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Sight Screen

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Urn -- Guardian

Today's Ashes round up comes in several instalments, mainly because I cannot take an hour and a half off to focus entirely on the blog :-)
I've got this list of great matches I have missed for the stupidest of reasons. Till date, the topper on that list was the Natwest Final between England and India that saw the Yuvraj-Kaif fightback. On that day, I woke at 2 am or some such, drove with a friend for hours, to the house of another friend who had the live feed, watched England bat, watched India lose four quick wickets, took a phone call about an office emergency while the fifth went down... and left immediately for the office. Hours later, emergency dealt with, I casually opened Cricinfo to see just how much we had lost by -- and kicked myself, and office emergencies, with some vim for many weeks thereafter.
That game has just been replaced, at the top of the list, by this second Ashes Test -- a game I could have seen since I had the feed, but did not because I felt too ill to sit up. Heck, maybe I should have -- the feverish doings out there in the middle might have chased the other fever away.
1. Mike Brearley does an informed take on Shane Warne circa 2005.
How does today's Warne compare to the old version? He appears to bowl a bit slower, with fewer variations, and gives the ball not quite so much of a rip. Batsmen have that much more time to get down the pitch to him. He rarely bowls the googly, so that is one thing less to worry about (his googly was sometimes hard to tell from the fiercely spun leg-break).
The 'slider', from the front of the hand, should be fairly easy to see, although it still has to be played. But Warne is exceptionally accurate and is the supreme performer, master of his art, strutting his stage. The measured approach is mesmerising - no fewer than nine walked strides before the brief flurry of energy that goes into the action. He has not lost any of his self-belief, or that degree of bias in his favour that convinces him that the ball has touched the bat on its way via pad to short leg, or that the degree of turn was just right for the ball to have homed in to middle stump from the pad stretched out five feet from the batting crease. Conviction? Or an attempt to convince the umpire? Some of each.

2. Warne is also the subject of a piece by Jon Hendersen; the writer sees the spinner through the eyes of Andy Strauss.
Strauss has told me that of the various ways a batsman can read a spinner, he prefers to do it by watching its rotations in flight. John Edrich, another sturdy left-hander who opened for England, said he favoured waiting until the ball pitched, taking a short step forward or going back so he could see which way it was turning. Others trust themselves not to be deceived by the spinner's legerdemain, watching his hand to suss what he is up to.....
Strauss would have seen the same, the ball not tumbling over itself as it came towards him, but rotating sideways - its line so far outside the off stump, though, that it apparently constituted little danger. An out-thrust pad to intercept the ball would be free of risk.
What happened next was pure Warne. No other bowler could have imparted so much spin on the ball and yet have exercised such control that it landed on the precise spot of roughed-up turf that Warne had targeted. A disbelieving Strauss watched as the ball whipped across his body and clattered into the stumps.

3. Richard Williams underlines what I missed out on, in a piece that pays tribute to the sheer spectacle of a close-run Test between two fiercely competing teams. Gideon Haigh takes the same tack, and inter alia echoes a thought I had about the many swings this match took:
A perverse outcome of narrow defeat, meanwhile, which often makes it more galling, is that one need only imagine a few incidents turning out otherwise for a whole different scenario to emerge.
In Australia's case it will be the soft dismissals of their batsmen in both innings when set, notably the captain in the first innings, his vice-captain in the second and Damien Martyn in both.

4. Some Tests are inextricably linked to the name of one particular player -- for instance, the dramatic turnaround at the Eden Gardens makes that particular India-Australia game 'Laxman's Test', though to my mind it was Bajji who started the turnaround with his bowling in the Aussie first innings (and sealed it with his bowling in the second), and Rahul Dravid who played a vital role in the turnaround by holding down one end through that endless day of high drama. David Hopps here suggests the Edbaston game will go down as 'Freddy's Test'.
5. And by way of news to round things off, England deciding, it says here, to stick with the squad that won them the second Test (That, incidentally, is the good bit about winning -- a defeat at Edgbaston would have meant, among other things, the rapid exit of Ian Bell and a mounting chorus of questions about the form of Andy Strauss and, more importantly, Michael Vaughan).Those questions, to my mind, have been deferred by Edgbaston -- but by no means answered.
More Ashes stories, from more papers, anon.


  • i do not know where these discussions would belong.. but couple of issues the icc needs to address to save them from becoming a laughing stock...
    1. Zim's loss today. Is it not time for 2 divisions in test cricket now.. may be we can add some other sides "India A,Austalia A" to Zim, BD, current WI, etc and create a new level of game called Division 2 tests/ODIs .. so that the W/L records and batting/bowling stats can be separately tracked!
    2. The mess in US cricket (see today's cricinfo). Why doesnt someone just "beat some sense into these morons' heads".
    Sorry, the comment is off-topic but i think an important discussion to have

    By Blogger losing now, at 14:45  

  • I feel Bell should've been out, dunno if Eng have any backup (in form) ? Collingwood is not enough of a bat alone. Anyway Eng selectors really 'saved' from making a decision, and to me thats what they always appear to be...i.e. saving their back (just like Indian selectors uesd to). Just because a problem did not result in a loss doesnt mean it aint a problem !...ahh well...

    By Blogger worma, at 14:57  

  • worma
    Eng did not change the side when they lost the first test..why would and should they change the side now. Agreed, they have issues, but so does Aus. Aus are playing only two bowlers and if Warne has a bad day, then Eng can really make merry. The whole Eng philosophy is built on continutiy and backing proven performers. Now, Bell is not a proven performer yet and so is'nt Strauss, but it's only prudent at this time to play with an unchanged squad.

    By Blogger rahul, at 15:08  

  • Rahul...I believe making amends should be independent of victory. A normal logical selectors would have looked at the mistakes that they are facing, and thought ok, got away with it in this test, but lets solve it before it bites. And back-saving selectors like Eng say well we won, so no-one would blame us for persisting with the 'winning side'..and is convenient for us rather than making some tough decisions.

    How convenient to say its a team victory....half the team acted foolishly...but still u can think of persisting with vaughan..because he has proven he can do better (which he may not, so he should be watched too)...but what about Bell ? hasn't done anything, and has nothing in the past too hold for him. But as I said, it may be because of less alternatives available. Tought choices, thats what.

    Ofcourse Aus has its own problems, but they are going by best possible options from available stock, and their team sits well in the above logic. Eng doesnt.

    I can understand backing Strauss...someone who's made runs against so many international attacks can do it against Aus too...esp a weakened Aus.

    Btw, good point about Warne having an off day. Be great to see...although Old Trafford is spin friendly it seems.

    By Blogger worma, at 15:19  

  • Worma
    Aus are guilty of the same. How long have they been carrying Hayden now? Does Gillespie deserver a place in the side on current form? Is there a chance Gillespie is going to improve now, considering his age and loss of pace and all the injuries he has sustained over the last 10 years or so. Can Kasprowicz be effective, if Mcgrath and Warne are not in the team. Clarke is not yet an established product and from the looks and sounds of it, seems to be stuggling against genuine seam, swing, and pace. If Pietersen had caught him at 21 in the first test, Clarke would be cooling his heels. There's no Thorpe who can come in with his 100 test experience, the replacement for Bell would be another greenhorn who may or not have it in him. Same for Strauss. And considering they have been winning with this team over the past 2 years, this is not the time to be chopping players.

    By Blogger rahul, at 16:02  

  • Actally Ian Bell got a good ball in the first innings and in the second innings he was looking fine until he got that bad decision. I would stick with him. Collingwood is unlkely to play at Old Trafford where there is enough spin for the Australians to consider playing Macgill with Warne.

    Joyce and Key are options that England have in their batting line-up. The real problem is the Michael Vaughan at the moment. He needs to spend a couple of hours in the middle, get something going. I find it curious that two of the sides batting stalwarts have underperformed - Strauss and Vaughan (complete failure with the bat), yet they have given the Aussies a good fight so far.

    By Blogger Jiet, at 17:28  

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