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December 2008
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Jrod: Pace, pace and more pace

December 16th, 2008 by JRod in Australia, South Africa, Test cricket


It’s probably the favourite word of most cricket reporters, mine is yogalates, and it is being said so often before the WACA Test that some reporters have stopped using adjectives so they can fit pace into more sentences.

Try this, from SB Terwilliger of the Fremantle Gazette, “South Africa have the most pace pace pace pace bowling attack that has ever been assembled, They are pace, and pace, Australia have every reason to be pace, very pace.”

Thing is I’ve heard it before, when South Africa turned up in England.

I thought the South African bowlers were rampant ravenous wolves from the descriptions in the media.

It was all about pace, vicious raw pace, pace that could kill your whole family and the kid down the road with the limp.

This was the greatest mostly white pace attack, ever.

What happened when they arrived was rather benign – only one of their quicks averaged under 30 with the ball – JacquesKallis.

Morkel 15 @ 33, Ntini 14 @ 37, and Steyn 8 @ 36.

Hardly frightening, and let us not forget most of the series was BKPAC (before KP as captain).

I don’t want to just pick on the South Africans, well I do, but the editors won’t let me.

Does anyone remember what nonsense was written about Tait before the last WACA Test, apparently he was going to bowl at a such a pace, yep that word again, that it would prove quantum physics.

Once a reporter or real person has jumped on the pace bandwagon, it’s hard to get off, it’s always gathering speed you see.

The truth about South Africa’s attack is far less sexy than rampant ravenous wolves.

Dale Steyn is a freak on a leash some days, and a pretty puppy on others.

When he is on song, there are few sights like it, but he either plays awesome series, or an very average series.

Morne Morkel is made for fast bowling, but South Africa have kept the warranty just in case.

Sure he can bowl amazing spells, and David Hussey tells me he is scary good, but he is also prone to 12/14 ball overs.

And Makaya Ntini is 87 years old.

At least.

South Africa’s attack might be a venomous beast, and it might find its full flight in Perth, but they will need more than pace, as Australia also have three bowlers who can go well over 90 miles per hour.

But don’t tell anyone in the media that, or journalists may start to overdose on speed.

Jrod is an Australian cricket blogger, his site won July’s Best of Blogs in TWC

Posted in Australia, South Africa, Test cricket | 1 Comment »

John Stern: Problems remain for England’s nearly men

December 16th, 2008 by John Stern in England, England in India, Test cricket

Such was the emotion in Chennai and the quality of the cricket, it seems churlish and inappropriate to pick holes in England’s performance, as one would normally do. But hey, we’re world-class churls so what the heck?

It is not so much England’s performance that raises questions. Indeed, they performed outstandingly for, as KP said, 70 per cent of the game. There were precious few ‘what ifs’ or individuals who could be accused of letting the side down.

Bluntly, England were beaten by a brilliant team at the peak of their powers (Rahul Dravid excepted), which is no disgrace.

But the problems they have are more fundamental and have been apparent for a while without being dealt with.

Firstly, there is Monty Panesar, who took 0 for 105 and went for almost four an over in the second innings at Chennai. Since the summer of 2007, Panesar has taken 44 wickets at 35, a return that borders respectability. But worryingly his strike-rate in that time is 76.8, or a wicket every 12 overs or so. Over his 34-Test career, it’s 68.1 so there appears to be a substantial downturn.

David Capel, the Northants coach, has said Monty lacked match practice. Er, what about Andrew Strauss? And the point is that Monty has been off-the-boil for a while. I haven’t heard any of the myriad experts who pontificate on this game say that Monty has actually been bowling well this past year. The universal consensus is that he’s bowling too fast, not teasing the batsman enough. Is it only Monty who doesn’t see this? He needs a mentor badly, someone with Test experience who can cajole and instruct and take him to the next level. In the meantime, he should be left out of the second Test and replaced with a fourth seamer.

Now England’s other problem. It is rare that I agree with Sir Ian Botham but he was spot on about England’s loss of momentum with the bat on the fourth evening infecting their fourth-innings display with the ball. Paul Collingwood has scored two hundreds in his last three Tests. The first of those (v South Africa at Edgbaston) was his fastest for England, the 108 at Chennai his slowest. Indeed the 108 was the third slowest 50-plus score of his 40-match Test career. The Edgbaston hundred was a last-chance saloon innings, nothing to lose and everything to gain. Chennai was the opposite.

Collingwood has had to play at his absolute optimum to keep his head above water in Test cricket. He is, in some ways, the Ashley Giles of this England team: the added-value, top bloke of the dressing room. The difference is that skills-wise Giles was a peripheral figure in the side whereas Collingwood is a pivotal figure in the middle order. I don’t believe England will win the Ashes with the batting line-up they have now. It is too one-paced and has been for ages. So what to do? Collingwood was very fortunate to be recalled at Edgbaston last year but he’s hardly likely to be dropped now (even though he should be). Ian Bell, talented though he is, must be the one looking over his shoulder while Owais Shah curses the iniquities of England selection for the umpteenth time.

John Stern is editor of The Wisden Cricketer

Posted in England, England in India, Test cricket | 2 Comments »

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