There is an unwritten rule in most human societies that one does not speak ill of the dead. You can be the worst murderer, thief, rapist or sociopath and beat your wife every day of the week, but the moment you die, you have to be treated as some kind of saint.
This kind of hypocrisy is so embedded that at least in one language there is a specific word to describe it: Sinhalese, the language spoken in Sri Lanka. [Despite all my efforts, I just cannot recall the word which was told to me when I was in the eighth standard many moons ago.]
That rule appears to be asserting itself in Australia following the death of cricketer Shane Warne, a player who revived interest in the art of spin bowling when he came on to the international scene in 1992; this was after fast bowlers, predominantly from the West Indies, had ruled international cricket for two decades.
There was a time in the 20th century when there were more class fast bowlers in the game of cricket than at any other. Between 1974 and 1994, pacemen emerged in different countries as though they were coming off an assembly line.
It made the game of cricket, which many call boring, an exciting spectacle.
From Dennis Lillee and Jeff Thomson, to Andy Roberts, Michael Holding, Colin Croft, Joel Garner, the late Malcolm Marshall, Imran Khan, Sarfraz Nawaz, Wasim Akram, Waqar Younis, Devon Malcolm, Bob Willis, Ian Botham, Allan Donald, Fanie de Villiers, Richard Hadlee, Courtney Walsh, Curtley Ambrose, Patrick Patterson and Craig McDermott, they were of several different types and temperaments as is to be expected. Continue reading “Fast bowlers have lost their balls”
Ever since the Australian cricket team lost its captain Steve Smith, vice-captain David Warner and opener Cameron Bancroft to suspension for ball-tampering, the organisation running the game, Cricket Australia, has been fighting to make the spectre of losses disappear.
The three players were found to have been the prime movers behind the use of sandpaper to change the surface of the ball during a series in South Africa in March 2018; Bancroft, the actual person caught on TV while stuffing a piece of sandpaper down the front of his pants, was suspended for nine months, while Smith and Warner were banned for a year. Warner, in addition, will never be able to hold a leadership position in the team.
After these shocks to the system, Australia has been losing one series after the other, no matter whether it be Tests or the shorter forms of the game. Thus the arrival of the Sri Lankan team to play two Tests has come as a great relief. Sri Lanka is without its skipper Angelo Matthews, a talented all-rounder, who often rescues the team when it is in trouble. Continue reading “Cricket Australia: anyone will do, as long as we stem the losses”
World cricket is in a parlous state, not in terms of the money it makes, but in terms of the contests it provides. The games are one-sided to the extent that patrons at the grounds are few and far-between.
There is no better illustration of this than in the ongoing Australian games, where the home team is playing New Zealand and the West Indies in three Tests apiece. The first Test against New Zealand was won convincingly, and the second looks like going the same route. As to the West Indies, they are not expected to last beyond four days in each of the three Tests.
HAVING just come off a 5-0 win over England in the Ashes series Down Under, Australia must be on a high. But, no matter the margin of victory, there are several serious issues to be considered in the run-up to the tour of South Africa that begins in February.
There have been writers who have started comparing the Australian pace attack — only one man has genuine pace — to the West Indies attacks of the 1980s. This is a fanciful comparison and if anyone among those who are involved in selection swallow this myth, then they will be stripped of the illusion in South Africa. While Mitchell Johnson bowled fast and with hostility for most of the series, the other two pacemen, Ryan Harris and Peter Siddle, are medium-pacers who looked very good against a team that was itself suffering under some big illusions.
When England defeated Australia 3-0 in England in 2013, it began to believe that it was that much superior to Australia. In truth, the actual series outcome should have been 3-2. In the third Test, where much of the final day was lost to rain, England was 3 for 37, chasing 332 for a win. Only 20.3 overs were possible on the final day and it is highly likely that Australia would have won this Test. That would have made the margin 2-1 in favour of England at that stage and could well have meant a different outcome after the next two Tests were played. Continue reading “South Africa will be the real test for Australia”
CONTRARY to all expectations, Australia has won the first two Tests of the ongoing Ashes cricket series against England. But it has done so in a way that leaves much to be desired.
The teams played a series in England during the northern summer too and England prevailed 3-0 with two Tests drawn. England has held the Ashes since 2009 when it won them back from Australia.
In the current series, the main factor behind Australia’s surge has been the fast bowler Mitchell Johnson. He has undergone a considerable change after being trained by a man who is probably one of the two best fast bowlers of all time – Dennis Lillee. Continue reading “Johnson doesn’t need to behave like a thug”
THE last time Australia lost six Tests in a row, it lost a captain with the fifth of those losses. That was Kim Hughes who wept openly at a press conference as he resigned.
He had led the team to three defeats in the Caribbean in 1984 and his team lost the first two Tests of the return series in Australia. The opposition was the mighty West Indies; Allan Border took over and suffered defeat in the third Test to complete the run of six losses. A draw broke that run of defeats, before Border led the team to victory in the final Test.
This time, after being brownwashed by India in a four-Test series and losing the first two Ashes Tests, Australia will not lose its captain. One must, however, question whether the players should shoulder all the blame for the hammerings they are taking. Continue reading “Australia’s Test losses: six, and counting”