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.





The Ashes Are On But It’s Not All Bad For England

19 12 2010

So much for almost having their fingers on the urn then!

England were outplayed in every department of this game, yet again finding the pacier, bouncier pitch of Perth not much to their liking. It is our considered opinion though that there is no reason to panic and that England remain, on balance, the finer of the two sides.

Before this test series started the general consensus was that it would be a close affair fought tooth and nail to the end. After the Adelaide induced hubris of the fans and pundits, if not the team themselves perhaps, and considering England’s track record of winning well only to follow up with a serious low soon afterwards, this result shouldn’t have been entirely unexpected.

The positive view point from England’s perspective is that it was a sharp, bitter taste of reality and a reminder that there is still much work to be done in this series. For Australia of course there were plenty of good things to take from this test. The astonishing return to form of Mitchell Johnson; the batting of Watson (not that he has ever failed exactly – just this time he scored more than his usual 50 odd) and of course the once again peerless batting of Michael Hussey. If Ricky Ponting is indeed out, there is no question as to who should replace him in the number three slot (and probably as captain) leaving a probable debutant at 5. Ryan Harris, too, bowled well in the second innings although scoreboard pressure and silly shots had ensured the fight had long gone out of England by the time he mopped up the tail.

The fact remains though that without Hussey and Johnson playing so extraordinarily well England would have likely been in this game still. The key for the rest of the series in Australia’s case is whether Johnson can maintain his form – something that his previous track record suggests might be tricky.

Hussey on the other hand appears to go on and on and at this rate will be in serious danger of breaking some longstanding records. England need a plan to him immediately and preferably one that doesn’t involve bowling a succession of short balls to feed his pull shot. They’ve proved he can pull like the best of them and, as England fans, we desperately don’t want to see anymore… In fact it’s a bit like Doherty’s dismissal of Pietersen in the Adelaide test – Hussey did get out to the short ball so, if it was a plan, it worked eventually – the problem was he had over a hundred by then.

Tremlett deserves praise albeit he was one of the main contributors to the short ball mania in the second innings and perhaps struggled a little at the left handers in the Australian side. Nevertheless it was still a hugely impressive comeback and one that is likely to have secured his place in the team for a while – potentially at the expense of Steve Finn.

Whilst he was inconsistent and expensive, Finn does have an uncanny knack for picking up wickets which is useful in any bowler. We would hesitate to drop him for Boxing Day at the MCG as some have suggested – he is after all the leading wicket taker on either side.

Looking ahead, there have been some calls by ex-players, Flintoff and Jonathan Agnew amongst them, to play five bowlers at the MCG as it is likely to be another bouncy result wicket. Considering the batting woes in this test we would hesitate to play a side along these lines as we think it could weaken what was already a major problem for England in this match. Despite the inconsistent performance of the bowlers in this test England still managed to take 20 wickets so we would suggest this isn’t really why England lost.

The possible swap, Bresnan for Collingwood is a non starter in our eyes. It is true that Collingwood contributed little with the bat, but I’m not sure who else would have taken that catch at slip off Ponting on the first day for one. As we saw someone describe him on Twitter, he is a cockroach of a cricketer and will surely score some runs at the MCG now that, once more, his place is under threat.

All things considered there is no need to panic, or indeed conversely get carried away on the Australian side. From England’s point of view the plan should be simple: Namely, get Hussey out early and bat better. If they can do this there is no reason why they shouldn’t wrap things up in Melbourne.





Simple Brilliance From England and What Now For Australia?

7 12 2010

What a win! As many people have already said and will no doubt continue to say for some time, that was about the best all round performance we have seen for quite some time – if not ever – from England. Where Australia go from here it is difficult to say although England need to be wary as, surely, the only way is up!

Still, despite the need for not an ounce of complacency, England can rest in the knowledge that they are undoubtedly the better side and should win the Ashes. Not just retain them – win them. Imagine the crowds at the MCG if Australia are 2-0 down… Awash with English supporters would probably be an accurate description and, as is already happening, a distinct dearth of Aussies.

The game was unfortunately not entirely without blight for England with the abdominal injury to Stuart Broad. His focus has now shifted to ensuring he is fit for the World Cup in February next year and will travel home rather than stay with the squad. He has had a solid rather than spectacular two Ashes tests and despite his lack of wickets had done an admirable job holding up one end. Sadly for him he misses out on the pitch he would probably have enjoyed most, the WACA, and is no doubt sorely disappointed to be missing the rest of what could be a resoundingly memorable trip.

His loss is another’s opportunity however and in this case one of Bresnan, Tremlett and Shahzad will be the lucky one picked. Tremlett is the most obvious replacement being another tall, hit the deck, fast bowler. Bresnan provides a swing option more akin to Anderson and Shahzad a hustle and bustle type with the ability to reverse swing.

We suspect that Bresnan will be the initial player to be discounted as Tremlett on the WACA is an enticing prospect with his pace and bounce. Our personal pick at the Compulsive Hooker would be Shahzad though as he impressed us in his two appearances over the Summer. Whoever comes in does need to pick up the baton immediately though as, while he didn’t take many wickets, Broad, it could be argued, assisted Finn, Anderson and Swann in picking up the theirs by keeping the pressure on.

England move on to Victoria now to play a three day game against the state in what is likely to be a straight bowl off between these three. Eoin Morgan is likely to get his first game of the tour and will be looking to impress should his opportunity come through injury later in the series. Steven Davies too may get a game and let Prior have a rest or play simply as a batsman.

For Australia things are far less simple. Probably their best batsman of recent times, Simon Katich, is out of the series. Doherty is clearly not the answer to their spin woes. Bollinger belied his excellent record to bowl with no venom at all. Siddle appears to be largely ineffective and Marcus North is playing as a spin bowler. At least Ryan Harris showed that he offers something with the ball – even if he is apparently too high with the bat at 8.

Factor in other worries, albeit of a much smaller nature by comparison, such as whether Watson’s best position is truly opening (openers are supposed to score hundreds not fifties), Ponting’s own lack of form and you have potent mix ripe for combustion.

The best Australian team is probably this one in our view: Jacques, Watson, Ponting, Clarke, Hussey, Khawaja, Haddin, Hauritz, Harris, Siddle, Bollinger.

The problem is of course that even to casual cricket followers this is fraught with its own problems. Jacques, despite being supremely unlucky to have never regained his opening birth after a brilliant start to his test career, is only averaging 22 in Sheffield Shield cricket. Khawaja would be on debut although he, at least, is having a good season. Hauritz was dropped like a hot potato and his recall would mean a massive loss of face for the selectors to pick him so soon again whilst Bollinger was simply dreadful in Adelaide.

With Hilditch and company’s recent record of chopping and changing don’t be surprised by any side that is picked. Even Johnson, that widely derided chucker of pies, is possibly in line for a recall!

What is perhaps most likely though to happen is that Phil Hughes would come in for Katich and Khawaja for Doherty with North batting at 8 and providing the spin options on what is likely to be a seamers pitch anyway. In short though, who knows?!

England are undoubtedly, barring Broad’s injury, in the best shape possible while Australia (and we never thought we would write this sentence) are a confused, out of form and distinctly average mess!*

* We are praying that this doesn’t come back to haunt us as England, against all odds, rediscover their frailties we hope they have lost for the forseeable future!

 





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.





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!





Laxman’s Magic and Other Thoughts

6 10 2010

Well that was an epic test match, and one in which, once again, we are not surprised to see our pre-game predictions failing to come true! Firstly let us apologise for writing about this a day or two late – we spent yesterday travelling and so couldn’t put our thoughts to paper (or to computer screen!) until now.

In the run up to the game we had suspected that both sides would struggle to get 20 wickets which just shows how little we know about the game! In the event 39 wickets fell and both sides struggled in their second innings showing the frailties that many ageing line ups have had throughout international cricketing history. In the end, however, one 35 year old veteran stood taller than the rest and, under the guidance of V.V.S. Laxman, India scrambled home.

Earlier on in their second innings, particularly when Hilfenhaus was wreaking havoc early on, we thought that the sheer combative and ruthless spirit so present in all Australian cricketers would prevail despite the presence of so many all time Indian greats. That they got there in the end was down to a man who throughout his career has often seemed to be, if not quite fighting for his place, certainly the most droppable of this generations legendary Indian middle order – yet against Australia has nearly always produced his best. Inevitably players are judged by their performances against the best sides of their day and on this scale Laxman can be compared favourably to almost anyone. Indeed he comes third on the list of run scorers in the last 15 years against the Australians behind only Tendulkar and Lara which is quite some achievement. (Thanks to Cricinfo for these figures – for the full list click here)



We could say much more on this game – although coming late to it we would likely be repeating what others have written. Suffice to say that obviously it was far from a one man show as without Tendulkar’s first innings 98, Raina and Dravid’s runs and of course Zaheer’s wickets, Laxman would have been quite unable to play such a pivotal role at the death. What it has done though is give test cricket a real boost in a country which you feel in the long term has the fate of the game in its hands. After numerous dull test matches over the past couple of years played on dead pitches which have simply been run fests, this was a welcome reminder of what it can be like.

Ultimately test cricket is a far superior game to the other forms of this wonderful sport and it is important that the Indian board of control in particular start showing the respect it deserves. Already this year India have had an excellent series against South Africa which finished 1-1 and now one against Australia which with one to play could also finish with the same scoreline. The major ‘elephant in the room’ is obviously that both these series are only two tests long and for contests as epic as these it is simply not enough. We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again but seriously – it has to change.

India now have an opportunity going into the final test to lay one other matter partially to rest – that of whether their number one status is fully deserved or not. It is obvious to anyone with an objective viewpoint that there is no single outstanding side in world cricket at the moment and the fact that India happen to be occupying the number one spot doesn’t mean a great deal. With several of this current side (and most of these legends of the game) set to retire probably within the next couple of years if not before, we feel that India really only have a short time frame in which to secure what in boxing parlance would be the ‘undisputed champion of the world’ status.

Australia, however, cannot be discounted as if there is one thing you do not do – it is think an Aussie is beaten and get complacent. With this in mind (and the fact that we do not believe the Indians are as ruthless as they should be as number one side) we are going to stick to our pre series guns and suggest that Ponting’s men will do the business second time around and the series will be shared.  Either way – we cannot wait and are practically salivating at the prospect of the second test.








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