Ashes Review: Australia (Player by Player)

8 01 2011

Simon Katich (97 runs @ 24.25)

Unfortunately for Australia, Katich’s injury robbed them of perhaps their most consistent player over the past 18 months and some much needed solidity at the top of the order. Got starts in both games before being found out by a combination of Shane Watson’s running and the moving ball. Doubtful perhaps whether he will ever play again although Phil Hughes travails at the top of the order had most Australian’s wishing Katich was still there.

Rating: 5.5/10

Shane Watson (435 runs @48.33, 3 wickets @ 74.33)

Watson must be a frustrating character to have in the team you support. Obviously hugely talented, a fine stroke player and someone who rarely fails. Unfortunately Watson inhabits that middle ground though of not failing but never quite succeeding which, if Australia are honest, is one of the major reasons why their batting never quite fired. Openers are there to score hundreds and on this basis, despite Watson being Australia’s second most successful batsman, he shouldn’t be at the top of the order.

Surprisingly underused as a bowling option although this was as much to do this Australia’s strange selection policies rather than his skippers apathy towards his bowling. Watson is a very decent fourth seamer so why play four front line fast bowlers?!

Rating: 6.5/10

Phil Hughes (97 runs @ 16.16)

Hughes is not currently a test match opener. Against attacks who don’t swing the ball perhaps he might succeed, but any bowler who moves it off the straight will always find him out. Clearly talented and possesses a reasonable temperament so the rudimentary elements are there and it is paramount that Australia work with him. Struggled against Tremlett in particular and is surely going to be returned to state cricket for the foreseeable future.

Rating: 3/10

Ricky Ponting (113 runs @16.14)

We never thought we would see Ricky Ponting struggle against England as much as he did in this series. The pressure, his middling form and perhaps his age all contributed to a series performance which has perhaps meant the end of his career. Possible that lack of other options will continue to ensure he is picked but unlike the other modern great, Sachin Tendulkar, his time appears to be up.

Didn’t look in bad touch entirely as a number of rasping pull shots indicated and he habitually got to 10 or 12 before nicking Anderson or one of the other England bowlers to slip. The catch by Collingwood to dismiss him at Perth will live long in the memory.

Captaincy is always difficult when you’re under the cosh and this was no exception. Often appeared to run out of ideas and could perhaps have stood up for a better balanced side the MCG.

Rating: 3/10

Usman Khawaja (58 runs @ 29.00)

To hear the Australian press you would think a modern Don Bradman had been discovered. Whilst this is clearly over the top and a testimony to the paucity of good news for any Aussie supporter, he did look the part and should be around for some time. Confident, composed and with a lovely pull shot was one bright spot in the Sydney thumping.

Rating: 5/10

Michael Clarke (193 runs @ 21.44)

When your captain and vice-captain average 16 and 21 you know you’re in for a tough series. A shadow of the player he has been in the past and it looks like the scorn the Aussie media and fans alike show for him is finally getting to him. His one major innings came in a losing cause at Adelaide although it tells you all you need to know about his series when you consider a part timer, Pietersen, dismissed him off practically the last ball of the day to set up and England win the following morning.

Showed some good signs captaining initially with some interesting field placings and willingness to do things his own way but was eventually simply overwhelmed by the English juggernaut.

Rating: 3/10

Michael Hussey (570 runs @ 63.33)

Brilliant for the first three tests, it was astonishing to think that Hussey was on the verge of being dropped at the beginning of the series. Almost singlehandedly kept Australia in it in the early stages of the Ashes and his partnership with Haddin at the Gabba was a once in a career performance whilst his hundred at Perth set up the win for the Aussies. The problem is that no one else supported him.

Rating: 8/10

Marcus North (49 runs @ 16.33)

Finally dropped despite scoring very few runs for some time. Probably not a test player on balance as despite his hundreds he scores too many innings below 10. Useful bowling and on that basis alone could have probably played instead of Xavier Doherty.

Rating: 2/10

Steven Smith (159 runs @ 51.80, 0 wickets)

Australia used to laugh at the English when they selected a bit part player but now the boot is on the other foot. Clearly not a number six player due to a technique with more holes in than your average sieve, he looked more comfortable when at seven. The fact that he then was hardly bowled suggest that Australia would have probably been better off without him in the team. Selecting a specialist batsmen at number 7 is something that not many sides do after all…

Rating: 2/10

Brad Haddin

The one player that would possibly get into England’s side on a form basis although even his contributions tailed off by the middle of the series. An excellent hundred at the Gabba and some uncomplicated wicket keeping mean that he, like Hussey, was one of the few who could put their hand up and say they contributed. Latterly, Australia’s vice captain as well.

Rating: 7/10

Mitchell Johnson (122 runs @ 17.42, 15 wickets @ 36.93)

If Johnson could reverse the averages achieved for batting and bowling he would be a devastating all rounder indeed. Chronically inconsistent he is undoubtedly the Australian version of Steve Harmison – someone who when on song is an incredibly dangerous player but, sadly, is rarely on song. His spell in Perth won the match and was reminiscent of Wasim Akram at his best and, even when bowling poorly, still has the habit of picking up the odd wicket here or there. Unfortunately this is negated by the fact he is going for over four an over.

Rating: 5.5/10

Peter Siddle (14 wickets @ 34.57)

Workmanlike, ever willing but only occasionally dangerous, Siddle was nevertheless probably Australia’s best bowler. A memorable hat trick at the Gabba followed by six wickets at the MCG, he only took two other wickets outside of these two venues. Solid lower order batting of the best annoying tail end variety his efforts were ultimately not nearly enough.

Rating: 6.5/10

Ryan Harris (11 wickets @ 25.54)

Harris is a bowler who appears to be without much about him yet was in his three games prior to injury, was undoubtedly Australia’s best and most consistent bowler. Hurried England’s batsman and moved it enough to be a threat. Will want to forget his King Pair in Adelaide though.

Rating: 7.5/10

Ben Hilfenhaus (7 wickets @ 59.28)

Despite taking a wicket with the third ball of the series, Hilfenhaus consistently struggled. Little swing and not a great deal of pace meant that in spite of his consistency (his economy rate was 2.62 in four games) he was ineffective all series long.

Rating: 2/10

Doug Bollinger (1 wicket @ 130.00)

Someone we feel who was a victim of the selectors ridiculous whims and was clearly unfit at Adelaide. When totally match fit someone we feel who is still amongst the best four bowlers Australia have.

Rating: 1/10

Xavier Doherty (3 wickets @ 102)

Remember him? It seems an age ago now, but Doherty was flawed pick right from the start. An appalling first class record was not belied by his performances and his time is unlikely to come again. Did get KP out – on 227.

Rating: 2/10

Michael Beer (1 wicket @ 112)

The man whose name inspired a thousand awful puns and was another ridiculous pick by the selectors. With only five first class games under his belt he did at least look better than Doherty, yet may quickly find himself on the scrap heap anyway. Still someone who is not going to run through a side.

Rating: 2/10

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Ashes Retained: Ponting Departs

30 12 2010

So England have retained the Ashes! Well played and fully deserved we would say and, despite the grumblings of a few Aussies in the comment sections of various articles and forums, a justified result as England are quite simply the better team. Well balanced, in form and exhibiting a real sense of togetherness, England have been superior in just about every department.

However the glorious high achieved on the morning of Day 4 at the MCG will all come to naught should Australia win the final test in Sydney and level the series. We would even go so far as to say we would be left with a slightly sour taste in our mouths should it happen. For the record we can’t actually see that it might, yet this wonderful sport is a funny old game and England need to ensure that no complacency has crept into their game in the fifth test.

On a day in which the Daily Telegraph has published a 16 page ‘Ashes Winning Supplement’ and is, like every other cricketing media outlet in the UK, indulging in the sort of triumphalism that makes us nervous; it is important to remember that retaining the Ashes is a fine effort, but winning the series convincingly would be a great one.

It is perhaps possible to forgive the majority of the press as they remain fans like the majority of us. Many of those are fans who happen to have played the game to the highest level in the recent past and have consequently suffered at the hands of Ricky Ponting at least in the current set up, and so could be doubly forgiven. Yet, the superstitious side of our natures dictate we have to temper this spirit just a little here at the Compulsive Hooker – hence the nature of the opening paragraphs!

In truth though it was a superb performance by England at the MCG and one which was arguably even more impressive than the innings victory at Adelaide. Just how impressive is clear when you realise that two out of the four bowlers who took 20 Australian wickets were not even first choice players at the start of the tour. One of them, Bresnan, was even perhaps as low as fifth place in the pecking order before the Adelaide test match, something that demonstrates perfectly the admirable strength in depth England have built up.

Moving forward England have only one concern, that is of course the form of England’s cricketing cockroach, Paul Collingwood. The Durham man is having a series comparable to Clarke and Ponting for Australia, albeit with some fine contributions in the field with ball and catching. Despite his admirable qualities (and let it be said we have always been a staunch supporter of the ginger one) we do feel that perhaps now his time in test cricket is drawing to a close.

With the future in mind we would be keen to see England’s eternal substitute on this tour, Eoin Morgan, given a go. He is next in line at the cab rank for a batting spot and having scored a hundred in difficult circumstances against Pakistan deserves his spot – probably at six though with Bell moving up to five. Collingwood still has much to offer and will remain a crucial part of England’s World Cup campaign in February.

Australia on the other hand, as for most of the series, are in a world of trouble and it appears that with the capriciousness of the Aussie selectors in mind, Ponting may well have played his last test. Clarke has this morning been named as Australia’s captain for the SCG, ostensibly because of Ponting’s finger injury – something that is surely a piece of rubbish on a level with Johnson’s resting at Adelaide. If he was fit to play at the MCG, he is hardly likely to be unable to play at Sydney after all.

Ponting will know it smacks of  the selectors easing him out – something that will probably please most of what seems to be a supremely fickle Australian public – and marks a sad end to a supreme career. For all our English irritation at his antics over the years, not least his disgraceful performance towards Aleem Dar during this very test, he has always had the respect of everyone English for his batting.

Clarke comes into the captaincy as probably one of the least popular and most out of form players, certainly in our memory, for Australia and faces an incredibly difficult task. Captains usually like to lead from the front, yet with only one significant but ultimately useless contribution, this is likely to be difficult for Clarke. He has already looked under pressure and nervous throughout the series and so we feel the additional pressures of captaincy can hardly help.

Pakistani born Usman Khawaja comes into the side to bat at three and directly replace Ponting. Replacing a legend is usually a very difficult thing, but Khawaja has the cushion of knowing that even a scratchy 30 odd is more than Ponting has managed all series when it mattered!

We will follow this up with more thoughts for prior to the first test, but for now we too want to revel (albeit in a tempered way!) in the chaos England have caused in Australian ranks, and the knowledge that the Ashes are ours until 2013 at least. Well played Strauss and the boys and lets win the final test well.





Dingo’s Rant: An Aussie’s Ashes Predictions

24 11 2010

More from our increasingly nervous resident Aussie:

“The aim of English cricket is, in fact, mainly to beat Australia.” Jim Laker.

So here we go again.

A confident, conquering English cricket team struts into town to pour misery on an already sorrowful Aussie cricket team.

Hang on… I’m pretty sure that’s not how it’s meant to read! How did it come to this? We all knew Australian cricket was on the slide – but being the underdogs against the pommies on home soil? It’s all too much to bear.

The Australian selectors have decided to stick with generally the same team that’s been continually losing for the past couple of years – some close games mind you – but losses none the less.

One small change to be noted; the left arm slow bowler, Xavier Doherty, comes in for Hauritz – assumedly, perhaps, because Kevin Pietersen has a knack of getting out to bowlers of this type. Besides, Hauritz was neither taking wickets, nor holding up an end or even getting runs with the bat. Other than that, of course, he was not doing a whole lot wrong.

Hussey has retained his spot. In days of old, senior players were retained during bad form; doing so to enable them to retire gracefully or with a bang, but, with world class players liberally dotted about the team – this was easy to do. A team of Waughs, Haydens and Gilchrists could be counted on to carry an out of form player. Hussey has never really done enough for the baggy green to deserve this favour and there’s simply not enough in form players around him to cover.

Luckily for him, his understudies have also not done enough to state unequivocally their cause. With both Ferguson and  Khawaja failing quite miserably in the Australia A versus England warm up match. So Hussey stays and North also gets another shot – much to the chagrin of most supporters.

Ponting gets older and so his inability to play the short ball, or anything aimed at the stumps, leaves him looking a little fragile. The openers at least look settled and should provide a few runs before the ball becomes worn and all batsmen become clueless against the guile and skill of England’s trump card, Graeme Swann.

This is where we’re hoping Clarke, crook back and all, will hopefully dance his way around the crease and gather a few crucial runs. He may not be well liked by the Australian public with his carefully manicured image grating on most people’s nerves, but If he wins us back the urn through his batting – we’ll let it slide!

Bollinger will take wickets as long as his toupee stays secure. Hilfenhaus will bowl. A lot. And Johnson will try to aim the ball somewhere near the batsmen and, once every 4 overs, will bowl that unplayable delivery that will either take a wicket or knock someone’s teeth out. He, along with Siddle, have said they feel Strauss is the key wicket and will target getting his wicket with a barrage short deliveries.

Two things here: First; why are we targeting just one player? Perhaps targeting all 11 would seem a better plan… Second; with the short balls being feasted on recently by the visiting Sri Lankans, maybe bowling stump to stump would be a little more productive? Especially at tail-enders against whom we have struggled recently.

So, getting down to it, here’s how I see it:

Most Wickets

With the abundance of rain recently England will feel a little more at home; the ball will probably even swing a bit so Broad will be a definite handful. However, Swann be the man and will continue to bamboozle the Australians and most probably take about 89 wickets. For Australia, Johnson will knock out most of the top order (retired hurt counts as a wicket in my eyes) so we’ll go with him.

Most runs

According to the great Shane Warne, unless England stroke KP’s ego, he’ll sulk his way into mediocrity. Alistair Cook is still rubbish and Strauss apparently will be the only player Australia targets, but, I think It’ll be Bell who finally steps up and nurdles his way to be England’s top run gatherer. For Australia – boy that’s tough…  I’m going to go with Clarke as long as his back holds up – he does have the temperament to get things done in tough conditions.

Who will get the Urn?

As for the outcome…  Well England have powered through their warm up matches. Everyone looks in good nick and the camp is full of confidence.

But – it’s not going to be their year. I’ll back Australia to come through. Their build up has been lackluster; their recent record abysmal; and every second man is carrying a niggle – but they’re at home; their backs are against the wall and we love a good fight. (I predict also it’ll be a wonderful fight!)

Australia 2-1.





The Compulsive Hooker’s Ashes Predictions

23 11 2010

Nb. Anyone planning on putting on any bets for the series would do well to ignore our thoughts – we’re rarely, if ever, right!

With the pre Ashes hype becoming almost unbearable in the last few days and the number of articles being offered for general consumption increasing exponentially and reaching (what is hopefully) a fevered peak; we feel that the time has come to finally offer our predictions for the series ahead.In two days time, a matter of a little over 36 hours from now, the Ashes 2010/11 will commence and all the talking will go out the window. Those who can walk the walk will shape this series and live long in the memory; whilst the remainder will become the forgotten chaff of yet another season.

Up until this point we have tried to dodge binding statements of what we believe is going to happen for fear of being proved hopelessly wrong, although, it has to be said, regular readers will probably have worked out what we are going to say already. If you have we apologise for what you might feel is an entirely unnecessary and repetitive article… For everyone else – read on.

Leading Run Scorers:

We believe that, fitness permitting, the leading run scorers on either side will be Michael Clarke and Kevin Pietersen. Clarke because we feel that despite all the recent criticism directed at him for his limited overs batting will show that he is now the most important player in the Australian test line up. His class and mental abilities under pressure have never been in doubt and we think this will be a big series for him. If Clarke’s back gets the better of him we think it could well be Simon Katich in his place at the head of the run chart. For England KP has long been a player who thrives on a challenge. We think this will be the series he gets his mojo back and plays two or three crucial innings.

Leading Wicket Takers:

A difficult one this one with the mercurial talents of Johnson competing with the more predictable methods of Siddle, Hilfenhaus et al. Also difficult as, with the Australian selectors in a minor tizzy, the make-up of their first eleven is not certain and it’s possible our pick will not even get a start… Nevertheless we are going to plump for Doug Bollinger whose brand of fast left arm is, to us anyway, the scariest prospect for England’s batsman. For England, we would suggest that Stuart Broad will be the main danger. Despite the competing claims of Swann, we think that Broad is now one of the premier fast bowlers in the world and on the Aussie pitches will be a serious prospect.

The Keeper Battle:

Neither of these keepers would be first on the list for a ‘Gentleman’s World XI’ or even come near to the top of the ‘Tidiest Keeper’s awards’ yet both are highly effective players and their battle promises to be a long and intriguing one. Prior’s batting should revel in the quicker pitches he will encounter whereas it is of course Haddin’s own stomping ground. On the keeping side we believe Prior now has the edge despite a terrible start to his career as a test player with the gloves and, it is with this reason in mind, we are going to pick the Englishman. Matt Prior to shade this battle.

Who Will Keep The Urn?

As we mentioned before, going by our heart we are going to have to choose Australia to win as we are concerned, should we pick England, we will irrevocably harm their prospects. However, trying to remember that nothing we can write or say will have any effect on England’s chances, we will try now to pick objectively…

Here goes…

A crucial point to remember is that England don’t have to win to retain the Ashes – if it’s a drawn series England keep that all important little urn. With that in mind, and considering we have never been averse to a little fence sitting, we are going to go for a 2-2 draw and England to come home with their honour intact.

What are your thoughts? Do you agree?





Aussie Squad For 1st Ashes Test: A Confused Selection?

15 11 2010

As promised, the Australian squad for the first Ashes test was announced this morning. Bizarrely however, rather than the usual 12 or possibly 13 a board would normally name for a home test, a bloated squad of 17 players has been announced. We, the fans, already knew that there was a degree of confusion as to the Australian selector’s views on the best eleven – yet we didn’t quite expect this.

In the squad there are:

  • 7 batsmen (Katich, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, North, Khawaja, Ferguson)
  • 2 all rounders (Smith and Watson)
  • 1 keeper (Haddin)
  • 2 spinners (Doherty and Hauritz)
  • 5 seamers (Johnson, Bollinger, Harris, Siddle and Hilfenhaus)

This is a tour squad for a 5 test series – not one for a single test!

What we suspect is going to happen is that after much praising of the youngsters and talking about their various ‘big futures’ the eleven will line up as follows:

  1. Watson
  2. Katich
  3. Ponting
  4. Clarke
  5. Hussey
  6. North
  7. Haddin
  8. Johnson
  9. Hauritz
  10. Siddle
  11. Bollinger

Essentially more or less exactly the same as the side that just lost to India 2-0 and, from an English point of view, exactly the one we would want to face. The only confusion here would be who to play out of the seamers as one of Hilfenhaus, Siddle and Bollinger would have to bow out.

An alternative side (and one which we would feel more nervous playing against) would see Smith come in for Hauritz, and Khawaja and Ferguson in for Hussey and North. Mind you if the Compulsive Hooker had been asked our opinion by the ACB we might have recommended the two Phils, Jacques and Hughes, as well. After all there is not much difference between 17 and 19 is there?

If the Aussies do name the 12 as above (with possible variations on the seamers) quite frankly it all seems a ridiculous exercise and one that can’t help but give the English a little more confidence. This Ashes is being competed by two ‘mid table’ sides and, without either side having the true stand out players of the early part of the decade,  confidence and a settled side may well end up being the deciding factor.

If we were Australian we’d be worried that all Andrew Hilditch and company are doing is undermining this!





Confused Australian’s and Brilliant Razzaq

1 11 2010

Two excellent results for both English and general cricketing enthusiasts yesterday. Firstly Sri Lanka disposed of a confused Australia team in a clinical and entirely satisfactory fashion – that is if you aren’t an Aussie yourself – and then Pakistan came back from the dead to beat South Africa in the opening ODI of their series in the UAE.

Firstly the match down under. The opening game of any Summer is always an opportunity to get off on the right foot – to set your stall out for the long days of cricket ahead. Judging by yesterdays game the stall Australia set out was a confused and generally not very well stocked affair – an added bonus for an Englishman coming as it does with an Ashes series looming. Of course it would be wrong to read too much into this game, it was only a 20/20 after all, yet there is some evidence of confused thinking in the Australian camp which possibly suggests that they are not exactly where they want to be.

Before we follow this line of thought any further let us just give due credit to the Sri Lankans who performed clinically and on occasions brilliantly in this, the sole 20/20. Fernando and Malinga were excellent with their changes of pace and general accuracy; Randiv, the off spinner, showed that there might be life after Murali and the fielding was good throughout. The sole blemish being perhaps that they failed to take advantage of any run out opportunities by hitting the stumps directly. As you would expect Dilshan and Sangakarra then ensured there would be no risk of an Aussie comeback.

And so back to the Australians and their strange decisions. By far the most peculiar of these was Clarke’s choice to push himself up the order to open the batting. 20/20 cricket is really a very simple thing. During the first 6 overs you want openers who can clear the infield and take advantage of the fielding restrictions, then you need batsman to follow who can continue this good work but who are perhaps adept at hitting gaps and ensuring that the scoreboard keeps moving (but importantly who can still hit boundaries if the second power play is called) and then the blasters at the end. Clarke does not fulfill any of these roles and should immediately be dropped from the 20/20 side giving Cameron White the reigns. In 50 over cricket there is still room for the batsman who can score 80 from 100 balls or so which makes him a valuable player in that format yet not in this shortened version of the game.

This confused thinking is encouraging from an English point of view as it shows a lack of clarity in the selectors minds. In the past with an all conquering side and numerous excellent replacements ready to be picked at any time being an Australian selector was easy. Now with the lesser talents on show and numerous who are good but not obviously better than anyone else, it is a difficult job suddenly and one that, in this particular case certainly, they are getting wrong. Other indications are the decisions to stick with players like Hussey and North when in our opinion it is clear that there are other options out there.

With the Ashes coming up we can only applaud this state of affairs, hoping that it continues at least to the end of the Summer…. It was also encouraging to see that Australia have picked their own version of Tim Bresnan – too late of course to get him in to the test side, but Hastings appears to be almost a carbon copy. Ineffective but hard working bowling and bits and pieces with the bat.

In the other game, Pakistan, or more accurately Abdul Razzaq, pulled off one of the most thrilling wins we have ever seen. Pakistan are a much beleaguered cricketing nation at the moment and from a neutrals perspective it was good to see them win. With the bowling attack they possess there is no reason why they should not be dining regularly at the top table – sadly however the batting regularly lets them down.

Abdul Razzaq yesterday rescued them from yet another collapse scoring a sensational 109* from 72 balls. Why the South Africans kept bowling it in his areas (i.e. full and straight) we don’t know but either way it was amazing stuff. We have rarely, if ever, seen a batsman turning down singles with a run rate needed of over two a ball and only a dozen deliveries remaining – yet it happened yesterday and was a testament to Razzaq’s ability to hit boundaries when needed.

Breathtaking, brilliant, unexpected and above all much needed for a Pakistan team who have ensured that this series is now alive. On a day in which Mohamed Amir and Salman Butt’s appeals were rejected, it was a something positive that should give much needed encouragement to the rest of the team.





Crickets Shift In Gears And The Might Of Morgan

23 06 2010

There have been times throughout the history of cricket where this wonderful game has metamorphosed into something quite different. Perhaps the first was the introduction of round arm bowling by John Willes in the 1830’s which paved the way for the legalisation of overarm bowling in 1864.

W.G. Grace then initiated a further development to counter the greater bounce that these bowlers were now able to get by becoming the first player to really be comfortable playing off both the front and back foots (before then players had usually played with their weight going in only one direction) and which is safe to say revolutionised the art of batting.

The 1960’s then provided a plethora of changes with amateur cricketers becoming a thing of the past and with the introduction of domestic one day cricket. International one day cricket followed soon after in 1971 and with Kerry Packer’s World Series competition kicking off in 1979 it became recognisable as the game it is today.

The most recent but undoubtedly not the last major development was the introduction of 20/20 cricket in English domestic cricket. Indeed this last initiative could see possibly the biggest changes yet to the very fabric of cricket, threatening as it does the popularity of the longer forms of the game, but certainly on a lower level there have already been marked changes. These were never more apparent than in yesterdays first one day international between England and Australia at the Rose Bowl.

Batting first Australia scored 267-7 in their 50 overs, the only batsman to make a half century being Michael Clarke who scored 87 not out from 97 balls. England then chased this total down with four overs to spare to win by 4 wickets. Eoin Morgan this time doing the damage by scoring a brilliant 103 not out from only 85 balls.

Only 10 years ago 267 would have been considered a good score with the upper reaches of the 200’s being very challenging and the Valhalla of 300 being a comparatively rare occurrence. Indeed of the all time total of 360 three hundred plus innings totals achieved, only 87 occurred prior to the year 2000 and with a measly 12 being prior to 1990. (This is despite the fact that many games used be 60 over matches rather than the current 50 back in the early days of ODI cricket). 267 was never likely to be enough on a flat pitch and Clarke justifiably or not is shouldering most of the blame.

Clarke has come in for a large amount of criticism in the recent past due to his pedestrian performances at the 20/20 world cup, yet, in the longer 50 over games, we were still backing him to come good which in some ways he did. It could be argued that he batted very well, rescuing Australia from he depths of 97-4, yet the lack of acceleration at the end of his innings showcased his shortcomings once more and, as ever in this situation, meant that he left a lot of people unsatisfied. Morgan on the other hand is a very modern cricketer and showed this by playing what was probably the perfect innings.  In many ways it started similarly to Clarke’s, building slowly with Luke Wright from a similar score, always comfortable in the knowledge that he has in his armory and ability to score at 10 an over if needed.

This article is nothing new or revolutionary and this topic has been covered on many occasions before, but it simply struck us more forcefully than it ever has before whilst watching last nights match. 5000 one day international runs, a strike rate of 77 and an average of 42 but somehow, suddenly, he’s not good enough. Clarke is of course a brilliant player in the longer forms of the game and a major talent. With that in mind we suspect that he will be able to alter his game and adapt to the demands of modern limited overs cricket but right now, if we were the Australian management, we would rather the big hitting Cameron White was batting at 4.

**************

Mighty Morgan

Morgan’s innings yesterday is undoubtedly his finest yet in a one day shirt for England. With his previous hundred coming against Bangladesh it is a fine achievement to score one against the might of Australia. Admittedly it was a rather callow attack featuring a 19 year old on debut but this should not take too much away from him.

There was a moment when England slipped to 97-4 with Luke Wright and Morgan newly at the crease where we felt the old England nerves creeping in. One or two more wickets and we felt it was game over and with Wright having not achieved a great deal in an England shirt we were backing Australia for the win. We had of course not taken Eoin Morgan into account though and he typified this new look England team. Never panicking and always thinking, it was an exceptional innings, and made us feel guilty for ever doubting England.








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