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Thursday, November 30, 2006

Killjoys wait to pounce on media

In today's Advertiser Geoff Roach bemoans the stringent pass controls with which all the media, including the large English contingent visiting Adelaide for the Test (or is it the opportunity to visit the Barossa and McLaren Vale?) have to comply:

At latest count, some 130 accredited journos - most of them blow-ins from Blighty - will descend on Adelaide Oval tomorrow intent on relaying every action and nuance to their readers, listeners and watchers. Because of the resultant crush, many will not even be allocated a seat.

But all have been issued with a chillingly comprehensive document - called the Media Accreditation Terms and Conditions (MATC) - which specifies where they can go and what they can and cannot do, wear, eat, photograph, etc. etc. Hence my nervousness.

Fair dinkum, if you think Cricket Australia's restrictions on paying spectators are fearsome - no beach balls, musical instruments, laughter or other visible signs of fun - you should have gander at the MATC.

Having read and re-read the document several times, I fear - no I know - I may well blunder into breaching some of its more obscure tenets. In which case the security force - which, apparently, is of similar number to that of the fourth estate - may well banish me.

Take the matter of attire. Jeans, says the MATC, are acceptable Oval clobber for journos - but only if they are not torn or frayed.

Female journos are, however, required to be "neat and casual at all times" and may not wear "rubber thongs or revealing attire."

Conversing with friends or family is also fraught with danger. According to MATC, "SACA security has been instructed to escort any children and friends from the media facilities."

Being a total technical troglodyte, I am also a monty to be in breach of stipulations relating to internet sites, mobile phones, podcasts and strangely named electronic paraphernalia of which I have no understanding.

Accordingly, to avoid disgrace and embarrassment, I intend to behave at this Test match precisely as I have on previous occasions.

That is, I will avoid sitting anywhere near media facilities or security personnel; observe the first session from the garden seats in the Members'; and subsequently adjourn to the tennis courts' refreshment area in order to garner the wisdom of those who know a damn sight more about cricket than do I. See you there.

The MATC seems to be an expanded version of the Cricket Australia conditions of entry (probably minus the drinking restrictions), with a leavening (if that's the appropriate term) of the SACA members' dress code. Geoff at least can escape, as many other members will do, to the hospitality facilities behind the stands where you can eat, drink and watch the play (with uncensored replays) on the TV sets there.

I'll wait to hear about the first journalist to be evicted for breaching the MATC.









Wednesday, November 29, 2006

" Behave, but have fun": 250 strong security force mobilised to protect esky and beach ball exclusion zone




Today The Advertiser's print edition ran an article on p7 with the headline "Behave, but have fun", which was reproduced on the companion Adelaide Now website as "Have fun - but behave".


A 250 strong security force comprising more than 90 police and 140 security guards will be deployed not, as you might be forgiven for thinking, to assist in the restoration of order somewhere in the South Pacific "arc of instability", but to exercise zero tolerance of the expected 30,000+ crowd at the Test.

SACA chief executive Mike Deare said the measures, which had been eight months in planning, were designed to increase patrons' enjoyment of the cricket...."Because of the huge attendance and the strong desire of the International Cricket Council and Cricket Australia, as well as my own board of management, to ensure that everybody has an enjoyable day, we have significantly increased security activities this season. Hopefully there will be no suppression of the crowd's enthusiasm. We are certainly not intending to do that . . . we're intending to do exactly the opposite by making sure those unpleasant incidents . . . don't occur."

Chief Inspector John Gerlach, the officer in charge of the operation, said police would have zero tolerance. "We would be urging people to have fun at the cricket but what is important is that people don't do things that interfere with the comfort and safety of other people at the event," he said.

...............

Mr Deare confirmed the Barmy Army would not be permitted to bring a trumpet into the ground. Beach balls would also be banned. The Mexican wave would be permitted but patrons seen throwing items into the air would face eviction.

Other media are picking up on the killjoy tactics employed in Brisbane: for example Gideon Haigh's Eye on the Ashes and The Surfer blogs on Cricinfo , Greg Baum in The Age , and this from the Gold Coast Bulletin, reporting on the first four days of the Brisbane Test:

People were thrown out for a whole range of sins, including blowing their own trumpet, waving the Aussie flag, trying to start a Mexican wave and even, dare we say it, inciting an 'Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi' chant. A Gold Coast cricket fan was told by police to leave his seat because he was sneezing too much. True story. The last straw came when police ordered that an inflatable kangaroo, this country's national icon, be deflated or the owner would be turfed out. Ironically, the fella who somehow smuggled a blow-up doll into the stadium evaded the clutches of about six wallopers.

The fun police have simply gone too far. They are getting the Barmy Army mixed up with the British soccer hooligans.The stiff suits in Brisbane have turned the Gabba into a prison for spectators while at Surfers Paradise, an hour's drive away, 18-year-old school leavers are partying in style, with few arrests.It's not often that the Poms have a legitimate beef but by separating the English spectators at the Gabba, Cricket Australia erred badly.The Barmy Army is one of the best-behaved groups of spectators in the world. They are an extremely well-organised group made up of mostly middle-class Poms who simply want to have a beer and a laugh, combining their love of cricket with an Aussie holiday. By splitting them, denying them the chance to sing en masse, the fun police took away a lot of the atmosphere which has become part and parcel of an Ashes series between the two countries.

Update 30 November: Today's Australian has an editorial "Leave fun in cricket" which now compares SA unfavourably with more tolerant cricket administrations elsewhere:

Heavy handed fun police at Brisbane's Gabba who threw Barmy Army trumpeter Billy Cooper out of the ground on the first day of Australia's Test against England didn't do spectators any favours...Now the South Australian Cricket Association has also shown it shares the Gabba's killjoy colours by banning Mr Cooper's trumpet from the second Test...He will be allowed to rejoin the fun when the cricket circus moves on to Perth and Sydney.

South Australia struggles to compete for a larger share of the international tourism market, and it can't help to have us branded as a killjoy state. Queensland has many other attractions so will be able to deflect the criticism more readily ("killjoy one day, beautiful the next"), leaving South Australia with a tougher job to counter the negative reputation.


The Australian has just posted a story"Banned bugler ' culturally relevant'"where an Adelaide University professor of musicology has added his voice to the swelling chorus of criticism.





The Bearded Wonder

Tonight I went to a talk by the Bearded Wonder. Who, do you ask? If you don't know then it says that you are not a longstanding listener to BBC radio Test Match commentaries.


The soubriquet is that of Dr W H (Bill) Frindall MBE, the celebrated cricket statistician. His talk focused on the lighter side of his career, not on some of the controversial aspects outlined in his Wikipedia entry . He related many anecdotes (some old, some new) interleafed with appraisals and excellent impersonations of some fellow commentators eg John Arlott, Brian Johnston, Jim Laker*, Fred Trueman and Alan McGilvray*. Those marked with an asterisk were treated less reverentially than they'd have liked.


The Bearded wonder looked and sounded in very good nick. An entertaining and informative evening, as, I should add was the one a couple of weeks ago with Aggers aka Jonathon Agnew , but about which I didn't post.


[Note: Wikipedia links accessed 21 November 2006]



Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Have a good day at the cricket but toe Cricket Australia's line

Here are Cricket Australia's Conditions of Entry to venues for this season.

I've highlighted a few which caught my eye (and made me wonder whether anyone would be able to comply with all the restrictions).




NOTICE TO ALL PATRONS
It is a condition of entry to the Venue (including all areas under the control of the Venue
owner or hirer, the “Venue”) for matches forming part of Cricket Australia’s 2006-07
international cricket season that patrons agree:
1. not to bring into the Venue any photographic, video or audio recording equipment for
any purpose other than private non-commercial purposes, which may include, without
limitation, video and/or audio recorders, camera tripods, monopods or lenses with a
total-focal strength of greater than 200mm and commercial digital video equipment;


2. not to (i) make any recording or take any photograph for anything other than private
non-commercial purposes or (ii) sell, license or otherwise publish, disseminate or
reproduce (or permit such), whether in whole or in part, any recordings taken or made
inside the Venue (including, without limitation, photographs, video recordings or sound
recordings) without the prior written consent of Cricket Australia;


3. not to broadcast or narrowcast by any means whatsoever (including, without limitation,

by way of mobile telephone, modem or other wireless device) any images, sounds,
data, results or commentary of or concerning any of the matches or other activities at
the Venue without the prior written consent of Cricket Australia;


4. not to re-sell any tickets to the matches played at the Venue at a premium or to use any

of them for advertising, promotional or other commercial purposes without the prior
written consent of Cricket Australia or the relevant State Cricket Association. Note: if
the ticket is sold or used in contravention of this condition, the bearer of the ticket will be
denied admission to the Venue;


5. to be bound by all terms of the 2006/07 Cricket Australia National Refund Policy, the

provisions of which can be viewed on the Cricket Australia website www.cricket.com.au;


6. not to (i) wear or otherwise display commercial, political, religious or offensive signage

or logos or engage in ambush marketing generally, or (ii) sell or distribute any goods or
services or any other matter or thing, or (iii) collect money or orders from other patrons
for goods or services without the prior written consent of Cricket Australia or (iv)
distribute political, religious, advertising or promotional material, in each case without
the prior written consent of Cricket Australia;


7. not to engage in any conduct, act towards or speak to any player, umpire, referee or
other official or other patron in a manner which offends, insults, humiliates, intimidates,
threatens, disparages or vilifies that other person on the basis of that other person’s
race, religion, colour, descent or national or ethnic origin;


8. that no alcohol, glass, cans, firearms, weapons, fireworks or other items deemed or

considered dangerous may be brought into the Venue;



9. that entry to the Venue is only permitted to spectators who agree to be searched

(including their bags, clothes or other possessions) on entry and continued presence in
the Venue is only permitted to spectators who agree to be searched (including their
bags, clothes or other possessions) while in the Venue;



10. that the playing field at the Venue shall be out of bounds at all times on the day of any

match at the Venue without prior written consent from Cricket Australia and any persons
entering the playing field without such consent will be prosecuted;


11. that they consent to (i) the recording of their likeness and/or voice by any means

(including but not limited to audio and visual recordings by television cameras and
photographers) (together “Images”) and (ii) the commercial exploitation, throughout the
world, of their Images by any means by Cricket Australia and its commercial partners
without compensation;



12. that they are admitted to the Venue at their own risk;



13. that they are required to take appropriate care for their sun protection and hydration;



14. that a patron who is deemed to be affected by the consumption of alcohol or drugs may,

in Cricket Australia's sole discretion, be refused entry to, or ejected from, the Venue by
an authorised event official;


15. that Cricket Australia shall not be liable for any loss suffered by the patron or caused by

any act or omissions of Cricket Australia;


16. not to do any of the following in the Venue or around:

(a) post, stick or place or attempt to post, stick or place any poster, placard, bill,
banner, print, paper or any advertising material on any building structure, fence,
tree or cordon without the prior written consent of Cricket Australia;
(b) misuse, deface, damage, remove from the Venue or tamper with or attempt to
misuse, deface, damage, remove from the Venue or tamper with any building,
seat, chair, toilet, sink, table structure, vehicle, craft, truck, pipe, tap, tap fitting,
conduit, electrical equipment, wiring or sign or excavate or cause to be
excavated any part of the area used for any of the matches or other activities at
the Venue;
(c) deposit litter, except in a receptacle provided for that purpose;
(d) throw or attempt to throw any stone, bottle, projectile or other object;
(e) disrupt, interrupt or behave in any manner that may disrupt or interrupt any of the
matches or other activities at the Venue, distract, hinder or interfere with a
player, interfere with the comfort of other patrons on their enjoyment of any of the
matches or other activities at the Venue;
(f) use indecent or obscene language or threatening or insulting words, or otherwise
behave in a threatening, abusive, riotous, indecent or insulting manner;
(g) interfere with, obstruct or hinder Cricket Australia or its employees, agents or
contractors in the exercise of their powers, functions or duties;
(h) conduct public surveys or opinion polls, solicit money, donations or subscriptions
from members of the public, without the written consent of Cricket Australia;
(i) smoke in areas within the Venue nominated as non-smoking; or
(j) inflate, or cause to inflate, any balloon, beach ball, receptacle, device or structure
without the prior written consent of Cricket Australia.



17. not to hold themselves out or otherwise promote themselves or any good or service as

being associated with Cricket Australia where they are not authorised by Cricket
Australia to do so in a way that would infringe the rights of those parties commercially
associated with Cricket Australia;



18. without prejudice to any other rights which Cricket Australia or the Venue owner or hirer

may have, that if they contravene any of these terms and conditions they may:
(a) be refused entry to the Venue;
(b) be ejected from the Venue by an authorised event official;
(c) have their ticket confiscated and/or cancelled without refund or recompense;
(d) be prohibited and disqualified from purchasing tickets for or entering into any
match or other function played or conducted under the auspices of Cricket
Australia, including, for the avoidance of doubt, any Test Match, One Day
International Match, Twenty20 Match or domestic 4-day, one-day or 20-over
match, anywhere in Australia; and/or
(e) have legal action taken against them in connection with such matters.


19. that, in the event that entry of the patron to the Venue is refused for any reason in

accordance with these Conditions, no refund will be paid in respect of the relevant ticket;
and


20. to abide by any terms of entry into the Venue prescribed by the Venue Manager to the

extent those terms of entry do not conflict with the conditions set out above.
By order of Cricket Australia

Monday, November 27, 2006

Aged men a trois: how the media reported the Test

# Channel Nine has so many commentators available (including R Benaud, I Chappell, I Healy, M Nicholas, W Lawry, S O'Donnell, M Slater, M Taylor, P Tufnell) that they've been rostered in threesomes.


# Stephanie. Channel Nine has also, for the first time in more than 20 years, engaged a woman, Stephanie Brantz to support the aforementioned males. Stephanie will not, at least at this stage, join the men in what Richie Benaud used to call "the central commentary position" but has a roving commission conducting interviews with celebrities (loosely described) , oddballs and others during the dull patches of play.


# The ABC radio commentary is mostly reliably straight up and down medium pace apart from Kerry O'Keefe's manic, provocative or incisive (and sometimes all three) contributions. The ABC cricket website has plenty of photos and chit chat but no scorecard.


The two best gaffes that I heard were on the ABC: Quentin Hull copped a string of expletives from a well-lubricated English supporter he was interviewing; and Jonathan Agnew commented on pie stains on Peter Roebuck's jacket, to which the sometime Somerset captain replied frostily that the said garment had just been returned from the laundry.



# The BBC cricket website is much more comprehensive than the ABC's. The only criticism I have is that in Australia we can't listen to the Test Match Special commentary on the internet.


# Many other print media outlets are offering video reports of one kind of another: they're almost all long on talking heads or demos of how to bat, bowl or field and short on footage of the actual play. An example is one featuring CMJ of The Times. The News of the World's coverage includes a very elderly-looking and uncharacteristically hesitant Richie Benaud. Blame the camera operator?

# For the depth and breadth of its online coverage Cricinfo remains an essential reference. Check its complete scorecard which has a handy summary of significant developments during the game.





"There are lot of things to enjoy about Test cricket, even if there is not a great contest."

Thus spake Cricket Australia's CEO James Sutherland about the huge attendances at the first test, which ended before lunch with an Australian victory by 277 runs .


I hope that for his and other people's (including my) sakes that there are some great contests for the rest of this series. On current form the best we can hope for are individual ones, eg Warne v Pietersen, but not contests between two closely matched teams.


The big question is: can England perform any worse than they did in this game? From what I saw on TV I'd say "I hope not but I wonder..." Their bowling is the weaker department but their batting is not all that good. A fourth innings total of 370 underpinned by 90s from Pietersen and Collingwood is not bad, but for much of the time it was facesaving batting practice, as winning was never a real chance (or even half chance).


Changes? Monty Panesar in for James Anderson? What about Michael Vaughan to stiffen the batting? Perhaps he's not quite fit enough now but he seems to be waiting in the wings.


And Australia? Barring further injuries (Shane Watson has already been ruled out) perhaps the same team, or maybe the selectors will bring in Stuart MacGill to take advantage of Adelaide's reputation as a spinner-friendly wicket. If the latter, who will drop out? Stuart Clark bowled exceptionally well here in the SA - NSW game only a few weeks ago, Michael Clarke made runs in Brisbane and while Brett Lee's bowling figures weren't too flash he batting, as he usually does nowadays, well.


PS. It was good to hear the Barmy Army in full voice today (albeit, as I far as I could tell, trumpetless). They win beyond the boundary, but the Aussies prevail inside it.

Sunday, November 26, 2006

Killjoys devise "range of measures to enhance the experience of spectators"

Worrying, yet not entirely unexpected, reports have emerged about the treatment of spectators at the Gabba.

#The Age
alerted us to this a few days ago:

The backpack, the beach ball and the Mexican Wave have been classified public enemies numbers one to three by Cricket Australia this summer. Or something like that. As part of a new initiative to improve crowd behaviour, CA has commissioned Sean Carroll, a former Victorian policeman, to devise a range of measures to enhance the experience of spectators.

That has included introducing a text messaging system whereby spectators can "dob in a yob". But perhaps the most unpopular moves will be to ban backpacks, along with beach balls and the Mexican wave. The new measures were in part prompted by last year's report by India's Solicitor General, Goolam Vahanvati, following racist crowd abuse hurled at the South African team.


What on earth does a backpack have to do with racist abuse?

# news.com.au reports on both the ban on backpacks (spectators had to fork out $5 to hire a locker and were only allowed to take plastic bags into the ground) and the ejection of the Barmy army's bugler, an event which has been noted elsewhere not only in Cricinfo but as far afield as China.


# At least there are a few high profile Australians, eg Tim Fischer, Chair of Tourism Australia, who have spoken out in support of the Army:


"It should be remembered the Barmy Army are ticket-paying, high-yield tourists, and should be allowed to sit together within reason and should be given their trumpet back for subsequent tests," Fischer said. "Everyone wants to focus on the cricket and enjoy the cricket, but the over-reaction at the Gabba has destroyed a great deal of atmosphere. Combined with the stuff-up with the tea-time entertainment, the cricket and ground authorities really need to ensure all goes well at the Adelaide Test and subsequent tests."


# Fortunately the backpack ban will not, according to an official at SACA to whom I spoke on Friday and
Adelaide Now be enforced at the test here:

"There is a ban on hard-topped eskies but soft day-packs will be permitted as always after security checks,"Ms Elliott [SACA communications manager] said. Cricket Australia chief executive James Sutherland said increased security measures could lead to slight delays through the turnstiles.

"I know it can be annoying to have to undergo bag searches on the way in," he said.

"Unfortunately, that's the world we now inhabit and as administrators, we have to accept the advice of the experts. Ultimately, it's for your safety and comfort. That's why we're suggesting it's a good idea to get to the ground a bit earlier than usual and to check with the ground managers or your state cricket association to find out what you can bring in.

"The rules will vary a bit from state to state. That's because the people who run each venue and their local police have experience with what works best in their circumstances."

Queensland Cricket spokesman Steve Gray said the new guidelines for yesterday's Ashes opener were well-publicised.

"It's (the backpack ban) here to stay and I think you will find it becoming the standard across the country," he said.

I find this last sentence particularly offensive and patronising.


# Other bloggers have picked up on the price gouging at the Gabba .

# On ABC TV's Offsiders today Gideon Haigh, speaking from outside the Gabba, mentioned the number and deafening volume of the advertisements played at the ground. Over the last few years I too have noted this creeping SBS tendency (interrupting programs for commercial breaks) but thought it was mainly confined to one day games. I shall get my earplugs ready for Friday.

First test goes into fifth day



Stumps Day 4

Australia 602/9d & 202/1d v England 157 & 293/5 (80.0 ov)

England need another 355 runs with 5 wickets remaining: hardly in with a chance winning, and not much more of a draw unless the weather comes to their aid as the forecast suggests it might just do.

This morning Australia batted on and captain Ponting (61*) declared when Justin Langer reached his century. In their reply, England wobbled at first but
Paul Collingwood (96), Kevin Pietersen (92*) and, to a lesser degree, Alistair Cook (43) have provided some much needed stiffening to the batting. While the Australian attack has hardly been blunted it's of some significance that neither Glenn McGrath nor Brett Lee has so far taken a wicket in England's second innings.

If Collingwood hadn't been stumped for 96 charging Shane Warne... but Australia are clearly the better side, even if the gulf between them and England narrowed today.

Full scorecard here

Saturday, November 25, 2006

Australia keeps England on the rack

Stumps Day 3

Australia 602/9d & 181/1 (40.0 ov);
England 157
Australia lead by 626 runs with 9 wickets remaining.

Full scorecard here.

Enough said?

Friday, November 24, 2006

How long will it last ... the series that is?

What can I add to the Cricinfo summary scorecard?
Australia 602/9d
England 53/3 (17.0 ov)
England trail by 549 runs with 7 wickets remaining in the 1st innings

Stumps - Day 2


England RR 3.11
Last 10 ovs 25/1 RR 2.50

The full scorecard is here.

I hadn't gone on record with a prediction, though if I had I'd have put the series result much closer than now seems likely.
The England bowling is being carried by Andrew Flintoff, with intermittent support from Matthew Hoggard and Ashley Giles, and an occasional good ball from the others. Today most of the team played like New Zealanders.


Thursday, November 23, 2006

First day to Australia

3/346 (Ponting 137*, Hussey 63*) at stumps on day one clearly puts Australia on top. England will need to regroup considerably if they are to get back into the match. The bowling is the problem: only Andrew Flintoff, who led from the front, and Ashley Giles took wickets: the others were expensive or lacked penetration, or both. The fielding wasn't too bad with a few good moments eg Paul Collingwood's slip catch to dismiss Damien Martyn.


This said the highlight of the day was, as the scorecard suggests, Ricky Ponting's innings of 137 not out. He seemed to have all the time in the world to compose and execute his shots. His driving was crisp and elegant. When he reached his century his celebrations were so athletic that he looked as if he had a good many more runs in him (which he probably does).

BBC scorecard and links to comments

Cricinfo scorecard and links to reports.

Fox sports scorecard

Cricket revival in USA?

At Blogocracy, which in its brief life has focused mainly on political topics, Tim Dunlop has posted a piece "To Ashes" in which he mentions cricket's dearth of media coverage in the USA.

Last month, just before I began N&D, I posted this elsewhere. I included links to an historical survey of US cricket, an article about the revival of the game in the USA and a whimsical piece about cricket in Hollywood.

I wonder how far NYC Mayor Bloomberg's 2005 plans "to build a $1.5 million cricket pitch at St. Albans Park, Queens" have advanced.
Perhaps this was a non-core promise?

Australia on top at lunch

Australia won the toss, batted and jumped out of the blocks on day 1, scoring 1/109 (Langer 68*, Ponting 11*) from 25 overs at lunch.

Cricinfo described the first ball thus:


Harmison's first delivery was a moment to rank alongside Phil DeFreitas's long-hop to Michael Slater on this ground way back in 1994-95. Then, as now, it pricked the bubble of anticipation for a capacity crowd, and provided Langer in particular, who was given such a working-over on the opening morning of the 2005 series, the ideal sighter to settle his nerves.

And it didn't get much better after this, at least from Steve Harmison's perspective. His figures at lunch: 6 - 0 - 37 - 0.

Cricinfo scorecard.

Wednesday, November 22, 2006

Less than 24 hours to go...a quick guide to media coverage

This time tomorrow there will be something concrete to write about.

In the meantime there are plenty of comments, predictions etc in the Australian and English media.
IMO the (writing before the series begins) English media coverage online generally has more breadth and depth than the Australian.

Here are some links:

International

Cricinfo

Australia

ABC
The Age
The Australian
Fox Sports Australia
Cricket Australia

England

BBC
England & Wales Cricket Board
The Guardian
The Telegraph
The Times

India

Indiatimes

Tuesday, November 21, 2006

England's Gatsby beats against the current of media opinion?

The UK media are covering the Ashes in great detail. Here are some snippets from today:


# Michael Henderson in the UK Telegraph online compares Duncan Fletcher to F Scott Fitzgerald's Gatsby:

At first sight Duncan Fletcher does not appear to have much in common with Jay Gatsby. F Scott Fitzgerald's hero lived in solitary splendour on Long Island, pining for Daisy Buchanan; the England coach lives modestly in Cape Town, and so resolutely avoids drawing attention to himself when he is on duty that one might imagine he is trying to draw attention to himself.

Yet, just as Gatsby tried to re-create the past, so does Fletcher hanker after a golden summer when the larks sang, and all England rejoiced. It was the summer of last year, of course, when England's cricketers beat Australia for the first time since 1987. Grand it was while it lasted, grand, but Fletcher cannot order the future in the image of the past any more than could Gatsby, sitting by his dock, and the way England have begun their tour of Australia has given cause for concern.

In Fletcher's case the role of Daisy is played by Geraint Jones. No sooner had England found their bearings than the coach felt bold enough to loosen the shackles imposed last summer, and revert to the wicketkeeper who lost his place,, at the instigation of the other selectors. Jones will play in Australia, and with the emphatic pronouncement that the Kent man would stand up to the Aussies like a good 'un, Chris Read's Test career became – barring an injury to Jones in the next two months – a thing of the past.

The coach must be commended for being so decisive. He has made it clear that James Anderson will start ahead of Sajid Mahmood, and indicated that Monty Panesar is likely to be the slow bowler. If he changes his mind, and reinstates Ashley Giles, who has spent the better part of a year out of action with a hip injury, he really will be trying to revive something that passed on that blessed September afternoon at the Oval.

Nobody can re-create the past. The England side who beat Australia last year played splendidly, but their lease expired when the umpires removed the bails on that tumultuous Monday, and everybody belted out Jerusalem. Michael Vaughan and Simon Jones may never play again, and others have struggled with injuries. New players have come in, and done well.

These facts have to be faced.

But, despite Geraint Jones' failure with the bat last summer, and his imperfect wicketkeeping, he is back behind the stumps for the toughest series of all. Read, who kept well when he returned to the side, and made runs too, must wonder what he has done wrong. Not much, is the answer. Fletcher simply doesn't trust him and, worse, everybody knows.

[Addendum 22 November: What will Henderson say if Joyce is picked?]


# On a very different tack The Guardian reports on the (mixed) fortunes of members of the current England team playing in Australian grade cricket. Here's one assessment from a current NSW player:

Kevin Pietersen

Sydney University CC, 2002-03

"At club level other teams couldn't really stop him - he got 160 in a session once and 785 runs at 56 over the season. He hit some big sixes, one went over the grandstand at the Sydney University ground, which is a three-tiered building made for watching rugby. It was either nothing off 10 balls or 80 or 100 at a run a ball. There weren't many 20s. On the field he might have been bold and arrogant, but he wasn't like that off it. I reckon the only wicket he'll have difficulty with here is the Gabba because of the sideways movement. Some of the grade wickets that year were a bit under-prepared and he was nipped out early because he went at the ball hard."
Ed Cowan, team-mate.

#The Times has many articles and a Shane Warne podcast.



Monday, November 20, 2006

Another day closer...

The gamesmanship has reached a new pitch (pun intended) as supporters of both sides urge on their teams and the more level headed to appraise each side's strengths and weaknesses.

Of the English media Scyld Berry and Mark Nicholas (both writing in UK Telegraph) have some strong words of encouragement and advice for England, whereas in The Times Christopher Martin-Jenkins is more circumspect, speculating about the possible England lineup and offering a succinct form guide. His final paragraph has echoes of a bygone world, but one of which some vestiges remain (particularly as several of the SA players have played in England with and against their opponents in this match):

Before they left the beautiful Adelaide Oval, the England players joined their opponents and their families in a game of bowls and a barbecue on the perfectly manicured lawns behind the cricket ground. The calm before the storm.

FOOTNOTE: Sajjad's six

In another report of the SA- England match the prolific CM-J discusses Sajjad Mahmood's six on Sunday:

The best striking yesterday came from Sajid Mahmood, who hit three magnificent lofted straight drives off Bailey, two of them carrying for six and one, carrying more than 110 yards, described by Greg Blewett, the veteran South Australia all-rounder, as one of the biggest hits he had ever seen over the longest straight boundary anywhere.

Both Blewett and Martin-Jenkins would have been on the upper deck of the Bradman stand at the time and so couldn't have seen exactly where the ball landed. I was sitting in the third to back row of the lower level when the ball landed in the same row perhaps 30 metres away (there was hardly anyone in between as the sightboard obscured spectators' views. As I said in a previous post it was a substantial hit, and particularly impressive because it was so straight.


Sunday, November 19, 2006

England not disgraced or embarrassed, despite struggling to take wickets in second innings


As I predicted, the SA -England match fizzled out in a draw after England batted on this morning to reach 415 all out and were unable to make many inroads into the SA batting.

The scorecard is here.

On a hot yet overcast morning (the temperature reached almost 35 degrees but didn't seem like it if you were sitting under cover) the England batting advanced steadily against a mostly spin attack. Geraint Jones and Andrew Flintoff got useful centre wicket practice, without building big innings, while Sajjad Mahmood demonstrated his hitting prowess. One of his sixes cleared the long boundary and landed near the back of the lower deck of the Bradman stand, which is as long a distance as I can ever recall a ball being hit on the ground.

When SA batted Matthew Elliott and Daniel Harris, both of whom needed runs to prove points, faced the England attack without too many qualms. Elliott was the more aggressive of the pair and reached 50 after being dropped by Pietersen at backward point from a difficult chance. Elliott's boldness brought about his downfall as James Anderson (who in this game belied his reputation as an average fielder) jumped and held on to one handed drive at mid wicket. This gave Monty Panesar his only wicket of the innings. The pitch was taking a little spin but maybe he tried too hard: he began by flighting the ball well but later pushed the ball through more and produced the occasional (or more than occasional) short one for the batsmen to hit to the short square boundaries.

Harris was becalmed for some time but eventually bestirred himself and finished on 71 not out, which should keep him in the SA four day team for a while. The only other wicket fell to Pietersen who had Borgas caught on the midwicket boundary by substitute Ashley Giles, which would probably have reminded his supporters and perhaps others that he is a better fielder than his teammate rival Panesar. As Pietersen bowled in both SA innings I wonder whether he might get some bowling in the tests as the second spinner.

I must also say that Jones belied his butterfingers reputation which had preceded him (and with which I, having watched much of the 2005 Ashes on TV, concurred). His keeping was tidy throughout and he did a good job of mobilising support in the field.

Speaking of mobilising support, the Barmy Army was represented by a small advance guard which as the day wore on both encouraged England and entertained the spectators with some spirited and quite harmonious renditions of a selection of their repertoire. You can see their flags in two of the photos above: in the one showing Flintoff bowling their conductor can be seen in the background.

The game ended an hour before the scheduled finish by mutual agreement between the captains. A fourth day (or a few extra overs a day over three days) might have produced a result or at least kept spectator interest alive for longer. Pre-test, or warm up, first class matches against state sides appear to be seen in official quarters as anachronistic but this game showed that they still have much to offer players and spectators, including contributing to players' career records and providing a truer cricket contest than last week's 14 a side hit out against NSW.




Saturday, November 18, 2006

Another traditional day's cricket

A good day for playing and, provided you were in the shade, watching cricket: perhaps a tad hot but then 32 degree days are not unknown here even at this time of the year.

England moved from 1/24 overnight, losing nightwatchman Matthew Hoggard at 29 and Alistair Cook at 34, before Ian Bell (132) and Paul Collingwood (80) steadied the ship with a strong fourth wicket partnership of 178. Kevin Pietersen played a cameo of 32: not reckless (though he was dropped once) but he hit the ball hard and not too much in the air. Andrew Flintoff and Geraint Jones were watchful, and with several overs to go clearly decided to drop anchor for tomorrow. Stumps were drawn after the required 90 overs had been bowled (why not 96 as in domestic games ?) with England 6/303. The scorecard is here.

The best SA bowlers were clearly Tait and Gillespie. Neither of the spinners Dan Cullen and Cullen Bailey the spinners often troubled the batters, and each had occasional lapses of length . Daniel Harris , listed at number 9 on the scoreboard (ie unlikely to bowl) bowled several short tidy spells at medium pace, and completed Tait's unfinished over when he went off injured towards the end of the day . Mark Cosgrove, who in most people's minds would have been the third seam bowler only had one over and that just before stumps.

Undoubtedly England have had the better of the game so far, but it's unlikely that there's enough time left for them to force a win. To do so they'll need to add some rapid runs tomorrow and then bowl SA out in, say, two and a bit sessions. Even with the home team's brittle batting this is unlikely.



Friday, November 17, 2006

At last a proper cricket match (and England do well).

In the first (and only non-test first class fixture) of their tour, the England attack regrouped and pinned a strong South Australian XI back. Only contributions from veteran Darren Lehmann (run out for 99 going for his hundredth run) and the less experienced but improving Cameron Borgas(73) kept SA in the game after they lost 4/25, three of them to a rampaging Matthew Hoggard.

SA declared at 7/247, while England were 1/24 at stumps. Strauss was dismissed by Tait for a duck.

The scorecard is here and a match bulletin here.

Of the other media, the UKTelegraphhas a curate's egg report: the comment
"The two of them [Lehmann and Borgas] forged on for over two hours in the heat." is wrong as the weather was mild and intermittently sunny.In no way was it hot. The forecast for the next two days predicts hotter weather in the vicinity of 30 deg but today the maximum was in the mid 20s.

This comment is more perceptive: '
Panesar had won an important battle when he was selected ahead of Ashley Giles – a surprise to everyone, given Duncan Fletcher’s normal preference for spinners who can bat. But he was not at his magisterial best, bowling too fast and too short to be a consistent threat."

Tuesday, November 14, 2006

Billy won't be a hero (or a minor media celebrity)

Unlike so many others, I've refrained from commenting upon the sacking of Darrell Hair from the elite panel of umpires, a matter of which we may not have heard the last: see here for a recent (13 November) report.

Today's Australian publishes a letter from Tom Veivers ,a former Test cricketer (not, as he mistakenly states, umpire) , who criticises both Hair and Cricket Australia:

During my own Test umpiring [sic] career the best umpires were invariably those who were the least noticed.

There are many who see Hair falling into the category of those umpires who seem to believe that spectators come to matches to see them umpire. Why does Cricket Australia want to continue the controversy by appointing him to officiate in our domestic cricket?

I've sent this to the Australian:

I'm a cricket spectator who agrees with Tom Veivers that the best umpires are those who are the "least noticed". I've never attended a game to see Darrell Hair (or anyone else) umpire, so don't see why, in the absence of more compelling evidence about his alleged lack of competence, that he shouldn't umpire Australian domestic first class games. I would also like to know why, if being "least noticed" is a criterion for selection of test match umpires, Billy Bowden has been appointed to the first Ashes Test.

I'm obviously not the only person who has a similar concern, as reports of his appointment elsewhere in the media, eg here , suggest. The Age report summarises the issues succinctly :

His flamboyant signalling , often unguarded media comments and cultivation of personal publicity have made him a minor media celebrity.He was highly rated by players at the start of his international career, but last year 73 per cent of Australia's 25 contracted players rated Bowden the second-worst umpire in world cricket.

I'll reserve my judgment, and give the benefit of the doubt to a man who has claimed "God - he is my third umpire in a way".

To give him his due, Mr Bowden has occasionally admitted to occasional fallibility , It's probably just as well that India aren't playing for the Ashes (they may be working on it but have a little way to go) otherwise he might come in for even more criticism like this.




Monday, November 13, 2006

First Lillee, now Botham

After Dennis Lillee has expressed his opinion about the ageing Australian team, along comes Ian Botham comparing them to Dad's Army.

The photomontage of Warne, McGrath, Gilchrist, Hayden and Langer's heads superimposed on the bodies of the Dad's Army characters is great. Click the Botham link above to see it.

Let it go through to which keeper?

With almost a fortnight to go before the first test, England has shown its hand by announcing, as Cricinfo reports, that Geraint Jones will keep wicket in the first test.

Having watched Jones's performance in the 2005 Ashes on TV and read various reports about his attempts to recover some form, including an uneven performance in the Canberra match where, true to form, he took one very good catch but dropped a sitter, I'm surprised. It may be that playing him in preference to Read will turn out to be a blunder of the same magnitude as Nasser Hussain sending Australia in after winning the toss four years ago at Brisbane.

At the local level the South Australian selectors have dropped vice-captain and no1 wicketkeeper Graham Manou for the three day game against England. Shane Deitz will keep wicket in his place. SA chairman of selectors Paul Nobes is quoted in The Australian and Cricinfo as saying "Graham (Manou) continues to show he has talent with the gloves, but we need a stronger return from that position in the batting order.We need our 'keeper to not only keep well, but also to bat well." I think this is a very fair comment. Manou has looked out of touch with the bat this year and unfortunately for him the modern game expects the keeper to pull his weight with the bat.

Sunday, November 12, 2006

C4D

Matt Price in The Weekend Australian had a great piece about Cricket for Dummies (or C4D as he calls it), the latest in the yellow and black manuals for the un- or partly-initiated. The online version omits some choice Priceisms, eg:

Notwithstanding the formidable length and comprehensiveness of C4D, there are still several glaring omissions. Nothing at all in the index about text messaging or targeting bunnies, no sign of a chapter on Blaming the Media, nary a word on subcontinental bookmakers, not a shred of advice to celebrating cricketers about shirtfronting techniques to be applied to swiftly remove pesky foreign officials from victory podiums. Perhaps all this will be included in the second edition.

This is only a sample. If you can still get hold of the print edition, the full article is on p56.

Australian apology

Cricinfo reports that Ricky Ponting has apologised to Sharad Pawar for the incident at the Champions Trophy presentation. The apology has also been reported in the australian media, though the headline of an otherwise fairly even handed report in The Age and a rant from Rebecca Wilson in her column in The Advertiser (not online) are exceptions.

Saturday, November 11, 2006

PM triumphs despite silly hat


The Prime Minister's XI "proudly supported by Canberra Investment Corporation and the Guinness Peat Group" convincingly defeated an England XI in the traditional (so traditional that the players wear white and use a red ball) one day fixture in Canberra. The margin of victory (or defeat, depending on your allegiance) was such as to generate much vaunting and puffing up among the Australian , and much wailing and gnashing of teeth among the English media.

The PM himself clearly relished the occasion as this photo of him with, in a rare public appearance, the Queen's representative here, shows. Matt Price's accompanying comments are great , though he's drawing a long bow to compare Phil Jaques with Malcolm Turnbull (has Turnbull ever dropped as many catches as Jaques did in last week's SA - NSW match?).

On the English side, .Alan Lee of The Times describes England's performance as "woeful", and Derek Pringle in the Telegraph
describes it as "execrable", and even when he tries to encourage players the best he can do is to damn with faint praise:


In his first competitive cricket for a year, Ashley Giles was not disgraced after taking one for 53 off eight overs, five more than his spin rival, Monty Panesar. Giles' new action, with its slow, deliberate walk to the wicket, seems to hold little mystery, however, with Phil Jaques and Travis Birt hitting him where they pleased.


That said the game was played between one team whose members had some recent competitive match practice under their belts and another which, according to The Australian, have been enjoying a celebrity lifestyle since they arrived. Apparently they didn't even have to queue for U2 concert tickets: what would Alec Bedser say about this?
The two star performers for the PM 's team - Jaques and Tait - are both liabilities in the field: in last week's SA v NSW match I saw Jaques put down three in the slips while Tait (who admittedly bowled well) missed a ballooning sitter at deep backward square leg at a crucial stage. He also can't throw from the boundary to the wicketkeeper. To put it another way, Australia has two potential Panesars. Barmy Army take note.


Friday, November 10, 2006

Australians " totally uncivilised"

The Australian team, notably Messrs Ponting and Martyn, have been described by Sharad Powar, the head of the BCCI (Board of Control for Cricket in India) as "totally uncivilised" for their behaviour at the Champions trophy presentation.

I know from personal experience that Indian people set great store by ceremonial protocol: at most functions there is a hierarchy of guests, with the chief guest, in this instance Mr Powar, being the most important. Ceremonies with each guest, beginning with the least important, being acknowledged, and usually invited to speak. Nothing should disturb this. In my only appearance at such a ceremony (not, alas, related to any performance on a cricket field) I was speaking when the power failed. The show nevertheless went on: fortunately I was speaking off the cuff and was able to finish quickly and allow the next speaker their turn (half way through which the lights came back on).

Acording to Cricinfo Cricket Australia is trying to hose the matter down, though to my mind CEO James Sutherland's comments seem a bit bland for an Indian audience, however well they may go down in Australia:

James Sutherland, Cricket Australia CEO had said yesterday that the relations between both boards were absolutely fine. "It's unfortunate that there has been an interpretation of disrespect from that. I know that no disrespect was intended by the Australian players; I have spoken to Ricky about it. Perhaps sometimes these things can happen between different cultures."

For a sample of Indian opinion see these pieces from Hindustan Times , Times of India and The Hindu. Here's an extract from the latter:

We respect the way Australia runs its cricket and we respect the way Australia plays its cricket, which is probably why half the Australian team strides around on Indian television hawking stuff. (We certainly don't respect our board president getting pushed around).

But in Australia, respect for Indian cricket is grudging, if at all. The talking-down, slightly supercilious tone that some use (which we got for years from the English and still do in some places) bothers me.

Culture shock

It bothers me also that this is what you often read about India in Australian sports pages. Chaotic. Noisy. Dirty. Cracked pavements. Delhi-belly. Yawn. It's true, but it's also all so 1980s about a country that's changing every day. It's intriguing, too, that culture shock only occurs going from West to East.

Presumably this shock explains why few write about how well Australia's players are treated in India.

I'm not being precious, I'm just plain bored. And wondering, is there nothing in pulsating, economically powerful, rapidly changing, complex India, which is interesting (and I'm not talking about elephants on the street and the maharajas).

India may not be big news in Australia but it is elsewhere in the world, and by resorting to lazy stereotypes some cricket writers, who are the primary messengers, are not being entirely accurate messengers. Writers in Australia such as Peter Roebuck, Greg Baum and Chloe Saltau, and former cricketers like Ian Chappell, do a fine, thoughtful job, but I find them lonely voices. After all, if anyone wants to know about India, all they have to do is ask: we love talking.

Thursday, November 09, 2006

Blues beat Red(back)s in one day game











In the FRODC (Ford Ranger One Day Cup) match at the Adelaide Oval yesterday, as in the concurrent US mid-term elections, the Blue Party (NSW/ Democrats) prevailed over the Reds (SA Redbacks/Republicans). The Redbacks made 7/251, with Lehmann (as is his custom) and Ferguson (a welcome return to form) making the major contributions.

I thought this was a defendable but not matchwinning score. These days something of the order of 270 - 280 seems to be about par for the 50 over course.

The Blues stuttered at first, with Jaques ( continuing a poor run) and Michael Clarke (direct from the Champions Trophy in Mumbai) falling cheaply. Fortunately two of the less experienced players, Cowan (who'd failed in each innings of the four day game) and Christian (who was listed on the scoreboard batting order at no 7 but came in at 4), steadied the team with 74 and 68 respectively and provided Haddin (56 no) with a platform to hit out in the closing overs and win by 4 wickets with 4 balls remaining. For the score see here.

I was present for the final overs of the SA and the opening ones of the NSW innings when I took the photos above which show Stuart Clark who, surprisingly in view of his performance in the PC four day game, didn't bowl his full quota of overs, and Shaun Tait, captured close to the moments of delivery. Note the latter's slinging action.

Monday, November 06, 2006

The Christopher and George show

The Champions Trophy final between Australia and West Indies is being covered "live" online (which means reasonably prompt score updates and perhaps some additional commentary) by several media organisations. As I post unseasonal rain has stopped play in Mumbai with Australia 2/45 chasing the West Indies' disappointing 138.

The London
Daily Telegraph 's scorecard goes further than the others by printing the first names of all the players, even if those are not the names by which they are commonly known. Thus we have Christopher, not Chris, Gayle and, more bizarrely, George, not Brad(ley), Hogg. Printing more than the players' surnames is a good idea, but only as long as the fuller version corresponds fairly closely to what most followers recognise.

UPDATE 6 NOVEMBER

Result: Australia eventually won under the Duckworth-Lewis method. The final score, though not the complex calculations used under that method to determine the result, can be seen by clicking on the above link.

Players' names on scorecards: After I'd posted the comments above I recalled that until about 1962, when English first class cricketers were divided into Gentlemen (amateurs or pseudo-amateurs) and Players (professionals), scorecards usually included this information in an easy to crack code. "Gentlemen" were called Mr (or Sir, Lord, Rev or whatever) while "Players" were just referred to by their surnames. Australians touring England were usually treated as amateurs while non-white West Indians were treated as professionals. Had Messrs Gayle and Hogg played in those times they would have appeared in the scorecard as Gayle (perhaps with C aappended) and Mr G B Hogg. This deserves a fuller posting, which I'll do shortly.



Sunday, November 05, 2006

4 for 1, 5 for 12, but NSW still win
















I almost had to eat humble pie today as SA for a time looked like trouncing NSW until a bold counterstroke by Stuart Clark (the bowling allrounder Australia has been looking for?) and Dominic Thornely saw the Blues home by two wickets.


This was after SA had moved from 2/103 to 267, a modest lead of 133. Mark Cosgrove, Cameron Borgas and the fine weather continued from where they left off yesterday but didn't take it as far as they might have, eventually being out for 94 and 72 respectively. Ferguson's 39 was handy but, as often with him, a few more would have helped.


The scoreboard in the photo reveals the facts of the final innings but says nothing about Clark's extraordinary batting, nor the ferocity of the SA opening bowlers Tait and Gillespie which saw each of the first four NSW batsmen dismissed for ducks (echoing Freddie Trueman's Test debut ), and the fifth for 7 to leave them 5/12, and then 6/46.


At that point Clark came to the wicket, no doubt apprehensive but buoyed by his 6/39 in SA's second innings (to add to his two first innings wickets and 25 handy first innings runs) and determined not to see his good work wasted. He and Thornely batted wisely, with the no.4 batsman giving the no.8 his head: there was no defensiveness nor any attempt to keep Thornley on strike.



Clark dared and won: 62 in 37 balls and 43 minutes (three 4s, four 6s). He was dropped off a straightforward catch in the outfield by Tait when 6, while Thornley should have been stumped when he was in the mid 20s. Both misses were off Bailey, who bowled better than his figures indicated and remained positive in the face of a hammering and the two misses.



Clark was eventually and inevitably caught in the outfield, while Nicholson hit a return catch to Bailey next ball. Tait returned, bowled short to Thornely who hit him for six to take NSW to victory with great panache.


It was a performance worth celebrating with some of the not out batsman's namesake's product, even though both sides had some poor performers. The pace bowling of both teams was top class: the two attacks would compare favourably with those of many if not most current test teams. The scorecard is here.

Saturday, November 04, 2006

SA v NSW game goes into third day after belated SA revival


Today SA, which in this context means South Australia (not South Africa, as Simone Thurtell described it today on ABC Radio Grandstand), improved on yesterday's dismal showing and have taken the game into the third scheduled day.

In the morning the Redbacks attack regrouped and kept the pressure on the Blues, whose batting at present isn't as strong as their bowling, eventually dismissing them for 288, a lead of 134.

When SA batted again it was the old story (well, the same as for the last two games): early wickets, on this occasion two LBWs to Stuart Clark, who finished with 2/12 from 9 overs of top class pace bowling. The photo shows the ball that dismissed Elliott (and the gap between his bat and pad).

Cosgrove and Borgas restored the situation with some watchful batting through to stumps when the home team were 2/103: still 31 behind, but in a much better position than seemed likely (or even, in the light of recent collapses, possible) at 2/13. Cosgrove again batted as he'd done in the second innings against Victoria earlier this week, restraining his aggressive tendencies, especially against Clark and Nicholson, but willing to hit loose balls from the others. McGill in particular suffered at his hands: his length wavered and his 7 overs to date have cost 36.

Tomorrow SA have more hard work to do if they are to set NSW a challenging final innings task. The weather forecast for the next two days is for much the same as yesterday and today: fine and mostly sunny, so a result, most likely a NSW outright win, will be achieved.

The Cricinfo report with link to scorecard is here. For comparison Cricket Australia's is here.

Friday, November 03, 2006

SA v NSW game decided on day 1

South Australia for the second week in a row have thrown away a game with a weak batting performance: all out 154. NSW, who surprisingly omitted Henriques from the team after his 5/17 last week, have replied strongly to be 2/96 at stumps.

I watched most of the play after lunch, when SA were already on the ropes. The NSW pace bowlers, with the occasional exception of Thornely, bowled a tight line. I was particularly impressed by Bollinger, the left armer: is it my faulty memory or is his action reminiscent of Alan Davidson's?

Had the Blues's fielding been anywhere near as good as their bowling SA would have been lucky to reach three figures. The main offenders were the slip fielders Mail and Jaques: the bowlers held on to everything that came their way in the field or at the bowling crease (though McGill's catching of Lehmann was more reflex than premeditated).

Tomorrow the SA bowling will need to move up a notch or two to keep the Blues to a relatively modest first innings lead. today Gillespie bowled very well and economically: if he (or the team) could take several quick wickets there yet be something for SA supporters to look forward to.

The Cricinfo report of the day's play, with a link to the scorecard, is here.