The eyes have it

They sure do things different in Queensland.

The Bulls have experimented with glasses that have had their bottom half blacked out and others that have been blurred in a bid to sharpen batsmen’s focus and concentration skills.

“I felt they were quite useful,” experienced batsman Martin Love said. “With the blacked-out glasses you lose sight of the ball three or four metres before it gets to you, so you start reaching for the ball and hitting it in the air. Eventually you adjust and start waiting for the ball to come to you and hit it later.

“When you give the glasses away you tend to hit the ball later. That is what we are trying to achieve (on seaming wickets) at the Gabba where you can get into a lot of trouble by playing too early.”

Bulls coach Terry Oliver sanctioned the experiment with partially blacked out glasses after it was suggested by optometrist Pat Gerry while Love, a physiotherapist, suggested the blurred glasses after seeing them at a sports medicine conference.

“Research showed because vision was so poor with the blurred glasses on, batsmen tended to concentrate better and ended up timing the ball better,” Love said.

The Bulls have also experimented batting in the blacked-out glasses with a bat half the width of a normal sized blade in an extreme test of their batting skills.

The experiment took old-timers back to the days when South African great Barry Richards used to turn his bat sideways and point its edge to the bowler to challenge himself against bowlers he considered mediocre.

I’d never thought about batting practice in this way. I wonder if any readers have been involved in similar schemes in their net sessions?

Warne survives the boot-camp (just)

Shane Warne has revealed what he and his team-mates have been up to at the boot camp – a John Buchanan concept – in the past week, including some tasks more associated with the military than sportsmen:

I was shattered. But just as the night went silent, voices screamed: “Go, go, go!”. What on earth was going on? A stun-bomb had gone off, and we were told the area wasn’t safe. We had to move. Now. There were no torches or directions.
All we had been given for dinner was half a can of chunky soup, so our energy reserves were low after pulling vans and carrying litres of water. But we had to go. It was time to prove our mental resolve and move to a different location.

Welcome to the Australian cricket squad’s boot camp in regional Queensland, a time where we had only been referred to as numbers, not names, and weren’t allowed to communicate with the outside world.

Despite voicing his indifference to the idea beforehand, Warne said “there’s no doubt it brought the group closer together.”

Wacky John and his wacky ways

I can’t make sense of this “boot camp” Australia are going on. John Buchanan has bucked the coaching trend many times, but this is just obscure. They’ve just left for it this morning, and here are the tantalising details:

Australia’s cricketers have started their preparation for this year’s Ashes series, leaving Brisbane early this morning for a secret training camp somewhere in the Queensland bush.

Cricket Australia’s 25 contracted players will be in the remote boot camp in south-east Queensland for the next four days.

Newspaper reports today say the players will be deprived of food and sleep and subjected to a military-style training regime.

The players were told to pack bare essentials only.

Deprived of food and sleep is going to help them how, exactly? Will they be similarly rationed during the Ashes, too? Ridiculous load of tosh if you ask me. It goes without saying that if you just happen to be a Queenslander, and have 11-15 new cricketing neighbours, you should contact me immediately!

Maybe it’s a double-bluff. Perhaps they’ve been transported to a hideaway five star hotel, with signed copies of Duncan Fletcher’s book

I’m a cricketer, get me out of here

John Buchanan, the tireless laptop-addict and innovator-in-chief of Australian cricket (he is also a coach) is sending his troops on a not-so-secret-but-he’s-trying-to-keep-it-close-to-his-chest camping trip to a remote region of Queensland. The Ashes might be several months away, but they’ve effectively already begun. Tomorrow’s third Test against Pakistan will provide yet more speculation as to England’s preparations. And meanwhile, Australia are to venture into the outback – avoiding those very poisonous spiders and snakes, we hope… – for team-building and other such pitiful phrases which masquerade as a jolly old holiday.

Glen McGrath and Stuart Clark

Officials are adamant that it will not be the kind of boot camp that has become the trend for football clubs, at which players have been pushed to their physical limits along the Kokoda Trail, in the case of Hawthorn, or Arizona, in the case of Collingwood.

While the leadership course is a departure from the usual routine of gathering for a cricket training camp at the Centre of Excellence in Brisbane before the summer, Buchanan has a history of overseeing physical and spiritual team-building exercises during his coaching tenure.

No sign of Ant and Dec yet…

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.

Batting run amok

The final of Australia’s domestic first class competition is being played at the Gabba, with Queensland hosting Victoria. According to the competition rules, the host side only has to draw.

A couple of seasons ago, Victoria hosted the final and to ensure that they got the draw, they batted for ages to run up 710. Against Queensland.

Now that the boot is on the other foot, Queensland are taking a brutal revenge. A short time ago, Queensland were 4 for 880. Ouch!

Queensland v Victoria, Pura Cup Final photos

IMGP0913 maher 200 love 100

Originally uploaded by Flickr user RaeA.

RaeA has some really fine photos from the Queensland v Victoria Pura Cup Final which is currently in progress.

Pictured are Jimmy Maher (223) and Martin Love (169) who powered Queensland to 584 on the third day at The Gabba.

Stuart Law is British

News to me, but have just read that Queensland’s most successful captain – Stuart Law – is now a British Citizen. He’s married to a Liver bird, and therefore is now qualified to play for England (I presume). A tad old though, at 36 – but England do have this habit of breaking down injured every time we play Australia.


“I’ve just gone through my first full winter in Britain and, mate, I’ve found it hard,” said the 36-year-old Aussie, who now has British citizenship and has settled down permanently in the north west.

“Those short days …getting up at 7am and it’s still dark. I’ll get used to it but I can’t wait now for the season to start.

Pah – what a wuss :)