Monthly Archives: November 2010

T’Ashes Heroes #7 – K.S. Ranjitsinhji

Since it was to be some thirty years before India would play their first Test match, this Indian prince qualified to play for England following impressive showings which earned him a Blue at Cambridge and in county cricket at Sussex.

Described by Neville Cardus as “the Midsummer night’s dream of cricket”, Ranji is widely regarded as the batsman who introduced a revolutionary style of batting to the game.

Playing back to deliveries, he combined good hand-eye co-ordination with an unorthodox technique, leading to him being credited with the invention of the late cut and glancing the ball off of one’s pads.

He’s regarded as one of the best batsmen of all time, which is quite remarkable given that he had never played in an organised match before he’d travelled to England, and he’s honoured in India by their domestic first-class competition being named the Ranji Trophy after him.  Also, he’s probably the only one who could actually be described as ‘princely’ (take that Ganguly).

T’Ashes Hero Moment

Scoring a 154 not out on debut against the Aussies at Old Trafford in 1896, followed by 175 against them in his first overseas Test a year later.

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First Test Post-Mortem

A few wickets and a million runs from a handful of batsmen later, and the first Test of this Ashes series petered out into draw.  A post-mortem of events seemed like the most appropriate way to term my summary, given the crowd at the Gabba on the final day.

Highlights

  • Group Captain Strauss winning the toss and electing to bat first.  Nasser Hussain could learn from this.
  • Peter Siddle’s hat-trick, because any Test match hat-trick is a pretty awesome achievement.  And on his birthday of all days!  I’d probably be too busy thinking about my cake to focus on bowling at the stumps.
  • Andrew Strauss and Alastair Cook batting like Michael Hussey and Brad Haddin hadn’t put on a 307 run partnership to put Australia 221 runs ahead after their first innings.
  • Australia looking like England of the 90s in the field, dropping lots and lots of catching opportunities.
  • David Gower copping one on the foot, courtesy of Nasser Hussain in the Sky Sports commentary box.

Lowlights

  • The pitch didn’t particularly offer much for the bowlers.
  • As previously mentioned, the turnout for the final day was particularly disappointing.  Just because you don’t have match winning bowlers any more, there’s no need to act like Indian ‘fans’ who only turn up when Tendulkar and not one of their other world-class batsmen is batting.

As for the two teams:

England

  • Not getting overly flustered by the early departures of Strauss and Maximus Trottimus in the first innings is a bit of an achievement in itself, compared with England performances of old.
  • Ian Bell looks a lot more settled at the crease this time around, although he was unable to cash in after England ran out of batsmen, thanks to Peter Siddle’s birthday burst.
  • Could consider themselves unlucky not to get Hussey out before he reached his hundred, but they didn’t really look like getting the Hussmeister out again until he eventually pulled Finn down someone’s throat.
  • Strauss, Cook and Trott didn’t look like batsmen with pressure on them, this can only be a good thing as they all made BIG runs in the second innings.
  • Graeme Swann struggled to make an impact in this Test, so he’ll be hoping to bounce back in Adelaide.

Australia

  • Lost the toss, but ultimately didn’t suffer for it as Siddle’s heroics left them with a manageable first innings total to nullify in batsman-friendly conditions.
  • When it almost looked like they weren’t going to generate a big lead, Hussey and Haddin dug them out of a potentially deep hole.  With a bit of luck, they took Australia to a very good position.
  • Bowled like complete wankers in the second innings to undo the Huss/Hadd work and failed to really put England under and pressure.  When Marcus North is looking like the most dangerous bowler on the field, you know you’ve got problems.
  • Mitchell Johnson was once termed a ‘once in a generation bowler’ by Dennis Lillee.  What the moustachioed former pacer meant by this is beginning to seem a bit unclear, given the number of wides he bowled in the second innings.  This really upset Brad Haddin, who didn’t like a lot of these wides being classed byes, since they went against his name.  The inclusion of Doug Bollinger and Ryan Harris in the squad for the next Test certainly means the Australian attack is under pressure to perform or face the chop.

Roll on Adelaide, where I’m hoping Strauss can be the ringleader in a cricketing exorcism.


Plight of the UDRS

Play ebbed and flowed on the second day at the Gabba, so I left it until the end of the third day to write an update.  A near-flawless cover for my lazy maintenance of this place if hadn’t opened this update like this.

James Anderson bowled like a man possessed with the new ball in the morning session, only to be let down by a moment’s duff umpiring from Aleem Dar and even duffer use of the Umpire Decision Referral System system.

Now the UDRS system is fantastic when things go your way, but can be absolute heartbreak when you have no challenges left and you trap a well set batsman dead in front, and the umpire rejects your appeal, as Burnley’s favourite Arsenal supporter discovered earlier today.

It seems I’m going to remain cynical about the system, namely since at club level cricket you’ll never be able to replace “we batted/bowled/fielded like utter tards today” with “we didn’t use our referrals correctly and it cost us”, as an excuse for your team getting rolled over.


Peter Siddle, bloody hell!

The opening day at the Gabba just doesn’t want to ever go England’s way, does it?

Group Captain Strauss wins the toss, understandably chooses to bat, then gets out third ball from a shit Hilfenhaus delivery.  Some batsmen then came and went and scored a few runs, before the excitement kind of dried up.

Just when it looked like Alastair Cook and Ian Bell had settled in with a good partnership after tea, and I’d slightly dozed off, Peter Siddle had other ideas.  As I was stirred by some sort of sinister foreboding, Siddle found the outside edge of Cook’s bat, just as he had with Kevin Pietersen and Paul Collingwood earlier on.

The snarling Victorian then upped the ante tenfold, steaming in to make a mockery of Matt Prior’s crazy preparation out in the middle, bowling him off his pads, putting Siddle on a hat-trick.  Now I’ve seen hat-trick balls go to waste on many occasions, but he wasn’t having any of it, firing the ball full and straight into Stuart Broad’s pads, and completing the first ever Test hat-trick taken by a bowler on their birthday.

And to think that his inclusion in the Australian XI had come as a surprise to a fair few people, who had thought Doug Bollinger was the more likely choice.

It was a fantastic piece of sporting theatre, even if it meant that Ian Bell was left having to rustle up an à la carte innings total using the Tesco value batsmen that he was left with.


Clouds?

Word has it that there might be some clouds coming in over Brisbane today, which raises the question, could Strauss put the Aussies into bat and utilise the conditions to maximise the swing capabilities of James Anderson?

Just a reminder of what happened last time an England captain put Australia in to bat:

A good toss to lose?  It’s beginning to look like that.


A few words of gratitude from Mental Disintegration

I would like to thank the other Test cricketing nation’s boards for managing to have three other Test series arranged to take place just before the 2010-11 Ashes series started.

With matches like India – New Zealand, Sri Lanka – West Indies and Pakistan – South Africa all going on during the early hours, I was able to formulate a mock conditioning program for Ashes viewing.  By sitting through infuriatingly painful moments such as Harbhajan Singh’s centuries, it’s going to take something extraordinary to send me to sleep now.

Nice going, lads.


The Ashes, or Christmas?

In many ways, they are quite similar:

  • The build up starts ridiculously early.
  • There’s always a lot of speculation about what you’ll get.
  • The TV ads are bollocks.
  • Ultimately, a lot of people are going to be disappointed.
  • And there’s always a shitload of clearing up afterwards.

At least if things start to not go your way in the Ashes, you can bail out from watching the rest of the series and carry on like it’s not happening.  Let’s see you try doing that when the Coca Cola ads start on the TV and the town centre breaks out its horrendous decorations.


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