Month: December 2010 (page 3 of 5)

Tips for fast bowling

Mitchell Johnson has been unshitted by Troy Cooley

One, befriend Troy Cooley. Two, hang out with him for a week.

Last week, we said that Cooley didn’t seem to have done a lot for Australia’s bowlers. We partly retract that. Overall, they’ve had a pretty woeful series, but to teach Mitchell Johnson how to swing a cricket ball and restore his confidence after just a week in the nets? The man must be some sort of warlock.

Once upon a time, we thought that Mitchell Johnson was good. We have quite a bad memory, so we don’t really remember that, but it must have felt similar to today.

What have India made of their first Test innings in South Africa?

Dale Steyn experiences balls-related incident

A balls. They have made a balls of their first Test innings in South Africa. 136-9 is a rubbish score for a side that relies so heavily on its batting, whatever the conditions.

Is ‘Steyn and Morkel’ a thing yet, like ‘Wasim and Waqar’ or ‘Lillee and Thomson’? It’s probably a fair way off those in terms of reputation, but it must at least be a thing.

Hopefully Sreesanth and Sharma (definitely not a thing) will do summat similar tomorrow and we’ll get one of those hell-for-leather careering Test matches where someone should be man of the match for making 32 not out in the fourth innings.

Australia’s implosion – it’s not the players, it’s the situation

'We haven't tried playing with our eyes closed yet - could give that a try, yeah?'

Australia have brought in four players and nothing has changed. This series could serve as a case study for sporting depression and panic.

Rational decision-making has gone out the window at every level, from selectors down to players and it’s formed a vicious circle. Players aren’t sure of their places and are playing accordingly. No-one seems to have confidence in anyone else.

On the field, we today saw several Australian batsmen playing really ill-advised shots. Sometimes things go against you as a batsman, but you have to trust your method. In their current frame of mind, the Australians can’t recognise this. In a bid to take control, they’re trying to do something – anything – different.

It’s change for change’s sake and when the new method fails, they change again, getting another step further away from what they should be doing.

This is basically what’s happening with selectors, captain, batsmen, bowlers and fielders at the minute and it’s a unique feature of cricket how this can grow over the long hours and days of a Test series.

Changing the players won’t help. It’ll only compound the problem.

Mitchell Johnson owes Ryan Harris an apology beer

James Anderson and Mitchell Johnson were involved in a little verbal to and fro today.

It culminated in Johnson saying: “Yeah, and what are you going to do about it, mate?”

About 10 seconds later, Anderson yorked Ryan Harris.

Phillip Hughes and the short ball

Phillip Hughes demonstrates impeccable technique against the short ball

An opening batsman who averages over 50 in Test and first-class cricket has not been ‘found out’ if he makes a right royal hash of a couple of short balls.

Phillip Hughes had three Test innings in England in 2009 and got dropped. Had Don Bradman been found out in 1936 when he made 38, 0 and 0 in successive innings against England? No, of course not. Three of his last four innings in that series were 270, 212 and 169.

Phillip Hughes is no Bradman, but he didn’t get into Test cricket with some huge, pulsating, neon Achilles’ heel that had previously gone undetected. It might be worth bowling short at him to test him out, but we’re sick of reading articles where it’s made out that he’s a walking wicket.

Three dismissals takes just three balls out of the many thousands faced by Hughes. He’s smeared far more balls to the fence than he’s popped to the keeper.

Don’t get us wrong. We hope he peppers the slip cordon in brief, pathetic visits to the crease, but we don’t think it’ll happen. You’re flawless or incompetent in the eyes of many, but no-one in international cricket is either of those things – not since India stopped picking Ajit Agarkar anyway.

England v Pakistan at the Rose Bowl – match report

We told Sam that we would ‘get this one up before the Ashes at the very latest’.

Sam writes:

I finish work early on Wednesdays, so I dashed home in order to catch the remainder of the final one-day international between England and Pakistan.

Being far too brassic to afford proper, actual Sky Sports, a friend had directed me towards an internet link to stream the match.

This may or may not be legal, but I figured cricket is above the law.

After about an hour of playing around trying to get the streaming to work, I settled down with a cup of tea and three chocolate digestive biscuits.

The sound on the screen was out of synch with the picture, so as Shahid Afridi bowled, I heard the crunch of leather on willow that told me Collingwood had punched it away for one.

Then the picture rolled on and I felt a huge sense of prescience as the ginger ninja did indeed nudge the ball to leg for a long single.

This imbalance seemed to eradicate itself during the second innings, but my girlfriend insisted on listening to the radio commentary through headphones because she couldn’t follow the sky commentary.

I didn’t blame her. Ian Botham went a whole over of being silent before simply mumbling ‘Morgan’, ‘245-5’ and then ‘we’ll take a break’.

Meanwhile, my better half was laughing along to Aggers and Vic Marks discussing the finer points of Luke Wright’s impending wedding.

The radio commentary was ahead of the streaming this time, so every time there was a wicket, I heard a cheer from beside me on the couch, followed 10 seconds later by Graeme Swann fizzing another one through the Pakistan defences.

She began to feel smug, like she was some sort of cricketing soothsayer.

It was weird.

I’m thinking about investing in Sky Sports in time for the Ashes.

Donations kindly accepted.

What is Troy Cooley doing?

When England were given a comprehensive shoeing in 2006-07, everyone in England was up in arms that they’d let their bowling coach, Troy Cooley, leave for a post with Australia.

Now that Australia’s fast bowlers have turned into long hop machines set at 80mph, we’ve all forgotten about him, but he’s still there, he’s still working for Australia. Where’s the magic touch gone?

We wrote a bit more on this at The Wisden Cricketer. Not a lot more, but a bit.

Shane Warne and Liz Hurley in the News of the World

Yeah mate, and then I flipper over and give her the full tossWe had rather foolishly assumed that the ‘Shane Warne might make a comeback’ story would be the stupidest Shane Warne story of the week.

But no.

Apparently, model and actress-who-gets-by-pretty-much-solely-on-her-looks, Liz Hurley, has been having ‘an affair’ with our favourite swollen-looking Antipodean cartoon character.

What constitutes an affair? If people of different genders both agree that the crackers they’re eating are a bit dry, that’s usually enough for the News of the World.

In other equally credible news, Brad Haddin has married one of the Chuckle Brothers in a secret ceremony while Shane Watson has devised a revolutionary technique for prenatal DNA testing.

Who is Michael Beer?

Who is Jason Krejza? Who is Xavier Doherty? Who is Michael Beer? Those post titles sum up Australia’s spin selection policy pretty well.

Michael Beer is a blah-de-blah-de-blah. Who even cares? What’s the point? Shane Warne said he thought he might be okay last week and that seems to be why he’s been picked. That and the fact that he’s called ‘Beer’. Everyone loves beer. Then again, he’s an Aussie beer, so he’ll presumably be piss-weak.

Australia are still looking to exploit Kevin Pietersen’s weakness against mediocre left-arm spinners. Clearly Xavier Doherty didn’t exhibit exactly the right level of mediocrity.

England v Australia, Adelaide 2010 match report

Dandy Dan writes:

Some months ago myself, Price and the so-called ‘Will’ (from String’s Oval match report) organised a weekend of watching some comedy Scottish football and staying up through the night to watch something happening on the other side of the world.

Unfortunately, whilst Price was able to catch a train up from the big smoke without too much hassle, the so-called Will had to cancel his attendance due to flight disruption. Then the football was cancelled.

Having met Price at the train station, we went straight to the first decent pub, in fact the first pub, that you can get to when leaving Edinburgh Waverley, The Guildford Arms.

Whilst in there, I stood next to a gentleman whom I recognised. It took until the end of my first pint to realise it was ex-England rugby player, South African Mike Catt. Later, as we were putting on our coats, Mike came over to us and said to me ‘I recognise you’.

It turned out Mike Catt wasn’t Mike Catt at all and was in fact the father of one of the children in my class. We shared a slightly uneasy conversation, both aware we hadn’t realised who the other one was for the best part of an hour.

We reached our next pub, The Conan Doyle, from cricket bat and stumps in an unusual place and £1 a pint of Guinness fame. Unfortunately, The Conan Doyle has had a bit of a makeover since then and at least £1 has been added to the price of all drinks to pay for it. Disappointed by this, and the slightly pretentious crowd it was now attracting, we retired to The Windsor Buffet.

It was at this point that Price and I took it upon ourselves to document the rest of the evening, as best we could, using Venn diagrams.

Now, before the report shares any of our diagrams for public approval/consumption, a point needs to be made. The several pints of ale we had consumed up to this point might have hindered the statistical reliability of the diagrams.

Our first diagram concentrated on that moment in time.

It's taken us ages to edit this match report

It occurred that due to the so-called Will’s lack of presence, we’d missed out on the opportunity for a historic three-way Venn. Fortunately that was rectified shortly after.

We've saved all these images

For whatever reason, the subject matter then changed somewhat to a trip abroad some years before.

We've resized them

Some more ales down the line, we thought it would be a good thing to document Price’s recently failed relationship in Venn form.

So we aren't doing captions

After this we noticed that ‘Evil Pub Dog’ was terrifyingly interested in what we were doing.

Not even for the dog one

Whilst I was in the toilet, Price took it upon himself to produce his own Venn. Alas, the many ales we had consumed had taken their toll on his ability to communicate through mathematical diagram and he produced this frankly incomprehensible effort.

And what would you say about this anyway?

After this, we decided to retire to my sofa and fall asleep at a disappointingly early time. Again.

The following day we reflected on our previous night’s work, with Price declaring us to be two of ‘life’s great achievers’ – a statement I think is difficult to argue with.

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