Category: Australia cricket news (page 1 of 59)

Video: Mitchell Johnson playing tennis right-handed

Well, looks like we’ve got to the bottom of that whole ‘bowl to the left, bowl to the right’ thing. Turns out Mitchell Johnson is right-handed.

Here’s some expert coaching advice, Mitch: bowl with your other hand.

Better late than never with these kinds of tips.

You may already have been aware of Johnson’s ambidextrousness/confusion. We weren’t. Responding to yesterday’s post – in which we reminded people that when only one arm is tattooed, it should the ‘doing arm’ – Top shelf tweeted us to point out that Johnson signs autographs right-handed.

There we were mistakenly thinking that Johnson had the wrong arm tattooed. Turns out the correct one had been tattoed all along and he’d simply been using the other one to bowl by mistake.


What does Australia’s Test series win over Pakistan actually mean?

Does it amount to a hill of beans? A fell of discarded iPhone covers? A mountain of offcuts of plasterboard?

Just before Christmas, we said that Pakistan are, essentially, a swing bowling side, and therefore pretty much always do terribly Down Under. There has been more to the series than that – but it still explains a lot.

The tourists’ batting collapses have drawn attention, but it is their inability to take wickets that has left them… well, it’s left them fielding mostly.

Taken as a whole, the batting has ticked over. They made a decent stab at chasing 490 in the first Test, kicked off the second Test with 443 and Younus Khan has just become the first player to score a hundred in all 11 nations that have hosted Tests after making 175 not out in the third.

In contrast, their best bowling performance was when they dismissed Australia for 429 in the first innings of the series. You wouldn’t think that an especially lofty point from which to fall, but Pakistan appear to have been positioned over a bone dry Mariana Trench. They’ve just conceded 241 in 32 bleak overs of declaration-awaiting.

“Today was more about the ball not swinging,” said David Warner after making a hundred before lunch on the first day of this Test. It was a glorious innings, defined by the batsman’s utter conviction that he should seize the moment, but that assessment also casts a bit of light on other contributions, such as Matt Renshaw’s 184 and Peter Handscomb’s 110.

These two certainly have the air of being batsmen who could thrive in Test cricket, but we’ve been here before. Just over a year ago, Joe Burns made 129 against New Zealand and 128 against the Windies. Australia arrived in Sri Lanka and he promptly made 34 runs in four innings. He then made one run in two innings against South Africa.

Ensuring you cash in is a vital part of batting in Australia – and every bit as worthy as other qualities in matches where such a quality comes to the fore. Elsewhere it doesn’t necessarily influence the batsman’s returns to quite the same extent.

These kinds of VERY BIG NUMBERS can sometimes conceal more than they reveal. Adam Voges averaged 95.50 when he arrived in Sri Lanka. He averaged 14.80 in the three Tests against them and the two against South Africa.

So where does that leave us? Well, if nothing else, we know that Australia are better than Pakistan in Australia. It’s hard to draw any firm conclusions beyond that – and after 400-and-odd words already, why would we even want to try and do so?


Did Australia win or did Pakistan lose? YOU HAVE TO CHOOSE

England v Australia: 3rd Investec Ashes Test - Day One

Photo by Sarah Ansell

One of the rules of cricket coverage is that Australia, England and India have results and the other teams are merely inactive participants.

In 2016, India beat New Zealand, Australia lost to Sri Lanka, and England drew with Bangladesh. Technically, this also means that New Zealand lost to India, Sri Lanka beat Australia, and Bangladesh drew with England – but you’ll be hard-pressed to find things presented that way.

Like many rules, this one has an exception – and like so many cricketing exceptions, it involves Pakistan.

Pakistan lost to Australia today. The home team didn’t snatch victory. The tourists – who were already one down in the series – threw the match away.

That is the unwritten result on the scorecard because a Pakistan implosion is even more headline-worthy than Australia snatching an unlikely victory.

Could it be that despite how we may be inclined to perceive things, it is impossible for one team to be wholly responsible for the outcome of a match?


David Warner’s “lean” 2016 in Test cricket

England v Australia: 4th Investec Ashes Test - Day Four

Some of you may have both noticed and cared that David Warner was apparently having a relatively mediocre year before this Test. His 2016 one-day record is exceptional, but his long format returns had been little more than ‘all right’.

Against Pakistan Warner edged a load and also became what feels like the 85th person to be bowled off a Wahab Riaz no-ball before eventually reaching three figures.

One day of jousiness and Warner’s Test year now reads 748 runs at 41.55 with two hundreds (plus a 97).

So perfectly normal then.

Strikes us that if mediocrity can so easily be negated, it was probably no such thing in the first place.

They should probably start including an asterisk next to Australian batsmen’s annual records, indicating “was obliged to face Herath“. As far as this Warner story goes, that pretty much explains everything.


Mop-up of the last couple of days – Angelo Mathews still has work to do

For a good long while you could accurately gauge Sri Lanka’s score by whether or not Angelo Mathews was walking out to bat or not. If he was, they were 22-3. If he wasn’t, it was some other score.

A couple of recent batting finds had encouraged the notion that Mathews would no longer be obliged to be his team’s Shivnarine Chanderpaul as well as serving as captain and doing a load of bowling. This optimism may be unfounded, for against South Africa it has been business as usual.

Mathews appears to be back to leading by example regardless of whether or not anyone shows the faintest interest in following. It is at least very thoughtful of the rest of the cricket world to limit his workload by refusing to schedule many matches against his team.

Down in Melbourne, Pakistan are still batting and no-one really knows what it means because it’s still the first innings. Whether theirs proves to be a good team score or not, Azhar Ali’s unhurried rise continues.


Mop-up of the day – Steve Smith is the best player in the world

England v Australia: 3rd Investec Ashes Test - Day One

Photo by Sarah Ansell

Okay, first up, our Twitter round-up. Yep, still doing it, so have a read. Nasser Hussain’s in it and there are two absolutely blinding selfies from opposite ends of the selfie-taking spectrum. We still can’t decide which of the two is our favourite.

Second on the order of business, Cricket Badger. A couple of weeks ago, we failed to gain subscribers compared to the previous week and that makes us livid, so either sign-up or tell someone else to. This will not stand.

Finally, Steve Smith scored a hundred today which means everyone forgets where we were yesterday and says that he’s clearly the best player in the world, just ahead of Virat Kohli and Joe Root, who are in turn ahead of Kane Williamson on the grounds that they played more recently.

What no-one seems to care about is that all of these players are batsmen and therefore dull as shit. Oh for a fast bowler to undermine everyone’s pointless lust for a hierarchy.


How to dismiss Faf du Plessis – make friends with him

Faf du Plessis is a competitor. That’s the kind of thing people say. It’s a shorthand way of saying that he only seems capable of playing to his full potential when there’s a stronger taste of conflict to proceedings.

Performing in what is never called the crucible of county cricket, du Plessis didn’t really make any runs. Quite often he fails to do so in Tests too.

Then there are the good days, when he looks cut from a different cloth. Nothing silky. It would be some sort of high quality durable fabric, possibly with water repellent properties and a rough finish.

Psyched up for his Test debut, he made 110 not out off 376 balls to earn South Africa a draw after they’d been 45-4. Today, having spent the week being harangued for being a ‘guilty‘ man, he made a hundred in a day-night Test when everyone else struggled.

This particular adrenaline-sharpened form of Faf didn’t even get hit in the nads.


Australia should probably stop doctoring their own pitches

Giant house of cards (CC licensed by Tjflex2 via Flickr)

Giant house of cards (CC licensed by Tjflex2 via Flickr)

Playing Australia is like playing Jenga with a house of cards when each of the cards is drunk.

Before they played Sri Lanka, David Warner spoke of batting “well into the next day” but the team repeatedly folded as if prepared by Miura.

Against South Africa at the Waca, they built a little first, almost as if they wanted to deliver a more spectacular collapse. As falling Lego bricks bounced off the carpet, it was hard to avoid the conclusion that this maybe wasn’t just a spin thing.

That has now been confirmed. In the second Test in Hobart, they folded like junk mail in the first innings before buckling like a belt in the second, losing their last eight wickets for 32 runs.

As you’re no doubt aware, Australia only ever collapse because the pitch has been ‘doctored’. Somehow the playing surface is always tampered with in such a way that the opposition can bat completely normally while the poor, honest, play-by-the-rules Aussies go down like round-bottomed skittles placed on an icy slope.

Quite why Australia have started preparing their home pitches in this way is beyond us.


Australia fold like junk mail

Junk mail (CC licensed by Farouq Taj via Flickr)

Junk mail (CC licensed by Farouq Taj via Flickr)

Any batting side can fold like a Bargain Booze leaflet pushed through the door, but it takes a certain amount of preparation to do this when it’s really expected of you. Confronted with a robust hard-to-open letterbox, Australia crumpled impressively.

We watched the first six overs of their 85 all out against South Africa. Vernon Philander’s first over was a heap of shit – none of his first six balls were within 18 inches of the stumps – but still David Warner managed to depart. Kyle Abbott started more consistently and he too took a wicket off the last ball of his over.

Pretty soon after, we went to bed. South Africa had taken a wicket with dross and now they’d found their line, this wasn’t going to take too long.

Playing at home usually cures Australian batsmen of all their ills, so they’ve really had to build up to this. The Sri Lanka tour knocked out one supporting pillar and the one-day series against South Africa knocked out another. This allowed a third pillar to fall despite early reconstruction efforts in the first Test. It seems like they’re trying to build on sand now.

You wonder whether this level of failure would have been possible without those preparations. It might seem ostensibly irrelevant, but we reckon Australia would have made a half-decent total had they picked some bowlers people had heard of for that South Africa one-day series or had they perhaps just not played it at all.


Brad Hogg shoved vitamin C up his jacksie – and there are still some unanswered questions about the story

Another day, another pre-Christmas autobiography by a gnarly old Australian cricketer. Brad Hogg’s The Wrong ‘Un surely warrants a mention though, if only for the anecdote about when Steve Waugh tricked him into thinking that some vitamin C pills needed to be inserted into his outbox.

The story itself has pretty much just been told in the previous sentence. “I felt uncomfortable for a few days, but I never got a cold,” he adds.

However, the background to this is extraordinary.

Firstly, Hogg apparently arrived for that debut tour with a seriously chafed groin after spending an hour on a mechanical nightclub bull before departure.

An hour. Presumably that’s cumulative rather than in one sitting, but still – that seems a hell of a long time, even before we ask how he came to conclude that would be ideal preparation for his first overseas international cricket.

Hogg also says that he was unnerved by room-mate Michael Bevan literally sleeping with his eyes open. As far as we can tell, that terrifying freakishness is something that’s pretty much just mentioned in passing.


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