Watson and Afridi: Studies in Irritation

15 07 2010

Another great day of test cricket yesterday at Lords, albeit one in which the Australians assumed the ascendancy rather than our preferred choice, Pakistan. It was a day which threw up some exciting moments interspersed with some really quite extraordinary ones. Let us now go through the main contributions:

Shane Watson

A friend of the Compulsive Hooker, occasional contributor Dingo, has long been saying that Watson is a better all rounder than Flintoff and, appallingly, he now has further evidence to use in this argument after one of the most extraordinary bowling displays at Lords ever witnessed. Extraordinary because it must be rare that such an innocuous and friendly bowling display takes five wickets and appalling because it is Shane Watson that has achieved this… Watson is a man of many obvious qualities; a good batsman with a tendency to get out when set, a purveyor of medium pace trundlers, immaculately coiffured hair, an impressive ability to show show his feminine side and a world class pout – yet despite this he is almost universally disliked by fans in all countries…

We dislike him mostly due to his sulky demeanor as few players look closer to breaking down and crying when something goes wrong as Watson does. Yet we have now discovered a worse side to him, one that makes us cringe even more, and that is when things are going unbelievably right for him that he ends up being the first on the new Neutral Honours Board at Lords.

His figures of 7.5 overs, 5 wickets for 40 runs make for all the more interesting reading when you realise that approximately 28 of these runs came off him in the space of about 12 balls during Shahid Afridi’s whirlwind innings. Four of his wickets were proper batsman, all of whom were dismissed LBW, bowled or in Afridi’s case tricking him with a slower ball, leading us to assume that some strange mystical powers were at work on Watson’s behalf. Quite honestly there can be no other explanation.

And no Dingo – this does not make him better than Flintoff – it simply means that the Pakistani batsman are hopeless.

Shahid Afridi

Afridi has tricked us. As we posited here, we had discussed the possibility that perhaps the captaincy had given him an air of responsibility and he would be a revelation in this test series. Sadly for Pakistan, this particular leopard has failed to change his spots and played an innings of breathtaking irresponsibility yesterday. Walking in five wickets down, with a deficit of around 150 runs, a calm head was needed. Instead what he brought to the part was a village green attitude of ‘if I can reach it – its going’! We can understand what he may have been trying to do in that there have been some great counter attacking innings played from similar situations, yet there is a difference between counter attacking and choosing the balls you are going to try and go after rather than simply swinging from the start.

Pakistan’s side is a very inexperienced one with debutants at numbers 3 and 4. They need guidance and an example set by their captain – not what appears to be an exercise in self destruction. Some people may argue that this is the way that Afridi bats and therefore we can’t be too critical. However this is absolute rubbish and we hope that Waqar Younis, Pakistan’s team coach, pulls him up in private.

Match Situation

Australia comfortably on top although there still appears to be some movement for the bowlers. If Asif and co can knock over the rest of the Australians quickly, the Pakistani first innings collapse not withstanding, they may be in with a slight chance. It is Australia’s game to lose though – no doubt about it.

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5 responses

15 07 2010
Will Buck

I totally disagree with the Author’s view on Shane Watson (apart from the hair!). He is a genuinely talented all-rounder and typically gritty (and therefore annoying to Englishmen) Australian. One thing people may not be aware of is that he has been incredibly misfortunate with injury. I witnessed him bowling with real pace for Hampshire when he played for us and he has been forced to change his game from a strike bowler/ useful batsmen into an opening batsmen/ medium-paced allrounder. This is no mean-feat in itself and his record stands for itself, in all forms of the game.

In relation to Afridi, then I would suggest that the man knows his market value. He is adored in the sub-continent precisely for the carefree way that he bats and his ridiculously aggresive style. They love sixes and Boom-Boom provides them. He has made his name in this style and has become a marketing sensation (check out his Head & Shoulders advert on Dubai TV for one – hilarious!) off the back of it. I think that his first concern is his image and the fans, not the result of the match for Pakistan. How he is captain amazes me. Sad but true.

15 07 2010
Bradders

Actually I agree with you Will on his quality – he is a very fine batsman although I disagree he was ever used as a strike bowler – when he started he was quicker than now but without any subtlety. His record in all forms as a batsman stands up for itself and I meant it as a tongue in cheek piece about how he is just about the most irritating player to watch. A constant sulky face an tears at all opportunities… I don’t think however that he is a genuine test all rounder, more a batsman who bowls (and hence is not a good comparison to Freddie) and it is a total mystery to me how he managed to get 5 wickets yesterday! In One day cricket he is a fully fledged all rounder though and a very good one. Just find him so annoying to watch – not least because he is a good batsman he could at least stop sulking!!!

15 07 2010
dingo

Did Flintoff not bowl against Pakistan? that’s a hell of a thing. And as agreed with Will, I have said that if not for the injuries he would have been devastating and most probably lived up to the hype he arrived with as a young fella. He is a bit stroppy, but so was Tiger woods who looked as if he would bawl like a baby at any moment, pretty sure that didn’t detract from his skills (not not saying he is the tiger of cricket) better player than flintoff? debatable, more skilled, definately.

15 07 2010
Bradders

Haha – I thought that would get a response from you… As discussed before I am actually (despite appearances) sold on his quality as a batsman but he is not a bowler of Flintoff’s class and never will be, wickets not withstanding. He is a good player – just a thoroughly irritating one! Twas tongue in cheek really!

17 07 2010
Vim

With Freddy it has to be wickets not withstanding. He was never a big wicket taker for all his capacity and potential.

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