Australia v England, 3rd Test, Perth

The third Test between Australia and England gets underway tomorrow morning at the ungodly 2.30am GMT. All is not lost for England yet (well, I was bound to say that). Opening this up early as no doubt you splitters won’t have the bottle to stay up all night…we’re on ball-by-ball at Cricinfo so keep tuned there.

Chat away!

Live: Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 5th day

The fifth and final day from Brisbane. It looks as though the rain will hold off for Australia – late thunder is forecast, but that’s about all – so England will almost certainly enter the second Test on Friday 0-1 down. But all is not lost. Yesterday, they competed at last. Paul Collingwood – my secret tip for this series – looked increasingly fluent and combative in the afternoon, falling four short of a richly deserved hundred. And Kevin Pietersen batted with controlled mania for once, which was both exhilarating to watch and heartening for England’s cause; his duel against Shane Warne was not to be missed. Friends turned foes.

So let’s hope for everyone’s sake England can delay the inevitable and give Australia something to think about. Get chatting. I’m in work at 6 and will turn on TMS (for the first time in years, it seems) at about 5 to hear our fate…hopefully with Pietersen approaching 300 and England either scenting the most extraordinary win of all time, or a draw. Yes, quite.

Live: Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane, 4th day

There is just the tiniest window of opportunity today for England, unless Australia declare overnight. Their lead already amounts to 626, and effectively they’re “playing” with England…like a bulldog massacring a toy. The longer they leave it, the happier England will be. Who knows? McGrath’s due to twist his ankle sometime over the next week…

Live: Australia v England, 1st Test, Brisbane

At last, here we go! I’m opening this up early, as you’ll all no doubt be cowering under your duvets or getting suitably aled-up in the pub. And I need some sleep before midnight. Well, wherever you might be, I hope we’re in for a great match and another terrific series. So stick the radio on, make yourself a brew and leave a comment or two below.

We’re on ball-by-ball at Cricinfo and will have a mass of coverage: bulletin, Australian verdict, English verdict as well as further comments from all and sundry, so pop over for our coverage too.

91.3% of England fans rate Ashes over World Cup

Cricinfo has been running a survey to find out English fans opinion of the Ashes and the World Cup. That the Ashes is the more significant competition in the eyes of the English comes as no surprise, but the actual percentage – 91.3% – is quite amazing.

A survey conducted by Cricinfo has revealed that a massive 91.3% of English respondents would prefer their country to retain the Ashes than win the World Cup. Only 8.4% believed that the World Cup, which takes place in the Caribbean in March and April next year, was the more significant tournament.

For all their excitement about the Ashes, however, the respondents to the survey were a pretty pessimistic bunch. Only 28.6% believed that England would win the series outright, compared to 47.3% backing Australia to reclaim their crown. But, and it’s a big but, 24.1% favour the draw (something that hasn’t happened in an Ashes series since 1972) and that would be enough for England.

More at Cricinfo.

The first day of Test cricket in England

Patrick reminds me that today marks the 126th anniversary of the first Test in England, against Australia. What a thing. 126 years! Better still, you can have a look at the scorecard at Cricinfo, a modern-day summary and a brief report from the 1881 Wisden Cricketers’ Almanack which, brilliantly, begins as follows:

The compiler much regrets that the limited space allotted to the Australians’ matches in this book precludes the possibility of giving a lengthened account of this famous contest.

What a bloody great game cricket is.

Is too much cricket really never enough?

With all this media blather about over-worked cricket, I might as well put in my 0.02 cents.

Look, in one sense, it’s a bit rich for cricketers to complain that they are over-worked. Yes, Australia have played eleven Test matches and 18 ODI’s since October, but it is April, now. That is 70 odd days work in six months. Hardly the most onerous of work loads. And Australia have got a few extra days off in that lot by defeating opponents in Test matches in pretty short order. And they get paid literally millions. And they get the best groupies, as you might have noticed if you watch the Allan Border Medal night. So, you know, it’s not that hard a life being an international cricketer.

But on another level, it IS hard work. Adam Gilchrist is not only a fine keeper, passable stand-in captain, mighty batting hero and all round good guy, but he’s usually quite particular about his appearance. I’m not accusing him of being a metrosexual or a wannabe David Beckham, he’s just normally a neat and tidy guy. But in the First Test, he gave a fair impression that he was dressing like a flood victim. Overdue for a shave, too. Miss Zainub would NOT have approved.

Because it is what they are doing on those days off that really tells on the players. English domestic cricket is far more demanding because you are playing cricket day in, day out for months on end. However it takes far less of a toll on the players because they don’t have to travel nearly as much. For a player in a midlands county, away games are just a shire away. None of this intercontinental travel stuff. If you are playing for Derbyshire, half your away games are in driving distance. I’ve had daily commutes longer then the distance between Headingley and Old Trafford.

But for the international cricketer, it is a way bit tougher then that. The cricket is more intense, the pressure higher, the distances are further, and the time away from family is more crushing. Away from the field the temptations and distractions of fame slowly become a burden, the aches and pains dull the senses and it is a wonder that players stay as switched on as they do.

I’m not sure the current surfeit of international Test cricket is entirely good for the fans either. I think something is lost from the anticipation point of view, and that takes away something of the ‘specialness’ of the occasion. Test Cricket, like caviar, should not be indulged in every week of the year. It isn’t good for the players or the fans. When the players identify with Bob Segar, we know we have a problem

Who was that masked man, anyway?

GillyA long time since I’ve written. Not been well, writers block, work, etc. Will is sick of hearing my excuses.

Anyroad, as The Corridor of Uncertainty’s resident Australian and cudmurgeon-in-chief, I thought it was appropriate that I comment on the extraordinary events in Bangladesh, where the locals have just bowled Australia out for 269 to get a large first innings lead.

Old grumble-bum I might be, but I am fine with Bangladesh doing well against Australia. The national pride is a teeny bit mortified, to be true, to see my team struggle against the minnows-in-chief of world cricket. But my first loyalty is to Test cricket, and you can not argue that this Test is going to be a huge boost to Bangladesh cricket, regardless of the eventual result.

If you haven’t had a chance to watch, the wicket is slow, and the odd ball is keeping very low. I think this is what’s caught out the Australian batsmen.

But one batsman didn’t have any trouble- Adam Gilchrist got 144, with six sixes, and although he was slightly more cautious then of old, for the most part it was the authentic Gilchrist, with a smile, swagger, and confidence galore. After his recent form slump, he’ll be delighted to find that he can still smash bowlers all around the park.

But it got me thinking how, for a batsman out of form, a change is as good as a holiday. Gilchrist has been struggling for ages on the pacey, bouncy wickets of Australia and South Africa. Soon as he arrives to the sub-continent, he’s hit his straps, and he’s back to his best. Coincidence?

By the way, Habibal Bashir mis-read the situation with the latter part of the Australian innings. I’ll give him a pass on that- he’s not used to dealing with batsman manipulating the strike to avoid the follow on. But the way Bangladesh are improving since Dav Whatmore took over, he’ll get more practice in the future.

Anyway, I think Bangladesh will set Australia a huge target. Lee is lining up to bowl, but his back is dodgy. Warne’s shoulder is crook too. The Bangladesh batsmen should be able to cope with the pitch, and it’s up to them to get out there and seize a famous victory. And good on them.

The essence of our addiction

It was said…

“Test Match Cricket is like guided meditation. The cricket purist will be riveted, the rest will just find it boring.”

Wise words from someone here (there’s a video too). I don’t know if he ripped it from someone else, but it’s rather accurate, not to mention splendid. In fact, my soon-to-be-famous filmstar friend – who won’t appreciate me putting her name here – is sheepishly adamant* that, given my job, she will eventually not only learn cricket’s rules but learn to like it.

Both of us remain unconvinced.

* Can adamance be described as sheepish? Discuss!

South Africa v Australia, 1st Test, Cape Town, Day Three

Day three of the first Test between South Africa and Australia at Cape Town

Chat away. (posted in advance, hence lack of any interesting words here)