Posts Tagged ‘Ricky Ponting’

Bowled over: A tribute to the Little Master

Many of you who read, and the even greater number who did not read, my last vindictive post about the BCCI will know that I am now on a crusade to expose people to the delight that is watching Sachin Tendulkar being bowled.

It’s not because I dislike Tendulkar. Au contraire. He has the master of modern batting; a man who can grace the crease at any moment and take the game away from his opposition.

He is India’s Ricky Ponting, with a higher average to boot.

He’s the best since the Don.

Now while I’m sure Jacques Kallis would have a lot to say about all this (particularly statistically), we all know Tendulkar to be the most dominant batsmen of our times.

But sometimes we Australians, being the parasitic, grasping zombies that we are, must reach for the tallest poppy. It’s part of our nature.

And Tendulkar has gotten himself into this nasty habit of late, opening himself up to such scrutiny about being bowled by, well, being bowled, a lot. Sort of like Dravid did before he retired.

So with no further adieu, I bring to you three rather lovely videos of the great man being bowled in various ways.

Video the first – Pidgeon vs Tendulkar

A fantastic little clip; the uploader was even generous enough to include two minutes of Geoffrey Boycott (the guy with the broad Yorkshire accent) doing what he does best: tell everyone how bad they are and how great he is.

Though there is more of the former in this particular example, you can’t help but feel like Tendulkar was saying to himself: “get me out of here so I don’t have to listen to this guy’s dribble anymore.”

Not that he could hear Geoffrey at all. But you know what, it really wouldn’t surprise me if he could given the superhuman powers attributed to Tendulkar by his fans over in the subcontinent.

Oh, and then his middle stump (or is it leg stump?) goes cartwheeling.

Finally, Harsha Bhogle, the best commentator alive, can get a word in.

Video the second – Jimmy Anderson makes Sachin look rather foolish

You really have to concentrate hard on this one from the beginning. It all happens very quickly, just like that, “BOWLED HIM!!!”

Unfortunately this dismissal is symptomatic of Tendulkar lately.

Yeah, it was a good ball, and it probably kept low, but others might have kept it out whereas Tendulkar watches it cannon into his pegs.

The commentator (I think it’s Sanjay Mandjrekar) says it’s almost an offspinner, and it is. That’s no excuse for Tendulkar assuming the foetal position post-stump shattering. It only makes you look sillier than you already did.

And just to show that this is a common theme in such matters, I’ll remind you of this, which featured in the last post.

Video the third – Careering stumps end careers

One final one, just for those fast bowlers among us who love to see stumps flying and fast bowlers pretending to be aeroplanes.

Again, the master is undone by a ball that ducks back in and knocks back a branch, this time of the off-variety.

It displays Donald at his terrifying best; quick, accurate and achieving prodigious movement off the surface to dislodge one of the best players ever.

Many of you may have realised, by this point, what an extreme disservice this does to Tendulkar as a player of le cricket.

While this is clearly a horribly imbalanced report on one of the best ever, allow me to balance it out sometime in the future with a fitting eulogy of his career when he retires.

Or when the BCCI let the media do their job. Or just give Jim Maxwell a media accreditation.

Whatevs, I’m pretty easy, hey?

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A brief note on a travesty

I know the title above is sadly reminiscent of a word overused by the mainstream media, but I felt it was one of the only apt words to use in lieu of “disgrace.” I’ve never been a fan of either really, but I feel strongly about the topic I am about to write about.

I am similarly passionate about the fact that many of the things people in the media describe as a “disgrace” or a “travesty” are absolutely not these things, so I suppose this thing fits in the same boat.

But both words do make for a catchy headline.

There was a “cricket game” (used in the loosest possible sense. The loosest) played between the Perth Scorchers and Brisbane Heat recently where the chasing side were given 5 overs to chase down a Duckworth-Lewis-revised total of 51. Leaving aside the fact that the Scorchers and Heat are newly contrived and pseudo-real franchises playing a massively dumbed down version of our sport for a moment, I think this is a move in an utterly wrong direction for the game.

Many people have complained and continue to complain that Twenty20 isn’t real cricket. I think it is cricket, but it has stripped it down to the last bastion: twenty overs is my limit. Any less and it ceases to mean anything and becomes just a form of slightly more nuanced baseball.

In this match, Nathan Coulter-Nile was awarded man of the match for his “match winning innings.” I’ve seen many match winning innings in my time. Michael Clarke’s treble in Sydney last year was a cracker. AB De Villiers in Perth this year wasn’t half bad. Tendulkar played a few in his time if I recall correctly. But Nathan Coulter-Nile’s was not a match winning innings.

He amassed a total of 23 runs from six balls. I will admit that it was this innings that won the match, but it was not a match winning innings.

To label it so is simply disingenuous and denigrates the notion of the match winning innings as something that is constructed, crafted, worked for and earned, like a sculpture. Not something that is blasted with a stick of dynamite and called a sculpture. No, Coulter-Nile’s innings was a cameo by anyone’s standards.

But maybe Twenty20 and cricket are moving the way of modern art. Stick a mirror on the wall and call it art, and have a meaningless explanation to justify it. The Big Bash League is Cricket Australia’s meaningless explanation, and their mirror is chasing 50 runs in five overs. Pointless and moot long ago? Entirely.

Which seems like a right shame to me, because cricket has so much more to offer the keen-eyed observer. The cheap thrills of 23 off 6 don’t compare to a restrained hundred from a naturally aggressive (born of the Twenty20 era) player like David Warner on a green top in Hobart last year. They don’t compare to a double from an under pressure Ricky Ponting against India. They don’t compare to three painstakingly compiled hundreds earned at a strike rate of 33 by Alastair Cook in the infancy of his captaincy career.

No, Coulter-Nile’s innings, and this game, shall not take pride of place, nor any place in the pantheon of cricket memory. It, along with the game it rode on the back of will be tossed out with the nonchalance with which he struck four boundaries off Dan Christian. It doesn’t, and never will matter.

That’s not to say Twenty20 is meaningless. But when Messrs Duckworth and Lewis’ method has been so bastardised as to try to achieve a result within five overs, there is too much contingency, too much plain dumbness, that the resulting game should no longer be called cricket.

It you can’t complete twenty overs, don’t finish the game. Call it off due to rain as cricket has done for 150 years. It’s not worth sacrificing a game with more soul than any of the others for the sake of a result in a meaningless competition. And if the administrators do feel the need to attain a result, then don’t call it cricket.

What did I miss?

What the hell, man!

I duck off to Florence for a few days, eat some delicious food and see some very pretty townscapes and Michaelangelos, and come back to home base thinking nothing will have changed.

In that time, Ricky Ponting, one of Australia’s best cricketers ever, decided that he can’t be bothered sifting through “Ten reasons why Punter should retire” articles anymore, David Campese tweeted that he dislikes female rugby journalists, the entire Aussie pace battery went flat (I’ll never get sick of pace battery puns), Israel Folau told Parramatta to shove it and England beat the All Blacks.

Has the entire world fallen in on itself, or does the sporting news cycle just move that quickly?

To think, while I was eating bolognese in Bologna and Eggs Florentine in Florence (lie, never even saw it on a menu) Kurtley was running in a match winner against Wales and The Blecks (phonetic) were being put to the sword by an English team relieved not to be wearing red-wine-spew maroon.

Florence, in case travel and not sport is your thing

Florence, in case travel, and not sport, is your thing

When I left, just four days prior, Siddle and Hilfenhaus had bowled the house down in an effort to dismiss the Proteas on the last day in Adelaide, and both were recovering in an attempt to be fit for Perth. “Apart from a few callouses and some sore joints, how bad can their afflictions be?” I thought to myself.

Apparently bad enough to not recover in time to bowl on a bowler-friendly WACA track. So today we saw Mitchells Johnson and Starc leading the attack, with John Hastings about as conspicuous as James Pattinson was on the last day in Adelaide.

As a side note, here is an interesting factual/statistical development. I am informed by Brydon Coverdale (the cricinfo guy) on Twitter that Peter Siddle bowled 383 balls in Adelaide, and Ben Hilfenhaus 321. People called the effort Herculean, monumental, worthy of utmost praise. It also seemed like it made a whole Test rest a necessity (in what is a rather important game). Coverdale goes on to note that Dennis Lillee, that hairy-chested, open-shirted fast bowler of yesteryear, bowled 535 deliveries against Pakistan in 1976, and played the next Test with only a two day break.

I’m not calling anyone soft. Brydon Coverdale is.

The Wallabies, meanwhile, bored Wales silly before Kurtley Beale decided to win the game after one of the rather more brilliant pieces of rugby this season. Imagine if the Wallabies played like that for eighty minutes instead of two. The nation would cease activity for two hours every week and sit transfixed on couches, bar stools and stadium seats. But enough rugby scribes lament the Wallabies, so let’s try to be positive.

They did bounce back after losing to France to win three on the trot and make sure they’re ranked in the top four. Right guys? Right?

The Aussie cricket team are on the verge of losing in Perth, despite the fact another favourite of mine, Mitchell Johnson, is playing. He’s the guy no one thought could bowl a cricket ball without the universe exploding. I’ll admit that I only watched the last half of day three, but in the time I did watch he looked good. Mitchell Starc looked good too, but if we’re being realistic it was Johnson who bowled better, whatever the wickets column might read.

Campo did a bit of a silly thing too, saying that the “girl” who was covering the Wallabies wasn’t fit to sweep up trimmings from Greg Growden’s barber’s floor. The only good thing to come out of it was that most people, and by no means all people, seem to agree that Campo came out of it looking backwards and silly. It was nice to see David Pocock read it this way, anyway.

So basically, the moral of the story is to never go on holiday and to keep on top of sports news at all costs, lest you miss blogging opportunities.

PS I’m going to Munich tomorrow. When I get back Quade Cooper and Sonny Bill will be signed for Real Madrid (fight clauses and all), John Hastings will have scored a triple ton to silence the ‘haters’ and Nathan Hindmarsh will be making a comeback as a professional curler.

The wheels keep turning, no matter how many Chianti Classicos or Weissbiers you drink.

Such is life. Such is sport.

The bolognese in Bologna was delicious.

Tagiiatelli al ragù. It's Italian

Tagiiatelli al ragù. It’s Italian

Indian pitches just ain’t cricket

I’m not here to make normative claims about how cricket should be played.

You know what, screw that, that’s exactly what I’m here to do.

There is some grand, glorious old-style cricket happening in the world right now, and it sure ain’t being played by the poms.

No, it’s being played right here in the greatest country on God’s green earth. And I’m not talking about Norway, which each day edges closer to its white winter fate. It already snowed a fair bit, with the white stuff covering up any natural beauty this country is famed for. Then it changed its mind. “Give the tourists another chance,” Norway’s gaia told itself (I’ll need to bone up on my Norse mythology at some point). Now it’s tooing and froing between pseudo-snow, rainy drudgery or some teasing sunshine (in -5 degrees). Make up your mind!

The cricket, meanwhile, of the glorious, as-it-was-meant-to-be variety is being played in damn Straya. Best country that ever was. What’s better is that Straya also happens to be winning, which makes good cricket even better. In fact, I might argue that it’s not cricket at all if Straya aren’t winning, but that’s a battle for another day.

Why does this particular brand of cricket happen to be so hopelessly, stupendously fantastic that it will receive no complaints from this scribe? It’s because it is being played on wickets that actually allow a cricket ball to bounce above knee height, wickets that reward bowlers of fast and slow varieties if they ply their trade well, and wickets that give batsmen opportunities to play shots that aren’t drives.

Meanwhile, the inventors of cricket, those Poms with all their poor dental health and odd tasting Weet-Bix and Vegemite, are having to superglue their bat to the ground so as not to be yorked (no pun on English town intended, chortle chortle) by half trackers served up by spinners who have been tonked in and out of the Indian side whenever they leave the shores of the Asian subcontinent. Hell, even Harbhajan is cleaning up between his arthritis treatments and assisted spongebaths.

Why does this grind my loin bones so much? Because it sucks, basically. This isn’t what cricket is about.

Real cricket is about the first two days of the Test in Adelaide. On the first day the bat utterly dominated the ball, and rendered the fearsome Saffa attack as useless as mammarial features on a male bovine creature, as my father quoth oft.

They scored at over five runs per over on that first day! In Test cricket? Are you daft?

It was aggressive, interesting and exciting batting.

On the second day said toothless tigers showed some steel and dismissed the rest of the Aussie bats for about 100 runs. Contest between bat and ball? You bet.

Meanwhile, in India, a total of 269.4 overs have been rolled over by trundlers sundry and all. Guess how many of those have been completed by bowlers who attempt to bowl over 100 kmph?

Forty nine. That’s right. 220.4 overs have been bowled by spinners. India opened up with two spinners, and selected Zaheer Khan, the man who last year against Australia resembled a horribly ageing crocodile struggling to devour steaks given to him by zoo handlers, as their lone pace ace. Sometimes you just gotta put a crocodile down.

Guess how many wickets these 49 overs yielded for quickies? One. The same number of times Rob Quiney has managed to get off the mark in three Test innings.

Jimmy Anderson got that wicket, early in the first innings of the match. I’m fairly sure the only reason this happened was that Gautam Gambhir, the man he dismissed, had gone without a strong coffee that morning and was half asleep upon receiving it.

Either that or Gambhir just felt sorry for Anderson, knowing that the rest of his five days would be spent hammering balls into the wicket in the hope of it getting to the keeper, but instead seeing a puff of dust and ‘Poof!’ “Not again,” thought Anderson. The ball had once more turned into a cup of tea that the batsman could take and drink from before whacking it to the fence, or handing it benignly to Giles the butler at silly mid on if he was feeling nice.

Meanwhile, in the city of churches (Straya style) there are six quickies all with a fighting chance of getting a pole, and spinners are rightfully being dispatched over the fence at will and falling victim to brutal jeers from parochial Aussie crowds. Imran Tahir was reported to have told his chihuaua that he doesn’t think they are in Lahore anymore.

To be fair, though, it’s no worse than poor old Bryce McGain got a few years back, and any Proteas fan would have done the same had the situation been reversed.

I’m sure the Poms would be loath to play two spinners in their Test side. In Indian conditions, however, where pitches have the pace of Benn Robinson carrying an ankle injury, what choice do they have? They even had to drag Monty Panesar out of Sydney Grade cricket to fill another tweaker’s spot. It will go down as a selection masterstroke, though, with Monty picking up a bundle of wickets, including a five-fa already in India’s second innings.

Here’s the problem. Cricket was designed so that there would be an even contest between bat and ball. Some of the roads they churn out at the MCG stretch this a little, but when a quickie is forced to bowl two metres outside off stump simply to prevent being hit for boundaries every ball, there’s a serious problem.

Simon Katich was once asked about his slow scoring rate in the second session of a day’s play in India. His response was something to the effect of:

“That’s a stupid question. Were you watching the game? They were bowling a metre outside off stump every ball. How am I supposed to score off that?”

The answer, of course, is that the reporter was not, in fact, watching the game at all. They were too busy googling Sachin Tendulker and making sure his name was still the top of the ‘most searched’ list on Cricinfo.

And I don’t blame the reporter either. Watching cricket on dead tracks is dead boring.

It’s time someone gave those Indian groundsmen an elixir of something; anything that would make cricket on the subcontinent resemble something close to what it is was supposed to be.

The Pup eclipses Don Bradman (in one statistic)

Four double centuries in a calendar year is almost unheard of. It’s in Bradman territory. Wait, no, it actually is unheard of, and is beyond Bradman territory.

Bradman, the guy who holds every record that ever existed in the fine art of willow-wielding, has been eclipsed by one in the record for most doubles in a calendar year by Aussie captain Michael Clarke. Twas three, tis now four.

Excuse me while I yell expletives into my morning muesli. I am simply in awe, waking up to yet again see Pup deep, real deep, into triple figures.

On top of that, we had a day of cricket that was a throwback to the decade of Aussie dominance; 482 runs in 86 overs at 5.5 runs an over. When Hayden, Langer, Ponting, Martyn, Gilchrist and co. were kicking around, this sort of scoring was requisite, but Aussie fans haven’t had too much time to kick back with a tinny watching Antipodeans carve people with accents different to our own to the boundary again and again lately. Some might think that would have gotten boring after a decade. Some would be wrong.

I suppose that before I lose my proverbial gushing over Clarke I should pay attention to the two goons who hung around in the back, looking tough, while Clarke beat the pulp out of the “Best attack in the world.” Warner clubbed another run-a-ball century, not terrible going for a guy who many thought was holding his bat the wrong way in the nets.

The Huss scored a ton too. He’s a pretty good player.

But Clarkey, the boy with the arabic sleeve tattoo, must have gotten a taste for all this praise that’s been directed to his mailbox lately. Either that or, as Brydon Coverdale from cricinfo said, he is playing on God mode.  I also love the fact that he managed to slip the word pwnage into a cricket article.

The sublime patch of form from Michael reminds me of a 2006 Mohammad Yousuf, where peeling off centuries was akin to peeling potatoes for the newly branded, newly bearded and newly converted wonder. Nine centuries in a year is alright by anyone’s standards. Ricky Ponting did something similar in 2003, smashing three double-tons and scoring 1500 runs at over 100 a throw.

But Clarke has only played eight tests this year. If someone told you that you were going to score a double century in every second game you play, you’d probably take it. And let’s not forget that in January, in Sydney, he scored a triple century, not just a ‘mere’ double. In fact, he hasn’t scored a ‘normal’ or ‘classic’ century, in the sense of being dismissed with a 1 numeral preceding the other two digits, in the whole year. I suppose there’s still time to rectify that.

The style of the one last night is what impresses me the most. Clarke is leading a team by playing aggressively (224 from 243 deliveries in one day), and encouraging his teammates to do the same. He looks like a wall in defense, and though his attacking shots never had the ridiculous flurry of Brian Lara or the sheer brute force of Chris Gayle, they still seem to career to the boundary rather quickly.

His straight driving is the highlight, and is reminiscent of Tendulkar’s straight drives from half a decade ago, back when he wasn’t being castled by Test debutants.

Speaking of being castled, Ricky’s dismissal today was an oddball, as was Ed Cowan’s. Ricky and his stumps both ended up on the deck after being bamboozled by what looked like a relatively innocuous outswinger from Jacques Kallis. The mail with Kallis is that, at the age of 37, he’s still slightly quicker than you think.

Cowan jammed down on an inswinging yorker from the burly all-rounder, only to have it balloon back gently to the man with the stats, like a patient daddy giving catching practice to his three year old daughter in pink. They were two of the weirdest dismissals I’ve seen in a while.

It was a shame to see Kallis pull up with a strained hammy after taking a brace of poles from 3.3 overs. It was a case of what could have been for the Proteas. Had their partnership breaker been available to send some down for the rest of the day things might have turned out differently. I’m not a big believer in turning points, but from the moment Kallis went off the field, at 3/70 odd, the Aussies scored 2/400. Coincidence?

As for Clarke, surely there must come a point when all this will stop, and people can go back to getting up him for going out with Lara Bingle. It was only two or three years ago that this was normal transmission. I’m sure the South African bowlers would like it to stop as soon as they take the paddock tomorrow, but I really don’t see that happening.

Sorry gents, but more leather chasing is on the menu.

Good thing Rob Quiney did all that net bowling

The last thing Rob Quiney thought he would be doing was bowling on the first day of a Gabba Test match was bowling six overs to give his highly fancied quicks a barely earned spell.

As it turned out I woke up to see the last ten overs bowled out by the Huss and the debutant, a disappointing way to start off my watching of evening sessions in the morning. Due to logistics, you understand, I haven’t yet been able to commence my morning session viewing in the dead of night.

Had the two most obstinate of batsmen, Kallis and Amla, broken the proverbial camel’s back?

As far as I know, camels are supposed to thrive in Australian conditions, so much so that I remember a guide telling me in a tour of Alice Springs’ surroundings that we had to export camels back to where they came from, such was their success in our climate.

Hopefully cricketers take inspiration from the tales of wild.

Our pace battery is desperately in need of a recharging (hyuck hyuck hyuck), their minds in need of a refocusing. I read that they need to bowl fuller, a strategy that worked ever-so-well against India last year in the series sweep. Why stray from a successful plan?

Well, when batsmen are in horrid form and don’t want to be there, it’s much easier to take wickets. Unlike the Indian batsmen, however, I saw a glint in the eyes of Kallis and Amla as I quaffed my muesli this morning. A glint that said: ‘Sledge me, bounce me, do whatever you want, but I’m still going to be there.’ These two are in the habit of making bowlers and captains stray from their plans.

Many have criticised Kallis for this exact approach over the entirety of his career, bitching about his slow scoring and unwillingness to be Brian Lara. Maybe he just isn’t as naturally gifted in strokeplay as Tendulkar, Lara and Ponting, but the fact that his average is higher than all of them speaks to a steely, gritty, ugly resolve that leads to him not getting out. Ultimately, not getting out also means he accrues runs.

Some have even said run-getting is an incidental side effect of staying at the crease, which I do not believe to be quite fair.

Kallis’ strike rate was above 60 in his innings of 84* today, not bad considering that’s above the career average of Tendulkar and co. Amla went at a comparatively steady (read: boring) 43.47 in his 90* off 207 deliveries. Sometimes not watching every delivery of a Hashim Amla innings and only seeing the end result is just as rewarding, in the same way one doesn’t have to see every metre of the Zambezi River to appreciate Victoria Falls.

It was in this situation that Quiney found himself, practically giving centre wicket practice to two of the most affluent run-makers of the past few circumnavigations of the sun. I could imagine that when Allan Border gave Rob his cap this morning this wasn’t what he had in mind.

Sure, he has delivered 756 rocks in his first class career before this game, but most of these would have been in the second session of the second day of a shield game at the MCG with the score on 4/4-squillion and his bowlers knackered to the point of giving up the game entirely. The G’s drop-in wicket has broken many a fast bowler’s, or for the purpose of this article, camel’s, back.

The more ideal scenario for Rob would have been coming in at 1/150 with the shine having been tonked off the pill by a David Warner onslaught. Quiney’s job from there would have been to mash the par-boiled souls of the Saffa quicks with a slowly compiled debut century.

Twasn’t to be.

Is there hope for the Aussies to save this game with the score as it is now, 2/255?

Possibly. Bowl full and straight tomorrow morning and dismiss the two keystones (that’s right, TWO keystones) of the Proteas’ batting lineup and who knows what can happen.

I wouldn’t count on it though. Looks like my prediction from yesterday is already up shit creek.

The Big Winter of Cricket (and the Autumn Tour)

My first Winter of Cricket is upon us.

While I thought it would be hard to psyche up about the flinging of red leather as the snow falls around me, I’ve found the lead-up to these mouthwatering Tests has more than satiated my appetite for information and banter alike.

The obviously deliberate leaks of the Aussies ‘Dossier’ on how to get Saffas out added momentary fuel to the fire, though I must have been sleeping through the furore because I woke up this morning and there’s no counter comment, no mud slinging, not even some name calling or intrigue-accusing. I feel like I’m going to have to take it upon myself to start some rumours or something. Unless the news cycle just passed me by (I did wake up later than usual today).

As for sledging Hashim Amla and bouncing Jacques Kallis… well. They seem like sound plans, seeing as Kallis probably still has the scar from when Mitchell Johnson almost knocked his block off in 2009. That still has to be one of the best spells of fast bowling I’ve ever watched.

Too much claret at lunch, Jacques?


Amla is a run machine, sure, but maybe some well-timed comments about the lack of a Castle Lager sticker on his shirt (did I write that out loud?) will flap the unflappable. Not that that was what the dossier was suggesting with all its delicate language. It was a positively marvellous piece of literature, skirting around F and C bombs, dancingly suggesting they ‘really test’ Kallis or ‘engage him (Amla) in psychological warfare.’ The euphemistic nature of this document must be impressed upon naive readers, and surely a translation should be put out.

Something to the tune of: “Try to kill Kallis by bowling as fast as you can at exposed areas of his cranium” and “Break Amla down mentally until he is mushy pulp in your hands, bending to your will, giving you his wicket how and when you choose, but only after you have publicly humiliated him in front of thousands by making him duck and weave well-directed bouncers (though not as well-directed as the ones you shall deliver to Jacques) and have him replicating a frustrated trout fisherman in his attempts to nick your unplayable outswingers.”

Sounds like a good plan to me.

But I still think it’s all a big ploy, like the infamous Buchanan-gate of 2000.

Despite all the cricket reading, nothing can get you quite as fired up as banter between the boys (and girls) about the cricket. The girls weren’t particularly up for the cricket chat on Tuesday night, but the boys certainly propped up the team.

A night of brewing is often dominated by manly discussion. That night we bottled our german-style altbier and talked cricket. Mostly backyard cricket actually, but a bit of the upcoming Winter of Cricket was pored over and rigourously debated. Took me back to the place where the seasons make sense and Boxing day is spent horizontal watching people throw balls at each other. How I’ll miss that first morning of laziness, listening to either Jim Maxwell or Slats (depending, of course, on whether you are working or not) describing the action.

But to the bit you’ve all probably been waiting for; the cricket.

I really don’t know what to predict with this one, but I do think that one of the Tests, most likely Adelaide, is going to be a run fest. I think that will be a draw and the quality quick bowling will yield results in the other two tests. I think the Aussies, even sans Shane Watson, our best player by a bit, have the quality to take a game of these guys if they play out of their skin.

So I’ll predict a 1-1 drawn series. I was tempted to go 2-0 to the Saffas because of the quality of their batting and the fact that we have two unproven bowlers no matter which line-up we choose, but I have faith in Pattinson to crack some skulls and get the job done, possibly even outshining two of his three more fancied South African rivals.

I am backing Dale Steyn to knock over plenty of Aussies early, unfortunately. I think Dave Warner may be the the Daryll Cullinan to Steyn’s Shane Warne, though that might be taking it a few steps to far.

Should the Aussies play four quicks at the Gabba? Definitely. And at Perth too. I think the more we can use these guys and expose them to Tests the better off we will be. Mitchell Starc belies his slightly too full length with good lines and decent movement, which should make him a weapon at the Gabba and Perth. James Pattinson is be the best fast bowler in Australia right now, and should be until he retires.

In Adelaide I would go with Lyon, but I think picking a spinner for the sake of consistency alone would be a mistake.

If our batsmen do the business we should have no problem taking 20 wickets and winning one game.

There’s also a rugby tour on.

After a brief hiatus, the festival or sport resumes.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair