Jones! Bowden!

Where were you for the Edgbaston climax in 2005? I was driving home in a car that only had FM, so I had to get updates from Michael Parkinson on Radio Two. Happily, the old cove would regularly interrupt his guests to give details, but all the same I missed the Jones!! Bowden!! Kasprowicz!! finale.

Harmison, Jones, Kasprowicz

I mention it because I now know what it must have felt like to be Michael Vaughan that day. OK, so the stakes were a little lower in our South Cotswolds Division Three clash last Saturday, but the match situation was very similar. They were chasing 230-odd and we had them 190 for 9 with six overs left. Numbers nine and eleven at the crease. A formality or so we thought. But somehow, the ball kept missing the stumps and fielders, and we began to panic. Before we realised what had happened, they needed 11 to win off the last over. Still ours to lose, right?

A couple of good balls and a decent stop on the third man boundary brought it to eight needed off three, with the better batsman on strike. ‘Give him the single, lads!’ So we drop back five paces and he duly clips it to mid off. ‘Hold the ball!’ We now have the rabbit on strike and he needs seven off two. Game over.

But no! Wait! Mid-off has not held the ball, but instead he has slung it at the non-striker’s end. It misses by a yard and I fluff backing it up (it bobbled, honest!). They run a second. Six off two, with the better batsman on strike.

The next ball goes over cover’s head for four. Two to win, last ball. What do you do? Stop the single and win; or give them one and take the tie? Mostly we did neither. Some came in, some drifted, others minced about. Our heads were scrambled. How Harmison was even able to grip the ball, let alone bowl it, I have no idea! How Jones could have felt his legs, let alone move them!

I dropped in to a short-ish mid-wicket and the ball was chipped over my head for the winning two runs. Had I stayed where I was, it would have been an easy catch, with Richie Benaud crying out my name (in my head). Time will tell if I’m picked for next week’s match….

Where to now for Australia?

I still haven’t got anything remotely intelligible to say about England winning the Ashes. I doubt I will do, either, which won’t surprise any of you! But if I do, it’ll seep its’ way on here at some point…

So, in the meantime, where to now for Australia? On an Australian breakfast show this morning (this evening, I guess; their morning, anyway) they said “So! South Africa beat Australia and regain the Ashes.” (with obvious reference to Kevin Pietersen).

If Michael Vaughan had lost the Ashes, he would be a fairly lost man; after all the hype, who knows how the media would have responded? Australia’s PM, John Howard, once said he held the second most important job in his country – behind the captain of the Australian cricket team. And John Buchanan said of Ricky Ponting that he is an “occupier of a fairly significant position in Australian society.”

I’m not rubbing salt into open wounds, and neither will I when I do my review; God knows I’d be seething if I was on the losing side, again. So, I’m just interesting in getting the opinion of any Aussie readers on where Australia should go from here, and anyone else with an opinion for that matter.

Who in the team depressed you the most? Is Clarke captaincy material? Should Ponting resign from the captaincy, but retain his place in the side (Will: yes, he probably should)? Which other two young, fast bowlers can/will replace Gillespie and Kasper?

These are all things Australia will be discussing fervently in the coming weeks, so let’s get the ball rolling early.

Second caption competition

We are again doing a caption competition at Cricinfo. Have a look and send in your best to caption@cricinfo.com

Brett Lee and Mike Kasprowicz

Australia not impressing

It’s been a terrific, exciting start to the summer – who could’ve predicted there would have been so much drama & controversy in these 10 ODI matches? Most people rightly thought Australia would trample over Bangladesh and, although England fans were hopeful of doing well in the shorter game, most would have expected them to quickly assert their authority. This hasn’t happened yet. The giant of world cricket is definately awake now, but appears almost sedated.

Against England, in that stormy encounter, I didn’t think they were red hot – at a time when Australians, such as Darren Lehmann, fully expected them to have hit their straps. Had the rain not intervened, England looked ready for another win – and don’t forget, Australia lost 5 for 37 in 6 overs, at a time when a score of 280 looked possible.

Today, more questions than answers remain. Following the admittedly absurd, yet unsettling allegations of Matthew Hayden swearing at some kids, they’ve been below par against Bangladesh. Gillespie again struggled, and Kasprowicz really looked very poor. “Lack of match practice” is an excuse which will soon lack credibility – this is their tenth match so far in their tour: played 10, won 4 lost 4. These are world class bowlers in the rare situation of looking bemused about their own form. If they’re bemused, so are we.

Darren Lehmann, who has slotted in brilliant at Sky, has patriotically defended his country and is at pains to point out (every game) that they are improving – are they?

Their batting today, thus far, looks ropey at best. 102-3 and their captain and run-machine Ricky Ponting is, in my eyes, definately having technical problems. His head is still falling away to the off side, and he survived countless appeals for leg-before. Having watched Ponting a fair amount, he’s often had trouble early-doors – but this is his 10th match, and he hasn’t yet fired. It must be a concern to him. Harmison trapped him leg-before in a recent game – and I predict he’ll pick him up again in the Tests a few times.

Gower, on sky, seems to think Australia’s sub-par performance is due to their opponents – the lack of spice in the game, the small crowd and so on. But this is Australia – the World Champions, the all-conquering machine of world cricket. “The only inspiration I/we need is representing our country” was a common tagline of Waugh and Taylor in the past. They don’t have bad days – and they certainly don’t have this many this often.

No doubt Australia will walk home with this game at some point, and no doubt Ponting will continue to dodge the media’s questions about his and his teams form. Saturday is but 2 days away, and is being thought of as “the first game of the summer” for The Ashes – will the monster be awoken?

Kasprowicz all at sea

Michael Kasprowicz has all but ruled himself out of the first Ashes Test this summer; he looks all at sea. Botham made the comment initially; he’s going at over 5 an over, with 4 no balls, and looks utterly useless. He’s a decent bowler, and although every team these days is “unified” and supports one another, I bet Brett Lee isn’t too upset.

Bangladesh going along nicely now – 126-5