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Saturday, February 20, 2010

Two teams turn up, only one really tries as Australia win series 4-0

Australia 5 for 324 (R Ponting 61, J Hopes 57*, S Watson 51, M Clarke 47, A Voges 45*) beat West Indies 199 (D Sammy 47, K Pollard 45) by 125 runs: ODI#5 at MCG. Australia won series 4-0.

ODI#5 was embarassingly one sided as West Indies fell apart in the field and, with a couple of exceptions, with the bat.

A 125 run margin if anything understated the differences between the sides.
The tone of the match was set (lowered?) in the second over, bowled by Dwayne Smith, during which Brad Haddin was missed twice, once by Travis Dowlin at second slip (straight to him but missed his hands before bouncing off his chest), then two balls later by Smith himself (a harder return catch). Watch the highlights (link below) for more of the comedy of errors and footage of some robust Australian batting, where several, notably James Hopes 57*/26b (10x4) and Ricky Ponting 61/55b (1x6, 3x4) scored at more than a run a ball (as well as benefiting from fielding errors) and the lowest score was 22.

With the bat the West Indies went down with only a couple of guns blazing. After a brief flourish from Chris Gayle they collapsed to 4/39. Kieron Pollard, one of the few WI successes of the summer (another - Brendan Nash - did well in the Tests but for reasons which I can't fathom didn't even make the ODI team despite being in the squad) justified his belated elevation in the order but he left at 80. The last rites were strung out by Darren Sammy hitting out against debutant Stephen Smith (who almost certainly wouldn't have bowled as much if the match had been closer).

To say as Cricinfo does, partly echoing Ricky Ponting, that the main reason for the poor crowds was "overload" doesn't tell the whole truth. Long (more than 3 match) ODI series between unevenly matched sides just don't work. The discarded tri-series format at least kept interest alive (even if attendances at the matches not involving Australia were often low). Bring them back!


Sunday, February 14, 2010

Australia take series: Windies a match for Afghanistan?

ODI#3 at the SCG was a washout where only one over, delivered in in two instalments - seven balls (including two wides), punctuated by a long rain break, then the sixth legit one - could be bowled as the West Indies began to chase down Australia's 225.

Today Australia won ODI#4 comfortably, more so than the scorecard indicated. After Chris Gayle, for reasons which eluded me, chose to field after winning the toss, Ricky Ponting's 106/112b (2x6, 6x4), his best ODI innings of the season, led the charge against a modest attack. 7/325 was always going to be too many for the uneven Windies batting to chase unless Gayle matched Ponting though they gave it a good shake, which might have been even better had Kieron Pollard and Dwayne Smith come in earlier.

Australia now leads the series 3-0 with one to play. Would, I wonder without too much of my tongue in my cheek, Afghanistan who have just qualified for the ICC World Twenty20, provide a more even contest if they played the West Indies? We may soon find out.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

Feeble West Indies succumb again to disciplined Australia

Australia 2/171 (26.3 ov, R Ponting 57*, S Watson 53) def West Indies 170 (39.4 ov, D Smith 43, D Bollinger 4/28) by 8 wickets: ODI#2 at Adelaide Oval. Australia lead series 2-0

Hot weather was forecast for Adelaide, and hot it was: the temperature stayed in the high 30s all day; and the wind blew hot from several directions, including the south west, which is normally from where cooler breezes blow.

I arrived early and had no difficulty getting a seat in the shade under the Moreton Bay figs. Further evidence of the temperature was given immediately after the toss (which West Indies won) when match referee Javagal Srinath strode off the ground not breaking the purposeful stride (which I recall from his days as a spearhead of India's attack) while removing his suit jacket and revealing a short sleeved shirt underneath. Wise man.

And the match itself? The result was determined quickly, if not from the first ball when Chris Gayle was lbw to Doug Bollinger, then soon after when the Windies were 4/16 (Bollinger 3/5 from 5 overs) on a good (is there any other kind?) Les Burdett pitch.

Things couldn't get any worse but they didn't get much better for the visitors either. Some of the middle order got a start and Dwayne Smith with 43/63b (only 2x4 but one straight driven 6 which landed four rows back near the sightboard - one of the longest hits I've seen at Adelaide) led a revival of sorts to 170 all out from 39.4 overs. Perhaps the calls to reduce ODIs to 40 overs a side are designed to even things up even more?

The last two WI wickets were impressive demonstrations of Australia's prowess. Ricky Ponting ran out Ravi Rampaul with a direct hit and next ball Mike Hussey ran perhaps 40 metres then dived to catch Smith.

An early finish meant a long break between innings, which seemed silly in the circumstances. But of course there were the TV schedules to consider. I expect many viewers looked elsewhere for their evening's entertainment: not many spectators augmented the thin numbers who'd braved the heat (and in some instances the overzealous security and police). Despite what many others said I thought given the weather, the one sided contest and that it was a working (and school) day, that 8,378 was not a bad attendance, even if it was the lowest ever for an ODI featuring Australia at Adelaide.

Those of us who stayed watched Australia sweep (and pull and drive) the West Indies attack aside in 26.3 overs (and 109 minutes). The visitors played like losers - there were no Ponting or Hussey moments in the field - but this doesn't detract from Shane Watson's 53/50b (2x6, 7x4) and Ponting's 57/55b (2x6, 8x4).


Monday, February 08, 2010

West Indies make captain's ODI series prediction look shaky

Now that the
Pakistan tour is over with the visitors failing to win a match, though they came close in the T20 International, the West Indies have returned for the short form leg of their visit.

Chris Gayle's prediction of a 4-1 ODI series result to his team looks shaky, very shaky, after a professional Australia won ODI#1 by 113 runs in Melbourne: 8/256 from 50 ov v 143 from only 34.2 ov . West Indies seem to lack the depth to be able to challenge the home team for more than a few overs. Of course many of us thought the same after the First Test.

There has been some media comment about the small crowd of 25,000 or so, and comparisons have been drawn wirth the 60,000 who attended the T20 game v Pakistan on Friday. Yes, a big difference, but a good total, and in any event what do you expect when two internationals are scheduled at the same ground a day apart?

It will be interesting to see how many turn up here in Adelaide tomorrow for ODI#2: it's a working day and hot weather is forecast.