Saturday, January 14, 2012

Observations From the First 2 Days of the Perth Test Match

I must admit I woke this morn thinking of writing my 'analysis of the 3rd Border/Gavaskar Test' in anticipation of the game being over by Lunch on Day 3. In doing that, I would feel a bit short changed by not being able to immerse in a full Test match, so instead I will ramble out a few of my observations from the play so far.

1.The Traditional Perth Pitch is Dead!
Everyone who follows the game knows there is a hysterical obsession with anything to do with express fast bowling and seeing the effect it has on batsmen. The Perth pitch is the poster child of this obsession because of its reputation of being blisteringly fast and bouncy ( refer to the video to see its brutal past). Well, that was it's reputation up until the late 80's with the pitch having a whiteness about it in demeanour and a certain sheen on it. That because of it hard as a rock pitch made the ball kiss it accelerating off it sheen to join the 'Land of the Giants' in its bounce.

Those days are gone as seen by a few balls on the first few days reaching the keeper on the 2nd bounce, whereas in the old days there was always a chance of a ball taking off and bouncing high over the keeper head.

Brief reminders of it will be remain as in Mitchell Starc's fabulous ball to Gautam Gambhir, but the days of its fiery past are well and truly over.

2. Mark Taylor and Australian Pitches
Australia's recent resurgence since the Argus Review got rid of Andrew Hilditch and his incompetent cronies has the words of a member of that review resonating in my mind. In Mark Taylor, who for years has been an outspoken critics of how flat pitches have become, and called for more spice being put into them.

Duly this Summer in Australia we have seen all the pitches revert back to ones of traditional Test demeanour. This has been a master stroke for it has lent into England's great strength of creating a real home fortress. As well as support Australia's major strength in pace bowling and providing a perfect grounding for young batsmen on challenging pitches. Which as a result will mean they are like ducks to water on the more batting friendly.

3. In Response To Virat Kohli
"Scoring eight hundreds in one-day internationals can't be a fluke. It's international cricket as well. I don't know why people have been questioning my technique or temperament so much.

Mr Kohli,

I give you the highest dues for being arguably the best batsmen in the ODI/T20 styles of the game. Though to bring your calibre up in these games as a pointer to you being Test quality is akin to paying homage to 'fools gold'.

For they have no relation to the demands of Test Cricket in any regard. Just think of batting on pitches tailor made for batsmen with bowlers having restrictions on them by the amount of overs they can bowl allowing lesser players to hide. 

In no way am I labelling you a 'lesser player' for you have talent, but you have a sincere denial of reality by what you pay homage too, and an ill advised nature in your actions and words

Even bringing up your dual 50's against a impotent West Indies attack on a feather bed Mumbai pitch only further holds you up to ridicule

4. Cement Your Legend By Batting At 3 Michael Clarke
All we have done since Michael Clarke has accepted the Captaincy is be in awe of his sincere leadership that has instilled an Aussie renaissance.

His batting has been masterful at times too. As seen in one of the best innings in the modern era in Capetown against an exceprional South African attack supported by a bowling friendly pitch. Then of course his epic 300 in Sydney that would have more likely than not seen him break Brian Lara's record Test score if he had not declared on himself.

He is without doubt Australia's best batsmen and keeping this in mind he should move to 3 in the order to fill the Teams greatest need.

In doing so, he would automatically solidify the top order as well as giving further inspiration to his peers that he is determined to lead Australia's rise in the game from the front. Rather than hiding away at the relative safety of 5 in the line up

5. Umesh Yadav Shames His Indian Team Mates
After a fire and ice assault from the Australian openers Dave Warner and Ed Cowan had propelled the total to 214 without loss and with the promise of plenty more to come. The thing that stood out like dogs balls in the field was the dropped heads and ambivalent mentality of the Indians with not one wanting to try to instigate a desire to fight back in his team mates.

Symbolically, the joke of a Captain M.S.Dhoni seemed to be having a nanna nap as a Warner edge flew past him causing Virat Kohli to drop it after reacting late in anticipation of Dhoni going for it. Sachin Tendulkar decided to adjourn from his usual position at slip to the boundary to be spared of the heat, and the rest bar one just went through the motions.

This one in Umesh Yadav is a 24 year old fast bowler in his 4 Test, but he was the only one who decided to try to make a difference.

In his 6 over spell of 33/3, and eventual innings figures of 93/5 he showed his immense potential as a quality Test bowler.

As well as shaming the disgracefully lapse attitude in his Team mates that saw them all too willing to give up without a fight 

6. Craig McDermott's Bowling Unit
In support of the very definite ploy of Cricket Australia to have more pitches to suit bowlers. It has tapped into Australia strength at present in fast bowling stocks.

This quality is very evident, but since Craig McDermott has come in as bowling Coach he has transformed the bowlers from a individual sense in the most profound manner. As well as creating a real wolf pack of a bowling unit that overwhelms batting line ups

The key element has been the focus on traditional swing, fuller lines to facilitate the swing, and the introduction of a defensive style of bowling into all the components of the attack. That has been very lacking in Australia's attack for a good long time.

Making the pressure on batsmen be acidic in its manner

He has 7 Test quality bowlers at his disposal with their calibre as follows

James Pattinson- Potential elite strike bowler

Pat Cummins- The logical new ball partner for Pattinson, and a bowler who has the potential to be great

Peter Siddle- Leading the attack now, but would be the perfect first change bowler

Ben Hilfenhaus- Quality B grade bowler

Ryan Harris- Quality Strike Bowler

Mitchell Starc- Immense potential with his lefthandedness, and real pace and swing. Though a long term prospect with plenty of work to do

Shane Watson- Perfect foil in support of the attack with his lethal reverse swing.

Time To Start The Future In Adelaide, India!
The series without a doubt has shown decay has well and truly become apparent in all of Sachin Tendulkar's, Rahul Dravid, VVS Laxman and Virender Sehwag's games.

You saw this in these phases

- Sachin- showing uncharacteristic dissention and angst about being adjudged LBW in the 2nd innings of Perth. Which more told about him being upset by him getting out to a ball drifting onto his pads that he would have typically flayed to the boundary. It told of his struggles since South Africa last year.

He has earnt the right to choose when he goes, but he needs to have an India first attitude as he looks at whether to go on or retire. In respect to what would benefit the Team more?

A youngster being able to be blooded in the Team or Sachin hanging around depriving the Team of this option?

- Dravid- getting bowled comprehensively 4 times in this series. Embarrassingly to a full ball on leg stump in the first innings of this game

Retained for Adelaide, but told to retire after

- Laxman- It breaks my heart to write this, but the timing that so symbolised Laxman's career has been jaded by age, and he needs to retire.

Tragically throughout this series, he has looked like a man that is not drowning, but not floating either 

- Sehwag- A batsman who has lived and excelled by his see ball hit ball mentality that is devoid of any technique or footwork. Though now is being found out more and more when there is a bit of swing or seam.

Time to go Viru!

My Adelaide Top 6

Ajinkya Rahane

Gautam Gambhir

Rahul Dravid- retiring after this game, and Cheteshwar Pujara being put in as his successor at number 3

Sachin Tendulkar 

Rohit Sharma

Virat Kohli