The Steve Rixon Ashes Diary – Chapter 11

Smells like success... and sweat... and hair product
Smells like success… and sweat… and hair product.. and maybe a little bit of sunscreen

Chapter 11

Second Test, Adelaide

Dropped Catches, Happy Hookers and Mitchy J

 

Me: Steve, how was the victory in Adelaide?

 

Steve Rixon: Adelaide has been fantastic. Mitchy J – who would have thought after not even making it into the touring party for the last Ashes he’s now won back to back Man of the Match awards and delivered 17 wickets at tan average of 12.7. It’s been an amazing comeback and I wasn’t sure he had it in him but we are very glad he did.

 

The England players need to develop awareness on a few fronts. Awareness that compulsive hooking is not a way to save a test match. It was like they were trying to gift us wickets in the second innings and give fine leg and deep backward square leg catching practice.Of course I’m far too modest to state that the excellent outfielding is a result of any of my work as fielding coach… well actually the outfielding has been Mike Young’s area since he rejoined the team but the slips catching has been good too. Anyway “The Bowling Whisperer”, that’s Craig McDermott in case you weren’t aware, has been taking all the credit for getting batsmen out hooking saying that he’s just implemented the second phase of his 2 point fast bowling plan. It was a 1 point plan: “Pitch it up, don’t bowl short shit” But “The Bowling Whisperer” has adapted that now into a 2 point plan to suit the compulsive hookers of the England team. Point 1: “Pitch it up” Point 2: “Bowl short and get them caught on the fence” It’s working really well, so far we’ve had KP and Trott at Brisbane, and Cook, Carberry, Broad and Prior in Adeliade caught hooking. I think that will have to be the limit of the bowling plan though I can’t imagine Ryano, Sidds or Mitchy J being able to handle a 3 point plan.

 

England also need awareness of how to catch a cricket ball. They lacked awareness that the most important part if catching is your feet. I can catch a cricket ball in my stomach if my feet positioning is correct, hell the ball Michael Carberry dropped I could have caught with my moustache. Carberry’s footwork looked like he was on a dance floor not a cricket field.

 

Awareness that this is not how you catch a cricket ball
Awareness that this is not how you catch a cricket ball – the feet positioning is all wrong.
I’ve got stuck into the batting coach, Michael DiVenuto, about the batting line up though. The bowlers have been working as a unit with Mitchy at the forefront, but the lions share of the batting has been done by  3 players: Warner, Pup and Hadds. They’ve made 4 centuries and 4 half centuries between them while the other four members of the top seven have contributed just 3 half centuries. Out top 7 needs more even contributions, hopefully Divvers can reinvent himself as some sort of “Batting Whisperer” and give the guys some inspiring yet simple instructions like ” Score runs” and “Don’t go out.” It has been an inspired decision to dump Wadey and reinstate Brad Haddin. Hadds has repaid the faith with plenty of runs and I don’t have to put up with Wadey. Win- win.

 

Boof and I got together before the series started and deliberately didn’t appoint a polishing captain. The idea was to create a polishing leadership vacuum to see who would rise to the challenge. We were waiting to see who would fill the void and become the spiritual leader of polishing rather than have a formally appointed polishing captain. We are still waiting. England on the other hand have definitely shown their polishing hand. Their polishing captain is Ian Bell. Every time Prior gets the ball, and I mean every single time he gets the ball,  he throws it to old sandpaper pants Bell to polish. Bell has 7 zips and sections of sand paper sewn into his trousers and he has both a Certificate 2 and a Diploma in Polishing. I think it’s as much about polishing the ball as it is about wasting time – an area England are leaders in world cricket. We did have a small win the other day though as Bell came out to bat wearing the wrong trousers. Instead of his normal whites for batting he’d mistakenly chucked on his sandpaper pants for fielding. Well the chaffing was extreme, he was in absolute agony when he was batting with Monty Panesar. The last wicket couldn’t fall soon enough and it was torturous for him to move around the crease let alone try to run a single. We were having a great old time trying not to get Monty out so Bell’s agony would continue. He is in some doubt for the next test.

 

Ian Bell was in a fair amount of pain after the first innings
Ian Bell was in a fair amount of pain after the first innings
We managed to get revenge of sorts on England for making us play a test in Durham by sending them to Alice Springs for a tour match last week. What we didn’t bank on was getting a racist ground announcer putting on a fake Indian accent when introducing Monty Panesar, well I guess it was Alice Springs so chances were… Anyway what we shouldn’t have done was given the same guy access to the CA twitter account. Gee how was that photo of 4 Indian guys dressed as telletubbies relevant to cricket? I thought we would have learnt from the #bullshit twitter episode from the previous Ashes but no.

 

The redeveloped Adelaide Oval looks like it will be good when it’s finished but how big are the sight screens? They are like an acre of white material! Did they get the Port Adelaide Footy Club to send over their seat covers from Football Park and paint them white? Nathan Lyon hasn’t played a lot of test or first class cricket so isn’t use to playing with a such a giant white sight screen. He actually requested they keep the car advertising on the sight screen to replicate parked cars behind the bowlers arm that he was use to from playing park cricket. He also wanted spectators to wander around wherever they felt like behind the bowler to get the authentic local cricket feel.  On the other hand of course their is Stuart Broad, perhaps the most finicky sight screen worrier in cricket. Yeah there was a bright shining spot, a bolt glistening in the sun on the side of the sight screen but Nath Lyon would have just played on  – it was just like the reflection off  a team mate’s brand new Commodore. Anyway after that 5 minute delay to ‘fix’ the sightscreen Broad was bowled by Mitchy J first ball. He really is the ultimate pantomime villian Broad, I’ve got no idea why he was mouthing off to Mitchy J at the end of Day 4. Can’t he read a scoreboard? Luckily that has been retained in the ground redevelopment.

 

Call that a tattoo? Weak as piss. Get a proper sleeve ya dickhead
Mitchy J to Ben Stokes: “Call that a tattoo? Weak as piss. Get a proper sleeve, ya dickhead”
 I’ve been enjoying sitting in the balcony getting my mug on TV and listening to the commentary in my Cricket Australia earpiece but I have a couple of comments on the coverage. I had no idea what the hell James Brayshaw was on about most of the time, I wasn’t sure if he was even watching the same game. Drew Morphett on ABC radio had a shocker too, he didn’t understand the on field umpires signalling regarding DRS – you know arms crossed over the chest if the decision is overturned, dead ball signal if it isn’t. Come on ABC raise your standards.

 

People are wondering why we batted on after tea on Day 2 to reach 550. Well it’s the same reason we batted on after tea on Day 3 at the Gabba to reach 400. KPIs. Patsy Howard has set innings targets that need to be achieved for the batsmen to get their performance bonus at the end if the match. 400 is a box of piss between the top 7 but 550 is 2 slabs of Barcadi Breezers for the batters. Blokes like Pup, Watto, Steve Smith & Warner are very keen on hitting the 550 KPI but not so keen on the 400. It’s really only Hadds, Rogers and Bails plus the bowlers who have a beer during Boof’s esky time. Anyway fair to say their were plenty of frothies and lolly waters going around as Nath got up on the table and belted out ‘Under the Southern Cross’ for the second time. Boof was tucking into the beers but he did remind the boys, “There’s only 3 days until the Perth test…. so tomorrow you can be hungover.”

 

Actually I’ve gotta go mate, I’m feeling a bit dusty after yesterday.

 

Me: Cheers mate, chat to you after Perth.

 

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Ross Slater

Blogging about the important things - AFL and cricket

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