Category: Australia cricket news (page 1 of 110)

Night-day cricket should be the next innovation

Those watching the first day of the inaugural day-night Test between Australia and New Zealand will have been sorely disappointed. We were promised slapstick and catastrophe, but got neither. If you asked us to describe it, we’d say it looked very much like Test cricket, only with a pink ball.

The pink ball’s weird. An optical illusion makes it seem bigger than it really is – like a cheat mode of Sensible Soccer that we may well have imagined. But that’s no bad thing. Throw in a large crowd and a beautiful sunset and it was quite a successful day.

If there’s one problem, it’s the names of the intervals: tea and dinner. As Sam points out, this triggers the somewhat tiresome and impossible-to-resolve north-south debate about lunch/dinner, dinner/tea.

To bypass this, we propose night-day cricket. Beginning at 2am and finishing at 9am, the two breaks would be breakfast and tiffin. Playing so early would also allow people to attend the game before work. Don’t worry about the players either. They’re forever complaining about jetlag, so this is no different.

We mustn’t let the traditions of day-night Test cricket hold us back. The pink ball game is crying out for innovation.

The Mitchell Johnson bowling action – a nasty and effective and unreliable thing

Mitchell Johnson contributed some extremely interesting cricket and you can’t ask for much more than that from a player. Overall, his record is very good, but that long-term-very-goodness was created by opposing short-term extremes.

At his best, Johnson was as exciting to watch as pretty much any cricketer ever. If your team was playing against Australia, you may not have enjoyed the spectacle, but you can’t say it didn’t raise the heart-rate. It wasn’t so much the pace, as that sense that the entire match could be decided in short order.

Set against that, his worst was comically dire. This is of course just as entertaining and therefore, in our eyes, every bit as worthwhile. Friend or foe, Johnson will be missed.

Where’s the ball gone?

If there’s a lesson to be gleaned from the impact of Good Johnson, it’s that even in its purest form, fast bowling isn’t all about pace – it’s about reaction times. Ed Cowan helps us understand this with an account of what it was like to face him.

“He rocks back after the familiar rhythmical approach, and then it seems you wait an eternity for the ball to be launched towards you. An ever-so-brief moment of panic can sweep across you as you realise he has let it go but you have not picked it up until the ball is halfway down.

“There is certainly some luck involved in getting through those early exchanges – if one delivery is on the money, your day can be over before it really begins. So much of the advance information gained by batsmen about the length of a delivery vanishes when the bowler possesses such an action.”

You can get half an idea of what he means by watching this video comparing the actions of Mitchells Starc and Johnson.

At this point, Johnson’s bowling arm is already down and the ball is well on its way to being released…


… but yet the two bowlers release the ball at (almost) the same time. As Cowan says, there’s almost a pause when the ball’s behind Johnson in his delivery stride; a coiled-spring moment that gives the batsman a split second to ponder what’s to come and also denies him the rhythm he needs to react properly.

Starc is the archetypal thoroughbred fast bowler. Johnson was the Whangotron 9000. For all that a smooth, languid bowling action might be more aesthetically pleasing, in many ways the Johnson method presents more of a threat.

The Waca – fast bowlers’ graveyard

Ah, the Waca. Fast bowlers love it because it gives them an opportunity to bowl plenty of overs. Batsmen are terrified of it because of the humiliating possibility that they might not make a ton. The pitch has been so challenging in the second Test between Australia and New Zealand that only two batsmen have managed double hundreds. New Zealand didn’t even get to declare in their first innings.

We’ll stop short of saying that this pitch is unfit for Test cricket, having only recently made the point that you can only truly judge such a thing after the match has concluded. We will however admit that after four days, we’re starting to form an opinion.

Setting that aside for a minute, it’s good to see Ross Taylor making some sort of a comeback. He looked to be the next Kane Williamson back when there wasn’t even a first Kane Williamson, but seemed to have ebbed away a bit in recent times. He lost the New Zealand captaincy, looked a bit sad and appeared to be developing moobs. Things weren’t looking good, but flat pitch or not, scoring 290 against Australia in Australia is a reasonable knock. Maybe he’s been relaxing more and pursuing his other interests.

Aggressive cricket can be all about playing really defensively

We’ve written about ‘aggressive cricket’ about a billion times, but that’s largely because – like a snipped clothing label that hasn’t quite been fully removed – it continues to irritate us.

Different people mean different things by ‘aggression’ and also confuse cricketing aggression with actual aggression. The latest to say something stupid on the matter is, unsurprisingly, Shane Warne.

“All this about aggressive play – aggressive play can also be about wearing down your opposition and letting the ball go well, to keep them out in the field for long periods of time.”

No it can’t.

What’s happened is that ‘aggressive cricket’ has widely come to be seen as the best way of approaching the sport and now no-one dares say otherwise. This means that on those occasions when playing aggressively isn’t the best approach, rather than acknowledging this, people instead redefine what ‘aggressive’ means.

Sports people are really, really bad at words. It never fails to surprise us how they don’t merely misuse words, but misuse them in such a way that they warp meaning and undermine the English language for other people as well.

Here’s what Warne should have said:

“All this about aggressive play – good play can be about wearing down your opposition and letting the ball go well, to keep them out in the field for long periods of time.”

England’s one-day matches result in runs, apparently

Here’s a freakish stat via Cricinfo’s S Rajesh: Since 2006, matches hosted in England have seen the third-highest run-rates in one-day internationals (ODIs).

It doesn’t seem right, does it? Granted there are only a handful of countries hosting ODIs, so it’s not third out of a big bunch, but England always seems to be the home of low-scoring. To learn that actually teams tend to score quite quickly here is strangely unsettling.

We have two ways of explaining this:

  1. It rains a lot. Shortened matches will tend to see faster scoring.
  2. Someone has to play against England. These teams have scored a lot of runs, even if the home team hasn’t.

Because the fourth one-day international was only the fourth time England have ever chased down a 300-plus total. All this talk of 890 being the new par rather distracts from the fact that England never really got to grips with 300.

They appear quite happy to have bypassed reasonably attacking batting and moved straight to very attacking batting though. You’d think they’d need to progress more gradually, but somehow they seem to be getting away with putting a stationary car into fifth gear and flooring it.

We suppose if you pick 10 batsmen, each of them can be that little bit more irresponsible. One-day cricket remains a strange old game.

Older posts

© 2015 King Cricket

Theme by Anders NorenUp ↑