Too highly rated?

I see Kevin Pietersen has been knocked off the top spot in the ODIs by Ricky Ponting. Very difficult to argue with that – Ponting is surely the stand out batsman in both forms of the game. Looking at the other batting rankings, it is difficult to find fault, although on current form, Shiv Chanderpaul ought to be in the test top three at least. Also, I struggle to understand how Mahela Jayawardene doesn’t break into either top ten, while Hussey retains a top five place in both. He’s very good, granted, but is he top five?

Jason Gillespie

The bowlers are altogether more perplexing. For one, how can Shoaib Akhtar still be at number 10 in tests? He’s played four tests since the start of 2006 and taken only a handful of wickets. Maybe in the current game, not playing is the way to climb the rankings. Likewise, Jason Gillespie (22) is still deemed a better Test bowler than Lasith Malinga (28)!

Agreed, it must be difficult to devise a workable system. Also, stats don’t tell the full story. But things start to look decidedly suspect when you inspect the Best Ever Ratings, which is a list of players at their peak. Ponting at four is just about fair enough, given his recent dominance. However, Peter May above Viv Richards shows a flaw, while Matthew Hayden in the top ten is just crazy. KP (21) is one place higher than Sachin and two places higher than Wally Hammond. Enough said.

For the bowlers, I half expected to see the list packed high with bowlers of yesteryear, given how modern bowlers are meant to have struggled, but it does put Murali, McGrath, Pollock, Waqar and Warne in the top 15. Of course, Warne should be in the top three, if not top of the pile. Wasim Akram limps in at number 57 behind the likes of Ntini, Shoaib and Harmison, which doesn’t seem right.

That said, like most critics, I can’t think of a better way. There must be some bright spark at Cricinfo with a formula….?

The elephant in the room

I’ve just been watching Inside Cricket, an Australian television cricket show where former Test players Brenden Julian, Mark Waugh, Allan Border, and Damien Fleming, have been discussing the First Test, with an English contribution from Graham Thorpe.

They all failed to mention the really big story that came out of the First Test and that is that England were beaten by three bowlers.

Brett Lee is the elephant that none dare mention; his contribution, especially in England’s second dig, could politely be called ‘crap’. He got a wicket because Kevin Pieterson gifted him one in the first over this morning, but really, he was a very fierce bad rabbit; his bad record against England just got worse.

And the pundits on television did not mention his name once. After all, the less said the better.

I’m a huge fan of Lee in one day cricket- in that form of the game, he keeps on performing, and while he keeps on taking wickets, he should be taking the new ball. But his Test performances, especially against England, continue to be ordinary.

Someone on the radio said at some point that ‘you can’t argue with 200 Test wickets’. Well actually you can. Just ask Jason Gillespie. Lee’s inability to take wickets has been glossed over in the hype of a big victory, but I do wonder if he is a luxury that Australia can afford over the course of a five Test series.

A brief winter rumination

Greetings from Adelaide. I haven’t put finger to keyboard for a while, for the fairly obvious reason that the Australian cricket team is having a well earned break. And what is good enough for the boys in Baggy Green is good enough for me.

Having said all that, I am starting to get bored. It does seem like a long time ago that Jason Gillespie scored a double century, and the Ashes action doesn’t fire up again until November 23, still four months away.

Well, if Justin Langer can have a cameo to keep the cobwebs at bay, then so can I. I was glad to see that he got himself a decent old 300, because there has actually been cricket in Australia this month, with a semi-triangular tournament featuring Australian A sides against ‘A’ sides from India, Pakistan and New Zealand. And in the four day game that was played Phil Jaques scored 240 and 117 against India A.

Langer also made a point to tell Merv Hughes off for complaining that Australia were too chummy with the English last year. The best traditions of the game are that you fight like hell on the field and then you have a beer and a laugh off it. Rather a pity that Merv of all people forgot that. It’s not like Merv was not a bit of a beer-drinker himself.

Apart from that little conflab, there’s not much else to report from Australia. Notes are being taken about all these injuries that England are suffering. I don’t think the people who are paying a fortune for tickets on e-Bay really want to see a second-string England get ripped apart by the Australians though. That would just be deja-vu all over again.

Video of Jason Gillespie’s double hundred

Anyone who missed it can see very brief highlights (all 54 seconds of them) below (or here). Annoyingly, the bloke who uploaded them – though we are grateful for their efforts – has shamelessly advertised his blog all over it. Bluergh. Not how we do things, matey…

Meanwhile, I’m in Devon and thoroughly good it is too. I’m now drinking an Otter.

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.

Happy Birthday Jason Gillespie!!!

Gillespie gets to 201 not out, and Ponting declares.

Not sure about this. Getting 100 is heroic. Getting 200 is taking the piss.

Update: see the video here.

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.

Bangladesh vs Australia, Day 3

What’s Dav Whatmore’s favourite song?

“I’m only happy when it rains”. Boom Boom!

Day 3 open thread. Have at it, Dizzy!

Bangladesh vs Australia, Day 2

I can’t believe it’s not butter! Open thread.

Reader poll for the day. How long will nightwatchman Jason Gillespie last? I suggest half an hour after lunch.

Bangladesh v Australia, 1st Test, Fatullah, 1st day

Okay, so the pitch is probably flatter than an ironing board, but nevertheless much kudos to the Bangladesh boys who are 206 for 1 against Australia! Briefly…

  • Shane Warne has gone for 72 from 9 overs
  • Shahriar Nafees has made a hundred
  • Jason Gillespie has taken the only wicket to fall so far

I’m not smiling or chuckling…