Brisbane Test – Situation Normal (Plus 200 Watch)

I got to watch a bit of this test series as I’ve had some time off. I have also watched the highlights, although I am absolutely cheesed off with Sky messing about with their schedules, so here goes.

  1. Test Cricket is in crisis. Oh please god. Spare me. Anyone remember the last days of tests when England were over in Australia? Unless it is a mad series like 2006-7, those days were England only. I was there at Perth in 2006 when Australia were on the brink of clinching the Ashes. There weren’t many Aussies there. They don’t turn up to late in test matches. A bit like our crowds in non-Ashes day 5 matches outside of London. Because Lord’s had a massive full house at cheap prices on a Public Holiday for day 5 against New Zealand, doesn’t mean that would be the norm here. Test cricket is a TV sport now. But we’ve been there.
  2. Australia remain formidable at home – I don’t think we are surprised, and now they have two players with first centuries under their belt – Joe Burns and Usman Khawaja. Their bowling seemed more at home, and they looked to have the number of most of the Blackcap batsmen with one glorious exception. McCullum’s fifth day fireworks were interspersed with mishit hooks and uncontrolled edges. Johnson and Starc, backed up by Hazlewood and Marsh, with Lyon as the spinner are going to be good enough for most teams at home. When do they next play South Africa? Was this catching the visitors cold on a quicker wicket than they’ve been used to? They had better learn quickly because it is Perth next.
  3. David Warner remains fearsome – A left handed Sehwag? Warner is a fearsome prospect, and he doesn’t just do it at home. This was his third “hundred in each innings” test match and he just projects aggression with a bat in his hand. He got into some decent positions in England and threw them away. Might have been we were a little fortunate. But he didn’t give it away here, and he’s off to a massively impressive start. You might dislike him, but you’d like to bottle that temperament.
  4. Channel 9 – Oh my stars. James Brayshaw. It’s non-stop gibberish. I will never understand why you have three people in the booth at one time. The result is that we are crowded for space, and therefore everyone tries to get in when they can. In the case of Brayshaw, who is all kinds of woeful, this is not a good thing. I expect some homerism, and I thought that was actually a little toned down, but the fact that a number of the crew appeared to be watching Kane Williamson in a test match for the first time saddens me. We’ve been there before.
  5. Are Australia over the Ashes – Well, yes. I don’t think you’ll find an Aussie who believes that if the two teams met now in Australia that the home team would win, and probably win very comfortably. I have to agree with them. They can play these conditions very well, and we’d need our bowlers to hit their marks and stay fit. The performance was a classic Gabba performance from the Aussies – score big in the first innings, put pressure on the batsmen. The same as they did at Lord’s and at The Oval. Still, we don’t have to worry about this for a while…
  6. Has the New Zealand bubble burst? Such as it was. Their preparation has been marred on the field by a bad wicket, by inadequate warm ups and off the field by the distraction of the Cairns trial which has gone some way in sullying the reputation of BMac. On the field their bowling didn’t do the damage it needed other than to their own bodies, as Neesham and Southee are now out of the reckoning. Australia weren’t about to let them loose in Hobart either, where they won last time. Mark Craig was targeted, the back-up bowling offered no control and Australia made 800 runs for 8 wickets, had four hundreds, and scored quickly. That’s the Aussie way.

Perth follows at the end of the week. Anyone who watched more of the game have any comments? I didn’t mention the DRS issues at the end….

Also – Double Hundred Watch…

Paras Dogra has done it again, with a back-to-back double hundred for Himachal Pradesh! Looks a good batting wicket as Services are 344/3 in reply. I think I saw on Twitter that Dharamsala is now on the test venue rota for India. All and sundry would be moaning about this wicket, it seems.

It was also a record-equalling innings for Dogra.

Paras Dogra struck 227, equalling Ajay Sharma’s record for most double centuries (7) in Ranji Trophy history, to propel Himachal Pradesh to 531, but Railways began positively in their reply. They shaved 105 runs off the deficit in 39 overs, with all ten wickets in the bag, by stumps on the second day in Dharamsala.

Meanwhile, a thought to Nauween Anwar…. in his second innings….

Note also, the captain declaring with a man on 93. Rameez Aziz does have a first class hundred, so not so bad!


Hong Kong Phooey

And if you don't say we want,
And if you don’t say we want, “Hi-yaaaaaa”

UPDATE – David Hopps has commented on the matter at hand in the original post (Click).

It has been an interesting last 24 hours. David Hopps kicked off the fun with a scathing article on England’s fixture with Hong Kong. All the details of what followed are contained in the Someway, Somehow post below.

Today we were told that the CEO of Hong Kong cricket, Tim Cutler, had written a statement on their website to clear up some misunderstandings. This has been retweeted by Lawrence Booth, John Etheridge and England Cricket on my timeline. I’m sorry chaps, but I don’t believe this as the whole story. I’ve worked in a press office and this looks like a statement that’s been worked on a while. There is also the really important issue here, and one, that I am afraid goes back all the way to the beginning of 2014. Andrew Strauss mentioned the word. Trust.

We do not trust the ECB. Hong Kong cricket, even if it wanted to, could not kick up over this without making an implacable enemy of one of the big three, and in the current ICC environment, who’d want to do that? Andrew Nixon, who reports on the Associate nations with a passion to be admired, is adamant that, yes, of course Hong Kong wanted an ODI against England. I’d see it as a non-league football club getting drawn out in the 3rd Round of the FA Cup away at Manchester United. It sort of defies belief that they wouldn’t want that with the commercial exposure that might bring, and the chance for other local cricketers to aspire to the same. They have ODI status so why waste that opportunity?

Now, the line to take is that an ODI was never an option. You can rearrange a test match due to a terrible event (see Brisbane last year, and the extra day in the Emirates), you can rapidly schedule an entire series (Sri Lanka ODI to replace West Indies tests), but you can’t organise an ODI in a month? Hong Kong cricket seemed to indicate that they sought the possibility of an ODI while also claiming that a one day practice match with a white ball and coloured clothing was better preparation for the Intercontinental Cup (a four day match). There’s also the mentions of money, which of course governs all, and yet from the start the best practice was most important.

Read the statement. David Hopps remains somewhat sceptical.

And while David continues to beat this path, we can’t be dismissed as conspiracy theory nutters.

So it comes to trust. This is what you damaged, chaps, when you allowed yourselves to be used as an ECB conduit. When you failed to stick up for us as being “outside cricket” right from the outset because you needed access. When you failed to acknowledge the leaking, left, right and centre (one even saying they were anal about leaks) in the last embers of the Ashes series, and let personal emnity to an arrogant cricketer get in the way of exposing what went on. Instead we were asked to take you on trust, and we had no desire to. In my view it reached the bottom with the Ian Bell awayday leak – that was poor. I’ve no doubt the media were scurrying around looking into it yesterday, but it’s amazing how they’ve done so when it is to protect the ECB’s reputation. Hong Kong are a bunch of amateurs compared to this machine. Once that press release praised Tom Harrison for working “behind the scenes” (he’s the CEO of England Cricket for crying out loud, why does he have to work behind the scenes to persuade his own body, he’s the bloody leader) to help associates and Olympic cricket, I had my tin hat on, turned the heat up in my mum’s basement and started salivating. Oh yes. Good old Tom. Well, I don’t trust him for starters. In ECB circles, trust is all. We know that.

So all we saw yesterday was a minor schmozzle where the ECB (who else would be affronted by Hopps initial report) wanted the record put straight (Ireland in April chaps? Let’s encourage those associate nations) and the journalists were prepared to act as Sir Walter Raleigh. I don’t expect them to like (or care) what I think, but that’s what happens when you have an arrogant, ignorant cricket board, a media who whistled their tune when the going got hot, and a load of angry cricket fans.

That’s the bed and we are all lying in it.

And, of course, it didn’t take long.

I’ll let the statement stand.