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Posts Tagged ‘South Africa’

Test Cricket Is The Ultimate Test

November 26, 2012 Leave a comment

He stood at the top of his mark, barely able to hold himself upright. A deep breath was taken and he came charging down, an in-swinging yorker upended middle stump and suddenly the crowd was brought to its feet. There was a sense that he had got something out of nothing.

On the other end a man stood on his own fighting off cramps and back pains, he had been a wall blocking everything that was thrown at him. He too felt a sense that the improbable was now within his grasp.

As with all sports there had to be a loser, and on this occasion for Peter Siddle, Australia being unable to draw the match would have felt like one.

Australia-South Africa encounters have always produced nail-biting matches (a clash of the titans if you would). It was around this time last year that these two teams were locked in another struggle, on that occasion Australia walked away victorious (with only two wickets in hand and time not on their side). In Adelaide, once again it was not until the last ball of the match that a result was confirmed.

Australia dominated the first day of the test match, South Africa fought back on the second day before the hosts wrestled the initiative back on the third. The forth was a see-saw affair before the fifth was a display of test cricket at its best.

The cricket audience around the world have been “treated” to an overdose of twenty-twenty cricket, so much so that even the players have found it hard to readjust. Over in Bangladesh, last week, Chris Gayle decided to start a test match by hitting a six, on Thursday in Adelaide David Warner and Michael Clarke chose to rack up nearly 500 runs in the first day.

By the fifth day of this match all of that was forgotten, the big shots had been shelved and a solid defense was being employed by those in the middle. The bowlers knew wickets would not be easy to come by, they stuck to their plans and ran in every ball until they had none left. To add a little more spice to the game, both sides were a player down (South Africa without their star batsman Jaques Kallis and Australia without their key bowler James Pattinson). It was a game of attrition, both sides looked to etch away at the other’s mental make up.

Australia knew a win would go a long way in regaining the number one position, South Africa was out to show they deserved to hold on to that label.

As the day went on the weariness of both sides showed on their players’ faces, but ever so once in awhile a a deep breath was taken and they plunged back into battle. Faf du Plessis showed immense concentration, something that has abandoned most modern day players, while Peter Siddle brought out that trademark Aussie grit as he never gave up.

Fittingly it was these two who would see off the end of the day (and match). Siddle looked a spent force, yet he found the energy to produce two more probing and fiery overs. Du Plessis was close to collapsing from exhaustion, but, as he had done all day he continued to fight through the pain to ensure the Proteas walked away with a hard fought draw.

In four days’ time these two teams will be back out on the park in Perth ready to battle once more for the mantle of the number one team. Their clothes will be be clean, their energy back and possibly a few new faces in the lineups. Yet they will know that five days are before them, five days for them to suck in deep breaths, five days to run in hard and ignore the pain and at the end of those five days the number one side will be crowned.

Twenty-twenty cricket has the glitz and glamour, but for all of its dazzle it lacks the heart and fight which is shown in test cricket.

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Cricket Australia and its future of change

November 20, 2011 Leave a comment

Australia’s ongoing test series in South Africa has been far from what Michael Clarke would have been hoping for. Coming off a series win in Sri Lanka, being one-nil down and struggling to win the second test is not a step up. The one thing this series has shown is that Australia is still a team in transition, and that means changes are necessary. The team and spectators are now faced with the likelihood of axing Ricky Ponting, Brad Haddin and Mitchell Johnson. A sad thought, but ultimately one which would benefit the team in the long run.
Below is a possible 12 man team for the upcoming series against New Zealand, fitness permitting of course.
1) Philip Hughes: A batsman who has promised much but failed to produce consistently with the bat, his first innings at the Wanderers and his last innings in Colombo showed that he has the class to play at this level. Now all Hughes needs is the temperament, something that will hopefully develop over time and a prolonged run in the team.
2) Usman Khawaja: An exciting prospect, this left hander has also shown he has a rock solid technique and the maturity to play long innings. His disrupted run in the team so far has not allowed him to show off his class just yet in the international arena
3) Shaun Marsh: This left hander has all but made the number 3 spot his own. Coming in to the side in Kandy Marsh made an innings, and ultimately, test series winning knock. Since then he has not looked back. His absence in the the second test has been keenly missed and will no doubt remain an integral part of the test side.
4) Shane Watson: The all-rounder’s importance with the ball is continually being highlighted as his test career grows. Unfortunately his role with the bat is of equal importance. Yet due to his history of injuries, it would be best to see him drop down the order from the opening position and adopt a role in the middle order. This will give Michael Clarke the freedom to bowl him and not worry about him following it up straight away with the bat as was see last week.
5) Michael Clarke: No doubt the skipper is much happier batting at the number 5 position and will enjoy coming down the order, his century in Cape Town showed that he can marshal the tail well, something that may be necessary as Australia continues to go through its transitional phase. It will also give him peace of mind as he will not have to worry too much about his captaincy and continually building a team innings.
6) Michael Hussey: With the team looking to the future, Hussey’s spot will come under more and more scrutiny. His lean run in South Africa would not help his cause. However, his sublime form in Sri Lanka will be enough, for now, to warrant his selection in the team. Mr. Cricket will not doubt look to bow out on his own terms.
7) Mathew Wade/Tim Paine: These two young wicket-keeper batsmen have shown that they can perform at the top level. Their glove work is probably better than their predecessor, and thankfully for the two of them their form with the bat cannot be any worse than Haddin’s.
8)Peter Siddle: The right arm fast bowler has not had the best tour with the ball, however, his continual hard work and never die attitude should be enough to see him enjoy an extended run in the team. Certainly with better backup his performances will improve.
9) Doug Bollinger/Ryan Harris: These two seam bowlers have had promising careers continually disrupted by injury. Ideally if they can get their workload under control either one of the two would be a mainstay in the team. One possibility is to see a rotation policy used in regard to these two players.
10)Pat Cummins: No doubt the star of the JoBurg test for Australia, this 18 year old has shown class and maturity beyond his age. The only worry that comes with the continued use of the youngster is a possibility of burnout. Luckily for Australia, a growing rank of fast bowlers in the country means a rotation policy with other youngsters is on the cards.
11) Nathan Lyon: The offspinner continues to grow in his role , with little first class experience his performances are even more impressive. He has not picked up wickets by the bucket load, but has shown that he can be a handful. It would be unwise to keep chopping and changing the spinners.
12)David Warner: This left hander has shown that he is continuing to grow as a batsman. From being a player who walked out looking to hit every ball for six, Warner has matured and shown that he can build a long innings. His continued presence around the test side will ultimately benefit him.

So with this potentially new and younger line up Australia will be heralding in a new era, the dominant team of nineties and earl 2000s will die out completely with the bowing out of Ricky Ponting. Of course for such a great batsman he should be allowed an opportunity to have a farewell test, a strong possibility for the upcoming series.