Australia v West Indies photo

Pretty good snap from the recent first Test at the Gabba between Australia and the West Indies, by Flickr user Raea

Australians batting

I’m back – but where are the players?

Hello chaps, I’m back. Heard that Australia were offered the light a while ago (just after Tea?) and took it. Bizarre. Aren’t they trying to win this game? Especially odd since Hayden and Langer seem to have put on a solid (in terms of numbers and runs) opening partnership…

Trescothick falls to Warne

81 for 1, and Matthew Hayden has taken a very special slip catch at ankle height. Trescothick nudged a Warne delivery, who was bowling around the wicket, and Hayden lunged to his left, and took it in front of his left ankle. Really top catch.

Silencing the pom-bashers

I suspect the rivarly between Indian and Pakistani cricket sides is far fiercer than that of English and Australian ones, but that’s not to underestimate the Ashes battle. This series has demonstrated just how much that little urn – it really is tiny – means to Britons and Australians.

Aussies, especially their cricket teams, have historically always hated this country, despite them coming in their droves to live and work here (who can blame them?! Friendly banter there, don’t you be taking any offence now). So I was intrigued to see a headline at The Age of: Put Pom-bashing aside and give England credit. [link]

I was then put into instant shock when I saw the author, none other than Michael Vaughan. Alas, it is not he-who-looks-like-an-accountant-but-actually-captains-England-with-great-imagination fame. For so long now, 18 years, Britons and English cricket fans have suffered at the hands of the fervent Australian cricket fan. Simon Jones, famously, was called a “weak pommy bastard” after ripping/tearing/snapping his knee on the last winter Ashes tour on those shores. And he still talks about it, as well he might; not only has he transformed himself into a superb exponent of reverse-swing, but his side are now able to silence these pommy-bashers who for so long revelled in England’s limp Ashes efforts. There’s nowt limp or weak about this English side, as Michael Vaughan (the author of this article) concedes:

The Australians have beaten all-comers over a long time, but this time they have been comprehensively outplayed, despite the close finishes, and it’s about time we put aside our penchant for Pommy-bashing and delivered credit where it’s due.

As much as it pains me to say it, England is the new Australia. Matthew Hayden is a good example of the out-of-form/outplayed conundrum.

To those Australians who question why I’m making such a deal of gaining the respect of Australia as a people, you have to understand what Britons have been through. It isn’t so much the losing that we hated, nor being outplayed. Every. Series. It was the total lack of respect Australia showed us. “England didn’t deserve it!” you cry. Maybe, but lack of respect arguably hurts the most, and it is perhaps this reason alone which makes this summer taste all the sweeter. Glenn McGrath’s comments of a 5-0 whitewash. Hayden’s uber-confidence which, remarkably, has continued unabated even at this late stage of the series. Mark Waugh writing England off (“seen it all before.”). Peter Roebuck saying, well…you can well imagine.

As I’ve said all along, whatever the end result may be, let us just earn the respect of Australia. And we’ve done it. That’s what’s made my summer.

As an Australian, Indian, Icelander, Englishman, West Indian or any other nationality, what about this series has made it for you?

Matthew Hayden on the Edgbaston defeat

Matthew Hayden, who, as it currently stands after two Tests averages less than Shane Warne and Brett Lee, writes for the Telegraph this morning:

Watching an event like that unfold is far more taxing on the blood pressure than actually taking part. During the chase, a fly on the wall in the players’ viewing area would have spotted Jason Gillespie and Simon Katich marking the runs off in multiples of five on the back of a newspaper, with Stuart MacGill demanding everyone be quiet as “nervous talk wastes energy”. Adam Gilchrist was not daring to look and thrusting his attention to a magazine, while Ricky Ponting, Justin Langer and I sat silently trying to wish us more runs.

After the game, we spent some time with England in their dressing rooms, then had a quiet team meeting where John Buchanan and Ricky emphasised their pride in Shane, Brett and Michael’s fine efforts.

We briefly discussed the week ahead and some of the things we will do to swing the momentum of the series back into our favour.

One of those things will be the best way to combat Flintoff. He was outstanding throughout. For the crowd to see him and Shane Warne at their best would have been a true highlight.

For a long time now the cricket world has been waiting to see us in a real dogfight. Well, we truly have that fight on our hands now, and that’s something that we won’t shy away from.

I’m confident that it will inspire our group to be at their very best. After all, that’s the true test of a champion team. We have wonderful self-belief among our group and I know that it won’t take much for us to be back at our best.

We’ll see if this “champion team,” fast becoming a Hayden cliche, live up to their hype.

It’s kicking off!

Oh yeah – it’s kicking off now, kicking off big-time! Gilchrist and Hayden went a bit beserk before Jones completely did him: first ball slightly short, missing the outside edge. Next ball just slightly fuller and edges it to Jones – caught behind.

The next few overs saw some of the best cricket this summer (in my eyes) – true International cricket played between two very aggressive teams. Jones quickly found his lines (having replaced Gough, who hadn’t) – and hurled a ball into the pitch, which bounced and hit Hayden on the arm or chest. Hayden threw ALL his toys out of the pram, politely enquiring to Jones “Why did one feel it necessary to throw the shiny red ball at one?” – he is a very big bloke, and had steamed right over. Collingwood had a chirp too, and they even squared up to eachother momentarily, before Ponting pushed his opener away.

From then on, England were pumped – Harmison, too, bowling pretty quickly – and Jones then, ironically, dismissed Hayden LBW. Hayden didn’t like the decision, but it was surely more the bowler than the decision which irked him…

Classic stuff. Australia are still going like a train on acid at 70-2 – in the 13th over – but both teams will stand up to eachother, eye-to-eye, and it’s already been thrilling to watch.

Somerset v Australia

I think Somerset’s pitch at Taunton might just be a belter. Australia compiled (for compiled, read “Smashed”) 342 from their 50 overs. 2 of their players, Ponting and Hayden, clearly felt they were in such good nick that they retired.

But

Somerset, in reply, are fast approaching 200 without loss: 197-0. Have a read of these:

Bowling                      O      M      R      W
Lee                          4      0     26      0
McGrath                      6      0     38      0 (1nb, 1w)
Kasprowicz                   6      0     61      0 (2nb)
Watson                       3      0     41      0 (1w)
Clarke                       2      0     16      0
Hussey                       1      0      9      0

The destroyers are Graeme Smith (Captain) and someone called Jayasuriya – Smith, in particular, batted brilliantly yesterday. Looks like he’s in seriously good form, and if Somerset win this game, he might just receive a thank-you from Michael Vaughan…

UPDATE: the curse of the blogger. Smith now out for a magnificent 108 from just 74 balls

Hayden on a go-slow

Ubersportingpundit: Patience? Stuff that for a joke

Scott’s panicking about Hayden’s comments that he should be building more patient innings. A relief for the rest of the world! Time to bowl round the wicket, 2 feet outside off? :)

Justin Langer’s hundred verus New Zealand

An excellent hundred, albeit against a New Zealand team in decline. Their “attack” doesn’t stand up to much, especially against one of the best batting lineups in the last 20 years.

Langer recorded his 20th Test Century – a very special achievment, joining The Elite; Ponting, Inzy, Richards, Boon, Boycott, Tendulkar, Gavaskar….Lara, of course. To name but a few.

[These snippets via Cricinfo]

On the heat
I feel pretty good and we’re in a pretty good position. I started cramping – I tend to do that at Adelaide – after lunch and that probably affected my concentration. But that went away and I felt pretty good.

On the century
I don’t think it’s one of my best. Besides the first couple of overs and a couple with the second new ball, it was a gritty innings. But my balance was really good because footwork is one area of my game that I’ve had to improve over the last 12 to 18 months.

On it being his 20th hundred
Statistics are a really funny thing in cricket. When you are playing the game they mean a lot. I spoke to Tugga [Steve Waugh] a couple of months ago and he said that in retirement statistics mean nothing. While I’m playing and getting paid to score runs it means I hopefully get a game next week.

On the pitch
It’s a very good wicket and is actually getting more carry than I’ve seen before. I’m not sure it’s going to get up and down. We’re going to have to give ourselves plenty of time to get 20 New Zealand wickets.

On Hayden’s caught-and-bowled
It was a big banging double noise so he must have thought that he’d thumped it into the ground. He was probably hoping it was a bump ball because he was starting to hit it pretty well. I thought it was out.

On using the third umpire for a catch
I’m not saying it was obvious, but it looked to me that it was it probably out. The umpires did the right thing. If the technology is there they might as well use it.

On New Zealand’s performance
They fought hard all day. Jacob Oram is an outstanding cricketer to bowl that economically on that track. Chris Martin runs in hard all day and hasn’t had that much luck, but definitely has the spirit.

On their mood in the field
They were a bit quiet, but I’m not sure how they play. They had a tough week last week, it was 38 degrees or so, they lost the toss on a good wicket. They did an admirable job.

On his run-burst in the first two overs
I keep telling Haydos that he’s the blocker and I am the aggressor. I can’t believe he’s playing one-day cricket and I’m not. [The rooms laughs loudly] He knows how I feel about this.