Tuesday, 30 December 2008

New sights and centuries

It looks like the South Africans won't have any trouble wrapping up the series today. This result is a great tribute to some fine performances. It's been great to see Duminy at the start of a very promising career. Steyn has been around a while longer, but with the strange nature of international cricketing scheduling, hasn't been seen playing tests against Australia before.

But there was something else we hadn't seen for a while - from Ricky Ponting. First the batting performance we'd been missing for a while, and then some captaincy of the level I'd never associated with him. It was a good move to give Siddle the new ball. Unfortunately, Lee didn't benefit from sharing it, and Ponting did no better than any other captains employing a depleted attack the next day. Whatever form Johnson and Siddle are in, Hauritz and the part timers are not serious support at the MCG.

However, captaincy worries didn't seem to bother Ponting too much, and he came out with another big innings, only almost upstaged by Mitchell Johnson. He fell just the other side of the century mark this time, and that's a strangely fitting place to end this, my 100th post on this blog.

Monday, 22 December 2008

Where to from failure?

It's been that sort of day - Australia's bowling failed yesterday, I failed to catch the train, the usual escalator from platform 6 failed, the train home failed to be on time and missed the connection (as well as being super-crowded due to two carriages out of action), and so on... Thankfully it ended with a great "fair dinkum" carols night, putting any failure in a bit of perspective.

Yes, it's definitely that time of year now. Christmas, and then the Boxing Day Test. The Saffers will definitely feel like celebrating, while Ponting and co will be a bit worried. Some are saying Lee's position is in trouble, but Peter Roebuck seems to agree with me that he bowled reasonably well, though not outstandingly or successfully. He also says the batsmen were as culpable as the bowlers. They didn't do that well, but I don't think improving the batting will lead to winning any more matches.

Which takes us to Melbourne. Hauritz has been brought back to NSW, and back to Australia. The same questions remain. It hsa been said that he is more defensive, which might be necessary in the absence of Clark. As for pace, will Hilfenhaus replace Siddle? And while the batting isn't the vital problem, I think there are definitely options ready to replace Hayden. In the meantime, and as we go on, back to Christmas.

Thursday, 18 December 2008

Feeling the blues

It's hard to know just where New South Wales cricket is at the moment. Over in Perth, the first day of the First Test has lived up to all the expectations I had for a thrilling series. The story was a familiar one this summer - Australia's batting rescued by Katich and/or Clarke. Fellow Blues player Brad Haddin continued his form, the only news being Queenslander Symonds finally putting some runs together. (All in all the runs were scored at a cracking pace - I suspect the Saffers could benefit from a more cautious approach today.)

With Brett Lee taking wickets, the only problems for NSW at the top level are Phil Jaque's and Stuart Clark's injuries. But what's left of the state team? Last year, when Haddin and Katich were still regularly available, the non-Test players did well enough to make the "Shield" final, where a full strength team put Victoria away (despite a solid performance by Siddle). Now, they're struggling to win a match in any form of the game, and the selectors are making big changes.

Captain Dominic Thornely was upset that fives changes were made to the team for the next Shield game (SMH). The selectors seem to have come in line with their national counterparts on the question of Nathan Hauritz. Henriques, who looked so good against New Zealand, is out.
It's pretty normal to have 5 changes for NSW whenever the national team becomes (un)available for state matches, but should the young guys left holding the fort get more of a chance when that isn't going on? Obviously the best team should be chosen, but I'm not sure constant chopping and changing helps anyone. What do you think?

But that's the Test players of the future. For now, I'll just sit back and watch the Australian bowlers hopefully make a good match of it in Perth.

Friday, 12 December 2008

Another country?

According to The Age:
The use of recycled water for drinking purposes already occurs in many parts of the world, including Australia and Victoria.

Just as I suspected...

More seriously, it's a good article about our attitude to drinking water.

Friday, 5 December 2008

From sea to sea

There are often interesting comparisons to be drawn between Canada and Australia. In Canberra, the parliamentarians have had to extend their hours in order to get through all the Government legislation before Christmas. Meanwhile, in Ottawa, the Prime Minister wishes it was time for summer holidays, and has managed to have parliament suspended until 26 January, in order to avoid (or postpone?) a no-confidence motion.

It's interesting to see how the unprecedented consitutional issue been reported. The BBC refers to the Canadian Governor(-)General as the "acting head of state", which would presumably ruffle some feathers among both sides of the Australian republic debate, such as it is. The SMH includes a report sourced from AFP using the same wording, although the standard warning that spelling, currency and measurement units follow North American usage might be considered to cover the possibly controversial terminology.

They also include an AP-sourced report, which describes he as the "unelected representative of the head of state" (emphasis mine). I wonder why the writer thought it was necessary to include "unelected", even apart from the fact that the Queen she represents is also unelected. On the one hand, some weren't too happy when an unelected John Kerr dismissed the elected government in Australian in 1975, and forcing the elected parliament to take an unplanned break could be seen in the same light. On the other, the fact that the GG is unelected goes some way to explaining why she followed the advice of her Prime Minister, and an elected official may have felt more able to to make a different response.

Stuck going nowhere

"Cricket's unique selling point is the passion for cricket by Indians - cricket is the most popular sport by a factor of about 30 in the second-most populous country in the world. This should be seen as a major positive. The game needs to find ways to use that unique selling point. There is too much fear of an Indian takeover and the power of the Indian administrators."

Malcolm Speed, who once had one of the positions most likely to attract hatred in the cricket world, speaks to the SMH. However well or otherwise he and the ICC performed when he was in charge, he seems to be speaking some sense about its future. Unfortunately, there is more politicking than sense involved, so most of his statements end with something like "I do not expect to see it happen."

The Tonk has also got the low-down on Bucknor's travel problems. It wasn't airline trouble, but US Immigration, which is more fussy than immigration anywhere else I've been. While some would still try to implicate various cricket boards in the incident, perhaps some diplomatic pressure to should be brought to bear to avoid a repeat. I'm sure that at this stage of his career noone is particularly desparate to have Bucknor in particular, but it should doesn't sound like Rudi was in the best state to umpire a Test match. More importantly, the very idea that a Test umpire should be held up displays a lack of proper respect for cricket on part of the Americans! ;P

Monday, 1 December 2008

Smiles for some

The first day of summer... it's a long time since I've been able to say that. I think I've forgotten how to cope with hot weather, but I'd rather have it than the heated events of the last week in Mumbai.

As terrible as they were, they didn't disrupt the continuation of the Trans-Tasman Trophy series. Once again, the selections were interesting. Shane Watson doesn't approve of the "horses for courses" philosophy that saw him dropped - but surely it was the main reason he was in the team in Brisbane anyway?

I can only wonder what Nathan Hauritz thought, going from opening the batting for Randwick-Petersham because he couldn't make an almost second-string NSW XI, to playing for Australia, only to suffer a similar injury to the guy he was replacing. In the meantime, Beau Casson, on the other end of the conflicting messages from different selectors, has injured his hand and might have trouble playing for anyone.

As for the game itself, it was enjoyable. It was more a case of a NZ team below full strength looking not quite up to the task, than anything spectacular from the Australians. It was a good chance for several to put in solid performances, get over the last tour and prepare for the South Africans. Lee and Haddin in particular should have smiles significantly less clouded than the one in the sky tonight.