Friday, February 25, 2011

Tigers disappear from Punt Road

It was with great sadness to hear that another of Victoria's traditional grade cricket sides will be moving house. Richmond CC has called Punt Road Oval home since 1854 just a few hundred metres from the MCG and was a founding member of the Premier competition in 1906/07.

With the recent expansion of Australian Rules Football side of a simular name having built a new wing to its ever expanding offices and training facilities also the constant use fo the ground by the professional football club having forced Richmond CC's hand in looking else where to provide a viable and better purpose built cricketing venue.

Will this remain the same?
As it stands Richmond CC will be moving out to Glen Waverly an outer suburb of Melbourne far from Richmond Oval. As part of this move Richmond will have a brand new pavillon, 2 grade standard turf wickets and a training venue that will be available intruption free. What they will lose is the name, and in my eyes the beauty that was the inner city team, and one of the last remaining. With Fitzroy having moved out to Doncaster, and Carlton no longer playing many matches in Carlton, the inner suburb grade sides are leaving home bases and I think this is sad. A club that has a list of formidable former & current players in Bill Johnson, Graham Yallop, Doug Ring, Paul Reiffel as well as Cameron White and recently retired Paul Collingwood.

Now living in Southampton its a shame to know on my return trips home as I crawl along the busy Punt Rd, the traffic bumper to bumper as I cut across the city towards the bay for a swim, I shall never see the men in white scampering across the grass of Richmond Oval. When I lived in East Melbourne, Richmond CC being the closest grade club (a short 10 min walk) was fantastic to sit in the old stands and see them play.

Sitting in those old wooden benches over looking the ground, with the The Cricketers Arms pub just out reach across the road you dream of times of great grade cricket match-ups of Miller vs. Johnson or Riffiel vs. Hughes.  The move across the suburbs will no doubt bring better cricket to the club but Punt Rd will be poorer for it.

Australia vs. New Zealand

Australia 207 for 3 (Watson 62, Haddin 55) beat New Zealand 206 (Nathan 52, Vettori 44, Johnson 4-33, Tait 3-35) by 7 wickets

Brothers in arms ... the New Zealand and Australian teams came together in the innings break in a show of support for the memory of the victims of the Christchurch earthquake. (Getty Images: Hamish Blair)
This match would be played for the Chappell-Hadlee trophy due to both sides not playing each other this year; this is a real shame as being so close to one another it seems ridiculous that they don’t cross paths other than at a World Cup (but enough on ICC scheduling) New Zealand would have plenty of excuses for this game considering the circumstances currently in Christchurch, no excuses were made my Vettori as his bowlers gave up a mass of tasty balls to Haddin and Watson who obliged in playing them for 4.

Australia’s pace attack made a statement bowling sharp lines to dismiss New Zealand’s embarrassing top order batsmen, some of the deliveries didn't deserve wickets but New Zealand were in the mood for self-destruction. They handled the best bowler on view, Lee, with caution and gave him just one wicket but imploded against Tait and Johnson. That said it remains how the all-pace attack will fair against a better batting line-up, as Smith and Krezja leaked runs, Smith did pick up a wicket but his length was too full and in many ways helped Vettori hang around for as long as he did.

Despite the aggressive nature of the opening batsman who set-up the victory, Ponting was again scratchy at best and was stumped on a leg side wide for 10, Clarke was playing well but did show some soreness when playing shots. With a weeks break until the next game Australia will be looking into a few injuries including a replacement for Doug Bollinger who was sent home injured, also Ponting’s finger is still giving him issues in the field as was shown when he dived for ground balls.

Australia's players mingled with the Black Caps on the boundary during the innings break on Friday as both teams observed a minute's silence for the victims of the Christchurch earthquake.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Loss forgotten on new signings.

It seems that further counties are showing debt, previously on here I have commented heavily on the loses by Yorkshire and Lancashire due to building works, as well as Leicestershire over spending on overseas players. Now it seems that Sussex is the next in a long line of counties with negative funds for this fiscal year.

Turnover was down by more than £1m to £4.86m from £5.87m in 2009, despite Sussex winning the County Championship Division Two title.

A report produced today showed a loss of £171,000. By no means as large as the millions of pounds being thrown around up north, but still damaging. Yet to my surprise I read that Sussex CC have just signed 3 overseas players at a time of a loss. The claim of losing £50,000 due to the World Cup of Football reducing crowds maybe a valid reason to the board as for the losses, but then to go out and invest more money in players I feel are not 'drawcards' seems wasteful. The T20 is meant to be your crowd puller, if anything the competition that brings in non-cricketing people to enjoy the spectacle, either you go with a star player or without, being wasteful with bringing in average Internationals doesn't help.

The ECB withdrawing teams from the Champions League due to a fixturing tantrum with the IPL and Indian Cricket Board of Control didn't help, with some of money Sussex invested they expected to recoup though the involvement in this trophy.

I'm sure Sussex will have a good season, and the recruits for the T20 will give them plenty of opportunity to do well, it is just a slap in the face to cricket watches and fans of Sussex to see such losses and then the front to throw money at players from outside of its own. For the survival of cricket at all levels from the lowly village side to the top professional sides, it is those that invest in youth and development of its own playing group that survive in the long run.

Winter Reads IV: Brightly Fades the Don by Jack Fingleton

I must openly admit that I am obsessed with vintage cricket books and the deep history of cricket 1940-1960, the players, the stories, the war and the courage to return from it. These books to me read more like fairytales of gentlemen in white who grace the field of play with poise and passion, but never forgetting the sacrifice of those before them.

It was a great joy to get my hands on such a book though a very helpful cricket captain of mine, who did admit to almost missing a prior engagement thumbing though the chapters of this book. The story itself told though the eyes of Jack Fingleton, a fine cricketer himself, is the tales of the 1948 last tour of Bradman in England and follows the invincible team as they travel from Perth to London and all the counties in-between.

This book is far from a love in of Bradman quotes, Fingleton discusses each region in terms of its supporters, grounds, culture and tactics. His descriptions of the rise of a young Ian Harvey paints a vivid picture to the reader and his praise for Arthur Morris gives light to this incredible team.

Toward the end of the book, Fingleton gives a variety of England writers a chance to comment on Bradman. Some praise the Don for his clinical skill, his superb eye, his thirst for runs; others counter with the belief that Bradman was not as good a batsman on "sticky" or damp pitches as Jack Hobbs had been. Still others mention the difficulty they had interviewing Bradman. RC Robertson-Glasgow writes, "Bradman had as many angles as a polygon; and, like that monster of geometry, Don was born to perplex students; and bowlers."

This book to me is one of the best winter reads I have had this off season, and I implore everyone to search, beg or borrow this book from anyone you know that might have a copy. As you slowly release the pages from though your thumb, and let the words enter your imagination, think of today and how much different a world has changed since the type-writer printed those words.

A little bit more on the author: Jack Fingleton
After his death, the cricket people of Canberra decided to honour their famous son by installing a scoreboard at the Manuka Oval. The MCG was being remodelled at the time, so the old and very serviceable MCG scoreboard was moved to Canberra. The ceremony was conducted by the Governor-General.

Tim Caldwell, the former chairman of the Australian board, who did much to restore Australia-New Zealand playing relations, remarked to Lindsay Hassett, still the dapper, impish one, "Old Fingo would have liked that, having the Governor-General do the commemoration."

"Ah," said Hassett, "but would a one-eyed New South Welshman like Fingo enjoy being marked by a bit of second-hand Victorian furniture?"

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Tabloid Tantrum

The Indian media has jumped all over a recent outburst by the Australian Captain Ricky Ponting, during which after his run-out it is alleged he smashed a television screen in the dressing room.
It must be a slow news day today as the media in Delhi and Mumbai are publishing articles headlined 'Ponting Temper Tantrum' and 'Ponting's TV Smash Rage', and labelled a 'petulant' and a 'bad boy'.
The Australian team management has made a far milder public response stating that in frustration Ponting hurled his protective box towards his kit bag only for it to ricochet off a wall and strike the TV screen.

The resultant damage, they say, was in essence a black spot coming up on the screen and in fact the said television was still in operation when staff came to replace it.

One gets the feeling that Ponting is enemy No. 1 in India, and the press is using this as a great opportunity to try and throw off the Aussies via the media with such an over blown story. I have no doubt Ponting was in a less than amusing mood as he re-entered the dressing room, and I’m sure this has not been the only item ever smashed in such a way in cricketing history.

If this happened to be Indian Captain MS Dhoni I doubt the words would have tickled a keyboard. I find any reports from a dressing room to be out of order, and feel this is a sacred place for a cricket team and is off-limits to any media or those wishing to leak stories.

Australia & India within the media have had a pickled past, with India very quick to accuse Australia of being a raciest country post the Symonds-Singh affair at the Sydney Test match 2008, and this was inflamed by sensationalized reports on attacks on Indian students in Melbourne in 2009. While in India in 2009 I found quite a lot of hostility towards Australians in the large city centres, and the opportunity to look down their nose at the actions of the cricket team were often.

On a day where India is not in action the incident has given the local scribes something to get their teeth into. It is not the first time and, dare I say it, it won't be the last before the end of this World Cup.

England vs. Netherlands

England 296 for 4 (Strauss 88, Trott 62) beat Netherlands 292 for 6 (ten Doeschate 119*, Cooper 47) by six wickets

Cricket Observer's (unofficial) Ryan ten Doeschate gave the beleaguered Associate nations a shot in the arm after a torrid first few days of action, and in so doing inflicted on England one of their most embarrassing days in the field, as he produced a brilliant 119 from 110 balls in a massive total of 292 for 6. Having struggled in his role as the overseas player for Tasmania in the recent T20 Big Bash. he and Tom Cooper made up for early wickets by putting on a 99 run partnership. However, his very best efforts were not quite enough to propel the Netherlands to an incredible victory in their World Cup opener at Nagpur.

England needed to buck up their ideas after a awful performance in the field, and with Pietersen and Strauss embarking on their first opening partnership in a full international fixture, the pressure was on in more ways than one. KP even in his 39 from 70 proved to be a strong opening partner and may have solved England's problems at the top of the order, Strauss and KP put on 105 together. Strauss will be disappointed he gave away a possible 100 with poor shot selection, holing out to deep square leg on 88.

Trott again proved his worth at No.3 again he righted the sinking ship with a strong 62 from 91, only to be wasteful and chase a ball down leg to see his bails taken by Barresi. Ian Bell scratched about pushing singles until the man of the moment ten Dosechate rattled his pegs.

It was left to Collingwood to see England past this World Cup record run chase as he kept the scoreboard ticking with a strong 30, and his guidance I'm sure stopped Bopara from losing his nerve. Bopara had plenty to prove, and despite maybe testing the long-on fielder one to many times for my liking he was able to hit the winning 6 & 4 required for England's victory.

England on paper won this game by 6 wickets, but that doesn't tell the full story. Jimmy Anderson could not get any rhythm in his stride and when he couldn't bowl swinging, seam up deliveries he resorted to off-cutters at waist height. Swann was the pick of the bowlers 10-0-35-2, and showed Strauss that he should have had Yardy in this side today. KP break a partnerships in a test match with his bowling, but he should not be used in a game when every ball is valuable, the Dutch took to him quickly and punished him for sloppy deliveries.

England had a bad day in the field and this will be a day they will long forget, but they won, and to show they can win when playing terrible is a positive sign. Sometimes you get to coast to the total and other times you have to fight yourself and everything else to get the result, they didn't grind this one out, but kept their heads above water, and for now they are 1-0.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Line and Length

The cricket World Cup has come under a lot of pressure regarding the length of the tournament, only just recently did I here a regional sports presenter complain at the length of the tournament being 7 weeks too long. Some have said the format doesn’t help associate members in achieving an upset and qualifying for the knock-out stages.

The World cup I think this opening week has not helped itself, staging the opening matches with mismatch opposition does not give off a good first impression, a match of Sri Lanka vs. NZ or Australia on Sunday would have had viewing numbers up early, same with India maybe playing West Indies instead of Bangladesh, by doing this and having the associates playing each other would have started the tournament with a bit more buzz.

I also feel that playing 1 match per. a day is slowing the tournament down and partly the reason for it dragging out. Obviously you need to allow rest days for an event that requires players to play a day’s worth of sport, and you must also take into account TV viewing and sponsorship, to get around this you could have a ‘showcase match’ and 1-2 lower ranked matches all played on the same day. Also a 1-2 days rest is all that’s required for players these days, as was shown in the never-ending series recently played in Australia as England were forced to play almost back-to-back ODI. Australia has played its first match on Monday to play its next on Friday, why?

The group size is also an issue I feel, as it plays into the bigger nations hands, with less chance of a ‘minnow’ causing enough noise to get into the knock stages. The final 8 should and as far as I see stay as a knock-out, none of this Super 6’s rubbish get past your group and then survive the pressure cooker. Smaller groups would open up for closer finishers coming into the final matches as the pressure to force a win would see teams be much more attacking. Instead of spreading your 8 ‘Bigger’ sides in 2 groups, spread those over 4 groups of 4 and allow the top 2 to progress.

This World cup will have its moments, be them we all hope be great and memorable, and all this early discussion of the length and reinvention of the tournament will hopefully die down as the tournament gains momentum. As I type this The Netherlands have given England a task to chase, personally I think the Dutch have plenty of batting and not enough bowling, that said stranger things have happened, and with that said it is the beauty of cricket, that every ball is a match on its own, and every over needing to be conquered.

Monday, February 21, 2011

WC2011 Australia vs. Zimbabwe

Australia 262 for 6 (Watson 79, Clarke 58*, Mpofu 2-58) beat Zimbabwe 171 (Cremer 37, Johnson 4-19, Tait 2-34) by 91 runs

A bouncer from Australia's Shaun Tait hits the helmet of Zimbabwe's Chris Mpofu during their opening game of cricket's World Cup at Ahmadabad, India. Photograph: Saurabh Das/AP

Australia began their World Cup campaign on a winning note, wrapping up an easy 91-run win over a Zimbabwean outfit that had no answer to the pace battery of Brett Lee, Shaun Tait and Mitchell Johnson, who finished as the pick of the bowlers with 4 for 19.

Winning the toss, Ponting chose to bat first. Australia were never really troubled by Zimbabwe at any stage of the match, if anything it was the umpires that were having trouble with LBW decisions as Australia was with the turning decks, having 2 not-outs reversed for the wickets of Haddin & Ponting. Australia never got into gear and in many ways this had the feel of a friendly. Comparing this innings to that of Sri Lanka & India in the opening matches, Australia seemed to coast to its required score nothing large, nothing great yet Watson & Clarke notched fifty’s and Ponting got his eye in. That said Zimbabwe are a better opposition than Canada, and will prove a good test for most nations outside of the top 4.

Once the target was set Australia was on the offensive early with speed Trio Lee, Tait and Johnson cleaning up with straight fast balls to middle stump. The Zimbabwe players not having enough ability to defend or attack such bowling, Australia pursued with this until the match was out of reach then choosing to give Hussey a roll of the arm to avoid over using Tait [coming back to full fitness] Krezja picked up a couple of late wickets to make his tally look useful.

Australia was put under pressure early on in this match, Zimbabwe proved to be a good test, and maybe a better starting opponent to get Australia switched on for New Zealand. Haddin still is a question mark at the top of the order, but any chances of a late change to Callum Ferguson won’t be coming soon. And the slow attacking in the power play is still an issue for a side that should score plenty with the field in.

With all these questions Australia is still yet to lose a World Cup match under Ponting, and they are well placed for New Zealand on Friday. England has the Netherlands tomorrow morning and with a changed opening partnership you can be sure all eyes will be on KP. I think this is an inspired move by England and should in theory prove to be a success moving Prior down the order.

Trundle XI

An office afternoon post lunch as Australia gave us nothing to discuss while they proceeded to cut Zimbabwe in half, that we moved to the topic of captains giving themselves a bowl.

We have all played under this captain, you know the ones,  they never bowl, they always shy away from that end during net sessions, yet when all else is lost they are the first to take the ball from the umpires hand after lunch.

In honor of these brave men in international cricket we [when I say we, I mean Andy and I have wasted 2 hours of our real jobs] have compiled a strong 11 including someone to carry the drinks. The side does include some generally good part-timers in Sachin & Border, as well as the truly ugly bowlers in Atherton & Taylor, we even included a few talking points with Hansie making the side, and Salman also providing food for thought considering he has never bowled a 'no-ball'. Yet we wanted to keep it purely part-time only and the less the wickets the further down the order you would find yourself.

Would you let this man open the bowling?

The biggest search involved finding a wicket keeper, and to find one that had captained as well as rolled the arm was a challenge, but by no means difficult as Alex Stewart stuck his hand in the air with his impeccable statistics in the test arena. I felt as he is currently still an active Captain that Ponting would take control of this bunch, with the selection committee recommending an opening bowling attack of Gooch & Ponting with the new ball.

Trundle XI
1. Sachin Tendulkar - Right-arm offbreak, Legbreak googly - 55- 53.06
2. Hansie Cronje - Right-arm medium - 43 -29.95
3. Allan Border - Slow left-arm orthodox - 39 - 39.10
4. Graham Gooch - Right-arm medium - 23 - 46.47
5. Geoff Boycott - Right-arm medium - 7 - 54.47
6. Ricky Ponting (Captain) - Right-arm medium - 5 - 48.40
7.Mike Atherton - Legbreak - 2 - 151.00
8. David Gower - Right-arm offbreak - 1 - 20.00
9. Salman Butt - Right-arm offbreak - 1 - 106.00
10. Nasser Hussain - Legbreak - 0 (30 overs)
11. Alec Stewart (Keeper) - Right-arm medium - 0 (20 balls)

12th Man - Mark Taylor - Right-arm medium - 1 - 26.00

Thursday, February 17, 2011

World Cup Top 4 Review – Part 2

South Africa and Australia are locks to be there towards the business end of the tournament, and my next two teams should really be of no surprise.

India winners 1983
The hosts for the tournament are cricket mad, as much of the world knows. Having had the opportunity to travel to this wild and colourful country I can contest to the fact that cricket is played in any form, anywhere. I have great memories of bowling medium pace to kids in Chennai that had a home made bat, and the front wheel of someone’s bike as the stumps.

Why They Can: India like South Africa have the right team at the right time, with a squad that is made to play the shorter forms of the game, and are in fantastic form going into the World Cup. Tendulkar is getting better and better the further he goes down the order and the older he gets. Dohni is such a batting force, and the bowling in India should be dominating with Kahn to be up there as leading wicket taker. Singh is having a batting surge himself down the order as is a tricky prospect to dislodge.

Why They Can’t: Pressure. Like South Africa expectation can sometimes be too much. India will have the weight of the nation that is demanding victory in this World Cup. A fickle supporter base has India; the fans can be hero worshipping one over, and burning effigies the next. With this sort of attention the players will need to be totally focused on the cricket and try to avoid the distractions.

It surprises me to think that England have never won this tournament in all its history, considering the about of times it was held on home soil. They edged close in 1992 only to see Pakistan take the spoils, many felt this was England’s best chance. I think they early on they may fly under the radar in this tournament with much attention heaped on the host nations.

Why they Can: The T20 World Cup is not a great form guide, but it has shown that England is interested in shorter formats and have the batting finally to put pressure on oppositions from top to tail. Along with Andy Flower at the helm a well organised and excellent one-day player himself should prove valuable. And then the players Trott showed in Australia he is a real force in this format, KP will always be a highlight of this side and the bowling is vastly improved with Swann & Broad a sure fire combination.

Why They Can’t: the lead up to this World Cup seems almost too similar to 1992 where the team was marked as one of the top sides entering, and proved so during the tournament only to run out steam in the final. And this could happen again, 100 days in Australia, an injury list as long as Finns left leg and only 3 days rest at home before back on the road again must take its toll at some point. Botham was openly critical of this in 1992 with Gooch running the team into the ground, and it seems that this could happen again.

Those are my 4 for the final spots towards the end of this tournament, with the Opening Ceremony tonight and the first match Saturday morning I have a good feeling about this tournament, not just for my country but also for the standard of cricket that will be on show over the next 6 weeks. The minnows such as Bangladesh & Ireland are not so small anymore, and rely now on full-time cricketers rather than the part timers they once had, every team in this tournament for all its strengths does have weaknesses.

Finally of course I should look into my 6 week crystal ball and come up with a few predictions for the tournament. I can see upsets by Canada & Bangladesh, New Zealand not to make the knockout stages, India to make the final to play South Africa and South Africa to break the hoodoo and finally lift the trophy.
To keep you coming back to the Cricket Observer during the tournament I shall be reviewing each match of both Australia (my home) and England (my adopted home) as well as the usual editorial articles on all the side issues to the World Cup.


Winter Reads III - Thanks Johnners by Jonathon Agnew

'There are very few people who can reach out in the way Brian did and touch you, the individual listener,’ says Agnew. ‘It’s a tremendous skill. I think Terry Wogan is another one who has it. That’s what Brian brought to Test Match Special: intimacy.’

After my last book on the historical rise of the World Series Cricket, and before that cricket amongst a dictatorship to pick up and read the recently released story of Brian Johnson and the Test Match Special team was a turn in a different direction.

In tribute to his friend and broadcasting mentor, Agnew has written a relaxing and amusing read on his friend in, Thanks, Johnners. Like TMS, it is funny, fluid and conversational. It describes Johnston’s life, including the heart-rending story of how, at the age of 10, he watched his father drown during a family holiday to Cornwall, and the wartime heroism that led to Johnston being awarded the Military Cross. It also finds space for a potted history of Agnew’s own career as both cricketer and commentator, and his trenchant views on the sport’s burning issues: match-fixing; umpiring referrals; Twenty20.

This book is a easy going read, one for sitting down and breezing a few chapters at a time, and the back story on the rise of TMS is spliced between the story of Brian Johnson. I’m not usually a fan of books on non-cricketing people as I’m more inclined to enjoy the story from a player’s point of view, yet to hear the heart warming stories on discussions of cricket within the broadcasting box is a reminder that the simple things in cricket still remain.

There is an entire chapter dedicated to the legendary incident in 1991 when Johnston and Agnew were undone by the most famous fit of giggles in broadcasting history. Johnston was describing a curious dismissal in which Ian Botham’s inner thigh had brushed his stumps, dislodging a bail. ‘He just didn’t quite get his leg over,’ claimed Agnew mischievously. Cue Johnston, a lover of schoolboy innuendo. Erupting into uncontrollable laughter, listeners were similarly afflicted; motorists had to pull on to the hard shoulder to wipe away the tears.

Johnston died in 1994, aged 81. But during his lengthy innings on TMS – he took guard in 1970 and was still at the crease in the summer of 1993 – he was the programme’s ‘heartbeat’. He certainly knew his cricket, but, as a radio man with decades of experience as a reporter and broadcaster, his primary gift to TMS was as a communicator.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011


There seems to be only 4 teams that can win or lose their opportunity this time around, with each staking claims for and against in the past year. Some have shown a dogged approach to the ever dwindling number of 50 over matches, others have developed further as the difference between 20/20 and 50/50 start to be shaded in grey. With so many more T20 leagues being played across the globe in the past 24 months it will interesting to see how much further the one-day game can develop.

This World Cup will be the curtain call for a handful of modern greats who have been involved in the game as it’s developed into the game we see today, players such as Tendulkar, Kallis, Ponting & Murali will be looking at this as the last opportunity to take a much prized trophy home with them for the last time.

Much has been made of the 6 week tournament, and where its place is in the grand scheme of the game, and if it should even survive. Every world tournament will have its early round matches of minnows battling it out against themselves, this happens in football & rugby and is no different in this event, and we must remember that these teams need this trophy to help spur on the rise in cricket in their nation. Our memories only have to glance back at the first Indian team that refused to use attacking tactics in 1975 and were seemed then as minnows in this form of the game.

The cricket World Cup is an important, if not the only important trophy in cricket, and its history of the players who been before those that shall play on Saturday is proof enough that it should kept. You only have to sit back as I have done the last couple of days and watch the crowds jump the fence at Lords chasing Clive Lloyd to the balcony as he raised the first ever trophy, or the joy of Allan Border as his team raises him into the air after winning in India. More recently the joy in Australia and Adam Gilchrist batting his way into history in beating Sri Lanka in a dim lit final. The ICC has not helped the one-day World Cup with its constant changing format, but the players have made it their own, and everyone you talk to who loves cricket has their “moment” and it is this historical list of moments that means this tournament will always stand above any other.
In a 2 part series I shall be reviewing my TOP 4 for the World Cup finals and how they can win and lose in India.

AUSTRALIA, winners 1987, 1999, 2003, 2007

You can’t look past this team to win it again, maybe not as easily as they have in the past (Ricky Ponting having not lost a World Cup match since 2003) The Australians love this format of cricket, and showed this in the beating they gave England, that even after the dent to the national pride of losing the Ashes they still had the heart and ability to put away a very good English side 6-1 in the series.

Why They Can: the players are built for this game, Shane Watson is right now the best shorter format player in the World and will have this stage to prove himself even further, Brett Lee is the perfect senior head for the young bowling line-up. Much has been spoken about the turning wickets of India, but these are more likely to be IPL batter friendly which will help the Australians as they go deep down the order for batsman in Mitchell Johnson and john Hastings.

Why They Can’t: Batting Match Winners, they have lost a couple of greats in this department. And Shane Watson is magic when firing, but the well rested Ponting will need to become that match winner again if they are to have a chance. Losing the likes of Gilchrist, Hayden & even Symonds is a big hole to fill when you’ve lost a couple of early wickets. This coupled with the fact that teams no longer fear them as much as they have in the past, means they are now the hunted rather than the hunters a change in mind set is required for them to do well this time around.


The bridesmaids of this competition since joining in 1992, the memories of the almost catch, and that run out when victory seemed assured. Along with the great one-day players to have worn the Green shirt always has this team in the mix to win the trophy, and it seems at times they find new ways of stopping themselves. Much has been said of the retirement of Kallis in the wings and the team doing it for him, but this team needs to do it for themselves to exorcise the demons of trophies past.

Why They Can: This time around I feel they have a more complete line-up compared to past teams that relied heavily on the great players to get them though the tournament, this side with Duminy, Smith, Parnell, Steyn, Morkel and of Kallis. Batting is strong enough to drive up big scores on batting decks, the attack of Steyn & Morkel from each end is as dangerous a combination in world cricket, tag in Parnell as well as Botha on a turning deck and you have your closers. The leadership of Smith has shown he has a better understanding of his players and teams strengths and knows how to gain the most from them.

Why They Can’t: The ghost of World Cup’s past shouldn’t directly affect this team as many of them have no recollection of such a time, but like anything its pressure that produces these visions of failure in South Africa. The pressure of being the better team, with the better line-up. This pressure is put on them from outside the team, from its fans rather than themselves, in such a way they remind me of the English football team, all the quality but never able to produce when required.
That is part one of my Top 4 for the World Cup, Thursday I shall my final review prior to the first ball being bowled as well as my prediction of the who will in the final.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Cricket World Cup 2011 – A Brief History

With all the T20 leagues across the world and the Ashes victory this past southern hemisphere summer, it seems that what was once the hallmark event for the ICC the One-Day World Cup has some how snuck up on many non-cricketing people, and I must admit that the advertising has been very limited. Which is surprising as it’s the 4th largest World sporting event.

In a two part series I shall look at a brief history of the World Cup, and then prior to the first ball a look into my top 4 sides for the tournament, and the reasons how they can win or lose this years World Cup.
The quality of bowling and batting in the last 4 years has accelerated immensely, and this World Cup is for the first time under threat to holds it own as the preferred trophy amongst the dozen of minor cups and the emergence of the T20 World Cup. This World Cup will also see the end of the road for some of crickets Modern heroes with the likes of Ricky Ponting, Tendulkar, Murali most likely will not be in attendance in 4 years time.

Eight teams participated in the first tournament in 1975 Australia, Pakistan, England, the West Indies,India, and New Zealand, (the six Test nations at the time), together with Sri Lanka and a composite team from East Africa. One notable omission was South Africa, who were banned from international cricket due to apartheid. The tournament was won by the West Indies, who defeated Australia by 17 runs in the final at Lord's.
1975 West Indies, first World Cup winners.

The 1979 World Cup saw the introduction of the ICC Trophy competition to select non-Test playing teams for the World Cup, with Sri Lanka and Canada qualifying. West Indies won a second consecutive World Cup tournament, defeating the hosts, England, by 92 runs in the final. At a meeting which followed the World Cup, the International Cricket Conference agreed to make the competition a quadrennial event.

Clive Lloyd 1979 West Indies World Cup winners

The 1983 event was hosted by England for a third consecutive time. By this time, Sri Lanka had become a Test-playing nation, and Zimbabwe qualified through the ICC Trophy. A fielding circle was introduced, 30 yards (27 m) away from the stumps. Four fieldsmen needed to be inside it at all times. India, an outsider quoted at 66-1 to win by bookmakers before the competition began, were crowned champions after upsetting the West Indies by 43 runs in the final.

1983 India, a great bet to win at 66-1 odds at the time.

The 1987 tournament, named the Reliance World Cup after their Indian sponsors, was held in India and Pakistan, the first time that the competition was held outside England. The games were reduced from 60 to 50 overs per innings, the current standard, because of the shorter daylight hours in the Indian subcontinent compared with England's summer. Australia won the championship by defeating England by 7 runs in the final, the closest margin in World Cup final history.

True Grit, Allan Border lifting the trophy in 1987

The 1992 World Cup, held in Australia and New Zealand, introduced many changes to the game, such as coloured clothing, white balls, day/night matches, and an alteration to the fielding restrictions. The South African cricket team participated in the event for the first time, following the fall of the apartheid regime and the end of the international sports boycott. Pakistan overcame a dismal start to emerge as winners, defeating England by 22 runs in the final.

The Lion of Lahore lifting the trophy 1992 MCG

The 1996 championship was held in the Indian subcontinent for a second time, with the inclusion of Sri Lanka as host for some of its group stage matches. In the semi-final, Sri Lanka, heading towards a crushing victory over India at Eden Gardens (Calcutta) after their hosts lost eight wickets while scoring 120 runs in pursuit of 254, were awarded victory by default after riots broke out in protest against the Indian performance. Sri Lanka went on to win their maiden championship by defeating Australia by seven wickets in the final, which was held in Lahore.

1996 Sri Lanka beating Australia in the final

In 1999 the event was hosted by England, Australia qualified for the semi-finals after reaching their target in their Super 6 match against South Africa off the final over of the match. They then proceeded to the final with a tied match in the semi-final (also against South Africa) where a mix-up between South African batsmen Lance Klusener and Allan Donald saw Donald drop his bat and stranded mid-pitch to be run out. In the final, Australia dismissed Pakistan for 132 and then reached the target in less than 20 overs, with eight wickets in hand.

With batsman stranded at each end, the bails off, Australia were champions 1999

South Africa, Zimbabwe and Kenya hosted the 2003 World Cup. The number of teams participating in the event increased from twelve to fourteen. Kenya's victories over Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe, among others — and a forfeit by the New Zealand team, which refused to play in Kenya because of security concerns — enabled Kenya to reach the semi-finals, the best result by an associate. In the final, Australia made 359 runs for the loss of two wickets, the largest ever total in a final, defeating India by 125 runs.

A fresh faced Ponting in 2003 lifting the trophy again for Australia.

In 2007 the tournament was hosted by the West Indies; the Cricket World Cup became the first such tournament to be hosted on all six populated continents. Bangladesh progressed to the second round for the first time, after defeating India, and they later went on to defeat South Africa in the second round. Ireland making their World Cup debut tied with Zimbabwe and defeated Pakistan to progress to the second round, where they went on to defeating Bangladesh to get promoted to the main ODI table. Australia defeated Sri Lanka in the final by 53 runs (D/L), in farcical light conditions, extending their undefeated run in the World Cup to 29 matches and winning three straight World Cups.

As the lights went out, the Australians shined winning a third in a row in 2007

Australia will be looking to claim a 4th Title in a row, and after knocking over England in such an attacking style it shall be tested once more on Indian soil.While the hosts India have the weight of being the home nation and also as one of the front runners in the tournament on their shoulders, Tendulkar is not getting any younger even if he is getting even better and will be looking to walk away soon. South Africa will like all World Cups enter as a well prepared team outside of the tournament and will see themselves again fighting the tag of ‘chokers’ Sri Lanka will be looking to give stalwart Murali a final sending off in hopefully a home world cup final.

Wednesday next week I shall have complied just in time for the first match on the 19th my Top 4 and the winners and losers from that group.

Friday, February 11, 2011

The Mystery of Albert Trott

This is the story of man forgotten glazed over in history. A cricketer whose life is only remembered for one of many feats he accomplished in his time at the crease. Albert Edwin Trott born in the beer brewing suburb of Abbotsford, Melbourne Victoria. Brother of Harry Trott.

Albert Trott is an enigma in cricket, for which there are many from this age and time, his long standing record of being the only man to hit the ball over the Pavilion at Lords seemingly his lasting memory on the history of cricket, which is some what not befitting of man who has left a bigger mark on a game he rarely played for his country.He burst onto the Test scene against England in Adelaide, Australia in 1894-95 with an amazing debut which included taking 8 for 43 with his slinging, round-arm bowling and scoring 38* and 72* with the bat. He followed this up in the next match in Sydney, Australia by scoring 85 again not out, though he was strangely not asked to bowl by captain George Giffen.His brother Harry having been named captain of Australia which was to tour in England in 1896. Harry was best known as being a good judge of a man, and whose captaincy was based assertiveness.

At this time Albert was averaging 102.5 with the bat, yet this could not find him room onboard with the Australian team. Rumours of a family falling out, and Albert’s hard drinking is seen as his reason for non-selection. This is further backed up by the lack of correspondents during his time away in England, and even on his return to Australia they were rarely seen together.

Despite his omission from the team, Trott sailed to England independently and, with the help of the Australian cricketer and Test umpire Jim Phillips, played for Middlesex. Middlesex were soon to be grateful. In 1899, the year he hit M. A. Noble over the Lord's pavilion, he passed 1000 runs and took 239 wickets. In 1900 he did much the same, and was acknowledged as just about the finest allround cricketer on earth.A true student of the game, Trott's bowling relied less on pace than it did on guile and spin; he rarely bowled two balls alike. Trott was a dynamo in the field, with the ball seldom escaping his commodious clutch.

One of few players to have played for both Australia & England at Test level where again he left a mark of excellence rarely seen on the tour of South Africa in 1898-99, when he left his mark with 17 wickets at less than twelve apiece in the two Test matches.

However, from 1901 or 1902, Trott declined abruptly because, owing to a rapid increase in his weight and loss of mobility, he could not bowl the very fast ball that was so deadly in his early years. His haul of wickets fell rapidly: from 176 in 1901 to 133 in 1902 and 105 in 1903. By 1905, he was extremely expensive and ineffective (taking only 62 wickets), and only in the very dry summer of 1906 did his batting reach the levels of his early years with Middlesex.

An entertainer at heart was Trott despite his once in a life hit on Noble he was known for his unlikely large hauls of wickets, and sharing Ales with spectators on the boundary. In his benefit match in 1907 he took four wickets in four balls and then the hat-trick, winding up proceedings foolishly early at a time when people were prepared to roll up in their thousands to pay cash tribute to a stalwart of county cricket - as long as the match lasted. A feat of two hat-tricks in an innings has been repeated only once in first-class cricket, by Joginder Rao.

This larger than life character was to live a silent earning once removed from the halls of Lords. Becoming an umpire from 1910-1914. Living alone in a life that was long forgotten, as his brother was celebrated and named marked grandstands and playing grounds in Melbourne. 1914 Albert Trott wrote his will on the back of a laundry ticket he left £4 for his landlady and shot himself in the head. In today's cricket of high money, high performance and high scandal, few players have been able to provide the high thrills and high entertainment which A.E. Trott did, some 100 years ago.

*** He was buried at Willesdon New Cemetery in plot 613P at the expense of Middlesex CCC. A headstone was erected in 1994.

Trevor Bailey 1923 – 2011

The man better known as “Barnacle Bailey” died yesterday in a fire at his retirement home in Essex. He was 87. According to BBC Essex, his body was found in the kitchen of a smoke-logged flat in Crowstone Road, Westcliff just after 6am. His wife Greta was rescued from the blaze.

Despite the nickname, he has retrospectively been calculated to have been the leading all-rounder in the world for most of his international career. Bailey made his first-class cricket debut in September 1945, aged 22, for the "Under 33s" scratch team, in a match at Lord's cricket ground, against an "Over 33s" team, and made his debut playing county cricket for Essex in May 1946.[4] He quickly became a lynchpin of the Essex team, and made his Test debut for England against New Zealand at Headingley in June 1949, taking 6 wickets for 118 runs in his first match.[5] A right-arm fast-medium bowler, dependable right-handed batsman and strong fielder, Bailey played 61 Tests for England between 1949 and 1959. His swing bowling provided an effective foil for the fast bowling of Alec Bedser, and later Fred Trueman.

In a 21-year county career for Essex, Bailey scored 1000 runs and took 100 wickets in the same season on eight separate occasions. He captained the side between 1961 and 1966 and was also the county's secretary from 1955 to 1967. He captained the county from 1961 to 1966. He was also the county's secretary from 1955 to 1967, which enabled him to receive a salary whilst at the same time technically remaining an amateur cricketer. He played his final Tests in the Ashes tour to Australia in 1958-9. He had a bad tour, during which he scored the slowest half-century in first-class cricket, reaching 50 just 3 minutes short of 6 hours at the crease,[7] in England's second innings during the 1st Test at Brisbane.[8] He bagged a pair in his final Test, the last of the tour at Melbourne,[9] He was never selected for England's Test side again, but continued to play first-class cricket for Essex for another 8 years.

After retiring from cricket in 1967, Bailey continued to play for Westcliff-on-Sea Cricket Club for many years and also became a cricket journalist and broadcaster. He was the cricket and football correspondent of the Financial Times for twenty years.[12] He was a regular on the BBC's Test Match Special for 26 years,[13] where fellow commentator Brian Johnston nicknamed him The Boil, based on the supposed Australian barrackers' pronunciation of his name.

Selected in the Wisden Cricketers of the Year in 1950, he was appointed a CBE in 1994 and was known to frequent Chalkwell Park to watch Westcliff-on-Sea CC, a ground he also played much of his school cricket. An All-Rounder both in Cricket and Life, Trevor Bailey’s loss to this world leaves cricket poorer of an intelligent analyst of the game who was as much apart of the field of play as he was to those who listened to the game.