July 2009
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Paul Coupar: Cardiff – Ashes reaction, Australian style

July 13th, 2009 by TWC in England, Test cricket, The Ashes, The media


It was like one of those odd early-morning dreams, the sort where news from the clock radio seeps through in distorted ways, and you end up thinking you’re in bed with John Humphrys and Barack Obama, telling them that Freddie Flintoff is clearly the man to sort the global financial crisis.

But no, waking in Australia on Monday morning, I discovered that Monty Panesar and James Anderson really had blocked out for an improbable draw in the first Test.

With the close in Cardiff falling in the dead of an Australian night, and with work the next morning, plenty of Aussies headed to bed around tea time, confident of a win. They woke to a surprise.

Australian cricket followers have grown used to Shane Warne dislodging teams on the final day through sheer force of personality. This was not expected.

“Harry Houdini is alive and well in Cardiff,” Dean Jones told the Sydney Morning Herald after England squeaked a draw.

Australia relishes a man like Jones who tells it like it is, and the ‘straight shooter’ seldom pulls the trigger with more satisfaction than when a Pommie cricketer is in the sights – except perhaps when it is a spawny Pommie cricketer.

“Let me tell you, for all English fans, let me tell you one more time … you are deluded,” continued Jones, with all the punch with which he once cuffed Test bowlers.

“You only took six wickets in the match. Australia took 19 on a very, very flat pitch. You haven’t won at Lord’s since 1934 and, I tell you what, Australia are going to belt you there.”

Meanwhile Malcolm Conn in The Australian did not wholly agree that James Anderson needed two new pairs of batting gloves in the final few overs.

“Andrew Strauss is responsible for the fundamental fabric of the game, which has been tarnished as a result of his appalling cynicism,” Conn wrote of England’s time-wasting.

“If it was not Strauss’s idea but someone else in the team hierarchy he should be ashamed of himself for being pushed into such a Blackadder cunning plan.

“If he did give the order unprompted for such a blatant act of panicked stupidity, then he has a lot to learn about the art of captaincy beyond shuffling bowlers and fieldsmen.”

Meanwhile, Jones felt England’s last-day batting could have been better. “Their top five batsmen were disgraceful. When you play on a fifth-day pitch you put the cross-bat shots away because you just cannot trust a fifth-day pitch, particularly in England.”

So how about England’s bowlers, five of whom brought up unwanted centuries as Australia pushed beyond 600 towards infinity? “They were shocking … despondent, they couldn’t care less and they just wanted to get back on the highway up to London,” said Jones.

With four English Ashes debutants on show, there were plenty of new faces in the shooting gallery. And in Australia, public enemies Nos.1 and 2 were Ravi Bopara and Stuart Broad.

The perky Bopara was widely seen as having adopted a swagger that was far from being earned.

Stuart MacGill, in his new role as a smiley anchor for SBS’s live coverage, summed it up before the match.

“I don’t think I’d have been doing that when I’d only played a few Tests”, said MacGill knowingly as he watched footage of Bopara miming his name being written on the Lord’s honours board after reaching his recent century against West Indies.

As for Broad, the robust Conn called his last-day shoulder-charge of Peter Siddle “pretty ordinary”. Now this phrase has a particular meaning in Australia; it tends to be reached for when, as happened recently, a rugby league player has defecated in a hotel corridor or hit his girlfriend with a bottle.

Jason Gillespie and many others expressed amazement that Broad had been picked ahead of Steve Harmison. “There is no doubt the Australian camp was reasonably happy that Harmison wasn’t included in the squad,” he told the SMH.

On the other hand, Kevin Pietersen, made the villain by the British press, was widely defended in Australia, despite his ‘tennis ball gate’ set-to with Mitchell Johnson.

Roebuck and Jones both questioned whether his first-day sweep – “like a man trying to fetch a coin from under the fridge” according to Frank Skinner – was any more feckless than anything else offered up by the English batsmen.

And lest the Australian press be accused of bias, here is Jones on Mitchell Johnson: “His efforts with the second new ball were really poor” and Conn on Brett Lee: “[he] has offered so little for so long that his latest injury setback is hardly the end of Australia’s Ashes campaign.” And that as Australia came within a rain shower of winning. Heaven help them if they lose.

Paul Coupar is a former features editor of The Wisden Cricketer. He is now a freelance journalist based in Sydney.

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes, The media | 2 Comments »

Jrod: Nathan Hauritz is better than England

July 13th, 2009 by Jrod in England, Test cricket, The Ashes and tagged , , , , ,


Is Nathan Hauritz better than England?


He took six wickets.

They took five (Brad Haddin, caught at deep-midwicket slogging pre-declaration, doesn’t count).

England shouldn’t be embarrassed though, Hauritz is the best club spinner in Sydney on the days Greg Matthews is filming a hair loss commercial.

Hauritz outplayed England in almost facet of the game: he only misfielded three balls, England did way more than that, and he didn’t play one stupid shot in this match. Compare that with England.

I now understand King Cricket’s article about Australia’s batting being boring, he is used to the faster rotation of batsmen.

England batsmen tend to think the game is getting boring, time to hit the ball into our helmet. Or we’re playing for a draw, but I bet the crowd would like me to cut this ball out of the rough.

Australia went for another tactic, total annihilation of England’s bowlers. Revolutionary. It must have worked as on the fourth day England didn’t even come out on the field, instead Adidas sent out cardboard cut-outs, and Paul Collingwood.

That wasn’t the only radical tactic England tried, they also reversed the batting order. Why waste the straight bat of Montybot or the brilliant playing inside the line of Jimmy A on the new ball when you can save them to the end to win the draw? I assume England won the draw, what with the fist pumping and uniformed smiles.

As an Australian, the match slowing tactics particularly impressed me. Two sets of gloves and a moob-heavy physio doing a Bo Derek impression. It was great. Australia are obviously protectors of the spirit of cricket (we keep it in Merv Hughes’ moustache) and are above any sort of stretching of the rules.

Bilal Shafayat and Steve McCaig

This was never more evident than when TWC blogger Peter Siddle accidentally hit Graeme Swann for the fourth or fifth time, and he went down to say, “Sorry mate, hope you are ok, after all cricket is just a game and I wouldn’t want to hurt you”.

Graeme Swann then let go with a torrent of expletives that not even the foul-mouthed Robin Martin-Jenkins would use. But what can you expect of the English, filthy savage wild bunch that they are. Nathan Hauritz has never uttered a swear word; if he does his mother will cancel his pocket money.

Jrod is an Australian blogger, and now author. His book The Year Of The Balls 2008: A Disrespective is available now

Posted in England, Test cricket, The Ashes | 5 Comments »

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