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December 2008
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King Cricket: Size matters when you’re chasing

December 22nd, 2008 by King Cricket in Australia, South Africa, Test cricket and tagged , ,

With India successfully chasing down 387 last week and South Africa making 414 for 4 to beat Australia in Perth, captains of teams batting last must surely start asking themselves: “Are we chasing a big enough target?”

Small targets are notoriously difficult on the last day. When everyone expects a side to win, they often veer between trying to knock off the runs in no time and batting so sensibly that they slip into dot-ball paralysis. It’s far better to have nothing to lose and to play your natural game with a target of 380 or 400. By the time the target’s down to a more dangerous total, you’ve worked up that most elusive cricketing attribute: momentum.

If you’re chasing a total in the fourth innings, you want to face complacent bowlers with no sense of urgency and you don’t want any pressure on you, the batting side. You want to be chasing 300 at the very least. You might need to manufacture this situation somewhat. In the previous innings, if your opponents are 150 ahead and six wickets down, send down some wide half volleys and some mid-paced long hops. Make life easier for your openers.

Maybe consider letting through a few byes. If the batting side see what you’re trying to do and start using their feet to smother leg-side wides with good solid forward defensive strokes, resort to no-balls. Batsmen can’t do much to stop the bowler overstepping and there’s the added benefit that you won’t accidentally clean bowl someone.

You’re in dangerous territory here though. Push it too far and there’s the chance that the opposition might declare, leaving you a tricky chase of 176. If you’re chasing 176 in the current cricketing climate, you’ll have to pray for rain. You’ve no chance. You’ve got barely half the runs you need to go at.

See King Cricket’s regular blog at King Cricket is a cult figure in the world of cricket blogs and was TWC’s first Best-of-blogs winner in April 2008.

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

Jrod: Not all gloom for Australia

December 22nd, 2008 by JRod in Australia, South Africa and tagged ,

Put your panties back on Australia haters, this isn’t quite champagne-and-skittles time yet, and for you Australian fanatics, get off Punter’s back and grab a beer, things aren’t that ugly.

In the last six tests, Australia is without a win.

They have huge problems.

An opening batsmen old enough to have spawned a replacement, who is batting like a team of killer gnats are attacking him, a captain who thinks of excuses more creatively than field placements, a fast bowler with a broken heart, young bowlers looking good but adding little, a star middle-order batsman with a average that is in constant nose dive and the sudden realisation that 20 wickets a Test is not a possibility.

That and the loss of this “aura” I keep hearing about are their problems, but there are almost as many positives.

Australia’s record at the Waca in the last four Tests is 1-2. Their next Test is at the MCG, where they have won nine on the trot, a place Hayden and Ponting own, and if anywhere is going to fire up Lee, it’s in front of 70,000 screaming Victorian animals.

Australia still got 400 runs ahead in a Test without a centurion.

They still were in the game until the last partnership with only one bowler firing.

They pushed the most inform team in the world around for days with only five players performing at anywhere near test standard.

Mitchell Johnson is pushing Steyn for title of best fast bowler on earth.

Brad Haddin still fumbles a bit but his last three innings have been good enough for any top order in the world.

Simon Katich maybe the ugliest thing this side of a kitten massacre, but you can’t get him out.

Michael Clarke is finally becoming the batsmen that Australia has pretended he has been for some time.

Andrew Symonds can still change a game in a session, when behaving well.

I didn’t pick these names out of a hat either.

These are the newer boys, they haven’t been dominating people with Warne, Gilly, McGrath, Langer and Martyn around, they have done their best work since the big boys left.

Johnson and Haddin never played a Test with the old guard and Katich averaged 30-odd when he played with them, he averages 60 since he came back into the side.

Clarke and Symonds were carried in great teams but last year Symonds became the teams best batsman and Clarke has got in a recent habit of saving Australia when they are struggling, something he almost never did when playing with the adults.

This is a team under reconstruction, so you don’t want to get caught pantieless if they get it right, or sober if they get it wrong.

And there will be plenty of both in the future.

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

Posted in Australia, South Africa | No Comments »

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