Australia have gone a bit England with their T20 World Cup preparations. Their long-term planning has climaxed with a 15-man squad where a third of the players haven’t even played a T20 international.
Impressive stuff. They’re clearly of a mind that having the right components is of more importance than testing whether they actually fit together. They’ve got a polythene bag full of bits, a blueprint in biro and a positive mental attitude. Perhaps that’ll be enough.
One of the most interesting selections is in the wicketkeeping department. We don’t really know all that much about the incoming Peter Nevill, but from what we’ve seen of the outgoing Matthew Wade, he’s a man who’s heard the Smiths’ Hand In Glove but much prefers plain old cymbals.
Australia’s chief selector, Rod Marsh, backed up that view by saying: “We feel our batting depth in this squad is sufficient enough that we can have a specialist wicket-keeper in the squad.”
This reminds us of our thoughts from long, long ago that Twenty20 might prove to be a format that brings wicketkeeping skills back to the fore.
The ICC has realised that the ‘Big Three’ changes pushed through in 2014 were…
(a) taking the piss a bit; and
(b) liable to lead to the complete implosion of the sport in the long-term
They have therefore resolved to do something different instead; something a bit less shit.
Apparently things don’t ‘hove into view’. They actually heave into view – it’s just that no-one says that. One thing’s for certain though, things that demand this verb are large and cumbersome. A cat never heaves into a view, for example (although it may well heave while in view, if it’s eaten something disagreeable).
The World T20 is currently heaving/hoving/heave-hoing into view. It will be played in India, but if you’re looking for signs of how it might pan out, all you currently have to go off are one-day internationals in New Zealand and South Africa.
Wrong format, wrong place, but some of the right teams. There are probably too many variables to draw any meaningful conclusions.
Nevertheless, it was striking that Australia have instantly reverted to losing after spending their entire home summer winning. This one-day series against the Kiwis also serves as their warm-up for the Tests, which seems like the kind of scheduling which demands punishment in a shrill, hectoring voice.
England are of course playing South Africa at this very moment. At the time of writing, a Jason Roy cameo had removed the slips, allowing Alex Hales to spank outside off with impunity. It’s possible that a sizeable total is heaving into view.
Photo by Sarah Ansell
Where do you go for your right to reply these days? Instagram, apparently.
Chris Gayle made a 12-ball fifty in the Big Bash this week and as ever with sportsmen, you get the impression he thinks this proves his fundamental rightness about everything; like he could napalm an orphanage but it wouldn’t be wrong if he got crucial runs at a decent lick the following day.
He doesn’t say that explicitly, but that’s the vibe.
“My idol & the person who I look up to and also want to be like when growing up as a kid is in the picture” he begins – about a picture of himself. After that, he thanks a load of people, including ‘the haters’ – a term which pretty much always signposts unrepentant wrongdoing.
After bemoaning all the players who smiled in front of his face but didn’t publicly stand up for him (it’s because they didn’t really support you, Chris), it’s on to the people he doesn’t thank – principally Andrew Flintoff, Chris Rogers and Shane Watson, in that order.
“The past cricketer who say I make myself look like a chop, the other who claim I was no good to the youngsters while playing for the thunder, the next one who said he expect that sort of behavior from Chris – Y’all can kiss my ‘Black Rass'”
That counts as a slamming, right? We’ve always wanted to use ‘slams’ in a headline.
Probably. We wouldn’t blame them one bit.
Imagine being down the pub with your mates, talking about cricket. The company’s good, the beverages are exquisite: you’re in your element. The next day, you find yourself in an overpriced city centre drink hole along with some colleagues. They’re talking about potential comings and goings during football’s winter transfer window. You stand awkwardly, sipping some sort of acrid liquid which you’d assumed was the best option available to you. You’re not in your element.
In his last international match – a Test match against South Africa in Delhi – R Ashwin bowled 49.1 overs in the second innings, taking 5-61. He took 31 wickets in the series at an average of 11.12, conceding 2.09 runs an over. For his part, Ravindra Jadeja took 23 wickets at 10.82 and conceded 1.76 runs an over.
The pair were strike bowlers, holding bowlers and they barely took a break. They did everything.
But cricket encompasses a lot. Today, in a one-day international against Australia, Ashwin took 2-68 off nine and Jadeja 0-61 off nine. They were bit-part players and, but for Ashwin’s wickets, it could even be argued that they were liabilities.
So it goes. Sometimes all you can do is sip your Amstel and try and make the best of things.