Posts Tagged ‘Marlon Samuels’

A gentleman’s game goes sour (and becomes rugby)

Wasn’t it nice to be reminded what Shane Warne was truly capable of?

Throughout his career we had booty shaking at Trent Bridge, Mrs. Warne bequeathing diuretics upon her ailing son and a certain lengthy ban for a certain serious infringement.

Yet all of that was lost in a sea of miraculous dismissals and denied hundreds once the great man retired, and instead the eye of common memory settled upon the Gatting delivery, calling Brendon McCullum’s dismissal in the Big Bash League last year and dating Liz Hurley (remember Simone Warne, formerly beloved of the gossip mags?).

There is an old adage about cricket, incidentally involving rugby, that one can catch if one listens closely enough around old blokes drinking Resch’s.

It says something to the effect of cricket being a game played by bogans pretending to be gentlemen, while rugby is a game played by gentlemen pretending to be bogans.

Harsh? Fair? I’m not sold, I reckon both cricket and rugby have their fair share of both pretending to be both, as well as just straight up nice guys and some lousy ones.

But there is an interesting comparison to be made, I think, between Twenty20 cricket and rugby. While cricket at its purest is predominantly about the mind, the more one shortens the format the more reliant on the body it becomes. It becomes less about thinking and planning and more about just executing.

Test matches give the bowler the ability to work a batsman out with a plan, because the batsmen knows that taking a risk in the longer format increases the likelihood of dismissal. Why risk that when you have all day to bat?

If he instead respects good balls, offering a dead bat, and punishes wayward balls that are easier to get away, the more likely the batsman will receive consistent reward. In this way the batsman’s ability to hit boundaries is less important than his ability to concentrate for long periods of time and survive planned assaults from bowlers.

Twenty20 shifts the focus. A bowler has to only plan one ball at a time, because he is the one who must hold firm and ‘survive,’ while the batsmen must use every ounce of his strength and hand-eye to attempt to score as many runs as possible from every delivery, whether through bludgeoning it out of the park or caressing it to parts of the fence a red cricket ball would rarely acquaint itself with.

The physically demanding, fast-paced and tough sport of rugby promotes raised levels of anger in its players due to the collisions and posturing. The lack of time to consider and plot, however, must also have a bearing on this. Does Twenty20 cricket, by decreasing the time spent between deliveries and on the field in total, thereby increasing the urgency of runmaking and wicket taking, also increase the level of machoness and posturing between teams?

There was certainly a lot of that between Marlon Samuels and Shane Warne the other night.

I think this theory could be on the money, but more on this later.

As to the censure around this particular incident, well, I think we might be acting a tad precious.

Samuels_Warne-1200

A clear throw from Samuels is sure to attract the attention of Darrell Hair

For those who missed it, Warnie was captured saying “Fuck you, Marlon,” then throwing the ball at Samuels and Marlon retaliating by throwing his bat in a direction somewhat close to Warnie’s, though not nearly close enough to threaten anyone. To be fair, Warnie should have removed the microphone snugly attached to his waist before hurling expletives at the bat chucker.

It all started earlier in the day when the big fish Samuels (a marlin joke, you see) decided to tug David Hussey’s shirt while he was running between the wickets. If they kept their hands to themselves there would be no story.

Wherefore all this masculine hanky panky? Is Twenty20 breeding a new kind of cricketing boofhead? Is it forcing young cricketers to be brash and cocky, ignorant of the grace, skill and charisma of the cricketers of old.

Or is this merely a blip? After all, how many other instances of throwing the bat have you seen in Twenty20?

Nay, I see this as a one off, and to try to make it something it isn’t is not giving enough credit to the cricketers who have played thousands of Twenty20s before this one.

More importantly, I have been analysing Marlon Samuels’ throw of the bat, and have determined through thoroughly unscientific methods that his elbow bend on his toss was clearly beyond the allowed 15 degrees. The University of Western Australia better get onto that.

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Belittling people who make stupid predictions about things they don’t fully understand

It would appear to be the case that, contrary to popular belief, Australians actually can play Twenty20 cricket.

A shocking trend has emerged in the last month, whereby Australian cricket sides playing against other teams, also of the cricketing variety, have been defeating them consistently in the twenty over format. And I’m not talking shortened, Duckworth-Lewis tainted One Day International fixtures, which Australia has always been good at. I’m talking bonafide, booty shaking, nicknamed jersey wearing, firework-abusing T20 fixtures.

About a month ago people weren’t even sure Aussies could even beat an Irish side that sported such household names as Kevin and Niall O’Brien as the gun bats, Trent Johnston being the jack-of-all-trades and master of none, and Boyd Rankin headlining a pace attack that doesn’t even have to book a table at Noma, such is there fame in Scandinavia.

I kid, of course.

Cricketing purists may convince themselves that Rankin is up there with Dale Steyn when it comes to instilling fear into the hearts of even the most stoic bladesmen, and that Niall O’Brien is rated as the purest striker of the cricket ball since Garfield Sobers last wielded the willow.

But anyone who successfully convinces me that Trent Johnston is actually Irish, and is not just a first grader who couldn’t crack an Aussie state side, will earn my respect and a bag of Jordnøtter (salted peanuts).

It worried Aussie cricket pundits, a word I will revisit momentarily, that we were ranked tenth in the world in the second shortest format of the game (the Hong Kong sixes takes that cake, and eats it in record time).

Let me say that it should not have, and the fact that these people still consider themselves pundits and deign to show their faces on our television screens and lend their voices to nerdy cricketing podcasts is shameful. Did they seriously think we were worse than Ireland?

Well, the result in the ICC World Twenty20 was an undefeated run through our pool, a walloping of the Indians and the Saffas, a loss to Pakistan and their myriad of highly questionable (that one’s for you Inverarity) doosra exponents, followed by a booting from a talented and mercurial West Indies oufit who would have beaten a team of roided-up Barry Bonds/Ellyse Perry lovechildren.

I would go as far to say that even if said lovechildren had been brought up in a Brave New World, Yao Ming-esque style specifically for the purpose of defeating that West Indian team on that day, they still would have lost.

In the end, I felt like the Aussies were the best in the comp. Sure, they were something of a one man team, with Shane Watson topping every imaginable stat ever invented except for “Most Gangnam-Style dance routines” which was snapped up by Pommy Mbangwa, with an honourable mention to Darren Sammy and his men for their baffling outbreaks of Saturday night fever every time a wicket was taken.

After the ICC thing, we came to an even more meaningless tournament, the Champions League T20, pitting the best from each top tier nation against one another in a T20 battle royale.

The Scorchers sucked, sure, but we all know now that was only because Perth doesn’t have pubs and the boys from Western Australia couldn’t resist sucking the taps dry each night.

The Sixers, from Sydney, soon to be the new small bar capital of the world I’ll have you know, absolutely crushed any resistance put in front of them. A bunch of home grown cricket exponents (and Shane Watson for half the tournament) put each and every team they played to the sword.

Their closest run thing was against the Titans in the semi final, where some good batting from Steve O’Keefe, Ben Rohrer and some fine finishing from prodigy Pat Cummins got them over the line off the final ball.

Aside from that one seesawing game, the Sixers crushed everyone else. The final agains the Lions was won in a canter, despite the home advantage. And the group play? Don’t get me started on that foregone conclusion. The Sixers could have played with blindfolds on against the Mumbai “not so Indian” Indians (feat. Doug Bollinger), their strongest opposition, and still taken home the biscuits.

It seems like the recent latest incarnations of Australian Twenty20 teams mustn’t have gotten the memo. I was emailed a copy of this memo by an anonymous human recently, so here it is for your perusal:

I know this may come as a shock you, but we’ve decided that Australia is not good at Twenty20 cricket. In no way is this grounded in fact, based on half truths, or even sourced from pseudo-experts. No. We have decided this to be case for no reason whatsoever. Play your cricket accordingly, and move along.

— End Transmission —

It’s been nice to see Aussies winning. It makes me happy. Goodnight everyone.

I said they would win! Give me chocolates!

An innings of character in a Twenty20 match? I might be going a bit batty… All this sideshow, Korean dancing by men from Jamaica, fireworks, bands playing from go-to-whoa must be beginning to have work its way into my brain. Like that black stuff from Spiderman 3. Terrible movie.

Marlon Samuels played a lone innings on Sunday in the World Twenty20 final. 78 from 56 proved to be enough to get the West Indies over the line. Well, that and 20 marvellous (thanks Ritchie) overs from the Windies bowlers, in particular a jaffa from Ravi Rampaul and Sunil Narine’s always immaculate mystery spin.

But before I go onto to talk more cricket, I will first address some housekeeping. I know I’ve been talking a lot about this weird World Twenty20 thing that no one’s been watching, but you must understand it is me grasping at relevance. This is something that was going on until yesterday, and I thought people might be interested in it. At journalism school, which I attended at some point in my life, they taught us that currency is everything in the media. I didn’t understand at first, but when I started reading all this stuff about Alan Jones and “cash for comment” I finally understood.

One friend of mine, the one with the terrible golf swing for those who want to go lynch him, even suggested that I write about Wife Carrying, which I subsequently googled and found that it is a sport of my newly native Scandinavia. Finland was the birthplace, and though I could now regale you about the ins and outs of the correct carrying style for the Estonian method, there haven’t been any Wife Carrying championships recently, so my google hits will go down if I suddenly tag a post with stuff about Alexy Kopshoratov of Russia who carried his barely legal 49.1 kilogram wife over the 253.5 metre course in the shortest time ever recorded, while drinking half a dozen beers along the way. Or maybe my hits will go up? I’m tagging it just in case.

Cricket, however, remains the focus of this post. Sorry to disappoint.

In my previous post I warned the Windies against letting me down and losing in the final, lest they feel my wrath. When they were 2/32 halfway through their 20 overs I was ready to let Mahela hoist the trophy then and there. As it turns out, unlike the Aussies, the boys who bleed maroon did not have a rule instated whereby only their top three were allowed to score a significant proportion of the runs, and the middle and lower order are allowed to contribute too.

This seems like a reasonable enough step to me, and here’s why. See, when Australia decided upon this strategy, it meant that if their top three got out quickly without scoring absurd amounts of runs that could never be chased down, they lost the game straight away. Not literally, as in they didn’t stop playing. But once the Huss was out of there Bailey and co would shut up shop, not bothering to score. It wasn’t their job, you see.

The West Indies, not having self-applied this limitation on their side, instead applied a motto of “One people, one team, one goal,” which meant they could still win the game even when their top order failed. A cunning plan implemented by the shrewdest of strategists Darren Sammy.

With all the sarcasm aside for a moment, however, Sammy did prove his value to the side which apparently was in question. Having followed his performances fairly closely since he became captain, his mediums, while gentle, have been a more regular source of wickets than most of their more fiery quicks at all levels of cricket. His batting has definitely outshone some of his younger, “more talented” top order compatriots. Where these critics get their right to question the guy who has been one of the Windies best for the past couple of years is beyond me.

Samuels came in at three and played a gem, including a six that would rival the one Brett Lee hit at the Gabba. If you haven’t seen it, check it out. He was ably assisted by Dwayne Bravo (scored runs batting at four, gasp) and a late flurry from aforementioned tactition Sammy, who tactically dispatched all and sundry balls in his vicinity for twos and fours in his strategic slogging of the Sri Lankan closers. This ensured a competitive total of near 140. Pretty good going when your openers don’t work out for you. Hint hint.

Then the bowlers got to work. Rampaul cleaned Dilshan up first rock, with a jaffa that no one except The Wall (that’s me, GDCC players will attest. Rahul Dravid lost that title after being bowled a hundred consecutive times or whatever it was) would have been able to keep out. It was one of those moments where you yell “Ooooooooooohhhhhhhh” and get up and shake around violently while your girlfriend eyes you skeptically from across the room because you’ve done this a couple of times already today and you’re watching the cricket with no beer and you’re wearing headphones like a weirdo. I did a very similar thing with the Samuels six in case you were curious.

Loud exclamation. Move around on the couch a bit. Girlfriend shakes head, keeps studying.

2 for 6 from 2 overs pretty much summed up Sammy’s performance with the ball; they couldn’t get him away even for singles, and when they attempted it they got out. Try as they might, the Sri Lankans couldn’t get any rhythm on the slow and dusty surface. Even the two titans, Mahela and Sangakkara, though they looked the most assured, couldn’t find the boundary with any regularity.

And Narine. Well. People just have no idea how to play him. I hope his Test cricket is played with just as much spirit as his Twenty20, because he could be one of the best bowlers going around in all formats pretty soon.

Come to think of it, the same could be said of the whole team. This is a good side, especially when it comes to batting. If they can find a way to take 20 wickets over five days, and with Narine and Bravo back they might have a greater chance, there’s really nothing stopping these Calypso kings from causing some serious upsets and begin their climb back up the ranking ladder.

I really hope this happens, because as Sammy said in the post match press conference, the West Indians know how to party. And God knows I love watching them partying when they win (I’m a big proponent of Gangnam Style, and all things Psy related), so maybe they could make a habit of this?

Second shameless use of Gangnam Style related celebrations on this blog in two days.

Please Mr Gayle, can we have some more?

It’s hard to be harsh on a bunch of guys that just had the life belted out of them by several tall, muscular West Indian men with cricket bats. Lord knows we’ve all been there.

But by gee those West Indian fellas can bat. Chris Gayle, not given any credit in the attitude stakes by a media who think he’s too cool for school, showed he can mix Gangnam with grit and grind out an innings. And by “grind out” I mean tally 75 not out from 41 deliveries, a score, by human standards, that is attained by slogging from the hip from ball one. The commentators still thought it was a subdued innings.

Terms like “professional” and “mature,” words not usually associated with the bash ’em, crash ’em (both on the field and in contract disputes), Chris Gayle were bandied about like tootsie rolls at a piñata party. And by the looks, the white cherry must have looked as big as a piñata to CH Gayle, and he wasn’t wearing a blindfold, just a do-rag.

9 out of 10 surveyed thought “Gangnam Style” was by Chris Gayle

The real reason people thought he was not scoring as much as usual was simply because he only faced a third of the deliveries available in the innings, despite batting the entire 20 overs. Had he faced twenty more balls there would have been nothing to stop him tonning up.

In the face of this utter bullying of their bowling by these behemoths in maroon, the Aussies looked like kids in the backyard playing against their older brothers. There simply was no chance. When guys like that decide that it’s time to step up, they do it, and there is nothing, even clawing at bigger brother’s eyes, that little brother can do about it.

These Aussies, who had bullied every other side (except Pakistan) into submission, turned into the bullied. They looked physically small. Shane Watson appeared physically dominated against the hulking figures he was playing. And that’s not to say that guile wasn’t part of the Windies plan. He succumbed, just as he did against Pakistan, to a slider from Badree as he attempted to pull off his overly-favoured deep in the crease pull shot.

When Mike Hussey was dismissed by Marlon Samuels, the contrast could not have been more stark. Samuels, in his shirt that could barely contain his bulging muscles, kicked the ball away and yelled ferociously while Hussey looked down in despair. There was nothing that could be done. Big brother had decided to play serious and needed to whoop little brother’s tiny ass.

For my own sanity’s sake I hope the same West Indies side shows up for the final. I hope Gayle knocks those ‘Lankan bowlers around with the ease he did the Aussies, because on that form no bowler that has ever played the game could bowl to those batsmen.

The slightest error in length or line was punished to the greatest possible degree. Late in the innings Henry Gayle flicked an almost perfect yorker past mid-wicket for four. I almost stopped watching, but it too addictive. It was like reading a Stieg Larsson novel: you know it’s not improving you intellectually, in fact it’s probably making you stupider, but my, the way it’s all put together, well, that’s just fine. Despite the fact they were sinking the team I support, six by six, it was too aesthetically pleasing to stop.

It was some sort of cricket drug, and I want more.

I want more K-Pop inspired dance moves. I want ridiculous, over the top celebrations. I want to see those big dudes absolutely crush the Sri Lankans this Sunday.

Because when it comes down to it, West Indians are more fun to watch than any other team in the world for whatever reason. It’s their time to win and win big, and it’s our time to enjoy the ride.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair