Friday, 30 January 2009

Heading west

During the innings break at the WACA tonight, certain commentators made a big deal out of the idea that Warner "hasn't played here", and "certainly hasn't played here for NSW". That would be news to Warner and his NSW team-mates, and indeed so far he is doing better tonight than some with much more local experience. I wonder whether Slater and co. got caught up in the "hasn't played a first-class game" hype, which is really more to do with the selection policy in different forms of the game than how early Warner was picked.

Of course, the depth of batting talent in NSW, especially at the top of the order, is also relevant. Ian Chappell has acknowledged this when insisting that Warner should be given a chance to prove himself in the longer form. He has a point, and as Warner's last outing at the WACA shows, there's no need to assume it would be at the expense of an opener. Mind you, such an assumption wouldn't be as silly as the fuss made over another NSW opener who is certainly no stranger to the WACA. Even this morning, long after the first stories appeared, the radio news was reporting that Katich would go down the order to number 3 to allow Jaques and Hughes to show their stuff. Hardly a surprise - he hasn't been a "NSW opener" recently, and in the end he came in at second drop!

Stock Route

The City of Sydney has put up banners for the celebration of the Chinese New Year, which this year began on Australia Day and Indian Republic Day. Being the year of the bovine and in English usually known by the name given to working bovines, this short name is emblazoned on the banners and jumps off them at the viewer. However, the style of the letters makes me think first not of a calendar or celebration, but a building on the south bank of the Thames!

Thursday, 29 January 2009

Does anyone miss the tri-series?

I'm sure Ricky Ponting doesn't. After all, recently (not) making the final series seems to have been the deciding factor for the selectors when determingin whether the ODI captain stays or goes - not jsut from the captaincy, but from the team. Maybe he's safe, now that it's gone.

Sunday, 25 January 2009


The NSW Blues have had a pretty terrible season so far in the traditional and slightly older forms of the game, but now they seem to be making all the headlines by qualifying for the T20 Champions League and signing up McCullum from the Kiwis for the final. Symonds says it's unAustralian. It's usually hard to take anything on a Roy and HG show at all seriously, but the interview as a whole presents Symonds as too mad even for that setting.

What in the world is he talking about? This whole situation of leagues like the IPL and ICL poses problems, or at least new questions, that were obvious but haven't really been answered yet. The fact that they're Indian, whether they're official or not, or whether the BCCI or any other ICC member is involved isn't the point. The issue is that they are radically changing how cricket is organised. This is especially true in places, like Australia, where state teams have always be representative teams for the state associations, unlike, say county teams in England.

It is a bit strange to combine this setup with participation in something like the Champions League, even stranger when you consider how many of the CL qualifying tournaments a single player could play in. I'm not convinced of the merits of the situation, but NSW are obviously just responding to it as they see best. If they are going to play against teams with players auctioned from all over the world (including some NSWelshmen), why shouldn't they look to draft in some players of their own? If their competition in the form of IPL teams (and even county teams) is happy to take players for short release periods, why shouldn't they? And does Symonds really expect us to believe that he wouldn't play for the Chargers iif Cricket Australia only released him for a single game?

As for McCullum, NSW won the final quite dramatically without too much input from him. But T20 seems more about the hype than the cricket, so maybe noone cares about the result.

Friday, 16 January 2009

Time to start again

It's been a while, but I'm finally putting up a first post for the year. With the new year, prices go up, my morning train lost some carriages, and as usual, the Sydney Test came along. There's a lot that could be said about that Test this year, but I think it has been elsewhere - most of it, anyway.

These days, the new year Test means it's time to move on to the newer forms of the game. The Australian team at first treated T20 like a bit of a joke, but that attitude's clearly gone now. No doubt the introduction of the World Championship is a factor there, but maybe so is the IPL money. Personally, I feel that whatever place the shortest form has, it the tournaments have something that is missing in these one or two match series.

The two T20 games brought a spectacular start to David Warner's international career. His consistently fine hitting impressed even though of us who couldn't work out why the commentators describe him as "unheralded". Maybe they focussed too much on his complete lack of first-class experience, a fact which underlines the modern selector's approach of treating cricket as three different games. In these terms, one team in a bilateral series, is taking the game more seriously than the other. The SA team was selected from the ODI squad - it surely wasn't worth sending a T20 specialist.

Of course, for Matthew Hayden, it wasn't a start but an end. His retirement draws attention to the fact that NSW has the same problem with openers as they do with spinners. In neither case does the different teams for different forms approach give the solution that some might hope. Apart from Warner, Blues skipper Katich says he will drop himself down the order to give Jaques and Hughes a go - a funny way to put things, given that he doesn't usually open for his adopted state anyway. The national selectors would do well to consider him down the order, at the expense of their apparently obligatory all-rounder.

In the meantime, I'm sure there will be plenty of good cricket in the new format one day season, although I will miss the "neutral" games. Beyond that, the new year brings a lot of cricket for an increasingly new-look Australian team. It's time for them to start making a new mark, without trying to compare the feats of recent history.