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]

An interruption while the sightscreen is adjusted….

In other words, there is sod all news. There’s a new round of county championship matches going on, if that is your cup of tea. Personally, I prefer Bundaburg Rum.

Journalists asked Mike Hussey for his thoughts, and all he could come up with was some lame talk about how reverse swing won’t have such an impact in Australia. That’s not really news; Pakistani bowlers have been coming to Australia for ages and keep getting carted.

I don’t think that reverse swing by itself is a magic bullet, and to keep going on about it, I think, takes away some of the gloss on just how well Simon Jones bowled last year. It’s kind of like a wrong-un that a leg spinner brings out of the hat. It’s a great ball, sure, but the other deliveries have to be on the money as well.

See, it’s not that hard to have opinions!

In desperation, the journalists went to the old firm c Marsh b Lillee. Rod Marsh obliged with some nice things to say about Monty Panesar.

While much of the focus has been on the pace attack, Marsh — Panesar’s former coach — said the bowler had what it took to succeed on Australian wickets.

“Technically, I think he’s a very fine bowler,” Marsh said. “He’s got as good an action as I reckon I’ve ever seen on a finger spinner.”

The 24-year-old left-armer, the first Sikh to play for England, rocketed into Ashes contention with eight wickets in England’s morale-boosting innings victory over Pakistan at Old Trafford this week. Panesar took 5-72 on the last day.

“They’ve got to bring him here (for the Ashes),” said Marsh, who helped guide Panesar’s development at the England Cricket Academy. “He’s become a bit of a cult figure in England. The crowds will love him here — one way or the other.”

Former England captain David Gower is another who thinks Panesar has what it takes, saying: “His big challenge will come in Australia this winter … where the home crowds will be quick to seize on any signs of weakness.”

The home crowds will be full of English tourists so Monty’s got nowt to worry about.

Meanwhile DK Lillee was waving the flag for Australia’s up and coming pace duo of Tait and Mitchell Johnson, and saying that England would miss Vaughan.

Well, yeah.  And????

That slacker Will is lazing on a beach, without a care in the world. It’s a tough life for some. How about for you?

Bangladesh lose Test but win admirers

Bangladesh wasted their chance to spring a massive surprise on Australia in the First Test, and it was no surprise to anyone that the roused Australians would react with their customary vehemence to quell Bangladesh’s resistance in the Second Test. So it came to pass, but the agency with which this was inflicted was perhaps an even greater surprise then Bangladesh’s inspiring First Test performance.

In a golden age of batsmanship, we cricket lovers have had a chance to see some delightful innings. Back in the 1980’s it was a rare thing for an Australian summer to be punctuated with a double century, but now it is a rare summer we don’t see one. However, I’ve never seen anything quite so unlikely as Jason Gillespie’s 201 not out at Chittagong.

It’s not that he can’t bat. Australia’s recent cricket history is dotted with examples of ‘Dizzy’s stout defensive efforts with the bat. Quite a few nations have experienced the frustration of trying to dig him out, and Australia’s top order batsmen know that they can bat normally and not worry about him giving his wicket away. However, his method of stern and stubborn defence is not especially effective in quick scoring.

This monumental innings by Gillespie did not see a change of his traditional modus-operandi. A stout defence, a cover drive, and a dab around the corner provided him with the bulk of his runs, and it was only after he was well into his second century that he became more adventurous. He was kept company for the bulk of his epic by the redoubtable Mike Hussey, who scored the most un-remarked upon 182 that he’s ever likely to score. Together they put on 320, and sealed the fate of Bangladesh who had been skittled on the first day for 197.

Bangladesh’s response to this huge deficit was discouraging, with only Shahriar Nafees and Habibul Bashar showing the required skill and discipline. The Bangladesh batsmen benefited from some sloppy Australian fielding on the fourth evening, but fell quickly to Warne and MacGill on the fifth morning, with only a delightful cameo by Mohammed Rafique to give the Bangladesh supporters cheer.

So is it really a case of one step forward and two steps back? I do not think so myself. While Bangladesh will be embarrassed that it was Jason Gillespie that filled their boots against them, rather then one of the more established batting stars, the result in Chittagong surprised no one. But the First Test did surprise everyone, and there is no denying that there is some real talent in the Bangladesh batting lineup. Bangladesh have started a long way behind the field, and while progress has been slow for them, it is nevertheless clearly there. They did not win any Tests this time round, and it will be a while before they do against Australia but they did win admirers.

Jason Gillespie Tribute Post

Well, every dog will have his day but not every night-watchman gets his century! He resumes today on his birthday on 102 not out, and who knows what else is possible if he goes the tonk! (has a slog, for those of you not fluent in Australian).

Osman Samiuddin calls Gillespie the tailender who isn’t. Malcolm Conn noted his discreet celebrations and Nabila Ahmed called him resurgent. Rick Eyre notes a historical fact.

Anyone want to tip what his final score will be? I’ll guess 126. Mike Hussey meanwhile could get anything. Although a declaration might not be far away if it rains.

UPDATE South Africa v Australia, 5th ODI, Johannesburg

About an hour ago, me and my colleage were screaming at the TV while watching South Africa attempt to reach 435. The commentators – Tony Greig and a South African, Barry Richards I think – were getting far too excited and claiming the hosts were going for the win. What tosh.

I’m slowly reaching for my hat which I might have to start eating, as we’re witnessing something rather extraordinary.

Oh bugger, the curse of the blogger. Graeme Smith is out (90 off 55!) and Mike Hussey’s celebration after taking the catch in the deep perhaps said it all: Australia are relieved. I think they felt the game was slipping away from them…

What an incredible day’s cricket it’s been

Update

Gibbs reaches incredible hundred. Nathan Bracken DROPS HIM at mid-off! What the hell is going on? South Africa 247 for 2, needing 188 from 23 overs

14.34 GMT

Gibbs 150 from 100 balls. 164 needed from 21. Rate under 8 for the first time. Pictures I’m upping are here

14.48

Gibbs falls for 175 from 111. De Villiers also out. Kallis and Boucher now in. 136 from 18.1 overs.

15.48

30 from 18 needed, ANOTHER FOUR, Boucher’s doing it for South Africa. And Mick Lewis brings up his hundred too!

15.51

It’s gotta be SA now. 17 from 13

15.52

Four from Roger Telemarketing! (Telemachus) 13 from 12! Mick Lewis has the most expensive bowling stats, ever.

15.53

Telemachus caught, brilliantly, by Hussey, diving forward at mid-off! 12 from 10 with two wickets remaining. Bloody hell. Andrew Hall gets a standing ovation for walking onto the ground.

15.58

7 from 6

16.00

Lee struck on foot, saved four, ouch. 6 from 5

16.02

Hall smashes Lee through midwicket for FOUR! Brilliant shot.

16.04

Hall caught! OUT GONE! 2 from 3 needed, ONE WICKET LEFT

16.05

Ntini screams, gets a single, South Africa cannot lose. 1 from 2. Australia cannot, obviously, win it. This is bloody incredible

16.06

Boucher wins it with a slog over mid-on to record the best one-day victory ever. In the greatest one-day match, probably. Speechless.

Hussey’s catch

If you have Sky, or some way of watching Mike Hussey’s catch, then do. It was stunning. (Aus v SA). He ran 13/14 paces – a sprint – then dived and caught it in his left hand. Special bit of fielding that – quite brilliant! Is there anything much better in cricket than a great, great catch?

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?

Katich’s (and Australia’s) future

I noted today that Simon Katich again failed to make a substantial contribution, against Northamptonshire. I’m one of many Englishmen who hasn’t really seen the best of Katich, and I’m keen to know more from those that have. Quite why Mike Hussey isn’t in the current Test side, in replace of Katich, is beyond me. Hussey seems to be at least his equal with the bat, and an outstanding outfielder.

Aside from Hussey, who else do Australia have in the pipeline? Batsmen can often “go on” longer than bowlers, but it would obviously be in Australia’s great interest to introduce some younger batsmen sooner rather than later. What, and who, is Australia’s batting future?

Roebuck: the end is nigh

I don’t find it easy reading Peter Roebuck’s articles. They are often aggressive, disrespectful and unnecessarily unfair to whoever he hates that week, but this doesn’t stop me reading them, so I must even respect him in some way. Mumblings aside, his latest musings in the SMH provided interest, with the following:

Suddenly this team [Australia] is looking its age. Sometimes, when the end comes, it is quick. Regardless of the outcome of this series – and it is worth remembering that England stand second in the rankings and are playing at home, and that Australia lost by only two runs in Birmingham and that the score is level (in other words, it has not been a debacle) – the selectors will need to take stock.

Rejuvenation is needed, the sort of vitality Hussey can bring to the top of the order, and others elsewhere. Not that Australian cricket has an abundance of emerging talent. It’s been a wonderful run. Harder days lie ahead.

Mike Hussey’s marvellous form, and plentiful skill, was one of few highlights for Australia in the one-day series earlier in the summer. Apart from his innings-salvaging batting (he was the leading run scorer for Australia), his fielding was sharp, dynamic and youthful which are three aspects clearly lacking from Ponting’s Test side at the moment. Only an ageless Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne have demonstrated keeness, focus and finely-honed skill – indeed, the latter has done more to embarass his own side with his batting. Roebuck puts this down to the quality of England’s bowling more than anything else, and so he should.

Before this series started, Australia’s reaction to this “new England” was that they had heard it all before. This arrogance, especially by their batsmen, has cost them, and their fervent fans, dearly. Even in the dying overs of today, with Michael Vaughan and Ashley Giles bowling, chances were being created, and Hayden should have been given out leg-before to M.P. Vaughan. He’s more than useful, and ought to bowl himself more often – but, come on…

Roebuck has for so long, so often lambasted England as a cricketing nation. I suppose the point of this post was the revelation that England has conquered the most ardent Australian cricket fan, and won the respect of one Peter Roebuck. Regardless of what happens tomorrow, that’s no mean feat.