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Friday, December 28, 2012

Sri Lanka implode as Australia keep pressure on: T2D3

Australia 460 (Clarke 106, Johnson 92*, Watson 83, Warner 62, Prasad 3/106, Eranga 3/109) def Sri Lanka 156 (Sangakkara 58, Johnson 4/63) and 103 (24.2 ov, Mathews 35, Sangakkara 27 ret hurt,  2 others absent injured) by an innings and 201 runs. T2/3 D3/5 at MCG. Australia lead series 2-0.

After presevering in the field and with the ball yesterday, albeit without really getting back into the match, today Sri Lanka fell apart today in the face of hostile Australian bowling and sharp fielding and their own feeble self-belief. On a good batting wicket 1/1 (a foolish run out) became 2/1, 3/3, 4/13. When Kumar Sangakkara retired hurt it was effectively 5/62. As it turned out it was really 7/62, as two other players were already injured. A further 8 overs was all that was necessary to conclude proceedings.

Matches as one sided as this are not a good advertisement for Test or Sri Lankan cricket. While there were many good things to commend about Australia the recent loss to South Africa and the looming Test tours to India and, especially, England don't give a clear guide to our prospects. More about this later.,


Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Boxing Day: round the clock cricket

A long day of cricket watching, and it's still not over yet, if (which is unlikely) I decide to stay up for the third (and deciding) South Africa- New Zealand T20.

I've spent much of the day on the couch watching, in turn, highlights of a href
=""> close India - Pakistan T20 won by Pakistan then day 1 live of the href="> second Australia - Sri Lanka Test followed by the Sydney Sixers- Hobart Hurricanes BBL match at the SCG  which  href="">the visitors won , thanks to 63*/52b from Ricky Ponting.
Of course the Test is my primary interest (I would say that wouldn't I?). Yet with Australia 3/150 (39ov, Warner 62) almost ahead of Sri Lanka's paltry 156 (43.4 ov, Sangakkara 58 -taking him past 10,000 runs in Tests, Johnson 4/63, the other frontliners 2 apiece) the match looks over already. I know I implied the same after D1 of the Adelaide Test , but Sri Lanka look to have too many gaps in all three departments of the game which they've not been able to plug. Bad as the batting (with Kumar Sangakkara excepted) was the fielding fell apart in the last session as both captain Clarke 20* and vice captain Watson 13* were let off, Clarke twice.

Tomorrow Australia should be able to build a substantial lead, albeit in front of a much smaller crowd than today's 65,000 or so.

=""> Test scorecard

Tuesday, December 04, 2012

Australia concede Test, series so South Africa keep #1 Test ranking: T3D4

South Africa 225 & 569 def Australia 163 & 322 (82.5 ov,, Starc 68*, Cowan 53, Clarke 44, Steyn 3/72, Petertson 3/127) by 309 runs: T3/3 D4/5 at WACA Ground Perth. South Africa win series 1-0 and retain #1 Test ranking.

Not a good day for the home team.There were some periods of resistance as several players  got a start but none was able to stay or combine long enough in a partnership to loosen the South African grip on the match. Had Mitchell Starc 68*/43b (2x6, 9x4) and Nathan Lyon 31/43b (6x4) not added 87 - the largest Australian partnership of the match.- for the last wicket the margin would have been even greater.

 It was Ricky Ponting's last Test innings: 8/23b (2x4). Far from his best, though I and many others will recall his great years and his great strokeplay - especially his signature pull shot.

Replacing Ponting will be only one of the problems facing the selectors before the looming  Sri Lanka Tests, which will be followed in quick succession by series away against India and England. Just over a week ago (before T2D5 to be precise) the outlook, even without Ponting, didn't look too bad but after the Proteas's fighting draw in Adelaide and their overwhelming (and well deserved) victory in this Test, Australia's weaknesses in both batting and bowling (which had been concealed by some excellent individual performances) have been exposed like a rabbit caught in a spotlight.


Sunday, December 02, 2012

Two days to play, one possible result T3D3

Australia 163 & 0/40 (13 ov) need 592 runs with 10 2nd inns wickets in hand to beat South Africa 225 & 569 (111.5 ov, Amla 196, deVilliers 169, Smith 84, Starc 6/154, Johnson 4/110) T3/3 D3/5 at WACA Ground Perth.

Two top quality innings: Hashim Amla's elegantly aggressive 196/221b (21x4) and AB deVilliers's pugnacious, short form influenced 169/184b (3x6, 21x4), saw South Africa cruise to 569 and set Australia an unlkely impossible 632 to win, albeit on a wicket which is holding up well.

The two Mitchells took all the wickets: Starc 6/154 (including mopping up the tail) and Johnson a more impressive (all recognised batters) 4/110. But for much of the day the Australian bowlers and supporters must have wondered where the next wicket was coming from.

David Warner and Ed Cowan kept the Proreas at bay for 13 overs, but with two hot, with no rain forecast, days and at least 180 overs to survive it doesn't require more than a rudimentary knowledge of cricket to see that Australia has Buckley's chance of winning or holding out for a draw.


South Africa holds whip hand after Australia collapses: T3D2

South Africa 225 & 2/230 (38 ov, Amla 99*; Smith 84) lead Australia 163 (53.1 ov, Wade 68, Steyn 4/40, R Peterson 3/44) by 292runs with 8 second inns wickets in hand.. T3/3 D2/5 at WACA Ground, Perth.

After only two days' play the Test and the series, not to mention the no1 Test nation ranking, have been decided.

South Africa at last played up to their pre-series form with both ball and bat. Australia just fell to pieces, losing 4/12 (including David Warner to a windy woof, Ricky Ponting plumb lbw - confirmed by DRS - and Michael Clarke caught behind) at the start of play to impressively hostile bowling from Dale Steyn and Vernon Philander.

From the depths of 6/45 Matthew Wade 68/102 (3x6, 7x4) hit out while Mike Hussey did his (on this occasion below par). best to support him. Wade, John Hastings, a handy 32, and Mitchell Johnson all lent some respectability to Robin Peterson's figures by not choosing the right ball to hit, so the Australian revival was less significant than the South African one had been.

163 was a feeble response and South Africa knew it. Expected consequence: positive batting; unexpected consequences: (1) weak Australian bowling and (2) South African lead of 292 with three days to play.

Take nothing away from Hashim Amla 99*/84b (10x4) and Graeme Smith 84/100b (13x4). They have rubbed salt into the wounds inflicted by their bowlers and turned the match and series on its head.

A black day for Australian cricket.