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Posts Tagged ‘Australia’

Rankings and Reality

Monday, February 15th, 2010

The test series between South Africa and India were considered as the fight for the world no:1 position for both teams. After the end of the first test, South Africa have gained an almost unassailable edge over the host – Team India. If South Africa manages to secure a draw or a win, they will be at the helm. For India, nothing less than a win will secure their top-spot. Australia, who are currently in the third position, is playing impeccable cricket on the other side of the globe, infact in all forms of cricket. So does this ranking system makes any sense for the spectators and others in the cricketing fraternity?

In the last 12 months, Australia have played 14 test matches, won 8 matches, drew 3 and lost 3matches. In the Same period, India have played 9 test matches, winning 5, drawing 3 and loosing one. South Africa’s performance is – Played 8 tests, won 3, lost 3 and drew 2. So the Winning percentage of Australia, India and South Africa is – 57.14, 55.55 and 37.50 respectively. That means according to the winning percentages, Australia stays at the top, then comes India and the South Africans are way down! According to the ICC Rankings, India have a rating of 125, followed by South Africa with a rating of 120 and Australia at the the 3rd position, with a rating of 118. Australia have played 5 tests against England, 3 each against Pakistan, South Africa and West Indies. India have played 3 each against New Zealand and Sri Lanka, 2 against Bangladesh and 1 (so far) against South Africa. South Africa have played 3 against Australia, 4 against England and 1 (so far) against India.

So, after seeing the aforementioned stats, Does this ranking system makes any sense? The points and ratings are given of the basis of the win/loss at home/away criteria.That’s simply absurd. If a team is playing against comparatively weaker opponents like West Indies, Bangladesh and New Zealand, the chances for getting all the points are much high. Instead, If the ICC implements a weightage system, then it would add some credibility to this ranking system, if they are really serious about this. In the weightage system, teams will get lesser points, when they play weaker oppositions like Bangladesh and will get higher points, when they play Australia. Based on the past 1 year’s performances, teams can be alloted specific weightage and review it after every season. This would make the ranking system more competitive.

Why India can’t produce genuine fast bowlers?

Thursday, February 11th, 2010
The bowling speed of the players who compete in the Duleep Trophy is a clear indication to India’s lack of ‘fast bowlers’ in the domestic circuit, despite having a state-of-the-art pace bowling academy in the form of MRF Pace Foundation. During the Duleep Trophy final, none of the bowlers could clock above 130 KMPH. Irfan Pathan, though picked up 5 wickets in the first innings, was bowling around the 110 – 125 mark. Dawal Kulkarni was bowling around 115-120 KMPH, though he swings the ball laterally. Shane Watson and Jaques Kaliis, the best allrounders of present, bowls at 140 mark. So What’s the real problem with the Indian bowlers .Let’s see some of the common issues.
‘Lifeless’ wickets
This has been a real problem for the fast bowlers, right from the legendary Kapil Dev. When India prepares for a test match, the first instruction given to the curator is to make a strip that turns from day 1. For that you really need a curator? Avoid rolling for a week and make it a dust bowl. It will have variable bounce and will turn sharply from day1. Winning in these kind of wickets will earn any appreciation?, rather the ground will be blacklisted and will be stripped off from conducting further test matches. When India outplayed the Aussies at the Perth in 2008, it was acclaimed as India’s one of the greatest win. Why it was considered like that? Simply because, It was played on one of the quickest and bounciest wicket on earth. So it is pretty clear that the temperament of team will only be tested, when they play on a sportive wicket. For a fast bowler, nothing more is annoying and demoralizing than playing on a wicket where the ball doesn’t bounce above the knee-roll. So, when you prepare decks that wont bounce and are graveyards for fast bowlers, then how can you develop genuine quicks?

Too many matches
Fast bowlers are prone to injury than spinners and slow bowlers. So we have to use them wisely and make sure that they get sufficient rest. Australia, now, have 8 fast bowlers in the reckoning, whom can be rotated. All these 8 bowlers have the ability to bowl at more than 145 KMPH. See the case of India. They have just 4 or 5 guys that too only 2-3 guys with some international exposure and the other factor is that India plays more international cricket than any other team! The result is India carrying a team of fatigued and injured bowlers, who are forced to play again and again despite being unfit.

So, If we have to come up with genuine fast bowlers, then we will have take a closer look at these factors and take necessary decisions. BCCI has ample money to provide facilities so it is up to them to make a move, otherwise we will be forced to go back to that time, where part-time bowlers ball with new-ball to take off the shine in the ball, before the spinners are introduced.

Not Really Invincible But Definitely the Strongest

Tuesday, October 27th, 2009

It is not surprising to see an Australian team emerge as the winner in an ICC Cricket tournament; however, the way this Australian outfit bounced back after their dismal Ashes campaign is peerless. They have got the perfect combination and the perfect replacements, though it won’t fill the shoes of the former greats.

Australia struggled terribly in the ICC World T20 and this was followed by an abysmal effort in the Ashes series which made them look pretty ordinary. An almost white wash by Australia in the ODI series against England was just a beginning. Even then, there were those who believed that Australia did not have the arsenal to defend the Champions Trophy they clinched in 2006.

In the initial stages, Australia’s performance justified the skeptics and they were almost on the brink of another oust. After winning that nail-biter against Pakistan, Australia peaked at the right time by winning the semi-final and the final matches comprehensively.

So we might see another strong team in the next World Cup that is not so far from now. This will intensify the battle for the World Cup as India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka and South Africa have strong bids for the next World Cup.

Master Proves His Class Yet Again

Tuesday, September 15th, 2009

Sachin Tendulkar has scored 9 ODI centuries and scored 7 times above 90 in the last 2 years. He is going strong as he gets older like a superior wine and his performance in the crunch matches has been quite exemplary. Sri Lanka didn’t had any clue of how to tame the master blaster when he was playing risk free yet sublime knock.

Sachin has been terrific in the last 3 finals which he played and amassed a mammoth 346 runs including 2 centuries and a fifty. He was accused of not playing to his potential after India lost several finals from 2000 to 2007 although he has played some terrific knock in the 1998 Sharjah cup and several other matches. He has silenced his critics with the help of these innings and the most important thing is that India triumphed in all these 3 finals.

Team India is in the race for the World No: 1 spot along with Australia and South Africa. If India wants to reach there and sustain it, Sachin will have a great role to play; playing solidly at the top and mentoring the youngsters to perform well when it matters. All the mentioned tasks are executed perfectly by Sachin and the performance of the team is a testimony of that.

Another Exhilarating Series of Ultimate Cricket

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009

It was more than a life-saver for the test cricket. More than 60 days of grueling series, Ashes 2009 lived up to the hype that loomed much before the start of the series. There would be significant changes in both teams, when they face-off in the next Ashes in 2013. The Englishmen, who‘ve tasted success in the last couple of series in their home soil will cherish the memories for the next four years. The long wait would be hard for the Australians, who will seek payback in the next edition.

After some fascinating test series since 2008, it is hard to believe that test cricket in on the brink of demise. Though there is a shrink in the spectator- turnouts, the overall quality has increased. Several innovative methods are in the reckoning of ICC to improve the quality of test cricket. Creating ‘Elite’ and ‘Plate’ groups is good suggestion, which will avoid the clash of contest between strong and weak teams, that wouldn’t generate any sort of interest among the spectators.

It has been a series to forget for Ricky Ponting, as Australia were stripped off from the helm of Test cricket. They are being placed at the 4th position, which is the worst after the rankings has been introduced. Australia is finding it hard to make the right combinations to form the core of the Australian team. It will be an uphill task for Australia to regain the supremacy they had till 2007 that made them ‘Invincible’.

England will savor this moment for a long time after having a tough season filled with controversies. Andrew Strauss and Andy Flower have done a fantastic job to regroup the team which had been hit by the Pieterson-Moles spat. Amid the euphoria, England should not lose their focus of getting to the top of rankings.  The immediate task will be to find a replacement for Andrew Flintoff, which apparently is a very big ask.

A Day of Below-par Bowling and Absurd Batting

Friday, August 21st, 2009

The first day of the final test matched promised a lot but delivered little, despite some mesmerizing fast bowling and solid batting performances. Once again, the English middle-order ruined the momentum setup by the top-order, ended the day at 307/8. The pitch was not as fast as Ponting expected; however, the ball was coming on nicely to the bat. Australia will definitely lack a specialist spinner in the coming days as the part-timer Marcus North was getting some zip and turn off the pitch. Brett Lee also could have been reckoned as there was considerable hint of reverse swing from the afternoon.

England piled up 108 runs in 26 overs in the pre-lunch session, despite losing Alastair Cook early. Alastair Cook once again edged a swinging delivery from Siddle to Ponting at slip. The English captain then forged a partnership with Ian Bell and the duo added 102 runs for the second wicket. Ben Hilfenhaus came back to break the partnership by dismissing Andrew Strauss. Peter Siddle made further inroads by dismissing Paul Collingwood and Ian Bell to leave England in tatters. Debutant Jonathon Trott played exceptionally well under pressure. He stayed like a rock at the crease, however he hardly got any support from any one. Andrew Flintoff played his penultimate innings and hardly made any impact. He looked composed in the beginning, however gave away his wicket by chasing a wide delivery from Mitchell Johnson. Stuart Broad and Graeme Swann took England score past 300 runs. Peter Siddle ended Swann’s resistance to complete a memorable day.

Australia wouldn’t be happy with their overall bowling efforts, notwithstanding an inspired performance from Peter Siddle, who’s having a great series so far. After pondering on different combinations for the decider, Australia went with all quickies, relying on Stuart Clark and Mitchell Johnson’s form. Helfenhaus and Peter Siddle were exceptional as usual; however Mitchell Johnson once again showed his wayward approach by bowling 8 wides and three no-balls. Stuart Clark looked like his shadow of Headingly, failed terribly in probing and testing the English batsmen. Australia had to employ Marcus North to step-up the over- rate as it apparently fell short due to the inclusion of 4 pacers. North had puzzled the English batsmen with his flight and turn on a first day pitch, which gives the clear indication that the turf will assist slow bowlers from day 3. Australia will definitely miss Nathan Hauritz, who had bowled well on seamer-friendly tracks too.

Australia now has the slight edge and with the relatively new ball, they can bowl out the next couple of wickets in no time to seize the advantage. They will have to bat really well to get a good lead, as they will be batting last on this deteriorating pitch. England on the other hand, will be looking to score in excess of 400, which would be a par-score here at the Oval. It will be interesting to see how Stuart Broad extends his innings

All Set for the Final Battle

Monday, August 17th, 2009

Australia and England go into the final test of an ashes series with one victory each. ‘The Oval’ will decide the ‘urn-holder’ on August 24th. England went into the last test with a 2-1 lead; however, Australia hold a slight edge this time as a draw can help them to retain the Ashes  as they had dumped England 5-0 at home in 2006-07’. The Oval test will be the swan song of Andrew Flintoff, who was instrumental in England’s last triumph. He will be keen to end his test career on a high and an Ashes victory would be the best.

After the victory at Headingly, Australians are right on track. Their batting looks solid and they have a ferocious bowling attack, which will have more vigor when Brett Lee comes back. Australian batting has been spot on so far expect for an out-of-form Michael Hussey. Marcus North’s consistency at 6 has been a blessing for Australia after the exit of Gilchrist. Mitchell Johnson’s return to form will make the selection tough for the final test. Stuart Clark proved his worth in the fourth test with a blistering performance with the ball. Brett Lee has been lethal in the practice match at Canterbury and is most certainly to make the cut for The Oval. If Australia goes with 4 seamers as they did at Headingly then Siddle will be left out, but if Hauritz is included for the final test, either Johnson or Stuart Clark would sit out despite their good form.

England will be looking for a big farewell party for ‘Freddie’ by winning the last test and the series. They were the strong contenders for this series victory until the 4th test match at Headingly, where they looked ordinary without Flintoff. Replacement for Ravi Bopara is still a conundrum, even as Mark Ramprakash, the veteran middle-order batsmen, who hasn’t played a test since 2000, was in the reckoning. Finally, Warwickshire batsman Jonathon Trott sealed the spot and gears up for his debut at The Oval.

It will be an electric five days at the Kennington Oval, which awaits another cliffhanger. A big match on the cards!

Anticlimax at The Oval

Friday, August 14th, 2009

There is perhaps a small similarity between Sir Don Bradman and India’s Independence. Don Bradman played his final innings on 14th August 1948, which was on the eve of the first anniversary of India’s independence. Though Australia had already won the series, the final test at The Oval wasn’t a dead rubber. It would be the last time that cricket’s one and only legend, Sir Donald Bradman would bat for Australia in his lifetime. The stage was set and Don was a whisker away from creating history – 7000 runs in test cricket at a sublime average of 100. He needed just 4 runs in his final innings.

England won the toss and chose to bat first on a smoggy day; however, they were bundled out for just 52 runs. Ray Lindwall ripped through the English batting and claimed 6 wickets. In reply, Australia got off to a great start. Bradman came to the crease when Eric Hollies dismissed Sid Barnes. All eyes were on the legend and the second ball faced by Bradman ended his innings.Hollies bowled a slow leg-break and Bradman couldn’t pick it up.

When he walked off after being dismissed, it was almost certain that it would be his last appearance. Australia finished off the first innings with a mammoth lead of 337 runs. England never looked confident to overhaul that total and ended up losing the match by an innings and 149 runs. Bradman did not get a chance to bat in the second innings and completed his career at 6996 runs at an average of 99.94 runs.

Bradman had a chance after that to make the average 100 runs, however he turned down the offer to bat again for Australia. That was perhaps the decision, which got him so much honor that he probably wouldn’t have got if he had got that 4 runs in the final test. In the centenary year of his birth people still love him and adore him for the qualities of being a great cricketer and a great man.

Aussies are Back at The Helm

Sunday, August 9th, 2009

The Australian cricket team is going through a transition stage, which is probably one of the toughest in their history. They had lot of setbacks recently, ever since their key players, Adam Gilchrist, Mathew Hayden, Glen McGrath and Shane Warne retired. The controversial exit of Andrew Symonds, their utility player, further more put Australia’s ‘invincibility’ tag at stake. Their early exit from the ICC World Twenty had justified the skeptics.

Their Ashes preparation also did not turn out as expected. They lost their strike bowler Brett Lee due to injury during their warm-up match at Worcester. Australia started well in the test match at Cardiff, but fortunes didn’t favor them at the end helping England to seal an unlikely draw. At Lords, Australia was defeated by a bashing margin of 115 runs. As the rain interrupted Edgbaston test ended in draw everyone thought that the encore of 2005 series looked apparent. England came strongly hard at the Australians right through the series and the spectators booed Captain Ricky Ponting whenever he entered the field.

Australia’s main problem was the poor form of Mitchell Johnson, who spearheaded Australia’s bowling attack in the absence of Brett Lee. Johnson struggled to keep the line and length, which hurt Australia’s chances until till the fourth test.

At Leeds, the absence of the duo stalwarts; Kevin Pieterson and Andrew Flintoff, proved too much for England as they were bowled out for 102 runs in the first innings. The solid foundation given by the top-order and a superb century by Marcus North helped to end Australia’s first innings on a high. Johnson came back to form with a fiery piece of fast bowling, claiming 5 English wickets, which helped Australia to seal a mammoth victory by an innings and 80 runs.

After the victory at Leeds, Australia look very much solid, recalling the memories of their vintage form. The Ashes is not yet confirmed for the Australians, however their bid has been reinforced after the victory. Now, England would desperately go for Andrew Flintoff, as they cannot afford another defeat in the series decider at the Oval. It has been a ravishing test series so far and no one expect a blip in the excitement at the Oval. A high-voltage contest beckons from the Kennington Oval.

It’s been 4 Years now, the wound hasn’t healed yet

Friday, August 7th, 2009

Apparently, none of the Aussie players, the spectators and the former players would ever forget the Edgbaston test of the 2005 Ashes. It is still a wound that is hard to heal for every Australian. We can never forget the grim face of the helpless Glenn McGrath when Kasprowicz was given out (though it wasn’t a catch) as Australia fell 2 runs short of victory. McGrath could not play the match due to injury.

England scored a speedy 407 runs in the first innings with good contributions from Trescothick, Pietersen and Flintoff. A few lusty blows from the tail-enders helped England to score above 400 runs, which proved good on a deteriorating track.

Australia lost Hayden in the second over, however Ponting and Langer steadied the ship. At one stage they were 115/2 then bundled out for 308 runs and England gained a valuable 99 runs lead. Lee bowled with fiery pace to remove the English top-order before Shane Warne ran into the middle order with 6 wickets. Amid this hiccup, Andrew Flintoff played a gem to take England to 182 runs, giving Australia a target of 282 with more than 5 sessions to complete.

Australia lost wickets at regular intervals and they ended the 3rd day at 175/8. The target looked very tough with 2 wickets in hand. However Brett Lee and Shane Warne weren’t ready to give it up. After Warne departed, Kasprowicz, the last man joined Brett Lee to continue the fight and in the end, a wrong decision from the umpire helped England to seal the victory in a cliffhanger.

Today, when Ricky Ponting goes for the toss, this defeat would be in his mind than ever before. Australians will have to work their tail off to win over the enthusiastic England, who look solid even without Kevin Pietersen. If Brett Lee makes the cut to the final XI,  it will bolster the bowling department, however doubt remains over his lack of match practice.

© The Daily Mirror

© The Daily Mirror

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