Bill Lawry: it’s backyard cricket war

Any excuse to put up a video involving Bill Lawry, the most impersonated man at Cricinfo Towers. Ford, who sponsor all Cricket Australia vehicular needs, are declaring “Backyard Cricket War” on the country. I’m not quite sure what that means, but there are two videos to show featuring Michael Clarke, Andrew Symonds, Mike Hussey…and Matthew Hayden in an apron.

Look out for Bill’s cameo at the end of the second.

One-zip

As ever, visit the site if you can’t see the videos above.[via]

Aussie fans: a case study

“That’s a bloody disgrace, getting out like that! He should be ashamed of himself. Disgusting! What an idiot!”

To listen to the Aussie next to me (this was a rough translation – please add expletives to taste), you could be forgiven for thinking that Matthew Hayden had missed a full toss first up. Of course, the big Queenslander had just helped himself to another hundred on a blazing hot day in Grenada. From a television screen behind us in this perfect cricket ground, I could hear the commentator Mark Nicholas pouring forth his usual treacle, hailing the innings as a treat for the crowd and a display of expert strokeplay. Which it was.

Australian fans

Perhaps, therein lies the difference between winners and losers. A hundred wasn’t enough, even if the score was 220 odd for 3. Imagine if Michael Vaughan had scored 100, would we be berating him? Hayden also stalked off like he had just swallowed a wasp, before saluting the massed ranks of jubilant Aussies that had swelled the ground to a record attendance. I sat in the party stand for an hour or so until it got too hot for my pommy skin and I marvelled at how the ‘Hayden strut’ is so much part of the Australian male. They all walk about like him, shoulders back, chest puffed and chin forward. My favourite example was a skinny wretch built like Mr Muscle, who still tried to make the most of what he had, posturing about like Arnie in a street brawl. But at least he was fully clothed, unlike the Speedo brigade who hugged and grappled every time something went their way. Aussies are real men!

Joking apart, it was great to see a proper total posted. Shane Watson was the surprise package, playing shots that defied belief, all of them pure and proper. I was one of the many who couldn’t understand why the selectors kept coming back to him. “He’s like chopped liver,” said one of the Aussies on the boat, which I presume is a bad thing. However, and not for the first time, I was proved wrong. He was brilliant.

Ian Valentine is a freelance journalist blogging his diary of the World Cup for The Corridor

The Matthew Hayden show

Prior to the penultimate game of the Super Eight’s, Matthew Hayden was just three runs behind the tournament’s highest run scorer in Jacques Kallis. He was favoured to move into pole position but has surged to it with yet another century of muscle and class. Is he playing better than his golden year of 2001? While most teams are struggling in the first ten overs (the average being 36 runs for 1.4 wickets) Hayden hasn’t set a foot wrong. Gilchrist seems to be rather quiet but is himself averaging 37 with the bat in the World Cup.

The pre-match news is Shane Bond is out crook and Jacob Oram having earlier been ruled out. Mark Gillespie and Michael Mason play in their place. Shane Watson makes a welcome return for Australia forcing Brad Hodge out. Shane Bond was the real danger man for Australia, a bowler who seems to have the wood over the Aussies. New Zealand will surely miss him.

Australia have moved into a more than healthy 215-2 after 32 overs and look to post a really big one. In light of recent adventures New Zealand might fancy their chances in getting them.

Check out the scorecard here and leave your comments below.

Gilchrist scotches retirement talk

The ‘latest gossip‘ is that Justin Langer will retire after Sydney but that Matthew Hayden will play on until next summer at least.

I dunno. If Australia win the World Cup, I think Adam Gilchrist might call time.

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.

Hayden “disappointed” by dog attack

“I was was out for a leisurely run. You are always a bit shocked by that sort of thing but I was more disappointed than anything.”

Those are Matthew Hayden’s words after being attacked by a dog. I’m not going to guess the dog’s owner or anything (although it’s clearly one of Duncan Fletcher’s…or maybe Troy Cooley is our double agent), no. The thing that got me was “I was more disappointed than anything.” You what? Is that really an emotion you experience when viciously attacked by a dog?

Spilling your beer in front of someone you’re trying to impress is disappointing. Not being selected for a tour is disappointing. Your Dad thumbing through your exercise book and finding “Mr Batty is a tosser” – that’s disappointing, for him (not to mention poor old Mr Batty).

Being bitten on your ankle, or anything else for that matter, is rather more serious than disappointing. For who? Him, the dog or the dog’s owner?

It’s more media speak, the like of which I’m utterly sick of. Go to any press conference around the world and the losing captain will be disappointed to lose. WELL OF COURSE THEY ARE, THEY’VE JUST LOST A BLOODY GAME. There will come a day when a losing skipper will be “delighted” to lose a game or, better, “enthralled”. “The lads were great today. We played our worst and it came off [finger-pun not intended]. Australia weren’t the better side yet they still won, and that’s credit to our own pathetic ability. I’m proud at our consistency in being so poor. We rock, frankly, and no one can take that away from us…until we decide to win again, which we won’t.”

That’s what we want. We don’t need glib adjectives like disappointed. What about devastated, crushed, humiliated, suicidal?

Video of Matthew Sinclair’s catch

There’s something artistic about outfield catches. You just don’t forget the good ones, and this is an absolute corker. (click here if you can’t see it 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.

Game. On.

Entering into the fifth day, and who thought we’d be writing about this, but the First Test between Bangladesh and Australia could go either way. At stumps, Australia are 212 for 4 chasing 307. Things were looking good for Australia while Hayden and Ponting were at the crease, but Hayden’s run out sparked a late collapse at the end of the day. Adam Gilchrist will resume tomorrow with Ponting.
So anyway, here’s a thread for you all to post predictions. Can Australia get home, or will Bangladesh complete an astonishing Test victory? I am going to go with the upset, on the grounds that Australia rarely wins the close ones, and we just won a close one last week against South Africa. Bangladesh to win by under 20 runs is my guess.

Australia clean up

Australia made short work of the West Indies target, winning the Third Test with few alarms. Matt Hayden went on to 87 not out, narrowly falling short of getting five centuries in five Tests. Meanwhile Michael Hussey picked up 30 more runs, and he finishes his first Test series with a batting average of 120.

For all their troubles, the West Indies did look like they have made some improvement in their team on this tour, and they are less weak then they appear. Dwayne Bravo is the obvious ‘find’ of the tour, but the economy and line of Collymore is another positive.

From the Australian fan’s view point, it is good to see ‘normal service’ resume, but the real pleasing thing is the emergence of Hussey and Hodge in the middle order. We now have six Tests against South Africa to look forward to, and that is a good chance for the middle order to settle in, before the real challenge against England next summer.