, but Glenn McGrath bowled well enough for mine, as did Watson. He's a batsman that bowls, and he did a fine job. Clarke's return to the bowling crease was a positive sign for Australia as well.

For West Indies, this win was important because they did bowl very well indeed. Most of their recent victories have come through good batting performances, and they will hopefully still be rather annoyed with themselves that they did not get 250 on that wicket. I'd never heard of Runako Morton before, but he certainly made a good impression here, and Brian Lara, well, he needs no introduction, does he? But the likes of Chris Gayle and Ramnaresh Sarwan are still throwing away good starts.

But West Indies bowled really well, and they bowled as a team. Taylor provided real firepower, Ian Bradshaw an impeccable line and length, the spin duo of Gayle and Samuels kept things tidy and there was no weak link for the Australians to 'get after'. Gayle rather lost his rag with his aggressive behaviour, and gave away four runs to Clarke with a ridiculous piece of play- he looked to have totally lost it there for a while.

How far can West Indies go? Not that far. One more bad day like they had against Sri Lanka, and all the good work will be undone. It's hard to see them going on to defend their title without having another bad one.

Tim de Lisle thinks that the main point of this is that England are now the weak link in group A. It certainly adds some spice to the England vs Australia game on Saturday, although since the loser gets to go to Australia early and prepare for the Ashes, it is hard to call it a 'vital' fixture, since everyone will be happy on Sunday.

Ian Chappell on West Indies’ victory

Belting match today between West Indies and Australia, a cracker. Since I was away, seems we're now doing audio at Cricinfo – and Ian Chappell offers his thoughts on today's game which you can listen to here or download here. Pretty slick I reckon.