Photo by Sarah Ansell
That’s what we’ve heard. We’ve heard that Steve Smith can’t find the middle of the bat when he’s batting in the nets.
Smith may or may not have commented: “I’ve been hitting it really well out in the middle, so I don’t think I’m out of form. If I can just keep on performing well, sooner or later it’s all going to come together and I’ll get some decent results in my preparation as well.
“The coaches say they can’t see too much right with my technique, so it’s the same as it’s always been. I think if I can just stay patient then a good solid net session is right around the corner.”
Conversely, when it comes to Tests, Steve Smith is most definitely not due.
Photo by Sarah Ansell
David Warner says: “I couldn’t be hitting the ball any better but it’s just that the runs aren’t coming for me at the moment.”
In this week’s Cricket Badger, we point out that this runs counter to Temba Bavuma’s matter-of-fact observation that, “you can’t be playing well and not scoring runs.”
Warner is, presumably, crisply striking the ball straight to slip. In the next couple of days, he’ll get the opportunity to prove his ability to hit it elsewhere.
If there’s one kind of form we love above all others, it’s net form. A batsman’s professional life is bound up with events that are out of his control to a far greater extent than he’d ever care to accept. This leads to a necessary level of self-delusion that is far higher than a rational person would maintain and at no time is this delusion more apparent than when net form is cited.
The next development for Warner will either be:
- Scoring some runs – ‘proof’ that he was always in form
- Another failure, which he’ll chalk up as the latest in a lengthening list of aberrations
If you’re a batsman, run-scoring is the norm – because if it isn’t, what the hell are you doing with your life?
Photo by Sarah Ansell
Australia drew with India, but let’s not focus on how admirably they’re performing. Who the hell wants to read about that? Let’s instead concentrate on tangentia.
David Warner has said that “it will turn around” for him with regards to his recent poor form. We agree. If he keeps being disciplined and preparing assiduously, pretty soon he’ll find himself playing in Australia again and everything’ll be fine.
Virat Kohli has called Cheteshwar Pujara “priceless” and “the most composed player we have in the team.” What he didn’t call him was India’s best batsman.
Elsewhere, the ECB seemingly have plans to play World Cup matches at the imaginatively named London Stadium, which was built for the 2012 Olympics. While there’s a certain jaded “seriously?” quality to this news in light of their having encouraged counties to invest heavily in their grounds for the last however many years, it’s equally true that it would be great to have 60,000 people attending a cricket match in Britain.
Finally, take a look at our latest Cricinfo Twitter round-up, in which we flirt with the sack by devoting around half of the column to Charles Dagnall’s attempt to repair a brick shed. The critics have been calling it nothing at all because hardly anyone’s felt moved to read it.
Bangladesh have won nine Tests and we make this their second win.
The convention is to remove matches in which Bangladesh feature from all Test statistics. This seems unduly harsh at the best of times, but it seems even more so when it’s them who you’re measuring.
Nevertheless, in the spirit of omission, we’ve stripped away all of their Test victories that might be disregarded for one reason or another and we’ve been left with their win over England last October and this one against Sri Lanka. Truly, it is Bangladesh’s Golden Era.
For the record, the Tigers’ other seven wins comprise five against Zimbabwe and two against one of those stand-in West Indies teams, which on this occasion featured luminaries such as Omar Phillips and David Bernard.
Meanwhile, over in Ranchi…
Steve Smith has suffered another horrendous brain fade, leading to grave concerns about his long-term mental health. Smith calmly held his bat out of the way of a ball pitching outside leg, only for it to hit his off stump.
If this brain fadery continues at its current rate, it will be but weeks before he’s entirely forgotten how to execute his magnificent double-elbowed chicken dance bowling action. As this is the only aspect of Steve Smith’s cricket in which we take any pleasure, we’d be keen for him to seek psychiatric treatment post-haste.
Big innings, bigger innings, small innings, smaller innings. That used to the be the sequence for a Test match taking place in India. Declarations happened a lot.
Australia just made 451 and it seems a good score, but it wasn’t so long ago you’d be thinking that a team had been skittled if it had only made 451. These sorts of matches still happen, of course. England made over 400 in the first innings of the fourth and fifth Tests last year and lost both by an innings.
Surveying the third Test between India and Australia, it seems like a reversion to the archetype. But how can we be sure? Those old Magic Eye pictures never revealed themselves when you tried to will them to. You just had to chill out and wait and hope that your Zen-like staring-into-the-middle-distance state would do the job before you.
So we’re going with that. We’re adopting a Zen-like, coffee-drinking, reading other news, maybe popping out for a couple of pints later and possibly buying some fried chicken state. All will become clear.
Day one of the third Test between India and Australia. Glenn Maxwell played cricket and made runs, Steve Smith uglied yet another hundred and Wriddiham Saha went snuffling around in the Australian captain’s crotch in an attempt to pluck out a ball.
Here’s a video.
Got to admire his persistence.
Cheteshwar Pujara (CC licensed by Naparazzi via Flickr)
Pat Farhart news!
About time. It’s been almost a decade.
Farhart is of course the physio who not-all-that-famously helped Australia spinner Beau Casson’s groin “respond”.
He hasn’t got down to any of that sort of business with India yet, but he’s working towards it. Mark our words. He’s giving neck rubs and while we have absolutely no reason to believe that Che Pujara was faking the injury that led to this, we’re going to say that he was anyway.
Speaking after the second Test, Pujara said: “I would like to thank Patrick Farhart, our physio, who made it possible for me to bat, and bat at No. 3, because there was one stage where I felt I might not be able to bat No. 3 because my neck was really sore. But he worked on it and ultimately I achieved the goal for the team.”
‘Oh Pat, Pat. I can’t possibly field today because I’m suffering from some horrendous foot ailment and also a back spasm. Lend me your magical healing hands and I will be able to go and stand at mid-on for a bit.’
“There’s a line that you don’t cross on the cricket field,” said Virat Kohli, shortly after suggesting that the Australians had been looking to their dressing room for help when deciding whether to review decisions or not.
You realise what this is, don’t you? It’s an allegation of line-crossing.
This is serious stuff, because as you’re no doubt aware, the Australian cricket captain is the one who dictates the location of ‘the line’.
Any activity carried out by Australian players falls into the category of “playing hard but fair” while all other activities are by definition either “soft cricket” or “crossing the line”.
No-one fulfilled the role better than Michael Clarke, a man who fully understood the mobility and flexibility of the line. Clarke would no doubt agree with Steve Smith that seeking out the opinion of a third party when mulling whether or not to call upon the decision review system merely constitutes “a bit of a brain fade.”
It is, quite frankly, an outrage that Virat Kohli should slander the Australians in this way. It is surely obvious to us all that the Australians, with their poor faded brains, would never breach the line. The line is sacred.
Virat has crossed the line on this line-crossing thing.
It would seem a bit much to give the opposition a 1.4 Test head start in a three Test series. The finish line could be crossed with little more than a trip and a fall.
Apparently this is a four Test series though, so perhaps India aren’t quite as devil-may-care as we assumed they were when we first embarked on this article.
The home team allowed Australia the first Test and the majority of the first half of the second. Now they’ve tied their shoelaces and are lumbering into action.
As the rest of the series plays out, it’ll be interesting to see whether the gift of such a sizeable head start turns out to be complacent foolhardiness or entirely justified contempt.
Or at least it could be seen that way if Australia didn’t already have a Steve O’Keefe. Nathan Lyon still bowled like one though.
You know that classic Steve O’Keefe thing; the one where you go to India and spin them out for under 200? Lyon did that. You know this already because you pay attention to these things.
India seem like a team in need of a change. It feels like they’ve been playing home Test matches on an almost weekly basis since about October.
They’re usually good at it, but in an effort to mix things up a bit, they’ve now decided to be bad it. Perhaps it’s the only way they can quench their thirst for change.
Bit embarrassing though. Australia are to all intents and purposes one good innings away from securing the series. Australia!