Me: Steve, how are the preparations going for the ODI in Perth?
Steve Rixon: Well we’ve brought over the Australia A team. No Clarke, Haddin or Watson and it looked like Bailey wasn’t going to overcome a hip complaint. He was named captain and Mitchy J vice captain of this A team but there was no way we were going to let Johnson actually captain the team. He may have won the Alan Border Medal on Monday night but he’s a fast bowler, not a captain so we put out an emergency SOS for Hadds to fly over and fill the leadership void. On the AB Medal, what the hell was with that venue? I felt like I was back at my high school graduation, I don’t know why we weren’t seated on tables but it seemed like I was going to have to toast Mitchy J’s victory without a drink. Luckily Boof had smuggled in an esky so we cracked a couple of VBs to celebrate Mitch’s win. You can rely on Boof to always have an esky with some cold ones handy when it’s needed.
Anyway Bailey passed a fitness test today so he’ll skipper the side and Hadds can have that well deserved rest. I was actually disappointed that Hadds wasn’t required as now I’m stuck working with that arrogant little Tassie turd, Matthew Wade. Thank goodness their’s only 2 one dayers left but unfortunately he’s also in the T20 squad so I’ll have to work with him for 5 games. Sigh – 12 days of Wade.
Talking about the T20 squad, what the NSP is going on? Who is this James Muirhead? I had to Google him to find out who he even played for. Seems he’s a professional tour match player, he’s played against England in 3 tour matches this summer but only played two T20 matches for the Melbourne Stars, yet he’s in the T20 squad for the games against England! Thanks Invers. Also Mitch Starc hasn’t played a single game of state level cricket this summer yet his in the T20 squad. How about he retunrs form injury by playing some state cricket first before we think about getting him back in the national team. Fark, I blame Invers and Patsy Howard, and seeing as we are in Perth I decided to pay a visit to my old mate, National Selector, John Inveratrity.
I dropped around to Invers house mid afternoon so I had to rouse him from his daily nap. Once I’d let him wake up and got him a cup of tea and his slippers I gave him a grilling.
Rixon: Invers what the Muirhead are you and you mates on the Selection Panel doing? Why are you picking all these no names and injured players for the T20s against England?
Invers: Look here my good man Stephen, we’ve got a scheduling issue with the South African Test tour. We’ve got to get the Test players over there whilst we’ve got the T20s against the Poms. We’ve got the World T20 coming up in March which we’ve never won so we needed to have the captain, George Bailey leading the T20 ship. He couldn’t be in two places at once so we’ve prioritised our resources and removed him from Test squad and we’ve thrown in a few no names to the T20 squad give them a taste while the big boys are away. It’s my new phrase to define the summer, ‘Prioritised our resources.’ It’s taken over from last season’s really successful catch phrase of ‘Informed player management’ We’re all pretty chuffed at the NSP with our new phrase we really think it will catch on.
These T20s aren’t going to get much coverage anyway as all the Englsih journo’s have to leave shortly as their visa only allows them to stay for 90 days and the tour is 100 days long – their missing the T20’s. I think the English journo’s should have ‘prioritised thier resources’ and had a few of them skip the first Test so they could cover these T20s.
Patty’s even sent the Test boys away sorry ‘Prioritised our resources ‘ to get the Test boys to play for different states in the Futures League to get some red ball cricket. Mind you only the first two days of the games then their off to South Africa.
Rixon: Hmmm, I see. I seem to remember this same scheduling issues with the Indain tour last year when we sent the work experience kids over to play Tests, but I thought guys on the NSP had finally seen the light with the Ashes squads. You’d stopped picking blokes with ‘potential’ and started picking blokes with strong first class records, in good form, who can actually play!
You picked Chris Rogers with 65 First class hundreds and average of 50 and he repaid you with 3 centuries and he was the highest run scorer from both teams across the 10 Tests.
You chucked George Bailey into the test team with his 14 first class hundreds and average of 37 and you got exactly what you’d expect. Just one half century and 183 runs in total.
So why the fuck have you picked Shaun Marsh? His first class record makes Bailey look like Bradman! 8 centuries with an average of 35. He’s 34th on the Sheffield Shield run scorers this season!
Also why do you have a massive hard on for Alex Doolan? The bloke is shit – 6 tons and an average of 38. He’s possibly less deserving of a call up than Shaun Marsh, if that’s even possible. Yeah I hear these blokes look great when they bat but need I remind you that Chris Rogers and his armguard that hasn’t been washed since the Great Depression, doesn’t look pretty at the batting crease but he’s damn effective.
Personally I’d rather take a gritty, determined, unwatchable century over some of the great innings Australian Test debutantes seems to have been defined by in recent history. First their was Usman Khawaja’s awe inspiring and changing the face of cricket, 37 and then their was Rob Quiney’s magnificent debut 9. Actually I hope Doolan does make his Test debut and he gets a blob, that’s right it could be the ‘Great Doolan Debut Duck’. It would be such a inglorious achievement that in future, across all levels of cricket, a batsmen who was dismissed for zero would not have got a duck but would have got a Doolan.
I can see the conversations at the local cricket club now:
How did you go today, mate?
Nah, no good, got a Doolan.
Hahahaha that’s shit! Maybe you should give up playing cricket. A Doolan! That’s terrible!
Yeah no need to rub it in, I’m not as bad as Doolan.
Invers: Stephen, Shaun Marsh is in a good space at the moment and made 44 last time he was in South Africa. And need I remind you that Alex Doolan made 161 for Australia A against South Africa last summer.
Steve: Invers blow it out your arse. Every cricket follower in Australia is in a ‘good space’ – we just won the Ashes 5-0! It would be un-Australian if you weren’t in a ‘good space.’ Seeing as we are digging up the past Marcus North made a century last time he played Tests in South Africa and Phil Hughes made two – in the same test! And both of these guys have nearly made more Shield runs than Doolan & Marsh put together this season. North is the top run scorer and Phil Hughes is third, a little bit better placed than Doolan (17th) and Marsh. Are you sure you didn’t mean Mitch Marsh? Even he’s made more runs than Shaun.
And one last thing about Doolan, can he just stop this nonsense about having different bats for different formats. It’s pissing me off. Actually I’ve noticed that there is a massive over representation of Tasmanian’s getting Test call ups of late. First their was Ed Cowan, then Jackson Bird, followed by James Faulkner then George Bailey and now it looks like Alex Doolan is destined to get a Baggy Green. It makes me wonder when they hand out the Baggy Tassie’s these days are they just a Baggy Green with the Tassie logo velcored over the top, so it can be ripped off when the inevitable Australian call up comes? Hmmmm. Who’s next Mark Cosgrove? Jordan Silk? Actually I wouldn’t mind seeing Silk getting a call up, he’s actually making runs!
Can we get back to picking blokes with strong domestic records who are in good form rather then picking blokes who look good or who have potential? Need I remind you of how the Indian series turned out last year when we built our team around Moises Henriques and Glen Maxwell opening the batting and bowling.
My only hope is that the Unchangeables live up to their moniker and Doolan and Marsh both get injured – they both have dodgy backs. Also, why are you filling the squad with spare batsmen who are both Number 3s? We’ve finally got Watto settled in at Number 3, a position where he’s useful, what we need is a Number 6 batsmen. Hell, we could do worse than looking at Cameron White.
Invers? Invers? Wake up!!
Me: So did you get any answers about Doolan?
Rixon: No Invers had nodded off somewhere along the line. I think that’s part of the issue of having a semi senile old duffer as a national selector. That and fucked up selections. Anyway I’m off to lock horns with Matty Wade again. Can you put $20 on Wade to drop a catch in Perth?
Me: Can do mate, see ya.
Me: Steve, how are the one dayers going?
Steve Rixon: Well England have rolled up with a pretty ordinary One Day team, some pretty old school, unimaginative tactics and the same old, out of form captain.
Team England would be better off picking their best players in their One Day squad – Anderson & KP, for example (I’m not sure they realise there is a World Cup here in 12 months time) – rather than touring around the country with a support staff as big as their squad. 16 support staff for 16 players – it’s nonsense. I was able to get the inside word on what these 16 support staff do.
1. Coach: Ashley Giles. Well not doing much actually, except continually picking the wrong team with no spinner, batting Jos Buttler too low and persisting with Cook.
2. Batting coach: Graham Gooch – yeah not doing a whole lot either, as shown by England great batting performances on this tour. Working extensively with Cook to get his power game back….
3. Fast Bowling Coach: David Saker – hailed as some sort of hero in England but he has really struggled with getting the fast bowlers up and firing in Australia particularly his three tall fast bowling Amigos: Tremlett, Rankin and Finn.
4. Spin Bowling Coach: Mushtaq Ahmed. Look at the wonders he has worked with Swann (premature retirement), Monty Panesar (probably should retire, seems he prefers Tinder to cricket) and of course the recent debutantes who struggled to get it on the cut stirp Scott Borthwick and Simon Kerrigan. A+
5. Fielding coach: Richard Halsall. Born in Zimbabwe (of course) Halsall’s mantra is ‘physicality, precision and sacrifice’ This has nothing to do with fielding or cricket, it’s just his mantra. Michael Carberry is his best student. (Think Adelaide)
6. Wicket Keeping Coach: Bruce French. He has done an excellent job with Prior and Bairstow, perfecting the dropped catch, the missed stumping and the never dive for a catch toward first slip. Top notch.
7. Video Analyst: Gemma Broad – Yes, Stuart Broad’s sister is the team’s video analyst viewing hours of footage to discover flaws in players. Hmm, perhaps she should start with her brother’s sense of sportsmanship and time wasting.
8. Strength and Conditioning: Mike Gatting. Yes a little known fact that ‘Fat Gatt’ is England’s strength and conditioning coach after Graeme Gooch put in a good word for him. Actually it’s looking like the pair may swap roles soon, given Gooches glorious run as batting guru.
9. Nutritionist. Seen as the most important role in the England cricket team and expertly justified their employment by producing the 80 page dossier on the team’s food requirements. Invaluable.
10. The Chef. He is up early every morning on tour to get down to the market to source the finest and freshest local produce to make the 80 pages worth of recipes. Seen as one of the most important role in the England cricket team despite it having absolutely nothing to do with cricket.
11. Scorer. Despite having the latest cricket scoring technology available, the England team scorer prefers more traditional multi-couloured pens and paper scoring methods including DIY hand drawn wagon wheels.
12. Integration officer. With so many non-English born players in the England team it’s critical that there is someone who can overcome any cultural differences that may crop up and help the players to pick a Premier League team to follow so they seem English.
13. Social media manager. Traditionally the media manager made sure press conferences and player interviews went smoothly with this England team the role changed to checking that Greame Swann, Tim Bresnan and KP hadn’t put anything inapropriate on Facebook or Twitter. And hacking into KP’s text messages. Their workload has been reduced by 80% with Swann’s retirement.
14. Uniform manager/Embroider. Responsible for supplier all players with thier appropriate playing and training kit. Did a good job in the tests but then screwed up in the one dayers and brought some red coke can outfit instead of their usual blue. Apperantly it’s so the players don’t get confused with the support staff who are all in blue outfits. Also embroidered 39 on Ravi Bopara’s one day cap, he’s number 202. Close.
15. Security Coordinator. Because Australia is such a dangerous place to tour England bring their security adviser on the whole tour. He was responsible for submitting the idea that England shouldn’t play at the Gabba in future due to security concerns about too much sledging.
16. Support Staff. Every good team needs a support network, and the England Cricket team Support team is no exception. The role includes many and various responsibilities to support the Support Staff. It makes sense. Team England are thinking of expanding this role to become Support Staff Manager to coordinate all the support staff and to manage two Support Staff Assistants.
16 support staff for 16 players yet none of them could help Steve Finn and he was sent home. He’s issues sound intriguing:
“In terms of the technical things, they are not massive things. I’ve aligned my run-ups – my run-ups are nice straight line to the crease now – I did a lot of work on that last summer – and it’s just about getting the timing of my arms and legs working at the same time. Sometimes a little thing can throw you out on either of those things but once my arms and my legs start working together again I feel I can come out of this a better bowler.”
It sounds like he’s lost the coordination of his arms and legs required to walk let alone run in to bowl. What the England cricket team really need is a coordination coach, to teach their players like Finn who come through first class cricket uncoordinated, how to get their arms and legs working simultaneosuly. It’s clearly what their missing from their line up of support staff and their support staff are clearly not meeting their players needs given Finn has now had his papers stamped ‘not selectable’
Finn’s problems started when he kept clipping the stumps at the non strikers end with his hand just before he delivered the ball. The ICC even changed the rules to make it a no ball after Graeme ‘Muppett’ Smith complained a lot. Anyway I spoke to ‘The Bowling Whisperer’ that’s Craig McDermott in case you didn’t know, about how to fix the problem. He said it was pretty simple Finn needed to move wider on the crease, away from the stumps and then he wouldn’t hit them any more. It made me wonder what the hell David Saker is doing with these guys!
Anyway despite all England’s troubles we’ve played pretty well. Particularly James Faulkner – that was pretty special in Brisbane – it was definitely his ‘Bevan’ moment.
Me: That was an amazing finish. What about some of the Australian squads selected?
Steve Rixon: Mate, I’m going to see Invers tomorrow, get back to me then. Can you put $50 0n Australia to win the series 5-0?
Me: Can do mate, see ya.
Me: Hello, Steve? Are you there? Did I wake you?
Steve Rixon: What do you want you little runt? Do you know what time it is?
Me: It’s 2:15pm
Steve: Ah I see. On what day?
Me: It’s Wednesday.
Steve: Shit!? What the fark happened to Monday & Tuesday? Last thing I remember I had just been esky showered by the boys in the SCG change rooms. That’s the last thing I remember and that was Sunday night…. I think. It’s an oldie but a goodie the old esky shower. It’s origins date back to the 1983/4 tour of the West Indies when we use to throw an esky of ice on the team manager after we’d finished all the beers at the end of a days play. He use to love it, whatever his name was – anyway the tradition lives on.
Another tradition that was great to see was the English team came into the sheds for a chat and share a drink. All of them are actually good blokes, even Stuart Broad, but I did wonder why Keven Peitersen came in with his Ipod headphones in and whenever anyone went up to talk to him said, ‘I can’t hear you, I’ve got headphones in.’ He’s definitely his own man. I got around a few of the Englsih blokes and had a chat. I was giving Johnny Bairstow a few pointers on wicket keeping, things on feet positinioning, how to catch the ball using gloves and a few other basics such as a keeper should always dive for catches between him and first slip. He was looking at me blankly the whole time and I can only guess he didn’t understand a word of what I was saying or he wasn’t listening. I also punched Michael Carberry in the guts for dropping that dolly from Haddin in Adelaide. I then bet him $50 if I recreated the catch with a stubby, he’d drop it again, sure enough I underarmed him a VB out of the esky and he fluffed it and it smashed on the floor. I don’t think my training techniques would work with the English guys somehow.
I can’t say some of the other things that happened on Sunday night were traditional. Shit certainly got weird. It started on the podium at the presentations. Clarkey and Sidds were pretty happy to get the replica urn back, I think Sidds was seeing vision of bananas and just wanted to inhale it. Not sure. I knew Clarkey and Sidds were close but yeah.
Nathan Lyon and Clarkey are also pretty close, they were like a couple of playful 10 year olds. It’s hard to picture Mark Taylor and Warney doing this but times change I guess.
Anyway that was Sunday night and probably Monday too, I can’t really recall I really do have a hangover of biblical proportions.
Me: Fair enough. What about the Test?
Steve: Well I reckon our celebrations had more effort and concentration put into them than Englands two batting displays: 20 wickets falling in 90.3 balls, just over a days play or a day and a session if you’re the England cricket team. One of my biggest bugbears is slow over rates – it really grinds my gears. And England are the absolute masters at it, slowing the game down for any and every reason under the sun. It’s just about the only thing Alistair Cook is actually good at, his batting is shot a the moment, his captaincy is about as innovative and inspiring as my jocks but the one thing he does do well is pointlessly change the field whilst having long discussions with the bowlers. Stuart Broad is his trusty right hand man in all this caper and has really master the art of timewasting. He got the square of turf replaced in the bowling run up, taking 15 minutes, and then bowled from wider on the crease the next ball and didn’t even run over the new turf! Aaagh, give me strength – what next?
Gary Balance has obviously been heavily indoctrinated in the time wasting ways. Mitch Johnson badged him and took a full ten minutes for England to get him a new helmet, messing around with grills and stuff. Get on with it! To think this game probably could have been over by Lunch on Day 3 if England could bowl 90 overs in 6 hours of play. One final delay was caused by my mate Carbs having to get a new bat after Ryan Harris broke his. I’m not sure if I’ve told you before but Ryan Harris bowls an incredibly heavy ball and is known as a bat breaker due to the fact that he bowls an unbelievably heavy ball. Now there is proof of just how heavy a ball Ryano bowls.
Team selection was pretty easy after Invers added Alex Doolan to the squad. Boof rang Doolan to have a chat before he joined the squad and Doolan said he’d be late joining the squad because he’d have to fly back to Tassie to get his red ball cricket bats. Boof told him that if you have to fly interstate to get a cricket bat you might as well stays there but unfortunately Doolan didn’t get the message and he turned up the next day. I asked Invers why he added Doolan to the squad, given his modest returns in Shield cricket and not Hughes, given his prolific runs at Shield level? Invers looked stunned, “My good man,” he said “Hughes retired in 1994.”
George Baileys spot might be under pressure because his batting isn’t up to Test standard, but he is on world record pace for catching. In 10 Test innings he’s taken 10 catches and dropped another, even the great fielders average about 0.8 catches per innings. If Bails can play 100 odd tests he could break all sorts of catching records!
Talking about fielding it was great to see a couple of our fielding moves pay dividends. Bails took a catch at short mid on, standing next to the pitch and Nathan Lyon caught Carberry at legslip off Mitchy J. We’ve been derided for having a leg slip in place for the pace bowlers for most of the series, particularly by armchair experts in the stands in Brisbane, but it worked this time.
England were the exact opposite reverting back to their tried and true formula, the Empire XI. I guess it made sense, last time they won here three years ago they had a quota of four non-English born players – Strauss, Trott, KP and Prior – and they won comfortably. This series they’ve struggled to fill their quota of four, they only had 3 in Brisbane and then Trott went home so they had to pick Stokes (New Zealand) to try to get close to the quota. They really stuffed the quota by dropping Prior in Melbourne and only playing two internationals – Stokes and KP – and look how the team performed. They had to do something to adress the slump so getting back to the quota of four non-English was paramount even if it did mean playing three debutantes: Gary Balance (Zimbabwe), Boyd Rankin (Northern Ireland) and Scott Borthwick.
Talking of Borthwick, what the hell was that selection all about? The guy bats number 3 for his county, Durham, above Ben Stokes who bats a t 5. He’s a batting allrounder, yet he was brought in as the teams spinner and batted at number 8. It reminded me of the times we played Cam White and Steve Smith as the teams spinner despite them being batsmen who bowled a bit. Also he only played becasue Monty had a calf strain but Monty was galloping around like flighty racehorse delivering drinks to his skipper on Day 1. What happened to that bloke Dale Kerrigan England used at the last test at The Oval? He was at least a spinner not a batsmen, even if he was wildly erratic. I suppose Borthwick was pretty erratic too, but did get a few cheap wickets. The same can’t be said for Boyd Rankin – that was a shocker of a debut ‘breaking down’ with cramp twice in one innings. At least he’s got his place in history – the final wicket that made it a 5-0 white wash.
England initially had a squad of 17 yet played 18 players and not Steve Finn who was in the initial squad of 17. I’m not sure who Finn pissed off in the England team but it must have been someone important. He played the first Test in England and got smacked around by Hadds and hasn’t played since. The Rig, Chris Tremlett, also managed just one Test in Brisabne and Rankin only played in the last Test in Sydney. It was a strange decision by England to bring all three really tall fast bowlers and basically not play them. They were the three amigos, the tallest drinks waiters and glove runners in world cricket. It’s like they brought them just to bowl in the nets and so Stuart Broad had some mates he could have a conversation with eye-to-eye.
Anyone that’s enough about how hopeless England are. We were great, roll on South Africa and bring on these one dayers. I’m sure England will really be up for the fight. Actually can you put $50 0n us winning the one dayers 5-0.
Me: Can do, see you mate.
Evo is early with his Christmas presents and generous – a gold watch – but no card. I must remember to add him to my Christmas card list.
I can’t complain – umpire’s boss was a good lurk and I bluffed my way through it for 14 years. Thanks Andy D.
Me: Steve, another win in Melbourne. It’s all going pretty well.
Steve Rixon: Yeah well we smashed England didn’t we. Gee they were shit, incredibly shit in fact.
The toss. Well Boof had a meeting with Patsy Howard and Cricket Australia’s Director of Stragtegic Thinking and Game Awareness Implementation just before the Boxing Day Test. Boof looked a shattered man when he came out of the meeting as he’d been directed that he had to bowl first no matter what. The Strategic Thinking bloke had noticed a trend with tosses and batting first – In England we lost the toss in the first four tests and bowled first each time and ended up 3-0 down. Then we won the toss for the first three tests and batted first and won. The Strategy guy said with the series over the team needed to try to win bowling first, as we might lose the toss in South Africa or in any subsequent Test series in the future between now and the next Ashes in England in 2015. Boof was adamant we should keep the boot on the English throats and not give them a let up, he still has nightmares about losing the 1998 Ashes Test at the G and losing after Mark Taylor chose to bowl first. Anyway Patsy and the Strategic Thinking guru guy got in Pup’s ear and threatened to not let him go out on James Packer yacht in Sydney if he didn’t bowl first. That was enough for Pup to make sure he did the right thing.
Swann retired yeah well plenty of stories that he was going to be dropped so jumped before he was pushed but that’s not the real story. The real story was that after he lead the ‘sprinkler’ dance celebrating England’s victory at the MCG 3 years ago, members thought is was an absolute disgrace and successfully lobbied the MCC to ban Graeme Swann from ever being allowed back onto the hallowed turf of the Melbourne Cricket Ground. The England team and Swann knew he couldn’t play in Melbourne and chose to handle it the way they did. I know it sounds implausible but it’s true.
One bloke who probably should retire is Monty Panesar, he’s main strength at the moment seems to be stonewall batting at number 11 then shouldering arms to full tosses. His bowling was left arm medium pace and his fielding is as comical as ever – he must have the weakest throwing arm in world cricket and I’m including wicket keepers in that. Speaking of keepers England dropped Prior to replace him with another bloke who couldn’t bat or catch – it was like shuffling the deck chairs on the Titanic. England’s fourth day fielding display was village. In fact that’s probably being unkind to some village cricket teams.
We had a few players do well in this test, Chris Rogers scored a 60 and guided us home in the last innings with a fine century at his adopted home ground the MCG. Nathan Lyon took a five-fer and his 100th test wicket. He’s been bowling well but I think his greatest strength at the moment is the English blokes lack of awareness that Lyon is not Shane Warne. They lack awareness that he is a run of the mill off spinner not the greatest leg spinner in the history of cricket. Anyway it’s working well for us, so no complaints. But you can’t keep Mitchell Johnson down, he took a few wickets blowing away the tail as per usual plus he ran out Joe Root and caught Ian Bell – that was enough for him to win his third man of the match. Hmmm I wonder who will be man of the series?
A fair old crowd rolled into the MCG: 270,000 across 4 days. Given some of the ground capacities in England they would have been lucky to get that across the 25 days of the Ashes. It got a bit windy on Day 3 at the G which did lead to some interesting sights, Mitch Johnson telling KP to f off and stop pulling away, Peter Siddle doing his strongman impersonation and Asad Rauf removing his hat to reveal a magnificent bouffont.
The Barmy Army were in fine voice in Melbourne with their numbers swelled, by Christmas and New Year holiday makers spending up thousands of pounds to come and see a couple of dead rubbers. Couldn’t have worked out better as far as I’m concerned. I’m still not sure why they sing a hymn at the start of the days play – it’s got me beat how it has any relevance to cricket.
I think one of the Barmy Army who was pretty shitty about spending heaps of coin to watch a couple of dead rubbers is Piers Morgan – what the hell is with this bloke? He’s 40 odd years old and apparently fairly well known and a self proclaimed cricket nut. Yet I’ve never heard of him or heard him speak about cricket ever before. Anyway Boof got a request from Peirs Morgan that he wanted to face Mitchell Johnson. Boof said there was no effing way that was going to happen, we’ve got a Test match to play. It reminded me when Bono wanted to meet with John Howard when he was PM, Howard shot him down saying he was too busy governing the country to meet with rock stars. So Boof said Mitchell was too busy decimating English batsmen to meet some chat show host/X Factor judge. Brilliant!
Anyway I was disappointed Channel 9 indulged this wanker and his self flagellation/promotion tour of Australia, but I suppose what do you expect from a network that employs James Brayshaw, Michael Slater and Shane Warne.Instead Chanel 9 stepped in to let Brett Lee loose on him, Lee is still a fine bowler but he hasn’t played in the Ashes since 2006/07. What did the whole incident prove? Not much, perhaps that old, fat, loudmouth Poms are shit at cricket – no wonder they draft in players from other Commonwealth countries. Maybe if Morgan was from South Africa he would have laid bat on ball. At least one of the Channel 9 commentators had the right take on Peirs Morgan – I’m with Chappelli on this one.
Anyway I have to go mate, I’ve got a fishing trip to squeeze in before the Sydney test. Can you put a motza on 5-0?
Me: Can do mate.
The Ashes series from hell rolled into Sydney for its final installment – with Australia on the recieiving end of a third thrashing by an innings. Ricky Ponting missed this game with a broken finger and Michael Clarke assumed the Test captaincy for the first time. Replacing Ricky Ponting at Number 3 was Usman Khawaja who made an assured 37, possibly the greatest ever small total debut innings to be talked about as the brightest start and best thing to happen in Australian cricket circles pretty much ever. Despite this ‘dream’ debut Khawaja, the first Pakistan born and Muslim player to play for Australia, hasn’t been able to establish himself in the team as yet. The subeditors dream, left arm orthodox spinner Michael Beer also debuted for Australia in this test.
Australia could only muster 280 with Anderson and Bresnan sharing 7 wickets between them and as if to prove it wasn’t Australia’s day, the team’s best batsmen of the summer, Mike Hussey was bowled by the dibbly dobbly military mediums of Paul Collingwood. England replied in commanding fashion with Cook, Bell and Prior all scored hundreds with Priori running up 118 of just 130 balls in England’s monster total of 644. Australia replied in a similar vein to it’s first innings with plenty of 30s as batsmen got starts but then surrendered for 281. England had won by an innings and 83 runs.
The contrast between the two teams in the Ashes series was best illustrated by the batting. For Australia Ricky Ponting had made 113 runs from 8 innings at an average of 16 and Michael Clarke had made 193 runs at an average of 21 from 9 innings. Contrast that with the Sydney Test’s Man of the Match, Alistair Cook who made almost as many runs in his 1 innings in Sydney as Clarke did for the whole 5 tests. Cook made a signature ‘daddy hundred’ of 189 to finish with 766 runs from 7 innings in the series at an average of 127. Unsurprisingly Cook won Man of the Series as well.
The end of an era with Shane Warne, Glen McGrath and Juston Langer all exiting Test cricket on a high recording a 5-0 whitewashing of England as payback for losing the 2005 Ashes in England. England batted first and were held together by 89 from skipper Andrew Flintoff to record 291 all out. Australia’s trio of fast bowlers, Clark, McGrath, Lee shared nine wickets and Adam Gilchrist being the main benificairy pouching 5 catches. In reply Australia were in trouble at 5-190 until a typically brisk half centruy form Adam Gilchrist and 71 to Shane Warne helped Australia to 393. Th highlight of Warne’s final test innings was his remorseless sledging of Paul Collingwood fielding in the slips. Between deliveries and overs Warne berated Collingwood calling him an embarasment for recieving an MBE for playing a single test and managing 17 runs in the 2005 series
102 runs in arrears, England folded quicker than Superman on laundry day in their second innings to be bowled out for 147. Glenn McGrath was at his metronomic best with his final innings bowling figures reading like a summary of his career: 21 overs, 11 maiden, 3 wickets for 38 runs at a rate of 1.80 runs per over. McGrath even took a wicket with his last ball in Test cricket dismissing Jimmy Anderson. Stuart Clark was Man of the Match for 6 wickets and Ricky Ponting was Man of the Series for his series high 576 runs but most importantly Australia had regained the Ashes.
A test match remembered for one ball, the final ball of Day 2 which Steve Waugh struck for 4 to bring up his hundred, his first in quite some time and under intense pressure as rumours circulated that Waugh’s axing was eminent if he failed again. Waugh strode to the wicket shortly before tea on Day 2 and became just the third batsmen to score 10,000 test runs during his innings and the century was Waugh’s 29th test hundred drawing him level with Don Bradman for the most test hundreds by an Australian. Several other things are forgotten due t o that last ball on Day 2, the next morning Waugh was dismissed without adding to his overnight score of 102 and in the same innings Adam Gilchrist blasted 133 off just 121 balls to secure Australia a 1 run lead on the first innings. England had batted first for 362 thanks to Mark Butcher’s 124 and in their second innings managed 452 against an Australian bowling attack missing it’s spearheads Glenn McGrath and Shane Warne. McGrath was sidelined with an ankle problem and Warne had dislocated his shoulder in a pre-Christmas one dayer. In their absence Gillespie, Lee, Bichel and MacGill had no answers to Michael Vaughan as he produced a masterful 183. Brett Lee put in one of his more erratic performances claiming 3/132 at over 4 runs per over. Needing to bat for four sessions to secure a draw Australia were blown away by Andy Caddick of all people, who took 7/94 to roll Australia for just 226. England had won by 225 runs.
Who remembers that in the ‘Steve Waugh last ball of the day century’ Test, Australia was comfortably beaten by an England team that was trailing 4-0 in the series? Not many I’d guess. Michael Vaughan was named Man of the Match for his 183 and Man of the Series for his 633 runs.
Australia were keen to atone for a shock loss in Melbourne and recalled the one and only SK Warne, after a injury lay off for shoulder durgery and then a broken finger, to partner Stuart MacGill and the versatile medium pacer/off spinner Colin Miller. Australia batted first and the Waugh twins looked in command as they shared a 200 run stand with Mark making 121 and Steve dismissed in the 90’s for a record 9th time. Dean Headley, the Melbourne destroyer, picked up 4 wickets and Darren Gough blew away the tail taking a hatrick, the first at the SCG in over 100 years.
Australia had made 322 and England replied with just 220 thanks to 5/57 to Stuart MacGill, Glenn McGrath had become the 10th Australian to take 200 wickets and Mark Waugh took his 100th Test catch. In their second innings Australia relied almost exclusively on Michael Slater to score their runs after he luckily surviving a ‘benefit of the doubt’ call by the third umpire when the TV footage of a run out was inconclusive. Slater went on to compile 123 out of Australia’s 184 all out, the next highest score was Mark Waugh’s 24 and no one else made double figures. Slater had scored 66.85% of Australia’s runs – the second highest percentage of runs by a batsman in a Test innings. The record is 67.35% by Charles Bannerman, for Australia against England in the first ever Test match in 1876-77. Slater had played one of the great Test innings.
England’s target for victory was 287 but they fell 99 runs short with Stuart Macgill taking 7/50 to take Man of the Match honours. Unusually both England openers were out stumped and Mark Taylor took his 157th catch over taking Alan Border to claim the record for most test catches by a non wicket keeper. After some deliberation, Mark Taylor retired from Test cricket after this series, his 7th Ashes series victory. Steve Waugh was named Man of the Series and would become Australia’s next Test captain.
Despite being held in it’s familiar New Years time slot the Sydney test was only the third test of the 1994/95 Ashes. The test started on New Years Day, as the Melbourne Test had started on Christmas Eve.
England won the toss and batted making 309 thanks to half centuries to Atherton , Crawley and somewhat surprisingly Darren Gough. Craig McDermott continued his fine form collecting 5 wickets but in a Man of the Match winning performance Darren Gough made a mess of Australia’s innings taking 6/49 as Australia were shot out for 116 in just 43 overs and only avoided the follow on when 4 byes were conceded off Devon Malcolm.
In their second innings England were in complete control, however Michael Atherton ran out of patience and denied Greame Hick a century when he declared with the batsmen on 98. This set Australia the unlikely target of 449 for victory, but they set about the challenge and were 0/139 at the end of the fourths day play. On the fifth day all three results were possible: Australia needed 310 runs off 90 overs and England needed 10 wickets. Michael Slater and Mark Taylor continued to pile on the runs both recording centuries as they shared an opening stand of 208. Australia were looking comfortable at 3/282 but Angus Fraser had other ideas producing a fine spell of bowling taking 4/10 to rip through the Australian middle order. The spin twins, Shane Warne and Tim May steadied the ship and batted out the last 80 minutes to secure a draw. Australia lead 2-0 after 3 tests and the Ashes had been retained.