Monday, 24 November 2008

Straight on the plane

I mentioned that my experience with Emirates was mostly good. It was my first ever flight, and the fact that the luggage got delayed in Dubai was perhaps balanced by the fact that they didn't charge us for quite a bit of excess baggage! Apart from that, it was definitely good.

Now I'm having quite a new experience - I'm about to board a plane without a passport or any checked-in luggage. My only previous "domestic" flight was from Beijing to Shanghai with plenty of fuss at both ends. Mind you, this first one within Australia is longer than the flight from London to Geneva, which was the last time my flight was paid for by "work".

Saturday, 22 November 2008

The storm starts in Brisbane

Watching a Test match at the 'Gabba has the feeling of a much anticipated event, just like the start of a storm after a hot summer day. For quite a while now, Brisbane has hosted the first Test match of the Australian summer. As a result, even though the Aussies have been playing in India so recently that they didn't fit in any decent preparation for this match, there are enough memories to build up an electric atmosphere.

The 'Gabba has answered my anticipation and that of the nation in many ways over the years. One big memory is listening at midnight as one of the most waited for series of recent times satisfyingly began with a wide going to second slip. The match has abandoned as draws, with the highlight being the amazing images of electric storms over the ground. At other times, a result was achieved only because the bowlers were able to use the conditions to take 20 wickets in a fairly short time.

The big storms that have been hitting Brisbane this week, damaging one of the stands at the ground have had an impact on the pitch and conditions. The batsmen haven't coped well. But it's actually fairly common for the 'Gabba Test to be interrupted more than this one has been. Obviously, scheduling is a tricky business in these days of so much cricket, but there was much more reason to start in Brisbane when the first Test was held in October. On average, the city has half as many rainy days in that month as it does in November!

Thursday, 20 November 2008

Let it begin...

At last! This summer's international cricket in Australia is about to start, no thanks to the weather. It all seems familiar - once again, the selectors have decided that the Gabba pitch requires a banana-bending seamer (especially after rain?), and once again, a visiting captain decides to bowl first. Will it actually pay off this time?

Wednesday, 19 November 2008

Putting the power in the play

Scorpicity has written a nice piece on the effect of the new powerplay rules in limited overs cricket, where the batting team chooses the timing of the third poewrplay. Soulberry raises a good point which I had been wondering about myself - will it all be predictable once the concept has been around for a while and the players/captains have got used to it?

In the game going on now at the SCG, Queensland look like they might have had a predetermined idea of when their powerplay should be taken. If the bowling team generally prefers to take it as soon as possible, then as the batting team, they should leave it to the last five overs, right? But being 9/146 after 45 overs, I can't help thinking that they missed an opportunity somewhere. (As an aside, the NSW second string bowling attack seems to have done pretty well in their last two matches. Are NZ and Qld good enough for that to mean something?)

Could Queensland have done better? The new rules are quite a departure from anything previously seen in cricket, in the sense that they give the batsmen control over what the bowling captain is allowed to do. They might take some getting uesd to. But they also make more sense in a way. Now a team is choosing when they might benefit from a powerplay, rather than deciding when they might be least bothered by being restricted. For that reason, I think it just might not be quite so predictable.

Tuesday, 18 November 2008

Turning green?

I'm not sure I should really read over people's shoulders on the train, but in doing so, I discovered that the Daily Telegraph is reporting that the state Labor Party is worried. Worried that any Labor seats with a margin of less than 15% are "under threat". That's a lot of seats. But I'm interested in the Tele's inclusion of the traditionally safe seat of the deputy premier - Marrickville (and the neighbouring Balmain). Their two party-preferred margins are low because the Greens have become the second party, and aren't quite the same as the other seats mentioned. Are they more or less "under threat" than the seats held by similar margins over the Libs/Nats?

Official flying

It was interesting to see that the umpires appointed for the Trans-Tasman series were the two West Indian former soccer referees. But now it seems Bucknor is to be replaced by Koertzen.

The reason is "travel difficulties". With the ICC, the real reason could be anything, but I can certainly imagine travel difficulties if the umpires are still forced to rely on Emirates. I'm not criticising the airline (my experience with them is mostly good), but they, or any other airline, are not exactly in a position to offer the best routes between the different cricket nations.

Tuesday, 11 November 2008

Crazy performance

It's definitely cricket season - I've got more to say about Jason Krejza. He more than proved he is ready for Test cricket. But hasn't his performance been hyped up a bit? Taking 12 wickets is great, but at the cost of 358 runs, we see that he bowled a lot of overs, with some good spells. What it should also tell us is that noone else was taking the wickets they needed to - an issue more important than whether Krejza has done enough to keep Casson out of the team.

Monday, 10 November 2008

Slow and steady doesn't win the race

It looks like the Aussies might have let the trophy get away from them in the last session yesterday, and I put the blame firmly at Ponting's feet. Not because he tried to keep the over rate up, though, but for letting it slip to start with. Bowling the appropriate number of overs in a day is a requirement of the playing conditions and code of conduct. Deliberately wasting time can and should be considered cheating. Those who have observed the Australian team's fondness for other "sharp practices" would reach the conclusion that he bowled part-timers not for the sake of the spirit of the game, but so that he would not be banned. But surely such motivation is the point of the penalties in the first place. Would we be happy if players decided to run on the pitch near the end of a game, because the series was in the balance and the next game didn't matter?

So, some questions, firstly for the Australian selectors:
Can we please keep Ponting as a batsman, and choose a captain who doesn't spend an eternity making each (usually bad) bowling or fielding decision? The over rate issue might suddenly disappear!

And for the ICC:
Why aren't other dodgy practices mentioned in the code of conduct punished as rigorously as over rates?

And for the MCC with the ICC:
Is there a way to sensibly implement penalties in a way that affects the match in question, to avoid any conflict between following the rules and winning the game? It hasn't been done with over-rates, and the ball-tampering rule suggests that it can't be done well.

Thursday, 6 November 2008

Cricket team again

Not having Casson is bad enough, but picking White ahead of Stuart Clark?? Clark was a big missing ingredient in the second test, and took quite a few wickets "from the other end" in the third. The selectors have a lot to answer for.