The thing that didn’t happen

Watching glimpses of the India vs Australia and Sri Lanka vs England ODI series, I’ve been struck by just how conventional these ODI games have been. We were told last month that the arrival of the Twenty20 game would revolutionise tactics and game-plans in the 50 over game.

But it hasn’t happened. The Sri Lanka vs England games were especially low-scoring, attritional affairs, and that played right into England’s hands. No doubt the slow and difficult batting conditions contributed to that. But even in relatively free-scoring Indian venues, the same old rhymes and rythyms of the 50 over game have continued.

It is early days, of course, but what this might point to is that there is little real impact that the two games can have on each other. Those extra thirty overs are clearly making a difference to the way that teams go about their business. I cheerfully confess to being surprised by this turn of events.

Ponting and Buchanan under fire from Ritchie

God it’s been a tough weekend. Walking on the beach; sitting in the pub, sitting in another pub overlooking another beach; walking on the cliffs overlooking a beach; eating fresh fish in our local pub with a beer and walking the three minutes to our house; walking round Salcombe and eating far too many pasties. I’m exhausted with my gluttonous relaxation. So it’s with tired eyes I read of Greg Ritchie’s bashing of John Buchanan and Ricky Ponting.

If Australia’s coach and captain remain in power, Ritchie thinks England will win the Ashes.

“Australia would win the Ashes if Shane Warne was captain,” Ritchie was quoted in The Sydney Morning Herald. “On the field, he [Ponting] doesn’t know what’s going on. England’s bowlers have our measure.”

Read the full story at Cricinfo then come back here and leave comments.

Gayle goes ballistic – that’s how to do it!

Chris Gayle – one of my favourite cricketers to watch – is going a bit ballistic: currently on 70 from just 53 balls, ten 4s and three 6s. That’s how to counter-attack! Thrilling to watch when he’s in this kind of form.

West Indies v South Africa: dullness personified

I don’t know who I’m more annoyed at or upset with, South Africa or the West Indies. Albeit on a flat track, the West Indies have embarassed themselves further in this Test Match. They’ve already conceded 4 hundreds – even allowing Ashwell Prince to make one. That said – and although South Africa’s run-rate is at 3.5/over – there were periods today where South Africa just stopped and did nothing.

All this talk that they’re (South Africa) “on track again,” and “on the rise,” is just bullshit. Most division 1 County sides in England could take the West Indies to a draw these days; most Australian states would beat them without too much bother. And yet South Africa, and Kallis in particular, spent parts of the afternoon session doodling along as though they were 200-5. West Indies posess not a single bowling threat [1]. Yes, South Africa are ahead of the game; Yes, they’ve scored over 500 runs but 3.5 runs/over against THAT bowling attack just says to the world: “We’ve won the series, we don’t want to lose this game.”

I was similarly annoyed throughout England’s tour earlier this year, where South Africa were often behind on points and constantly played the waiting game. They’re a very boring side to watch, these days.

[1] Incidentally, Dwight Washington, who was just about managing to get the ball down to the other end of the wicket at 78mph, is down as RF on Cricinfo. Oh, how they wish…

Tense draw, but 2-1 to England

Well played cricket by England, who have played below par all series but still come out on top. Today saw some farcical captaincy and tactics by Smith and South Africa. They failed to attack England before or after lunch, and eventually set England a target of about 180 in 40 overs. Initially, I felt England would canter it – but they lost 3 very quick wickets, and had to be content to go for the draw.

HOWEVER

It was South Africa who should have been forcing the initiative. It was they who were 1 down in the series, and had they given themselves 60 overs to bowl England out, they could well have levelled the series. It got to the stage where, once Smith was out, Kallis (batting at the other end) walked with him back to the pavillion and had a heated discussion! As if say to say “what are our tactics skip?” It was poor stuff, and South Africa really must look at this side of their game – especially if their captain makes statements like “I’m a go for broke captain…”

Meanwhile, thanks to self-proclaimed-England-hater-and-fellow-cricket-blogger Jagadish, Langer writes of his mate Strauss. Much has been said over here of their similarities in batting-style (although, having watched Strauss play since his debut at Middlesex, his style is probably his own…I’d say), and it’s nice to read of Langer’s praise for Andrew. Jagadish, inescapably honest (!), seems to think it’s a bit sycophantic and sickly. They’re good mates, and I’m confident Langer is a solid bloke who’s more than willing to accept his former team-mate has come good. (Thank you for stealing my Technorati idea by the way Mr Jagadish :))

Naturally, all talk is on The Ashes which is already becoming tiring. The expectation on England is going to be massive and, in my opinion, they can only win if Harmison is on form, Flintoff bats naturally and bowls quickly, Strauss & Trescothick continue to score hundreds and Vaughan too. They’ll also benefit from a) winning the toss, b) some luck and c) someone breaking McGrath’s arm. England – whether you like or agree with Jagdish’s views – are a fine team, captained superbly, and whatever happens let’s hope the media don’t shoot them down. (incidentally tickets for the Lord’s game are going for over £300 I heard in the pub last week, on eBay and private sellers etc…)

South Africa declare

South Africa have declared on 296-6 at Tea on one of the most confusing, and tactically bereft days of cricket I’ve seen in a long time. There’s a suggestion that SA are more worried about slipping down a table in the ICC rankings than winning the game…find that hard not to beleive. Shall post thoughts later.