Saturday, January 23, 2010

Australia v Pakistan - First ODI review

A Cameron White century has lead Australia to victory in their successful run chase last night at the Gabba.

Pakistan started their innings well, after winning the toss and batting, then bringing up the 50 opening partnership off just 61 balls, Kamran Akmal getting his side off to a flyer, before he top edged a shot off the bowling of Watson and skied it, Clarke taking a safe catch, despite some early trouble with Ricky Ponting coming close, but they avoided a collision, and took the catch comfortably.

Butt and Khan, in his return, started to forge a good partnership. They got to 50 runs off 50 balls together, Butt scoring 43 of those runs. Butt fell to Doug Bollinger on his return to the attack, caught behind by Haddin, gone for 72.

Yousuf came and went, he was extremely unlucky to get the bottom edge to a Doug Bollinger delivery, then hit the ground, bounce up over the top of the stumps, and drop down, right on top of the bails.

Umar Akmal came in, played a quick innings of 23 off 22 balls, then had to depart to McKay, caught behind by Haddin slashing at a wide one. Malik followed in a similar fashion, also trying to cut and just resulting in a catch to Brad Haddin’s safe gloves behind the wicket.

This brought in Afridi, who unveiled a slogging masterclass. He brought out all the Twenty20 shots, including flicks the the legside and behind the wicket, plus powerful shots to go over the ropes, crunching five fours and three sixes in his 46 off 26 balls.

While Afridi was batting, he lost partners Khan and Aamer, both falling to McKay. The tail was then bundled out for 274, my prediction of 270 making me look like a genius, seeing as I made it 3 hours earlier.

Australia were off to a terrible start in their chase, losing Watson for 5, out to a quick, bouncy, seaming delivery from Aamer, that jagged back, hit the top of the handle of his bat, then his arm, and lobbed up in the air to Ajmal for catching practice.

Marsh soon followed, playing a terrible shot onto the off side, gifting them, and essentially throwing away, his wicket. The score was 2/37, Ricky Ponting was struggling, enter Michael Clarke. Clarke played a fantastically controlled innings, and kept going with White after Ponting went for a fighting 27, after a terrible start to his innings, not being able to lay bat on Aamer and Asif, being hit numerous times by the 17 year old as well.

White then came in, and played an absolutely fantastic innings, his first century in Australia in international cricket. He blasted 7 fours and 4 sixes in his 85 ball century, before soon after departing for a fabulous 105 off 88, him and Clarke putting on 102, before Clarke fell, then another partnership of 74 with Mike Hussey, when his innings came to a close.

Haddin came in and bumped the last few runs with ease, Hussey finishing 35 not out, Haddin 7 not out, in a great chase for Australia. Pakistan’s bowling was great at the start, but tailed off a little bit towards the middle and end over’s, in which Australia, particularly White, capitalised perfectly. A great win for Australia, and are now 1-0 up in the 5 ODI series.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Preview of Australia's summer - Line ups, predictions and more! (Part 1 of 3)

It’s almost time again. The sound of leather on willow, the hot sun beating down on us, the long days and mind games of Tests, the One Day Internationals, and the thrilling Twenty20’s. It’s time for the Australian summer of cricket.

West Indies in Australia - Tests

To kick start the Australia’s 2009/10 season, the West Indians will be heading over. Hopefully the West Indies board can sort out the contract issues before the series begins, so the West Indies can play their strongest team. The thought of Edwards on a quick and bouncy WACA pitch against the likes of Ponting is mind blowing.

Australia are a team in transition, and undecided on a few positions in the team. The openers, middle order batsmen and bowlers aren’t sorted, as much as we would like them to be.

We start the summer at the Gabba, as per the usual, on the 26th of November, after the West Indies play their warm up game against Queensland at the Allan Border field, then they head to Adelaide and Perth to wrap up the 3 Test series.

The key:
Chanderpaul will be the key for the West Indies. If he fires with the bat, he’s almost unstoppable. He needs some decent support, and he can almost single handedly win games. For Australia, they need the bowling to perform. Once you get Gayle and Chanderpaul, Sarwan and co can still come and make you pay. If Johnson, Lee, Siddle and co can dismiss the West Indies top order quickly, then they will find it hard to recover. However, Taylor has a Test century, so the tail isn’t all that bad.

My prediction:
If the West Indies are playing a significantly weakened team, Australia should and probably will roll them 3-0. If the West Indies are full strength, I think they will steal one Test from Australia, but Australia will get victories in the other two games. 2-1 to Australia.

West Indies in Australia – One Day Internationals

After the Test series, the focus turns to the One Dayers. The first at the MCG at Melbourne, then we head to Adelaide for the second, SCG at Sydney for the third, the Gabba in Brisbane at the fourth before heading back to the MCG for the fifth and last ODI.

The key:
The West Indies, on their day, are as good as any in the shorter forms. Edwards has the potential to get 0/60 or 5/20, and the West Indian fans and players will be hoping that he achieves the latter against Australia. Gayle can get going easily, and destroy Australia’s line up. Chanderpaul is a solid One Day player, and the rest of the team are good at playing their supporting roles.

My prediction:
Seeing Australia’s poor form recently in the shorter form, I wouldn’t be surprised at all if we went down to the West Indies full strength team at least once. They have a powerful one day team at their best, and will certainly give Australia a run for their money. 4-1, Australia’s way, I reckon.

West Indies in Australia – Twenty20s

The excitement of the tour. The thrills of Twenty20 are taking the world by storm, and despite not being new, it’s still the baby form of cricket. Many Australian fans have shown a particular disliking for Twenty20 cricket, seeing it as a joke, much like the Australian captain, Ricky Ponting, who recently retired from Twenty20 to become a Test and One Day specialist.

Australia’s captain is still undetermined. My tip is it will be Clarke, as the selectors will use it as an excuse to give him more international captaincy experience before he eventually takes the reins from Ponting in the Tests and One Dayers, assuming he does. The problem with this is, his position shouldn’t, and hopefully isn’t, safe in the team at the moment. Being captain, it makes him undroppable, which is a bad thing for Australian cricket, as he struggles to play the big shots and actually get going, rather just bumps the ball around and strikes at about 70-100, barely enough, unless your team is having a collapse.

The key:
For Australia, I think the fast bowlers need to control their bowling, or the West Indian batsmen will be able to take control, even if they aren’t the best quality batsmen they can still use the pace of the ball for runs. The West Indians defeated Australia at the Twenty20 World Cup, so Australia need to be keen for revenge. For the West Indians, again Gayle is the key. He has a Twenty20 century, the first man to do so, and is a dangerman all the time. Edwards on his day is a great bowler, and his toe crushing yorkers are almost impossible to play.

The prediction:

Assuming it’s the West Indies strongest outfit, I think they will lose the first game, before seeking, successfully, levelling the series up making it a draw. 1-1, I think.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Michael Hussey – Is his time up?

Michael Hussey started his international test career with a bang, in the Frank Worrell Trophy, 2005/06, against the West Indies, when they travelled to Australia. In 3 matches he compiled 361 runs at an average of 120.33, including 2 centuries. The West Indian’s failed to dismiss him on 3 occasions during the series, and Hussey announced to the world how great a batsman he is.

When South Africa toured Australia in late 2005, Hussey was consistent with the bat, scoring 279 runs at 55.80 in 3 outings, including a half century and a century. If he hadn’t proven himself against the West Indies, where there were doubters, he silenced critics against an attack including Pollock, Ntini, Nel, Langeveldt, Boje, Botha and part timers Kallis and Kemp.

Then in early 2006, Australia travelled to South Africa. Hussey again impressed, scoring 257 runs at an average of 64.25. Whilst he failed to make a century in the tests, he scored 3 fifty’s, including a top score of 89.

In mid 2006 Australia travelled to Bangladesh, where the sub standard bowlers were easy picking for Hussey. He averaged 80.66 and scored his career best to day 182 on his way to 242 runs in 2 games, scoring a touch under 70 runs per 100 balls.
Then Hussey achieved one of the biggest moments of an Australia cricketers life, being selected for an Ashes tour. He took the opportunity with both hands, and from late 2006 to early 2007 he destroyed the enemy, scoring 458 runs, averaging 91.60, pounding a century and 3 fifty’s in the 5 match series, helping Australia win the Adelaide test on the last day with a terrific knock of 61 of 66 deliveries proving vital. Australia needed to chase 168 from 36 over’s, which after his 91 in the first innings, didn’t seem to faze Hussey, as with Ponting he turn the match in Australia’s favour after England scored 5/551 in the first innings, helping in Australia’s reply of 513 and the final chase on the last day.

Then in late 2007 Hussey participated in the Warne-Muralitharan Trophy against Sri Lanka, in which the Australian’s denied Muralidaran of his 700th test wicket, with Hussey not only out doing Muralidaran, but also scoring a mammoth 299 runs at an average of 149.50 in only 2 tests, including 2 centuries, his top score for the series 133.

At this point, Hussey was on top of the world, averaging 86.18 after 18 test matches, including with 7 hundreds and 8 fifty’s. Then everything hit the decline.
He averaged 48.33 in the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, no mean feat, but way off his Bradmanesque figures leading up to then. It was against the West Indies in mid 2008 that cracks started to appear. He averaged a mere 22.83 against a relatively poor attack, scoring only a single fifty from 6 innings, and scoring only 37.43 runs per 100 balls.

He seemed to be picking himself up again when Australia toured India for the Border-Gavaskar Trophy, scoring 394 runs at 56.28, with 1 century and 3 half centuries. His strike rate was again on the up, but it wasn’t long until everything went downhill.
Against New Zealand in late 2008, he scored 105 runs at 35, beginnings a major decline. He started to look out of sorts, but most people just though it was a bad patch of form that would wear off soon.

Then South Africa toured, and destroyed him, in his 6 innings he managed 85 runs, with a top score of 45* and an average of 17. He looked particularly poor and scratchy, playing at balls he should, getting edged more regularly and making generally poor decisions and shot selections. He said he felt good in the nets, but unfortunately it wasn’t working for him in the middle. By the conclusion of this tour, his average had declined to 59.36, but worse was in store.

He then toured South Africa, and didn’t do much better, scoring 132 in his 6 innings at an average of only 22. He scored a solitary 50, and calls to drop him started to emerge and have more force behind them.

Then, he geared up for the Ashes. After last Ashes, where he pummelled the Poms for an average of 91.60, people had high expectations that he could regain form. In the first test, he scored 3 in his only innings, and now there are strong rumours going around that all rounder Shane Watson, who missed the first test due to injury, will be replacing him. Before the series, I predicted that he will average 35-45, but also said if he fails again, he should be dropped.

So what lies next for Michael Hussey? His current test average of 54.35 is still up there with the best, but is a far cry from 120.33 after his first 3 tests, and 86.18 after 18. At 34, this Ashes series could be the end of his Test career, if he continues to perform poorly. He will struggle to come back into the side at his age if he does get dropped.

Personally, I would be moving him to number 5, with Clarke moving up to 4. Hussey has averaged 78.00 at 5 in 12 matches with 3 centuries, and 46.19 at 4 with 5 centuries in 13 more games, 25 in total.

So the question remains, where to next for Mr Cricket, Michael Hussey?

Tuesday, July 14, 2009

I'm back!

Hopefully I should get this blog going...again. The school term just completely puts me off. Now it's holidays, I'm bored, I will probably get writing again. Been following the Ashes pretty closely, pretty disappointed in myself for not writing something about the first Test.

Hopefully I can get writing and you can get reading and commenting soon.


Thursday, May 21, 2009

Ashes tour dates

For your convenience, if you are browsing my blog, and want to see the dates of perhaps when the next game is being played, or what time the next game is on, or when they are starting, who your team is playing next, etc, just look into this post, it's all here.

June 2009
Wed 24 - Sat 27
Sussex v Australians
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
County Ground, Hove

July 2009
Wed 1 - Sat 4
England Lions v Australians
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
County Ground, New Road, Worcester

Wed 8 - Sun 12
1st Test - England v Australia
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
Sophia Gardens, Cardiff

Thu 16 - Mon 20
2nd Test - England v Australia
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
Lord's, London

Fri 24 - Sun 26
Northamptonshire v Australians
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
County Ground, Northampton

Thu 30 - Mon 3
3rd Test - England v Australia
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
Edgbaston, Birmingham

August 2009
Fri 7 - Tue 11
4th Test - England v Australia
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
Headingley, Leeds

Sat 15 - Sun 16
Kent v Australians
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
St Lawrence Ground, Canterbury

Thu 20 - Mon 24
5th Test - England v Australia
11:00 local, 10:00 GMT
Kennington Oval, London

Fri 28
Only ODI - Scotland v Australia
10:45 local, 09:45 GMT
Grange Cricket Club Ground, Raeburn Place, Edinburgh

Sun 30
1st Twenty20 International - England v Australia
14:30 local, 13:30 GMT
Old Trafford, Manchester

September 2009
Tue 1 Floodlit Match
2nd Twenty20 International - England v Australia
19:00 local, 18:00 GMT
Old Trafford, Manchester

Fri 4 Floodlit Match
1st ODI - England v Australia
13:00 local, 12:00 GMT
Kennington Oval, London

Sun 6
2nd ODI - England v Australia
10:15 local, 09:15 GMT
Lord's, London

Wed 9 Floodlit Match
3rd ODI - England v Australia
14:30 local, 13:30 GMT
The Rose Bowl, Southampton

Sat 12
4th ODI - England v Australia
10:15 local, 09:15 GMT
Lord's, London

Tue 15 Floodlit Match
5th ODI - England v Australia
14:30 local, 13:30 GMT
Trent Bridge, Nottingham

Thu 17 Floodlit Match
6th ODI - England v Australia
14:30 local, 13:30 GMT
Trent Bridge, Nottingham

Sun 20
7th ODI - England v Australia
10:15 local, 09:15 GMT
Riverside Ground, Chester-le-Street

Lots of games to play, if we aren't going to well it could become a long tour.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009

Australian 2009 Ashes squad announced

Today Cricket Australia’s National Selection Panel selected Australia’s 16 man touring squad for the 2009 VB Ashes tour of England.

The squad is:

Ricky Ponting (c)
Michael Clarke (vc)
Stuart Clark
Brad Haddin
Nathan Hauritz
Ben Hilfenhaus
Phillip Hughes
Michael Hussey
Mitchell Johnson
Simon Katich
Brett Lee
Graham Manou
Andrew McDonald
Marcus North
Peter Siddle
Shane Watson

The surprise selection is Graham Manou. After a standout season for South Australia, the South Australian captain has received the call up after 647 runs to go with 33 dismissals in the 2008-09 Australian domestic season. Whilst his career record of 3260 runs at a mere 24.51 doesn’t look great, his solid form for his state and timing has catapulted him into the squad as back up for Haddin.

Shane Watson is subject to fitness, if he recovers from a groin strain he will be fit to play and in the squad. The surprise dropping is Andrew Symonds. No one really expected it. It has been well documented how poorly he has been performing for both Queensland and Australia recently, but everybody still expected him to be selected.
Michael Hussey has been given yet another chance, despite his long trot of poor form. Surely sooner rather than later the selectors will run out of patience with him, but that time doesn’t appear soon. Who knows, perhaps he will make century after century and surprise us all.

From the squad, I would be looking for the following team.

1. Philip Hughes
2. Simon Katich
3. Ricky Ponting
4. Michael Hussey
5. Michael Clarke
6. Shane Watson
7. Brad Haddin
8. Mitchell Johnson
9. Brett Lee
10. Peter Siddle
11. Stuart Clark

I am a big believer of picking your best side, except under some circumstances, and in this case, I’m all for it. Whilst problems lie in our lack of quality spin bowling, while we don’t have a spinner good enough to play at test level, Clarke, Katich and Symonds/North will have to do. The only problem there is Clarke and Katich are a bit injury prone, and Katich has come out himself and said he actually doesn’t like bowling. Not encouraging words from your joint-frontline spinner heading into an Ashes series.

If Watson is not fit to bowl, then he should be replaced by North. Whilst North is probably not good enough as a pure test batsmen, neither is Watson, and if North is bowling and Watson not, North offers more to the team. However if Watson is bowling, he should earn a position.

Hussey and Clarke’s position in the batting order is debatable, but I’m not going to worry about it, Clarke has been piling on the runs batting at 5, so there is no need to change. Also Johnson and Lee could be swapped, but that’s not much to worry about.
If we get a raging turner, perhaps Hauritz should be included, with Lee or Siddle’s omission. Whilst I don’t want either to be dropped, Johnson is in red hot form, and Clark is just too good to drop, one of them has to be the one to go.

Ashes coverage

Welcome to my Ashes coverage. I have decided that I am going to get working more and more on this blog, that has been practically ignored since my workload at school has increased. But my plan is when I knock off some school work, to get cracking on this and get it a blog with regular updates. I am going to cover the Ashes with regular articles, reviews, updates, opinions, thoughts, stats etc.


I am also going to be writing about other games, series, tournaments etc, including the Twenty20 World Cup.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Preview of Australia's tour of UAE

With Australia’s tour of UAE coming up later this month, featuring 5 ODI’s, I have written this article to run through our side and put together what I think is our strongest team we can put on the park.

Australian squad:
Michael Clarke (c)
Brad Haddin (wk)
Nathan Bracken
Callum Ferguson
Brett Geeves
Nathan Hauritz
Ben Hilfenhaus
James Hopes
David Hussey
Ben Laughlin
Brett Lee
Shaun Marsh
Andrew Symonds
Shane Watson

It is a side with a lot of inexperience, and also some old members of the squad returning from injury, both mental and physical, in Andrew Symonds, Shane Watson, Brett Lee and Shaun Marsh. All 4 are ODI regulars, and in Symonds and Lee’s case, test match regulars too. Australia will be welcoming them all back, particularly because next month is the Twenty20 World Cup, a competition all 4 are sure to take part in if their fitness allows them to.

Captain Ricky Ponting, out of sort’s batsmen Michael Hussey and the star of the Australian team in the recent past Mitchell Johnson have all been rested, because the Twenty20 World Cup is just around the corner, and all 3 are a part of Australia’s preliminary squad. Mike Hussey has played the most total days of cricket for Australia over the past 12 months, and perhaps a break is what he needs to get his game right. Mitchell Johnson has bowled hundreds and hundreds of over’s this summer, toiling away at times being the only Australian bowler looking like having a chance of taking a wicket. Ricky Ponting, as captain of his national team, an incredibly stressful job, needs a break once in a while.

Pakistani captain Younis Kahn is disappointed that Australia decided to rest a few of their star players, because Kahn and his team mates wanted to verse the best. However he still thinks they will be very difficult to beat.

The Rawalpindi Express Shoaib Akhtar is making his return in this series for Pakistan, and is almost certain to make headlines, whatever he does. Hopefully, for world cricket, he can bowl extremely fast and knock over a few batsmen (but not too many!).

Likely team:
1. Shaun Marsh
2. Brad Haddin
3. Michael Clarke
4. David Hussey
5. Andrew Symonds
6. Callum Ferguson
7. James Hopes
8. Brett Lee
9. Nathan Hauritz
10. Ben Laughlin/Ben Hilfenhaus/Brett Geeves
11. Nathan Bracken

NOTE: This is the team I think will be chosen, the only questionable things are
a) Will Watson be selected shuffling the order around?
b) Will Michael Clarke open the batting with himself?
c) Who will be selected as the 3rd seamer to bowl out of Laughlin, Hilfenhaus or Geeves?

Team I would like to see:
1. Shaun Marsh
2. Shane Watson
3. Brad Haddin
4. Michael Clarke
5. David Hussey
6. Callum Ferguson
7. James Hopes
8. Brett Lee
9. Nathan Hauritz
10. Ben Laughlin
11. Nathan Bracken

I wouldn’t be including Symonds for the first game at least, he has had his chances to prove himself in the Australian domestic summer, and you can’t omit Ferguson, who has been holding our team together recently, or Clarke, because he is captaining, so Symonds best chances are Marsh or Watson not being match fit, or the selectors not selecting Marsh, Watson or Hussey.

My prediction:
Australia 4-1.

NOTE: Shortly after the time of writing Geeves has been ruled out of the tour, with a replacement to be named.