Category: Australia cricket news (page 1 of 67)

When and where is AB de Villiers at his best?

Photo by Sarah Ansell

AB de Villiers is very good. We’re pretty sure most of you will agree with that insightful assessment. But where do we  see him at his best?

We can think of five immediately obvious environments in which AB de Villiers might be seen.

  • In a music video
  • Just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say
  • In T20 cricket
  • In one-day cricket
  • In Test cricket

Let’s quickly run through each of these to try and work out where AB de Villiers is at his best.

Because if you want to see a thing renowned for its very-goodness, ideally you want to stand a reasonable chance of having the very qualities that define that very-goodness displayed to you, otherwise what’s the point?

In a music video

In a music video is a place in which AB de Villiers appears to be a below-average person. In a music video does not show AB de Villiers at his best. (More on this subject here.)

Just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say

AB de Villiers may well attract a certain amount of attention when he’s just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say, but we’d argue that this is merely residual attention resulting from his feats in other environments. AB de Villiers is no better at just sort of milling around in public, at an airport say, than anyone else. In fact he’s arguably worse, because he no doubt has a tendency to flee back indoors what with all the attention and whatnot.

In T20 cricket

AB de Villiers will often make slightly more runs than other people playing in the same T20 cricket  match and he will generally make those runs slightly more quickly. AB de Villiers looks very good in T20 cricket.

In one-day cricket

We would argue that AB de Villiers looks slightly better in one-day cricket than he does in T20 cricket. Given more time to make runs, the difference between himself and other batsmen playing in the same match will generally become more apparent.

In Test cricket

In Test cricket, with no real time constraints, batsmen can go about making their runs however they damn well choose. They needn’t feel rushed into playing shots they don’t necessarily feel comfortable with. They can play how they want.

Despite this, there are times when even mere survival is beyond most batsmen when AB de Villiers not only survives, but also scores runs, and not only scores runs, but does so at a rate utterly beyond most people even on a day when survival is not a seemingly unattainable goal.

We would therefore argue that ‘in Test cricket’ is the environment where AB de Villiers is at his best.

Breaking down David Warner and Nathan Lyon’s run-out of AB de Villiers – one of the most disrespectful dismissals in recent memory

AB de Villiers (all images via Sky Sports video)

Many things happened during Australia’s first Test win over South Africa. Some of them were cricket, some of them were David Warner falling out with people. The thing that interests us the most – AB de Villiers’ second innings run-out – fell somewhere in between.

Let’s break the moment down, because it’s really quite something. We’re struggling to think of a more disrespectful dismissal.

The context

The South Africans were near enough 200 runs behind on first innings and had then found themselves chasing 417 to win.

They quickly fell to 39-3 and so had basically lost. You wouldn’t think there was much left to get het-up about at this point, but then you’re not David Warner.

David Warner is, you suspect, the kind of man who snaps the remote in half in fury when the batteries start to get a bit low.

The run-out

Nathan Lyon dobbed one down the leg-side and South Africa opener Aiden Markram nurdled the ball towards David Warner.

As Warner scuttled round to get it, AB de Villiers set off down the pitch before doing a big U-turn when he looked up and saw only Markram’s back.

Sadly for de Villiers, he’d gone sufficiently far that the run-out was never in doubt. Warner was grinning even as he threw the ball.

At the bowler’s end, Lyon enveloped the ball with his Mekon hands and duly broke the stumps.

Nathan Lyon’s bit

What we didn’t mention was that AB de Villiers was on nought, having only faced one ball. Now here he was lying on his face, run-out in a match his team were about to lose.

Being run-out is always rubbish because to some extent it’s always self-inflicted. It’s worse still when you end up literally lying on your face in the dirt at the moment it happens.

Here’s AB de Villiers literally lying on his face in the dirt having been run out for a duck in a match his team is about to lose.

What happened next was that Nathan Lyon saw AB de Villiers literally lying on his face in the dirt having been run out for a duck in a match his team is about to lose and thought to himself: “This isn’t quite humiliating enough. I think I need to ramp this up a bit. I need to really emphasise the fact that AB de Villiers is literally lying on his face in the dirt having been run out for a duck in a match his team is about to lose.”

So Lyon ran past, looking down at him, and to emphasise that de Villiers was both literally and metaphorically fallen, he dropped the ball near him.

You’ll note that we italicised ‘nearly’ in that last sentence. As you can see, Lyon is looking directly at de Villiers even having passed him and is dropping/flinging the ball as he does so. You could maybe, if you so chose, argue that he dropped the ball at de Villiers.

David Warner’s bit

Lyon could not have executed his run-out and ball-drop without the assistance of David Warner. Warner too was hugely keen to emphasise the fact that his team was winning the Test match.

Presumably feeling that the surviving batsman had escaped lightly, he chose to convey his team’s supremacy to Aiden Markram.

Australia wicketkeeper Tim Paine said at stumps that there “wasn’t too much aggression” during Warner’s send-off (which technically wasn’t actually a send-off because Markram wasn’t going anywhere).

Here is Warner’s Hatred Face midway through said send-off. We’re pretty sure we have never been this angry with anyone about anything in our entire life.

Now we want you to understand something at this point because it doesn’t really come across in stills. Warner is aiming this face AT Aiden Markram. Aiden Markram is the subject of the hatred.

All of Warner’s team-mates came and mobbed him for doing the run-out throw and yet he physically struggled with them to ensure he retained a direct line of sight to Markram.

A direct line of sight to Markram was important to Warner because he didn’t want there to be any miscommunciation about just how much he hated him

It doesn’t really need stating explicitly, but obviously as well as making the face, Warner was  saying things at Markram.

And yes, ‘at’ is the right word here. David Warner was most definitely not saying things to Aiden Markram; he was saying them at him.

New Zealand beat Australia 18-14 at sixes

A Kiwi slogging (via NZC)

However, Australia won the fours classification by 19 to 14 and they also scored 20 extras to New Zealand’s 12. The upshot was that Australia won the runs classification by 245 to 243.

Wickets also fell – but not enough to be of any real significance.

Speaking after the match, Kane Williamson said of the playing area: “Half hits would go 20 rows back.”

Truly the spectators were treated to an unbelievable display of half-hitting.

Steve Smith the ball-eater and other stories: England’s ODI series win over Australia in old-school stats

Steve Smith fails to get stumped (via BT Sport)

Remember averages and strike-rates?

We do.

Let’s take a look at some of the meat and potatoes stats for England’s 4-1 one-day series win over Australia.

Steve Smith ate balls

The Australian captain ate up 148 deliveries over the course of the series and yet paid his team back with just 102 runs.

Steve Smith is a greedy ball-eater and not at all generous to his team-mates in his approach to run-scoring.

This is the danger when a one-day batsman’s defence is too reliable – he can actually fall back on it.

Australia took wickets

England had just three bowlers who averaged less than Chris Woakes’ 39. Adil Rashid averaged 29.90, Liam Plunkett averaged 30.00 and Tom Curran averaged 7.50.

In contrast, six Aussies averaged less than Woakes, and of those, five averaged less than 30.

Moral of the story: up until the tenth and final one, wickets have little intrinsic value in one-day cricket.

Plenty of batting to come

Steve Smith says that England’s habit of absolutely caning it until they run out of batsmen is risky – but it’s less risky than for most teams because of how they pick their side.

England’s batsmen are more disposable and each of their wickets is therefore less valuable to the opposition. With big biffer Liam Plunkett – a man with three first-class hundreds to his name – at number 10, the top order can afford to chance their arm that bit more.

The benefit of the approach (quicker run-scoring throughout the innings) is generally greater than the cost (greater likelihood of losing wickets) in large part because of the point made in the previous section.

Chris Woakes averaged 170

And scored 117 runs per 100 balls.

Chris Woakes bats at eight.

England won the run-outs 4-1

The same as the series score. Coincidence?

(It’s quite possible we just added this up wrong, because life’s too short for double-checking.)

Moeen Ali was economical, Adil Rashid was expensive (but took 10 wickets)

Different bowlers who go about things in different ways. It’s good for a captain to be able to call on both.

Joe Root goes big, Australia fall short

Before the fourth one-dayer between Australia and England, the at times nauseatingly partisan BT Sport Twitter account asked which of three England batsmen would “go big” – Jason Roy, Joe Root or Jos Buttler.

After 6.2 overs, the answer was clear – Joe Root, whose seven-ball duck was significantly larger than the two-ball ducks notched by Roy and Buttler.

‘Plenty of batting to come’ is a commentary cliché that can be deployed almost throughout an England one-day innings, but even they couldn’t afford to lose half their wickets for eight runs.

Australia did at least try and make a complete balls-up of their chase, but sadly couldn’t finish the job.

Update: It’s since been pointed out to us that the BT tweet is actually a tick list, not a series of options. We’re not editing this though. We’re going to leave our idiocy on full display because by this point in life we no longer care that we’re stupid.

What does Lloyd Pope’s hair say about his leg-spin?

You may know by now that Australia leg-spinner Lloyd Pope took 8-35 to knock England out of the Under-19 World Cup.

This is Lloyd Pope’s hair. You may also notice something hanging off the bottom of it. That thing is Lloyd Pope.

Lloyd Pope’s hair (ICC)

You may feel that a man’s hair cannot possibly say anything meaningful about his leg-spin. We are here to tell you otherwise.

Look at Stuart MacGill with his ‘ruffled-yet-effective understudy’ cut. Look at the 20-something Shane Warne and his attention-seeking frosted mop.

Look at Anil Kumble with a haircut you could set your watch by, or Imran Tahir with his ever-changing locks betraying his unquenchable lust for experimentation.

Look at BS Chandrasekhar and tell us that haircut didn’t say ‘watch out for the googly’.

And so to Lloyd Pope.

That is not hair that just happens. You don’t just inch your way towards that hair without being fully conscious of precisely what you’re doing.

Lloyd Pope’s hair says: “I am my own man, ploughing my own furrow and I will not be easily swayed by others’ advice. I will face down your slings and arrows and rise above it all.

“Block me and I will rip it. Attack me and I will only rip it harder. I am central, I am here to be noticed and I am here for the duration.

“Leg-spin is my art and my craft and my calling and I am not here to keep things tight. Watch yourself, batsman, watch yourself – for I am here to take your wicket. Also, I am slapping back a little.”

England’s one-day bowling strategy shows up everything that’s wrong with their Test approach

Mark Wood (BT Sport)

Speaking about England’s Test bowling attack this week, Steve Harmison managed the rare feat of deploying the word ‘unit’ in a halfway meaningful way.

He told Sky Sports that England have to, “make sure that at any one given time they’ve got skill factor with the new ball, an X-factor bowler that can get a wicket out of nothing and control. It’s not about names, it’s about components and it is something England need to identify.”

He’s right that it’s about identifying the components of a cohesive attack more than it’s about lining up the best bowlers. A Test day is long and you need different qualities at different times.

If you have four guys doing the same thing, it makes for a boom or bust situation. As Harmison himself says: “If you go to Australia with four right-arm seamers bowling 80mph then you are going to get beat every time.”

England’s one-day team has long taken a different tack. They have new ball swing bowlers, a quick full bowler, a quick short bowler, a leg-spinner and a couple of off-spinners.

Each has a different approach to taking wickets and Eoin Morgan tries to wheel them out at the best time to exploit that approach, whatever it happens to be. Crucially, these bowlers aren’t all competing for the ball at the exact same moment, the way England’s Test attack are.

We’re not going to write about Jason Roy

Just read last week’s Wisden piece again with this innings in mind.

Jason Roy played five first-class matches last season.

A guy who may or may not truly be called Bert fills us in on the latest instalment of his long-running Ashes bet with some Aussie

Bert writes:

OK, hold onto your hats. I can now reveal the result of the latest Ashes Bet between me and my Aussie mate. The result is…

He Won!

Yeh alright, since the bet is on the outcome of the series this has been known since December, but why should that stop me making such an exciting announcement? Besides, it gives me an opportunity to fill you in on some more amazing Ashes Bet Facts.

The place was Whakatane, a small town on NZ’s Bay of Plenty Coast. The date was late 2002, the time, about midnight. The situation was a bar, too many drinks, and a loud-mouthed Aussie (or “an Aussie” as they’re also known) going on about the upcoming Ashes series Down Under.

In that drunken haze of annoyance and a thorough lack of understanding of the situation in world cricket, the Ashes Bet was born. Three months later I’d lost a dozen bottles of red wine and was faced with a similar bill every two years or so for the foreseeable future.

But then came 2005. Enough words have been written about that series to convey the drama, the emotion, the sheer unalloyed delight of it all, but perhaps I might be permitted to add a few of my own. “In your face, Aussie, now where’s my fucking wine.”

That was the turning point. The next turning point came in the following series, when we lost 5-0. But then there was a turning point, and we won again.

Really, when you look at it, it’s just been one turning point after another, a curve based around the following formula – whoever is at home, wins. Since 2002 there has been only one exception to that rule, the glorious 2010/11 series.

I have to say that this was cricket at its most enjoyable and, I might add, this website’s palmiest day. We had Trott, and Swann, and relentless Cook, and the Through The Night Thread, and the Mitchell Johnson Song, and the Sprinkler Dance, and Boxing Day, and graphs, and Venn Diagrams and so much more. And we (specifically me) had a dozen bottles of finest Australian red wine out of sequence.

So, where do we stand. Well, the score in Tests since than night in NZ is Australia 23, England 14. The score in wine bottles is Australia 48, England 60. Who on Planet Earth would have thought that 15 years ago? Not my Aussie mate, that’s for sure. Not me either, it had to be said. So I’m happy to pay up, to provide the Barolo, Nuit St George and Fleurie so richly deserved. Because I know that I’ll be getting it all back in 2019. Let’s face it, they can’t drop Shaun Marsh now.

Shoulda, coulda, woulda – five things England got wrong ahead of the 2017-18 Ashes

Australia win the final Test (BT Sport)

We were originally going to present this article as being the views of Captain Hindsight, but when we started to write it we realised that half of England’s problems were actually fairly easy to see in advance.

So while some of what follows comes with the benefit of knowing how things panned out, that’s not true of all of it. Whether or not the sum of all these things would have made any difference to the end result is of course another matter.

Shoulda dropped Moeen Ali

Moeen Ali is a player of top innings rather than being a top batsman. Even before this series, his Test average was only 34.66. That’s pretty good for someone who bowls, but not really enough to warrant a place in the top six, which is where he found himself come the first Test.

Based on what followed, Moeen would have been batting a place too high had he come in at number nine. Craig Overton and Tom Curran averaged more than him, Stuart Broad managed a higher score, and you can’t imagine Gary Ballance would have bowled any less effectively.

We love Moeen, but things wouldn’t have turned out much differently for England had they instead picked a specialist fielder.

Coulda done more to discourage Ben Stokes’ boozy late nights out

Michael Vaughan said Ben Stokes had been given ‘strong warnings’ about his lifestyle even before that night in the cells. It wasn’t like England should have locked him in his room each night, but could they not at least have persuaded him to refrain from going out on the lash in the middle of a series?

Who knows whether some other incident might have happened subsequently, but even a slight change in behaviour might have been enough to avoid the Bristol incident.

Shoulda tried out some quicker bowlers in the preceding years

Craig Overton dismisses Steve Smith (via BT Sport)

Our article about Toby Roland-Jones’ Test debut was essentially a veiled question: ‘Why have you picked a right-arm 80mph bowler when we’re touring Australia this winter?’

Plenty of similarly pedestrian right-armers followed. We’d sort of assumed that there was a minimum pace requirement for young seam bowlers, as this seems to have been an unstated part of the job description for as long as we can remember. When did this cease to apply?

People watch Jimmy Anderson bowling at 80-85mph and hope that younger bowlers operating at a similar clip might gradually develop his skills. But that isn’t the way it worked for Jimmy. He could bowl at 90mph in his first few seasons. The increased skill has compensated for the decrease in speed. He never entered a Test match with neither.

Craig Overton, Tom Curran and Jake Ball are about a tenth as skilful as Jimmy Anderson and don’t really have much to make up the shortfall. Overton and Ball have height, Curran has a slower ball, but England’s attack is so monochrome, this really isn’t enough.

Faster English bowlers do still exist. Either they’re not sufficiently valued or not especially well-managed.

Coulda picked Adil Rashid

England were never going to play Mason Crane until the series was already lost. When they did, he performed about as effectively as you’d imagine a 20-year-old debutant leg-spinner would.

It’s great that England seem to have identified him as one for the future and that they’re keen to invest in him, but they also identified Adil Rashid as one for the future a long time ago and despite his being top wicket-taker last winter, they ceased investing in him immediately before this Ashes series.

You have to try and recoup investments. Test experience is a finite resource. This whole thing just seemed so wasteful.

Shoulda picked someone other than James Vince

James Vince drives (BT Sport)

A flirtation with run-scoring in the first Test might have encouraged some to think otherwise, but this really isn’t hindsight, is it?

It was so obvious we actually titled September’s Ashes squad post England to win the Ashes via airy off-side drives.

James Vince’s first stint in the Test team ended because he didn’t score any runs and kept edging behind. Having underscored the fact that his record in the first division of the County Championsship is really rather mediocre through his efforts during the 2017 season, the selectors brought him back at number three for the Ashes.

He didn’t score any runs and kept edging behind.


If you’re England in Australia, chances are you’re going to lose anyway. You are not going to improve your odds by spending the years leading up to the series doing a load of things that everyone in the world can see are manifestly wrong.

Also, you should have added Paul Collingwood to the squad.

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