Monday, 29 July 2013

Can David Warner save Australia?

After enduring the worst season of his life David Warner now has a chance of redemption. He is being heavily tipped to come back into the side after new coach Darren Lehman talked up his batting abilities. 

Australia need one of their batsmen to step up if they are to avoid a  five nil whitewash. All of this puts extra pressure onto David Warner, he is one of their better batsmen on paper, but has been seriously off form. The incident with Joe Root will also serve as either an extra burden to manage or a motivation. 

Australia wanted Warner to go away and build back his form, he seems to have done this albeit after one game. His 193 runs may mask his recent failures, but all will be forgiven if he is to make an impact in the Ashes. 

I personally do not agree that Australia's batsmen are the worst in their history, they are just facing a good bowling attack in conditions that not many of them have played in. Bring these same players back in a few years and they will be better for this experience. 

In Clarke, Watson and Warner they have genuine batsman who could destroy any bowling attack, Usman Khawaja is a good batsman waiting to be unleashed. He has shown his talent in patches, he just needs that one big innings to make his name, this is a similar problem that Ian Bell and Steve Waugh faced early in their careers. The lower order could also be considered as one of the best batting tails also. With Agar looking like a genuine batsman, Steve Smith capable of building innings and Haddin holding them all together they could be very dangerous if an actual batsman clicked. This is not even mentioning Siddle who has a few half centuries, Starc who scored big verses India, and Pattinson who nearly brought home the first game. 

Australia may have lost the second test badly, but if they actually can win a toss and then play to their best standard England could be unsettled. Lets just hold back on all those five nil predictions. I have said from the start that it will either be four nil or four one. 

Sunday, 14 July 2013

England hit the final nail in cricket's "spirit of the game" coffin

The first Ashes test showcased the very best of test cricket, a big story was written every day. There were two main issues which have arisen from the match, the first being that DRS failed throughout the match for both teams, the other issue was Stuart Broad's decision not to walk off a blatant error from the umpire. 

My views on the DRS situation can be read here. The issue of Stuart Broad staying at the crease is one which is rather disappointing but yet not very surprising. Over the last few days I have been hearing many things saying that his actions are not in the spirit of the game. 

In my opinion the spirit of the game has been something which has slowly eroded over time and has now seized to exist. The death of this started with Australia. Mark and Steve Waugh were some of the first players to stay at the crease when they knew they were out. Since this time these unwritten rules have slightly changed to you only walk on obvious nicks. What has happened recently is that players such as Broad have decided never to walk. 

Sledging was the next thing to chip away at the spirit of the game. Again the roots of this will probably be traced back to Australia. This is something that all international teams now incorporate. Other obvious things to effect this would be the time where many players were spotted trying to tamper with either the ball or pitch. Match fixing will also get a mention as simply being not cricket, but it all happens and is another area where the spirit of cricket is attacked from. 

England seem to feature as much as Australia in the list of teams breaching the spirit of cricket. Notable incidents would include England captain Paul Collingwood not calling back the New Zealand batsman he knocked down and ran out. I could mention Broad senior (who somehow has been appointed a match referee) knocking down the stumps with the bat in anger after he had been given out. From all of this it is clear that the spirit of cricket is dead, so each team now has a free for all to do what they like as long as there are no rules against it. 

On another note, I would like to highlight quotes taken from Graeme Swann in regards to players not walking when they are clearly out. His quotes came from a warm up match between England and Sri Lanka where Dilruwan Perera decided not to walk where the umpire missed the wicket. Some snippets of his quotes (taken from the guardian website) are: 

  •  "I wanted to kill the batsman because he was cheating"
  • "When people looked at the replays, it would have looked appalling on behalf of the batsman and he would have been shown up"
  • "If you know your out then you walk off the field."
  • "He was out and cheated in my view."
Well Swanny we all live by our words, lets see if you come out in the press this time around and echo the same words. I do not think so, the fact that England won by a margin less than Broad's extra runs makes his un-sporting behaviour acceptable. I believe that anything goes in this series and neither team can now complain about any future decisions in the series. 

Saturday, 6 July 2013

Darren Lehmann factor will make the Ashes series closer

Just weeks before the first Ashes test, the Australian cricket board made the wise decision to get rid of Mickey Arthur as team coach and replace him with Darren Lehman. In my opinion this was necessary to make Australia a bit more competitive in the series. 

Arthur was always the wrong fit for the Australian job, as a South African he was never accepted by the players or fans. His authoritarian methods made the players feel like they had gone back to school. This was highlighted in the disastrous tour of India where four players were suspended from a test match for disciplinary reasons.

It can be argued that the Australian cricket board also didn't trust Mickey Arthur by allowing the captain to be part of the selection committee. This resulted in players not being able to confide in Michael Clarke in fear of being dropped. 

With the appointment of Darren Lehmann the captains selection rights have also been dropped. This means that Clarke is now free to concentrate on his own performance aswell as team building. His methods seem to be more relaxed and more accepted by the players. He was a fighter as a player and will be hoping to install some fight into his new team.

His old school methods seem to be focused on making the team feel as if they are playing against the whole world. There is nobody who could install this seige mentality as well as Lehmann. The knowledge he amassed while playing in one of the greatest international sides will be passed onto the current side.

The effect of appointing a new coach can make teams play better, this can be witnessed in football when new managers come in. If the warm up games are anything to go by the Aussies are slowly coming back into form. The bowling is their greatest strength, they should cause England some trouble. 

If I were to predict then I would say  England will still win the series but it will be alot closer than it would have been in Arthur had ket his job. 

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