Friday, 31 July 2009

What's (going) on?

I've never been keen on the Australian selectors' policy of trying to kill two birds with a cominbation of two half-stones. As Mark Waugh has said, Hughes has paid the price for Watson's lack of form.

I would never have imagined the bizarre set of circumstances which has led to Watson becoming the sixth NSW-contracted player to open the batting for Australia in the space of 14 months!

Thursday, 30 July 2009

I'll huff and I'll puff and I'll give you some water

Back in primary school, I thought I had a great innovative idea, the main part of which involved combining desalination of water and electricity generation. Years later, having discovered that reverse osmosis is all the rage for desal (and water recycling), I thought that maybe the idea had simply been overtaken. According to this Age article, though, maybe I wasn't as naive as I had begun to think.

Australia coming from behind

I've been too busy to say anything about the 2nd Ashes Test until now. It could have been a fairly dull draw if not for the fact that England capitalised on the opportunities they had. Australia was firstly beaten comprehensively in the first innings, and then, I think (in hindsight) Strauss made the right choices concerning the follow-on and the declaration. It's good to see England playing to win.

Speaking of playing to win, it must be said that even during Australia's winning streaks, they were well behind after the first two innings quite often. Some would say they deserve more of a reputation for being slow starters than for being able to win coming from any distance behind. In any case, they weren't invincible, they simply had a culture of taking on the challenge to win in any situation.

I am convinced that such an attitude has been part of the difference between Australia and some other teams. Fortunately, they still seem to have it, even without the same quality to actually pull it off. Hopefully it won't be crushed by a few more failures...

Of course, such an optimistic outlook also means that fans are left wondering whether a few umpiring decisions had gone a different way. While it wouldn't have made much difference, Australia did seem to cop most of the questionable ones this time. The Katich wicket is a good example of why it is foolish to only look at appeals when judging umpire competence. Anyone who says Strauss knew he didn't catch the ball doesn't understand what they are seeing in the replays, but the earlier Hauritz catch did look at least as clean as that one.

From one point of view, the rules call for inconsistent use of tv replays in these circumstances, but on the other hand, they are not that helpful at the moment, and as long the umpires do not use a broader standard of doubt than they do without the presense of a 3rd umpire, the game isn't any worse off. As for the referral system, while it has a lot of potential, I don't understand the commentators who have suggested it would have solved the problems in this particular innings. If the plans for later this year are the same as the trials, then the Hussey (non-)edge would have been the only one of the much discussed decisions to be overturned.

In any case, we now go on to Edgbaston with England on the front foot and the effects of ever-present English weather firmly in England's favour. Unlike 2005, there hasn't been a tornado in Birmingham this time, but I suspect the Thrid Test will have more impact on later selections than on the series scoreline. Speaking of selections, it is hard to believe reports that Hughes has been dropped for Watson! ABC Radio says the inside word is that Siddle makes way for Clark, which is less surprising. I'm glad I'm not a selector right now.

Friday, 10 July 2009

Tas v Eng day 2

I think we can definitely say that the English won the first innings, but the Australian top order has hit back. They need to go on as they have started, since the most dangerous option on the bowling attack available to Ponting at the moment would appear to be runs on the board.

This is the fourth Test in a row where the Australian attack hasn't featured any of the NSW first-pick bowlers, unless you count the man who turned the usual saying on it's head, by getting his Blues call-up immediately following his recall to the Baggy Greens. He is, however on of three Tasmanian-born members of the team - I can't image that has happened before!

This blog's policy on the state allegiances of Hauritz (and Krejza), is to use either their place of birth and childhood or current affiliation, depending on their recent performance. So, it was a Tasmanian who leaked runs, along with the pace bowlers, for most of the morning. But then, once a fair bit of damage had been done, the bowling tightened, at least enough to trouble tailenders, and it was a player from my local club who took the tenth wicket four times in the last over.

Now, a lot rests on the current partnership, led by the other Sydney-dwelling Tasmanian. 700 would be a good target. Otherwise, the batsmen might need to do it again just to save the match.

Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Danger and ashes

Is it safe to be an umpire in Britain? First the tour match between the Lions and the Australians was ended when an umpire collapsed. Now there are reports that an umpire in Swansea has died after being hit in the head by a throw from a fielder.

Not pleasant stuff, but less disturbing than the lead-in to the previous Ashes series in the Old Dart. It is four years and a day since London was awarded the 2012 Olympic Games, and four years to the day since the city was hit by terrorist attacks. Since the days when players are targets in such attacks and umpires are killed had not yet arrived, the series went on and lived up to all the hype that had preceded it.

This time, much of the possible hype has been eclipsed by big events in a form of the game that had hardly taken root back then. There is potential for quite an intriguing series, even though neither team is at the strength they were in 2005. As the original Test rivalry begins again at Test cricket's newest venue tomorrow, I'll be ready, like many times before, for cricket through the night.

England are lacking in recent serious experience. Australia still have spinning/selection issues. Their batsmen, and even Brett Lee, seem to have found a bit of form in the warm-ups, although Lee's series is starting to look like McGrath's in 2005. I don't doubt this series means a lot to the Aussies, but I don't think England will be napping like the South Africans. I am young enough that I can say I don't remember a night-time Ashes series won by England... will this continue?