Who makes these rules, and why do we put up with them?

Via Cricinfo:

Andrew Symonds can be named in Australia’s World Cup squad and be replaced if he fails to recover from a serious arm injury, the ICC has ruled. Australia made the request because they are unsure how long Symonds will be out with a torn biceps.

Symonds suffered the injury during Friday night’s loss to England and had surgery on Sunday morning. Estimates on the speed of his return seem to vary from six weeks to six months, but he is in serious doubt for the tournament in the Caribbean. Australia’s first game of the World Cup is against Scotland on March 14 while the more important Super Eight stage begins on March 27.

Australia must announce their 15-man squad by Tuesday and Cricket Australia did not want to be forced into a situation where Symonds would be picked in the outfit and then have to drop out, leaving them a player short. AAP reported Dave Richardson, the ICC’s general manager of cricket, allowed the change.

I have some things to ask at this point. Why did national bodies allowe the ICC to determine how large their World Cup squads can be. And I do not see why they should not be changed?

What is the difference between the World Cup and the Ashes, where both nations can call up players that were not in the original sides.  What about West Indies, who are hosting this tournament- why should they have to name a squad? The extra flexibility of being a host is denied them.

I’m just staggered that no one ever seems to have asked why the national boards allowed the ICC to dictate this nonsense to them in the first place.

Meanderings on the Commonwealth Bank series

Well, so far so good from an Australian point of view. It’s nice to see the Australians decked out in something other then ghastly canary yellow for a change. Easier on the eyes.

For me the best thing is that Adam Gilchrist is back in form. That is great news for spectators as there’s not many players in the world who hit the ball better. Add to that the form of Andrew Symonds and Cameron “Bear” White and there’s some real firepower in the Australian batting lineup. Hits Away!

Not that I think that it will be a cakewalk for the Australians; I expect that both England and New Zealand will do much better in their remainding games against Australia. There are some quality players in the England and New Zealand teams, something that the Australian media tends to forget. I just hope that the Australian players do not forget it either.

My favourite non-Australian player is Shane Bond, and I’m glad to see his titanium-filled back is holding up well enough. He bowled well again against the Australians in Hobart, and Englishmen who have had trouble and strife with the Australian bowlers this summer will be dismayed to find that he’s actually better then any of the Australian pace attack. They’ll have to be on their toes against him in Hobart today.

Given that, I think New Zealand should be favourites to win today’s game, simply on the Bond factor alone.

So, will Roy deliver this time?

Australia have chosen Andrew “Roy” Symonds to replace Damien Martyn in the middle order for the Third Test, a selection that is strongly suggestive of Ricky Ponting’s clout at the selection table. Symonds, to my mind, has not done anything of note to justify his inclusion in Australian first class cricket this season, but Ponting’s faith in Symonds has been unbound for a long time.

I hope he’s as right as he was when as captain of the 2003 World Cup team, he demanded Symonds be included, despite the general consensus of pundits and wise men that Symonds, for all his talents, was a ne’er do well. He had been given multiple opportunites in ODI games since 1999 and had not taken them. However, Ponting’s faith that he would deliver when it mattered in one-day cricket was proved spectacularly correct in 2003, and he’s been doing it ever since.

And the likes of me have been happy to be proved wrong to boot.

Last summer, Symonds finally made his Test debut, and oddly enough a similar story of underperformance and hestitance that marked his early ODI career returned. He lost his place in the side, but clearly he hasn’t lost the confidence of his captain.

And I certainly hope that Ponting is right. For if Symonds unleashes as we all know that he can, then he can be the most devastating striker in world cricket.

He also brings some more bowling options for Ponting. The once feared WACA pitch is now on life support, with ground-staff scouring the West Australian countryside for the right sort of soil to bring it back to its old self. There is hope that it can be revived for the 2010/11 Ashes series, but this time around, it is likely to be a near-death experience for pace bowlers.

Damien Martyn announces retirement

Damien Martyn has retired from all cricket with immediate effect. Bolt out of the blue, this one. He’s been replaced by Andrew Symonds for the third Test – and the little-known Adam Voges.

Martyn, who was married in the off-season, has usually tried to avoid the spotlight and is travelling today. “I’m aware of the tremendous challenges facing Australian cricket, including this current Ashes series,” he said. “Such challenges require people who are more than 100% committed, dedicated, disciplined and passionate about the game, what it seeks to achieve and how those involved in the game can best serve cricket.

“I feel, therefore, it’s time for me to move aside. I have enjoyed everything the game has given me. I have gained from it more than I could have ever imagined.”

[...]

“I was flabbergasted when I got the call,” Symonds said. “I thought I was a million to one to play this series, especially when they went for Pup [Michael Clarke] when Watto was ruled out. I dug out my baggy green the other day when I was moving some stuff around and wondered if I would ever put it on my head again. That’s still up in the air but I’m obviously a fair bit closer to that moment than I thought I was.”

More at Cricinfo.

Wolfmother and the Aussie Osbournes

Wolfmother

One great aspect of London is hearing about bands which would otherwise pass you buy. On the tube last Friday, I grabbed a copy of the Guardian’s music section which had been stuffed unceremoniously down the side of the seat. I don’t read any one particular newspaper by default, and on first glance this was a damn good music supplement. Not stuffy, not traditionalist or “why aren’t you listening to this already, you twat” sentiments. It just had interviews and articles and let you make your mind up.

In it, it had an interview with the frontman from Wolfmother, an Australian band trying to ressurect the raw, unprocessed sound of rock. Some recent bands have tried to do this with disasterous and embarassing results. It sounded (pardon the pun) too good to be true, that a band from 2006 had the intention of recreating the sound of Black Sabbath…

I was on holiday and saw this Sabbath tribute band,” says the singer of Australia’s latest hard rock export, Wolfmother, his enormous, corkscrew mass of hair quivering in the inappropriately library-quiet atmosphere of a Sheffield curry house. “These guys were over 40, overweight and middle-aged. But as soon as they played Paranoid, they turned into rock stars.” The tiny venue, he recalls, “turned into an arena”.

In the autumn of his youth, Andrew Stockdale experienced an epiphany in the satanic form of Black Sabbath. Well, not Black Sabbath themselves, but a band who sounded like Black Sabbath. “I was on holiday and saw this Sabbath tribute band,” says the singer of Australia’s latest hard rock export, Wolfmother, his enormous, corkscrew mass of hair quivering in the inappropriately library-quiet atmosphere of a Sheffield curry house. “These guys were over 40, overweight and middle-aged. But as soon as they played Paranoid, they turned into rock stars.” The tiny venue, he recalls, “turned into an arena”.

A while later, Stockdale, then 24, was visiting his friend Chris Ross, now Wolfmother’s bassist. He had one request: “Have you got any Sabbath?” The Brummie legends’ greatest hits were slapped on the CD player, and when a track called Wizard came along, Stockdale’s calling was complete. “I said, ‘Man, if people played this style of music now it would just go off,’” he remembers.

So I bought the album and, on the first two listens, it’s damn fine. It’s not Black Sabbath although there’s a definate hint running through the album demonstrating their influence. Anyway, this has nothing to do with cricket – other than the frontman looks like Andrew Symonds. There, see? Cricket can infiltrate any conversation you wish.

So, go and buy it. What are you listening to at the moment?

Andrew “Roy” Symonds starts repaying what he owes.

Andrew Symonds’ big night out on the day before an ODI against Bangladesh in 2005 will go down in infamy in Australian cricket lore, and probably will be celebrated in Bangladesh for a while to come as well. But he did redeem himself somewhat with a match-winning century in Dhaka to win the 2nd ODI for Australia yesterday.

It must be said, in all honesty, that at the moment he looks like he’s been on an even bigger bender then his 2005 effort. The dreadlocks look scruffy and the beard makes him look like a vagabond. At the moment, if any Australian cricketer is crying out for a makeover by the folks from ‘queer eye for the straight guy’, it is Symonds.

He may look like a drunken derelict, but his 5th ODI century for Australia was a most sober and abstemious effort. He came in with a bit of a crisis happening and Australia struggling after losing 3 for 10 after Adam Gilchrist got interrupted just as he was really warming up. That brought to mind his innings in Sydney against Sri Lanka, where Chaminda Vaas roughed up the Australian top order. Starting this time at 3 for 65, he combined with Michael Clarke to compose a brilliant but ungainly knock.

It’s one thing to score a glittering century on an easy paced but reliable SCG wicket; this wicket at Dhaka was simply diabolical. It was slower then a Madagascar sloth and deader then WG Grace. He came out wearing a helmet but there was no way Mashrafe Mortaza was going to get a bouncer to get beyond rib high at best. Pitch preparation is a black art at the best of times, but whoever was in charge of this one should hang his head in shame. Bangladesh may be poor, but if they can afford to put on a gloriously manicured outfield, there’s no excuse for a pitch like this.

So once the fast men finished their spells with the new ball, we had the rather dreary sight of spinners bowling and the batsmen working them over for singles. It is this sort of cricket that drove the ICC in frustration to introduce monstrosities like power-plays and supersubs. It is hardly the batsmen at fault in situations like this; in Michael Clarke and Andrew Symonds, Australia had two of its most positive minded batsmen at the crease. But Clarke only scored 2 boundaries in his 54.

Credit must go to the bowlers, especially the redoubtable Mohammed Rafique. The veteran spinner has clearly been the pick of Bangladesh’s bowlers right through this Australian tour. Of course, it does help his cause that as a slow left arm spinner, he is a member of the spin caste that has troubled Australians the most over recent years. Daniel Vettori is another that springs to mind.

So Symonds played Rafique with respect, picking him off, working him over for the singles, and waiting for the loose ball from the other end. These were not in short supply once Bashar had to face the chore of juggling to find ten overs from his ‘fifth’ bowler, but again the conditions conspired, and the lack of bounce clearly frustrated Symonds. However, instead of losing his head and his innings, he managed to keep his composure, and his wicket, and in the end his century came off 122 balls; slow by his standards but fast in the conditions.

Bashar perhaps missed a trick; he seemed content to allow Australia to pick off singles, and I wonder when a captain is going to be bold enough to try keeping his inner fielders close enough to the batsmen to make singles hard work. It could have paid dividends.

But it was never tried, so they tied Australia down for a while but they could not get them out though, and a late burst saw Australia through to 250. And once the Australian fast men knocked off the top order of Bangladesh’s batting, that was it as a game. Habibul Bashar played a good captain’s knock to ensure Bangladesh had some respectability with their reply of 183, but Symonds was the man who made the difference. And a good thing too, because against this opponent, Symonds owed his country a match-winning innings or three.

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.

Buy this great new product!

Adam Gilchrist is very clever!

A number of Australia’s senior players were understood to have agreed to the prank as a one-off on the second day of the first Test against Bangladesh, to hit broadcasters in the hip pocket.

Television executives do not take kindly to free on-air advertising, and it was a clever tactic of Gilchrist to name team sponsors.

He was overhead saying “Get one for the boys at Travelex” or “Phone home on 3 Mobile” during play.

But the most clearly audible plug was heard after Andrew Symonds, nicknamed Roy, fired in a throw.

“That’s the one, Roy,” Gilchrist enthused.

“Plenty of energy … from a … Milo energy bar.”

A Cricket Australia spokesman said the players had concerns over the volume of stump mikes.

“It is the second Test in a row that (Australia) team manager Steve Bernard has requested the International Cricket Council match referee to ensure the international protocol of stump mikes are turned down when the ball is dead, and only turned back up when the bowler is at his run-up,” he said.

That is a clever tactic by Gilchrist to force the hand of television broadcasters. It would be nice to think that what is said on the field is all good clean stuff, but sadly this is not so, and probably never was so. International Cricket has always been played at a fairly intense level.

South Africa v Australia, 5th ODI, Johannesburg

What in the name of all that is sane is going on at Johannesburg? Adam Gilchrist started it with one of his violent furies; now Ponting’s gone utterly beserk and is smashing the Boks to kingdom come! This, after Australia levelled the series on Friday. What a game. Australia are heading towards the first 400 in a one-dayer at this rate.

Oh and Symonds hasn’t even arrived yet. (Click here to see Cricinfo’s new spangly scorecard)

Marks on Woolmer in Pakistan

Morning everyone!

Not much in the UK papers, though Vic Marks writes a good profile of Bob Woolmer’s adventures in Pakistan. For me the really interesting thing is that he’s getting Shahid Afridi to start to deliver on a consistent basis. The guy is a lot like Andrew Symonds, a remarkable talent, but not properly focussed. Until now, anyway.