Monday, April 30, 2012
Now that there's a brief lull in the serious ie Test and (perhaps) ODI TV coverage (the IPL isn't being shown here and I'm not missing it a bit) I've watched a bit of EPL soccer to help me readjust from Caribbean to local time...
Over the weekend it was great to see Wigan, the eternal battlers (who I saw lose 2-0 to Fulham at Craven Cottage in 2010), score 4 goals in the first half to give Newcastle a reality check (that was the final result). Then Chelsea, that much maligned but mercurial team, put the bunch of whingers (and those who follow the game closely will read between my lines) QPR to the sword in similar fashion with 4 goals in the wet first half before easing off to a 6-1 floor wipe.
Both Wigan and Chelsea home colours are light/ royal blue, as are Sheffield Wednesday's who weren't on TV (but who I did see beat Colchester 2-0 at home last October) . The Owls have somehow managed to steal a march on their crosstown rival Sheffield United and look likely (if they can hold their nerve and beat cellar dwellers Wycombe Wanderers at home this weekend) to gain automatic promotion from League 1.
But before all this,overnight (or at sparrowfart) there's what many eg are puffing as the best EPL match ever: the two Manchesters, top of the table.
One team's home colours are red and white, t'other blue and white (a lighter - duck egg - blue than the aforementioned teams but still blue)
A 0500 kickoff here but tempting fo get up (if only for the second half), eh?
Saturday, April 28, 2012
Australia 328 & 259 beat West Indies 218 & 294 (96.3 ov, Chanderpaul 69, Sammy 61, Clarke 5/86, Lyon 3/87) by 75 runs: T3/3 D5/5 at Dominica. Australia win series 2-0 and retain Frank Worrell Trophy.
Michael Clarke and Nathan Lyon worked their way through the remaining West Indies batters to give Australia a comfortable, though not emphatic, win in this Test and the series.
Once the third umpire decided, after much deliberation, that Clarke had caught and bowled Narsingh Deonarine for 13 the West Indies were 6/180, still less than halfway to their target on a pitch which was offering considerable bounce and turn to the spinners without ever being unplayable. Darren Sammy had other ideas and he played a go-down-with -all-guns-blazing innings of 61/51b (3x6, 4x4) which took his team close enough to Australia to make them lament the missed opportunities, especially of the top order batting.
I never expected the West Indies to be as competitive as they turned out to be (Australia 3-0 was my private prediction) so there was enough to keep me interested, though the time difference between the Caribbean and here persuaded me to follow much of the play via the daily 2-3 hours of Fox Sports highlights.
Australia, have since last September played 14 Tests, including series (or two match encounters) against Sri Lanka, South Africa, New Zealand, India and West Indies, and have moved up the world Test rankings to no 3, supplanting India.The team, or squad, despite some injuries and unanswered questions about the batting is looking in better shape than it did a year ago.
West Indies have to regroup and play England in three early season Tests. Most of the players will be match hardened, though how they'll adjust to the quick bowler friendly conditions in England after the spinning pitches of home is a moot point. They've chosen their squad , omitting Kraigg Brathwaite and Carlton Baugh from the eleven which played this Test. The selectors have also not considered Brendan Nash, who is playing county cricket with Kent and doing very well with the bat. He may not be in the same class (or quite as old) as the Player of the Series Shivnarine Chanderpaul , but he's been a solid performer in Tests until he lost form a year ago.
Less than three weeks to go (and slightly more congenial viewing hours).
Fox Sports report and link to video highlights
Friday, April 27, 2012
West Indies 218 & 5/173 (67.1 ov Chanderpaul 69, Bravo 45, Clarke 3/34) need 197 more runs with 5 wickets in hand to beat Australia 328 & 259 (85 ov, Ponting 57, Cowan 55, Shillingford 4/100, Roach 3/40, Deonarine 3/45) T3/3 D4/5 at Dominica.
The scorecard pretty well says it all: West Indies, with one top order batsman left (and Narsingh Deonarine, with all due respect, is not the person who immediately comes to mind if you try to think of a potential, against the considerable odds, matchwinner) aren't even halfway to their target.
Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Darren Bravo retrieved a grim looking 3/45, adding 110 before, in the closing overs of the day, first Bravo 45/148b (5x4) well caught by keeper Wade of Shane Watson then Chanderpaul 69/122b (6x4) was Michael Clarke's third victim (while Nathan Lyon remained wicketless). West Indies desperately needed Chanderpaul at least and preferably both to fight another day, but wasn't to be and, barring rain, the last rites of the match and series will be played out, quite likely early, on D5.
West Indies have fought hard (most of the time) and haven't had the best of luck (or the onfield and DRS decisions) and a 0-2 loss will not be a fair reflection of the difference between the two teams.
Fox Sports report and link to video highlights
Thursday, April 26, 2012
Australia 6/200 (65 ov, Ponting 57, Cowan 55) & 328 lead West Indies 218 (87.2ov, Chanderpaul 68, Lyon 4/69) by 310 runs with 4 second innings wickets in hand. T3/3 D3/5 at Dominica.
It was not West Indies' day. After the remaining batters, including Shivnarine Chanderpaul who doubled his overnight score to 68/164b (3x4), couldn't produce the massive revival which was required to haul the team back into any sort of contention, Australia built on its first innings lead of 110 solidly and was in a very strong position at stumps.
There wasn't much scintillating cricket - certainly not enough to keep me awake even until lunch - but from the highlights it appeared that Australia put in a workmanlike day, exemplified by Nathan Lyon 33-7-69-4 continuing his persistent bowling while Ricky Ponting 57/130b (4x4) and Ed Cowan 55/123b (5x4) found some batting form.
The West Indies didn't give up in the field, but despite chipping away at the Australians haven't brought themselves right back into the game.There have been some unexpected reversals of form in this series but nothing approaching the miracle which will be needed if West Indies are to win this match.
Fox Sports report with link to video highlights
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
West Indies 8/165 (65 ov, Powell 40, Lyon 3/49) trail Australia 328 (114.5 ov, Wade 106, Warner 50, Watson 41, Shillingord 6/119) by 163 runs with 2 first innings wickets in hand: T3/3 D2/5 at Dominica.
Matt Wade stepped on the accelerator adding 82 runs in 74 balls to his overnight 22/72b, propelling Australia from a rickety overnight 7/212 to a much more comfortable 328. Then Australia's seven bowlers (thoughful captaincy again from Michael Clarke) chipped away at the West Indies) reducing them to a dismal 8/120 before ...yes, you guessed it, Shivnarine Chanderpaul 34*/110b (2x4) dug in while Ravi Rampaul 24*/33b (4x4) did his bit to see that their team's score at the close of play was a little less dismal.
Wade and Michell Starc were Australia's great hopes when play resumed . Starc struck a few blows before being narrowly but foolishly run out for 35. Wade was dropped from a return catch to Kemar Roach early on but he, with Ben Hilfenhaus playing a low key supporting role, regrouped and struck out at the bowlers.
His 106/146b (3x6, 10x4) swung the match in Australia's favour. The Australian bowlers, aided by some poor batting, eg Kraigg Brathwaite caught at slip for his third consecutive duck and, perhaps, by a touch of good fortune (eg Kieran Powell dragging an ordinary looking delivery from Nathan Lyon onto his wicket) worked their work through the order.
It's hard to see West Indies winning or, in the absence of rain, even drawing from here. Sure Chanderpaul is still there, but well as Rampaul might continue to support him, it's hard to see West Indies, even if things go well for them on D3, getting close enough to Australia's first innings score to make a game of it.
Fox Sports report with link to video highlights
Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Australia 7/212 (90 ov, Warner 50, Shillingford 4/77) v West Indies T3/3 D1/5 at Dominica.
David Warner's 50 in an uncharacteristically snail-like 136b (6x4) which was nevertheless the top score reflected how difficult the Australian batting found the West Indies attack on a wicket which was not exactly batsman-friendly.
Only Ed Cowan of the top seven failed to make double figures, though Shane Watson's 41/120b (3x4) was the next highest to Warner, with whom he added 83 for the second wicket. Four others, including the two not out battters Matt Wade and Mitchell Starc made twenties.
Not a good day for the visitors though the West Indies kept up the pressure in the field after an early lapse gave Warner a life off Ravi Rampaul. On his home ground Shane Shillingford's bounce and turn yielded 34-8-77-4. Apart from being an unusually long number of overs for a spinner to bowl in a day, let alone the first day of a Test, it has given the West Indies, not for the first time in the series, the upper hand. Without Warner's let off and Wade and Starc's unbroken eighth wicket partnership of 43, that upper hand would be more like a firm grip.
Friday, April 20, 2012
Australia 311 & 8/160 dec (61.5 ov, Ponting 41, Roach 5/41) drew with West Indies 257 & 2/53 (11ov): T2/3 D5/5 at Port of Spain. Australia lead series 1-0 (and retain Frank Worrell Trophy)
Australia struggled against the West Indies attack, to which all the frontline bowlers contributed, with Kemar Roach the standout with 18-5-41-5, which gave him 10 for the match and the Player of the Match award.
But a word of praise for Fidel Edwards whose one wicket was the prize one, Ricky Ponting, caught at deep square mistiming his trademark pull shot early in the day's play for 41/85b (3x4).
When Michael Clarke was sharply caught and bowled by his opposite number Darren Sammy for 15 Australia were 5/95 and looking a little shaky (and giving me cause to think whether my prediction of a draw was a little rash). But Michael Hussey and Matthew Wade steadied things, adding 50 before a late flurry of wickets preceded a declaration setting West Indies 215 to win from a possible 59 overs.
As it turned out only 11 of those 59 could be bowled, during which Sammy, promoting himself to no 3 played a T20 style cameo of 30*/26 b (1x6, 4x4) which made victory seem at least possible (even though Ben Hilfenhaus had both openers - Kieran Powell as he'd done in the first innings opting not to review a decision which may have saved - out cheaply).
While Australia looked to be in control for most of the match West Indies kept in there and wouldn't have found some positives about their performance. But as their coach, Ottis Gibson, said (stating the obvious) they are prone to some very poor periods of play, often an hour or so. Australia are far from on top of their game: the bowling has been OK (though both Peter Siddle and James Pattinson are injured and will miss the final Test), but the batting (stating the obvious) lacks the strength it showed in the home series v India.
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Australia 3/73 (30 ov, Roach 3/27) & 311 lead West Indies 257 (104.4 ov) by 127 runs with 7 second innings wickets in hand: T2/3 D4/5 at Port of Spain Trinidad.
The West Indies innings lasted four more balls before Michael Beer ended it with his second wicket of the match (and the third of his Test career).
Australia batted, Ed Cowan was missed at slip off a sitter from Fidel Edwards, but he, David Warner and Shane Watson all succumbed to Kemar Roach either side of a rain interruption. Ricky Ponting started watchfully (and was technically dropped from a sharp chance at short leg from Shane Shillingford's off spin) but grew in confidence to the tune of 32*/ 57b (2x4) before the rain returned, consigning the Test, barring exceptional circumstances, to a draw. Which will please the West Indies.
I'll stay up tonight and see what happens, but I'm not expecting much (though a confidence boosting few more runs to Ponting would make it worthwhile). .
That's really all I can say.for now.
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
West Indies 9/252 (104 ov, Chanderpaul 93, Deonarine 55, Lyon 5/68) trail Australia 311 by 59 runs with 1 first inns wicket in hand: T2/3 D3/5 at Port of Spain.
Another short day, truncated by a power cut which disabled the review technology for 20 minutes before play began, and a lengthier rain delay with West Indies handily placed at 4/188.
When play resumed Shivnarine Chanderpaul and Narsingh Deonarine took the total to 230 and their partnership to 130 before Nathan Lyon struck twice in short orde. First Deonarine, trying to hit him off his length, was stumped for 55/139b (1x6, 7x4); then having looked certain to reach a ton, Chanderpaul followed soon after, lbw for 94/217b (1x6, 10x4). After D2's obdurate 1/26b his 93/191b today was much more fluent, perhaps as fluent as anyone could expect given the conditions.
At 5/231 a home team regroup was required, but it didn't eventuate: Darren Sammy was caught at long on from a most uncaptainlike biffed drive, and with the field in, Lyon and exposed the the shortcomings of the tailenders twice more.
West Indies went from a promising (and threatening enough for Michael Clarke to use eight bowlers in his bid for a breakthrough) 4/230 to a a disappointing and no doubt to them dispiriting 9/252. Lyon's conversion of 20-5-52-0 to 29-9-68-5 has given Australia the clear upper hand. With two days to play, the wicket continuing its slow decline and the West Indies to bat last, Australia are well placed to strive for a win.
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
West Indies 3/49 (25.3 ov) trail Australia 311 (135 ov, Hussey 73, Watson 56, Roach 5/105, Shillingford 3/93) by 262 runs with 7 first innings wickets in hand. T2/3 D2/5 at Port of Spain
Another slow day's cricket, this time with a rain interruption, during which I fell asleep and didn't wake up until near the end of the day's play.
Australia,thanks to a 79 run 8th wicket partnership between Mike Hussey 73/207b (1x6, 4x4) and James Pattinson 32/119b (5x4), approached 300. Then the last four wickets fell cheaply, two of them to Kemar Roach who finished with 27-5-105-5, with one apiece to the persevering spinners Shane Shillingford 49-17-92-3 and Narsingh Deonarine 20-6-32-2, leaving Australia with 311, a total they'd have been satisified, though far from overjoyed, with.
But the West Indies batting faltered in the face of a varied attack. Captain Clarke astutely opened the bowling with spinner Michael Beer and Ben Hilfenhaus, each of whom took a wicket, as did James Pattinson later. At stumps Darren Bravo and Shivnarine Chanderpaul were hanging on for dear life (exemplified by the latter's 1 run from 26b).
Australia's 311 now looks a commanding total,though not yet one beyond the reach of the West Indies. But the two incumbents will need to perform well, and be well supported by the lower order if the home team is to take the significant lead which they'll surely need to insure against the pitfalls of batting last on a deteriorating wicket.
Fox Sports report with link to video highlights
Australia 5/208 (90ov, Watson 56, Clarke 45) v West Indies: T2/3 D1/5 at Port of Spain, Trinidad.
208 runs in a full day? This was another, like some of those in T1, redolent of 1950s Ashes matches or more recent subcontinental contests.
The team selection reflected each side's expectations of the wicket. Australia omitted Peter Siddle (minor injury) and, surprisingly (and unwisely?) Ryan Harris the T1 player of the match. In came James Pattinson and Michael Beer. West Indies dropped Devendra Bishoo for Shane Shillingford and replaced the injured Kirk Edwards with Kieran Powell.
Michael Clarke won the toss, Australia batted and began breezily enough, adding 53 for the first wicket while the ball was new and the bowlers quick. But once the spinners came on the ball gripped and the scoring rate dropped. Wickets fell, not as frequently as the West Indies would have wished, thanks to decision reviews (Michael Clarke very fortunate to escape an lbw) and some poor catching.
Shane Watson's patient 56/172b (7x4) underpinned the innings after a slight wobble to 3/84 (including another Ricky Ponting failure). He added 84 for the fourth wicket with Clarke, who seemed to have ridden his luck before being caught pulling a Narsinghe Deonarine long hop for 45/99b (8x4). Watson followed shortly afterwards caught at short leg off Shillingford whose 32-11-56-2 attest to both his accuracy and the demons stirring in the pitch.
5/178 wasn't good but at least Mike Hussey, who was also missed in the field,26*/83b (2x4) and Matt Wade 11*/47b (1x4) hauled the total beyond 200. It doesn't look enough, especially with no Harris (or Siddle) in the lower order, but it's too early to call. Australia will be pleased with 300: West Indies must try to keep plugging away and get over their umpiring disappointments and fielding lapses.
Fox Sports report with link to video highlights
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Australia 9/406 dec & 7/192 (47 ov, Watson 52, Deonarine 4/53) beat West Indies 9/449 dec & 148 (66.4 ov, Hilfenhaus 4/27, Harris 3/31) by three wickets to lead series 1-0 with two matches to play: T1 D5 at Bridgetown.
A cracking day's Test cricket. It kept me me glued to the box for the West Indies innings and intermittently awake for much of Australia's second innings and wide awake for the last few overs.
West Indies, after wilting on D4, regrouped and kept harrying Australia in all departments, though they couldn't do quite enough to pull off a win. Australia's lower order batting and Michael Clarke's declaration kept the match alive and, while the middle and lower order West Indians made some amends for the disastrous opening they didn't do quite enough against Ben Hilfenhaus 17-7-27-4 and Ryan Harris 8.4-2-31-3 to set Australia a really challenging target. Or so it seemed at the time.
Even so the visitors struggled against a mixed bag of an attack: Fidel Edwards, Kemar Roach and Darren Sammy bowled well, and often sharply, while Narsingh Deonarine's 11-1-53-4 reflected both a fifth day wicket assisting spin and the occasional lapses of a part time bowler; Devendra Bishoo was expensive. (To be fair to Deonarine he did dismiss both Ricky Ponting for 14 and Michael Clarke for 6, something which not too many, if any, other bowlers would have done in such quick succession).
Shane Watson 52/57b (1x6,4x4), Ed Cowan a by many accounts (I dozed off during his dig) scratchy 34/100b (1x4) and Mike Hussey 32/26b (2x6, 2x4) took Australia slowly forward before Harris and Hilfenhaus nervously took Australia in fading light over the line to a deserved and hard fought victory. Yet the West Indies showed that they, even without Chris Gayle and Darren Bravo, are no easybeats, and the rest of the series will be worth watching (if not live through the wee small hours then and the extended highlights).
Fox Sports report with link to video highlights
Australian players rated by Fox Sports
Wednesday, April 11, 2012
West Indies 9/449 dec & 5/71 (38 ov, Hilfenhaus 3/17) lead Australia 9/406 dec (145 ov, Clarke 73, Harris 68, Hussey 48, Warner 42, Lyon 40*, Roach 3/72) by 114 runs with 5 second inns wickets in hand: T1/3 D4/5 at Bridgetown.
After Mike Hussey and Peter Siddle were dismissed in quick succession at the start of play Australia were 7/250, 199 behind the West Indies first innings and seemingly beyond hope of any more than a draw.
I stayed up to watch what I thought might be the last rites, nodded off as Matt Wade, Ryan Harris and Ben Hilfenhaus improved the Australia's position, then woke up to find that Michael Clarke had declared 43 runs behind after Harris 68*/123b (7x4) and Lyon 40*/(89b (6x4) had added an unbroken 77 for the last wicket. Harris had begun impressively and, I assume, continued in that vein while I was asleep.
As I rubbed my eyes I began to see that ithe declarationwas a good move: not enough time to force a victory but enough, in the right circumstances, to claim a few psychological points. So I went back to sleep, waking only to the surprising news that the West Indies had collapsed to 5/71, with their top five batters all out: 1/2, 2/3, 3/4, 4/17, 5/67.
I can't say more until I've watched the Foxtel highlights of the day's play, except that the last day's play is set up to be a cracker: not necessarily in strokeplay, but certainly in the increasing tension which is a feature of the best Test cricket.
Tuesday, April 10, 2012
Australia 5/248 (95 ov, Clarke 73, Hussey 47*, Warner 42) trail West Indies 9/449 dec by 201 runs on first innings with 5 wickets in hand : T1/5 D3/5 at Bridgetown.
Last evening's positive batting by David Warner and Ed Cowan turned today into a defensive crawl which saw Australia add only 204 runs from 85.1 overs for the loss of five wickets.
First Cowan, then Warner were caught in the slips off Darren Sammy (yes, the same whose bowling ability I've questioned), then Ricky Ponting was needlessly run out for 4 (the only single figure score in the match so far) in a mixup with Shane Watson: 3/84. A presumably contrite Watson dug in adding 49 with Michael Clarke before he was caught behind off a flashy shot for 39/80b ( 1x6, 5x4).
Clarke and Mike Hussey then continued the fight back (or struggle) until the captain, having batted solidly and sensibly holed out to the deep off the persevering legspinner Devendra Bishoo (who'd previously had him adjudged caught behind only for the decision to be overturned, on evidence which wasn't clear to me, by the third umpire on review). 73/173b (1x6, 4x4) was a captain's innings of a different kind to the fluent and dominating ones which he'd played in the Tests against India earlier this year.
At the end of the day (when bad light once again intervened) Hussey 47*/156b (6x4) has hanging on grimly in partnership with an equally grim Matthew Wade 19*/53b (2x4).
From what I saw (a combination of live action and highlights) the pitch was livelier than on the first two days, or were the West Indies bowlers able to get that little bit extra out of it? Certainly Sammy's two wickets put Australia on notice, while Bishoo, after some inital prodigality, settled down and bowled more accurately, and with some spin..
I wouldn't wish every Test to be played out at this pace but it's fascinating to see the unexpectedly tenacious West Indies, who for so long have relied on a few individuals (some of whom have opted to play in the IPL), take the game right up to, and probably away from, Australia. A draw nevertheless looks the likeliest result, but it's by no means certain.
FoxSports report and link to video highlights
Monday, April 09, 2012
Australia 0/44 (9.5 ov) trail West Indies 9/449 dec (153 ov, Chanderpaul 103*, K Edwards 61, Brathwaite 57, Bravo 51, Sammy 41) by 405 runs with 10 first innings wickets in hand: T1/3 D2/5 at Bridgetown, Barbados.
For most of D2 West Indies seemed content to build a total which would shut Australia out of the match. And who can blame them given their underdog status?
Shivnarine Chanderpaul's methodical 103*/248b (1x6, 9x4) was the highlight on the scorecard, even if many spectators and viewers might remember Darren Sammy's swashbuckling 41/36b (3x6, 4x4) longer.
Chanderpaul has played a similar role many times in previous Tests though rarely would he have contributed just 37% of the runs (103 of 282) added while he was at the crease. In fairness to him had he gone cheaply, say for less than 50, Australia would almost certainly have been batting much sooner. As it was the pitch continued to play well and the bowling was, as on D1, steady without being consistently menacing: ie ideal conditions for the methodical acquisition of runs.
Surprisingly, and from an Australian perspective worringly, David Warner had the best figures with 2/45 from 10 overs (and by far the highest economy rate of all the eight bowlers used). He did bowl some challenging deliveries but his wicket taking balls (the Edwards namesakes) weren't among them, perhaps underlining the old adage that only ten good balls are bowled every innings. Alas, Australia couldn't meet even this criterion as the home eleven, each of whom reached double figures, lost only 9 wickets (including a run out) before Sammy declared.
Warner and Ed Cowan's reply, 0/44 in a ball shy of 10 overs, was a positive note for Australia on another tightly contested, but undeniably West Indies', day. Yet there's a long way to go to build the first innings lead which will be needed for Australia to win or maybe to just to save the match.
For the West Indies a draw will be a moral victory, for Australia the prelude to some strong questions. The home attack, which, with Sammy as one of the four main bowlers, looks a bit limited, may struggle to bowl Australia out twice: but I may be eating my words this time tomorrow.
Fox Sports video highlights
Sunday, April 08, 2012
West Indies 3/179 (73ov, Edwards 61, Brathwaite 57) v Australia: T1/3 D1/5 at Bridgetown Barbados
Despite the shared honours in the preceding ODI and T20 contests I didn't expect the West Indies, still minus Chris Gayle, to put up a strong showing against Australia in the Test series. Yet on the admittedly thin evidence of a first day shortened by rain there was cause for West Indian satisfaction in a hardscrabble batting display as well as for Australian concern at the lack of penetration of the attack.
I watched the live TV relay until lunch (approaching 2am in these parts) when the West Indies were 1/60 from 29 overs.
They didn't improve much upon this rate for the rest of the day. Kraigg Brathwaite anchored the innings with 57/199b (4x4) while Kirk Edwards was more positive with 61/107b (1x6, 10x4). Brathwaite batted in the style of the English sides of the 1950 and 60s, middling if not always sweetly timing most deliveries.
The pitch played well yet the Australian attack didn't seem to have the sharpness it had showed in the recent series against India. Most balls from the quick bowlers went through without deviating much so, even if few might have predicted it before the start of play, it wasn't surprising to see Nathan Lyon bowl the twelfth over of the day. Three missed chances also blotted Australia's copybook and while not letting the home team off the hook the score indicates that the West Indies had slightly the better of the day, though the weather and their circumspect batting means that they are far from dominant.
Fox Sports highlights