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Monday, December 10, 2007

Pause, break, hiatus, lull, siesta...

These are a few words which have been, or could be used to describe the weeks since the mini-series with Sri Lanka finished.

Years ago (like when Richie Benaud was captain) Australian cricket seasons were divided into those with touring teams and those without. In the former the touring side (note singular) progressed around the country playing matches (which were never called "warm up" matches) against state teams before the test series began, usually in late November/early December. If no overseas team toured the first class season comprised the home and away Sheffield Shield four day series between five states, with an occasional game involving Tasmania. This may explain why interstate cricket had a stronger following then. (How many contemporary South Australians could name more two or three Redbacks?)

Nowadays the emphasis is on international cricket in its three forms by which I mean test, 50 overs and Twenty20, not matches between the top tier of nations and those involving Bangladesh and Zimbabwe. Although two tests are currently under way in the sub-continent the only Australian involvement on the field is via the umpires, whose job should be, and generally is to maintain a low media profile (though umpire Harper has incurred the displeasure of The Times cricket correspondent ).

It's hard to believe that at this time last year the Ashes series was well under way. That of course was shoehorned into a short period, and for the Australians at least, unlike this season with its crop of crocks was relatively injury free.

Anyway a kind of normality will soon be restored with the Australia- NZ Twenty20 game in Perth, followed by the Chappell-Hadlee series, which begins in Adelaide on Friday (where a hot high 30s day is forecast). So Australian reporters and bloggers will have something tangible to write about instead of having to speculate about whether Muttiah Muraliduran deserves to hold his record (I think he does, but may return to this another time) or if Australia should choose a spinner for the Boxing Day test (I think it's a good idea, but am not sure if there's anyone who can fit the bill).

PS Trivia task for the underoccupied: select a team from those who've missed a game or more this season due to injury.

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