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Sunday, November 29, 2009

Aust win easily, NZ less so

At the Gabba Australia easily defeated the West Indies in three days by an innings and 80 runs: 8/480 dec to 228 and 187. For the visitors only the little known debutant Adrian Barath enhanced his reputation with 104/138b (19x4) in the disappointing follow on.

The Australians, Shane Watson with the bat excepted, batted and bowled well (Watson redeemed himself with the ball) and Ricky Ponting led the team well. His declaration and enforcement of the follow on were bolder moves than we normally expect from him, but the result confirmed the accuracy and shrewdness of his assessment.

What can the West Indies do to improve? For starters (Barath excepted), bat better. Shivnarine Chanderpaul's brace of 2s was well below par while many (including me) will be hoping that Ramnaresh Sarwan will be fit for T2. And then? Field and bowl better. Stating the obvious? Yes, but after watching a fair amount of Windies Test cricket on TV in the last year or so, I'm modestly confident that this result will sting the present team's collective pride sufficently to produce a more resolute performance here in Adelaide.

At Dunedin New Zealand 429 and 153 defeated Pakistan 332 and 218 by 32 runs in a match which lasted, with some weather interruptions, for almost five full days. I didn't get to see any of the last day's play live, and Foxtel didn't show any highlights, which was a pity given the closeness of the contest. I wonder however to what extent this match, played in southerly Dunedin, and the rest of the three match series, scheduled for small grounds, will provide good preparation for Pakistan's tour of Australia. Are good pitches at Wellington and Napier and reasonable weather too much to hope for?

Friday, November 27, 2009

Testfest: India win, Australia gain upper hand, Pakistan regroup

At Kanpur
India completed an emphatic victory over Sri Lanka

At the Gabba on D2 the natural order of 2000s Test cricket things was restored as Australia pulled ahead by batting on to 8/480 dec and then taking five West Indies wickets for only 134.

At Dunedin on D4 Pakistan fought back against NZ with the ball to leave the match tantalisingly poised.

PS In Hobart the Tasmania v South Australia Sheffield Shield match was drawn after rain intervened.

Thursday, November 26, 2009

Big day for long form cricket

Today three Tests are being played around the globe: Australia v West Indies T1 D1 at the Gabba, New Zealand v Pakistan T1 D3 at Dunedin and
India v Sri Lanka T2 D3 at Kanpur.

Not bad for a format that's frequently written down, if not out. Or are the time and scheduling demands (think 7 match ODI series) of the shorter forms such that much of the Test schedule has to be shoehorned into an ultratight time frame?

At Kanpur, India (642, inc centuries to Gambhir, Sehwag and Dravid, 60s to Laxman and Yuvraj ) have enforced the follow on against Sri Lanka (229) so a win is possible there. As I post play on D3 is still in progress.

At a cool and sporadically wet Dunedin New Zealand have, after losing a wicket to the first ball of the match, held the initiative though whether the two days remaining are enough to force a result is questionable.

Foxtel is showing the Dunedin game live, though there's no coverage as far as I can tell (even on Fox Sports News) from Kanpur.

On Australian free to air TV the Channel 9 coverage (both HD and SD picture quality far superior to Foxtel's SD), Richie Benaud and co plus some new features, eg live feeds of players' heart rates, has held my attention apart from a few shifts to bucolic Dunedin.

As it's turned out the widely predicted Australian walkover hasn't yet manifested itself. 5/322 (Katich 92, Hussey 66, Ponting 55) isn't a bad total, yet every time Australia seemed to be getting on top a wicket fell to the persistent West Indies attack.

Of course with Ramnaresh Sarwan out of the Windies batting lineup this may turn out to be a winning score.

PS Another long form game, the 4 day Tasmania v South Australia Sheffield Shield match at Hobart is also being played (though pretty much ignored by the mainstream media). The home team gained first innings points: 389 (thanks to Ed Cowan's 225) to 363, but is wobbling at 3/39 in its second innings. Peter George's 10 wickets to date have kept the Redbacks in with a sniff of outright victory but with only a day to play on the Bellerive wicket this may be hard to achieve.

Monday, November 23, 2009

Exhibition T20 match belated reminder of cricket season

The televising of the
exhibition T20 game from the Gabba on Channel 9 was a belated reminder to Australian cricket followers who aren't pay TV subscribers that the local season is underway.

The match itself appeared to attract a reasonable, though well short of capacity, crowd to the ground. This was probably due more to the presence of some recently retired greats than to any resurgence of interest in the game (though Shane Warne batting himself at no11 indicated that it wasn't being played for sheep stations).

How attractive the Tests against the West Indies and then Pakistan will be remains to be seen. A related question is whether the decline of Test cricket elsewhere, as manifested by minute crowd numbers and diminishing TV audiences, will continue here. I expect that it will, at least for this season when neither of the touring teams have much Test match crowd pulling potential. Without abandoning my preference for the long form of the game I hope that the ODIs, where over and fielding restrictions even things up a bit, continue to pull in reasonable numbers of spectators and viewers.
I'll certainly be glued to the TV this and at the Adelaide Oval next week.

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Cricket catchup

Have returned home after a few weeks away visiting family. Didn't get to see much cricket except for a snippet or two of highlights on TV, so have been catching up since my return.

Jet lag recovery enabled me to
watch some India - Aust ODIs in real time, including nos 5 ( masterly Tedulkar innings not enough- just - to deny Aust) and 6 (Aust demolishing Indian top order early).

For details of the 7 match series (which a progressively injury riddled Aust won 4-2) see here .

Since I returned it's been hot - correction very hot - so didn't get to see as much of the SA - Qld Sheffield Shield match as I'd have tried to do in more moderate conditions.

I did spend, with a handful of other spectators, a little time at the Oval on the last day when SA wasn't able to convert its comfortable first innings lead to an outright victory.
There didn't seem to be a lot of energy in either side's play. This was understandable to some extent after four high 30degC days, yet disappointing that the Redbacks didn't attack more, especially when it was clear early on that the Bulls weren't going to go hard for victory.

Scorecard .

Both sides are going to play a 50 overs game at Alice Springs on Saturday: no respite from the heat there!.