Posts Tagged ‘Shane Watson’

Shane Watson’s vice may be his saviour

Shane Watson has been called many things in his injury-riddled career. I have heard him called a pea-heart, a legend, a “sometimes” team man, a little ‘c’, a big ‘c’ (a fact related to me by a rather prominent figure in the Australian cricketing media), a top bloke, a terrible bloke, a Queenslander, a Tasmanian and everything in between.

He’s a divisive figure who, for someone who doesn’t seem to say, and sometimes even do, much, inspires the scribbling and yelling of a lot of words fair and foul. Who am I kidding, mostly foul.

But there’s one attribute that seems to have wriggled through the crammed door of adjectives about Shane Watson to stand proudly on its lonesome, seemingly enshrined as fact by the public: Shane Watson is a selfish cricketer.

The perception is that he relishes playing for himself, his average and for the betterment of his bank balance and reputation. Whether this is fair or not, it seems to just be taken as fact by many punters.

So the elevation of Watson to the position of Australian vice captain didn’t sit well with people who thought that he was a guy who cared more about the angles of his ferociously-gelled spears of hair than the results of an Australian cricket team fighting to remain relevant with the big guns.

After so many years of indomitable characters and out-of-this-world success, the Aussie public had come to expect victory. Victory was wrongly associated with a whole-hearted commitment on the part of the players, and the 1990’s Aussie team had its history rewritten as a unified ball of cricketing godliness, rather than several smaller, once-in-a-generation balls names Warne, McGrath, Waugh, Ponting and Gilchrist.

When results started to worsen, as they tend to when your team doesn’t consist wholly of the best players in the world, people started to ask questions of players’ commitment. And so we have Shane Watson’s predicament.

This isn’t to say that Shane does himself all the favours he could, or is a shining beacon of selflessness ala Peter Siddle. He’s not likely to re-injure himself for the coat of arms.

But people tend to look at you differently when you’re winning. Flaws are puttied up with the Selleys of victory, and the joiners of success lacquer the hell out of that old, decaying timber giving it a pleasant, if thoroughly artificial, gloss.

Unfortunately for the Aussies, there was no structural integrity to the extremely fine looking footstool that was the 1990’s, early 2000’s cricket team, and as all the crucial legs started retiring, citing reasons of getting old, cantankerous and grey, the stool simply fell apart due to the hairy, sweaty feet of public pressure.

If you didn’t understand all those carpentry analogies, neither did I. Basically the Aussie cricket team now ain’t what she used to be, but people’s expectations haven’t changed accordingly.

But back to Shane Watson. He came to the fore during a time when the Aussies had been towelled up by Andrew Flintoff. What’s a strapping, blonde, fast-bowling and hard hitting allrounder to do in a time like this? Be selected for Australia because we want one (a Flintoff)? You betcha!

And so we had our own Flintoff, except his name was Shane.

He was pretty good. Then he got injured.

Then he started to get really good. Then he got injured.

Then he started to play consistently, and really well, scoring lots of runs and even taking some very handy hauls with the ball. He did this at a time when he was at the peak of his physical powers, and had no other role but to go out there, opening the batting, and pound bowlers around the park.

Similarly, he succeeded when he was thrown the ball and told to take wickets. He bowled at the stumps, catching batsmen LBW with late-swinging deliveries. LBW and bowled were his key modes of dismissal; Watson was doing it all himself.

Then we picked him as vice-captain and the runs dried up, and he got injured again so he couldn’t bowl. We moved him all around the order. People started to turn on Shane, blaming him for the failings of a team that isn’t nearly as good as the one ten years ago.

He didn’t look overly compromised as a cricketer. He was never compared to the aesthetic nightmare that is Phil Hughes, for example. Watching Shane Watson never made one want to gouge one’s eyes out with a hot, blunt pot handle.

He still looked good. The complaint was that he was thoroughly unconvincing when he got past the ‘see ball, hit ball’ point of his innings.

Can you see that Shane might have made the connection between the responsibility-free role he enjoyed before he had the vice captaincy run with his own success? This was a time when he was opening the batting every time, given the go-ahead to get out there and do what he willed to the bowlers, and bowling when he was tossed the ball.

It was a simpler time. It was a better time. He only had to focus on his own game; not engaging in cricketing frivolities like fielding positions, batting orders and media conferences about team morale.

Catch ball. Hit ball. Bowl ball. Simple.

Selfish? Maybe. But this formula was the most successful in this very talented individual’s career.

And if Shane Watson starts playing like he did before he was elevated to the vice captaincy, which is not beyond the realms of possibility, then I for one would be a happy Aussie cricket fan. He was our Allan Border Medallist for 2010 and ’11 on the back of a couple of years of domination in all formats.

Sure, he couldn’t quite figure out how to hit a century, but there were more than enough 70’s, 80’s and wickets to make up for it. If giving up the vice captaincy triggers an immediate return to form, then all power to him.

The only problem is that it leaves Australia in a very awkward position of having one guy who should be captain, another who probably should be vice but isn’t, and nine other guys who aren’t guaranteed a spot in the side.

So while Shane may have done the right thing by himself, he’s certainly stumped me about what to do about the vice captaincy.

But it’s an honorary position anyway right? Who really needs a vice captain?

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Leadership rumours extend to Aussie cricket team

As the race for the leadership of the country heats up very quickly, then dies just as quickly, rumours were circulating about Mitchell Starc making an eleventh hour stand for Labor leader. Similarly, Simon Crean stood for the captaincy of the Australian cricket XI and for the key role in the latest Milo and Weet-bix ads, thereby ensuring his position as the most powerful person in Australia.

Granted, most of these rumours were started by me, but my job as a blogger is to simply report the facts, no matter how self interested or untrue.

But we have seen a bigger explosion of captaincy candidates in the wake of Michael Clarke maybe possibly (definitely) being out for the fourth Test match than there were Spartacus’s at the great Roman slave’s sentencing.

We’ve seen Ed Cowan, little Ed, the acclaimed scribe of the side, throw up his hand as leadership and captaincy material. Ed says that the more balls he faces the more runs he will score (thus his upcoming autobiography, his fourth, More Balls). But as well as showing off his mathematical skills, he also deigned to say that if he does the little things right, packs his bags on time, wears his sponsors cap at a jaunty angle and complains at the right times to big Uncle Mickey he might have a shade of a shot at having the little ‘c’ next to his name. Just to clarify, though, you don’t need a ‘c’ next to your name to be a leader, says Ed.

Spoken like a true usurper. Remember one week after the ides of March, Pup.

Little Davie Warner, too, a bladesman of some repute, not just due to how he waves it about but also because he’s just as likely to slay 100 foes as fell himself. What precisely David Warner could offer his teammates that Phil Gould couldn’t I have no idea. He could probably tell them that it’s mate versus mate, Commonwealth State versus former Commonwealth State, but beyond that I imagine his tactical nous and off-field diplomacy and speechmaking doesn’t compare to his opening batting partner. Importantly, however, his batting average does, and in a country where all that seems to matter is averages of batting score and tattoos, that might be enough to see Davey get the gig. In fact, it might be worth giving him the job to justify the millions spent on all that media training.

“Look how far we’ve come! Even Dave can present well to the media.”

I kid, of course. Compared to Ed Cowan anyone is made to look like a bumbling baboon, including myself.

And moving right on to the next of the baboons in the queue, scratching their noodles in the hope it will impress someone around the joint. Of course I speak of Shane Watson, the golden-haired, golden-armed, golden-batted golden boy of Australian cricket. It’s a pity his whole body is made of gold and is in constant need of buffing and rebuffing (pun) because otherwise he might be able to do simple things required of a professional sportsman these days like not get injured and be able to scribble ‘three things Shane can do better’ on a piece of napkin.

Then again Shane just had a baby, and that was the sole reason he was in Australia. I’d probably go back home to see my baby be born. After all, your baby’s going to be alive much longer than your cricket career. Unless you’re Sachin Tendulkar of course, who’s been playing cricket for literally as long as I’ve been alive. Scary and weird, scary and weird. Time to give it away Sachin.

It really doesn’t matter who skippers this Test match, does it? We’ve already confirmed that we’ve been flogged in India. Why even play this dead rubber? It can only lead to further humiliation of our boys, and I’m sure the Indians wouldn’t want to see that. They are, after all, humble, loving folks who welcome strange looking Australians to their shores with endless hugs, plates of vegetarian spiced stew and admiration for their captain. And who wouldn’t admire an Australian team captained by Shane Watson. Or Ed Cowan. Or Dave Warner.

All fine people and fine players whose spot in the side is completely and utterly guaranteed by virtue of their indispensable run-making of late.

In fact, let’s go all Port Adelaide on this biz-naz.

11 captains to take the field for the Aussies. You heard it here first.

Dear Sport, sincerely, confused blogger

Dear Sport,

I’ve been watching, reading, listening to and generally just been around you a lot for the past few weeks, and I think it might be time for a break.

Rest assured, it’s not you. It’s me. Well it is you really, but it’s more the effect that your actions have had on me, and so therefore we can sort of pretend that it’s just me being emotional. Right? If not you can go get stuffed.

But before you go all Kanye West on me, I’m actually going to finish what I have to say. Frankly sport, you’re performances recently have been far from the best video, sorry, performances of all time.

I’m confused, Sport. I’m confused both mentally and sexually.

First you tell me that the Melbourne Demons are copping a half a million dollar fine for tanking, but they actually didn’t tank. They just intended to tank, and tanked in a premeditated way, but on the field they actually didn’t tank. That was confusing and just plain linguistically irresponsible Sport. At the time I didn’t know if I could forgive you, but I have and I’ve since moved on.

Then you tell me that the Sharks are in trouble, Sport. You tell me that they’ve contravened some code that no one really seems to know anything about. What’s more, it seems that the people who are supposed to be protected by said code actually don’t care, and just defer to the guy (or girl) with the syringe in some sort of zealous act of faith in club protocol and spirit.

“These people mean me no harm, they’re just doing their best to make sure I’m more hormone than human.” This attitude confuses me, Sport. Why don’t you tell those who play you they’re doing something wrong? Or at least tell the people who have been doing it to come forward and admit they’ve done something wrong. Or maybe those who administered the drugs? Or maybe those who oversaw the systematic cheating of the drug laws to show an ounce of courage and admit they made a mistake?

No? That’s too much to ask for? Well what about the dudes who’ve been on the case of this four two years? Can’t they just come out and tell us whodunnit? No? Even that’s too much to ask for. Well gee, Sport, I thought we were closer than that. I just… don’t really know what to say.

And that wasn’t even the end of it, Sport. Last of all you tell me that cricketers have homework? They actually have to write things down? I don’t know where you come from, Sport, but when I want to get better at something I don’t just sit down and write about it (except for writing, ironically). Surely making them jump through some flaming hoops or running on the heads of man-eating crocodiles would be far more effective for physical specimens like Shane Watson than writing ways that the Aussies can improve in India.

In fact, I actually did Shane Watson’s homework. And James Pattinson’s. I didn’t do Khawaja and Johnson’s homework, I don’t really care for them too much… But here it is! Sorry it’s late:

Score more runs.
Take more wickets.
Field better.

See? All done? Amazing right? Who knew, it just got lost somewhere in the WordPress ether. Can they play in the third Test now, Sport? Pretty please?

Well, if that’s really the attitude you’re going to take, Sport, I don’t really know where this can go.

I just… I just…

I found this funny guy on the web, so I spoke to him

I was trawling around WordPress the other day and happened to stumble upon an extremely hilarious blog. It’s called Stand, Spray and Deliver, and basically is what it says: people showering you with sport, spittle and opinion, and not necessarily in that order.

To that end, I thought I’d contact the bloke who runs that shoddy show.

It’s not often that people as arrogant as myself come across someone they must simply admit is better than them. Of course, this hasn’t happened to me yet, but I did feel that this bloke was on a similar crash course with defamation and infamy, so I decided to get to know its author.

You must understand that I jest, and that this author, whose name just happens to be Dane (a coincidence with precisely nothing), is in fact much more descriptively talented, wordily gifted and analogically crafty than myself.

Whether he be ranting about rugby league’s latte-sippers, or those wretched rugby proles, being cantankerous about cricket or even courageously calling the curling, Dane’s blogs always yield a pant-moisteningly hilarious read.

I went ahead and contacted the chap with his thoughts on the upcoming Test in India, as well as a few sundry issues that I thought he could lend a thought or two on.

Pine Warming Paddy: Dane, it’s lovely to have you with us. What was not so lovely was the shellacking delivered to us by the Indian tweakers and willow-wielders. Do you think that we should blame our toothless Lyon or foolhardy selectors for not capitalising on a reasonable first innings total?

Dane: Being a long-term fan of Australian cricket, I reserve the right to complain about anything to do with the team at any time. In this instance, all parties are in the gun.

Firstly, when I discovered at the toss that the team would be top-heavy with pace, I wanted the selectors spuds on a platter for forgetting about the importance of a pitch inspection prior to play. Seriously, with this kind of ‘intel’, these blokes are becoming as irrelevant as MySpace.

However, my scattergun blowtorch then turned upon the unfortunate Lyon for not being able to plug the nasty flow of MS Dhoni on a spinner’s nirvana. I understand that when the Indian skipper decided to go bonkers that the battle had parallels to the little monkey man fighting on all-fours against the Japanese bear-hugger in Bloodsport. It was a deadset mismatch with only one ribcage that would end up crushed against a flabby torso. But come on Nath, this is the prime reason you are in the team! To take wickets on sand. And you failed.

So in summary. Stuff ’em all for wrecking my weekend.

P: What do you think about the prospect of a return for the prodigal son ‘Big’ Mitch Johnson? Would we profit from picking a left-arm slinger, or would we be better served putting his Test career to bed, for good?

D: I know I risk wearing a jacket of rotten produce from the haters by saying this, but frankly I’m too honest for my own good, plus I would love some tomato for my toast right now.

Mitch Johnson- maligned, despised, mollycoddled and dermatologically defaced- is the kind of volatile force the attack needs to put some mud in the strides of the Indian bats, so I reckon it’s time to deploy the bastard. Sure, we may lose on a record haul of sundries, or his mother may again surface, but what do we have to lose?

Give Mitchell Starc a rest. He dished up first-class waste in the first Test, so replacing him with Johnson is a perfect like-for-like swap.

P: David Warner’s a guy who divides opinion. Some say he’s an eastern suburbs nancy-boy who can only go the tonk, while others put him up there among the best prospects we’ve seen in years. What do you think of old ‘one thumb’ Warner? Two thumbs up, or one horrifically mutilated thumb down?

D: Firstly, I have been made aware this morning that Warner is suffering from food poisoning thanks to Peter Siddle’s vegetable stir-fry. Let this be a lesson to any cerebrally challenged plodder out there who is considering vegetarianism that this is a dangerously evil ideology that should be avoided at all costs if you enjoy such luxuries as prolonged health. Stumps on that rant.

As for Thumbellina’s cricketing abilities, he again is one of the small windows of advantage the team holds, so I believe he needs to be perservered with. We need quick runs when they’re on offer as 90% of the rest of the batting order have shown minimal impetus so far, so if Dave can clock a quick 50 then I consider this far better than a watchful and snoozy 15 from 1000 that any replacement would produce.

Plus he’s a Roosters man. Case closed.

P: All the talk recently is about where people should bat, as if we already know who should be in the team. What stock do you place in batting positions? Should we move captain Clarke and Watto up, and drop others down? Or does it not matter a rotten quince?

D: Maths is not my strong point, and in my youth my abacus and calculator were most often used in building transmitters to communicate with extra-terrestrial life forms and not for crunching data. Hence my lack of decayed quinces given at this point in time with the manouevering of numbers in the batting pecking order. Sure, Clarke would probably be better served saving our arses earlier in the piece, but he says he likes spot five, so who am I to suggest the bottle should be taken from the baby?

If I had my way, he would be at four, Watson would open and Georgie Gardiner would be on the telly a lot more often.

A LOT more.

P: Moving away from cricket briefly, and I’d like to ask about the Sydney Roosters who I hear are a bit of a favourite of yours. Is the recruitment of OMG, I mean Money Bill, I mean $onny, I mean Sonny William Williams, the change the club needed to nab another premiership?

D: I don’t know if its trophy time, but I will say this. If any fisticuffs break out, the feather shall rule with an iron fist. Of feathers.

With Bill leading from the front and Luke ‘Cranky Pops’ O’Donnell firmly in toe, there could be a side order of knuckle sandwiches to be served with fine eastern suburbs coffee in 2013.

Of course, those sandwiches would be made with organic dutch ciabatta bread, none of this bogan Buttercup white shit.

P: Finally, new NRL CEO Dave Smith doesn’t know his Ben’s from his Benji’s. Should he be bent over and told where to go? Or should we persevere with the money man from Wales?

D: Thanks CEO Darren, with that blunder, you’ve proven that Australian Rugby league administration is still shining brightly! You’re fitting in nicely already.

Unfortunately, rugby league is still a game with blue collar roots that is trying its hardest to cross into the universe of being a glitzy marquee football competition. The top brass lurches from one cock-up to the next, while the game still maintains soaring levels of popularity. Personally, I couldn’t give another quince about the CEO’s background as long as he knows the basics, steers clear of John Ibrahim and gets the game financially secure. So Darren, if your Welsh accent is adept at offloading shitloads of raffle tickets, then you have my blessing old son.

Otherwise, piss off to the A-League.

If you want to follow Dane’s gear, I reckon go to his website by clicking this funny coloured text, and press the follow button in the top right corner (feel free to click my follow button too).

Or you can follow him on Twitter @PlayUp_Roosters. I’m @WarmingthePine if you didn’t know already.

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.

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.

Stand, spray and deliver.

Critiques from the arm chair