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Sight Screen

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The West Indies tour of Australia

The West Indies tour of Australia may not be as exciting as Ashes(that's not saying much, is it :-) or even the England tour of Pakistan....but still it may not be another steam-rolling assignment for Australia as it used to be.

The reason for my 'optimism'? Well...WI has had pretty good batsmen for a while...and now, to me, their bowling lineup also looks exciting, going by their last few series performances. Powell and Bravo did well in the tour match against Queensland which had Hayden, Love, Symond, Maher, Watson in the lineup. And they have Lawson waiting in the wings. So...an attack low in experience, but quite high in sheer pace, talent and capability to rattle the batsmen.

Another reason being that Aus batting, despite their show of recovery in the Super Test, is still looking a bit shaky...and the new strategy of playing Watson instead of a specialist batsman has also weakened the lineup. Speaking of which, Aus have almost finalised their playing XI by declaring Bracken as the twelth man instead of Hodge. It would be a toss-up between McGill and Bracken for the final spot..and IMO its gonna be McGill since its highly unlikely of Aus to play five bowlers(including Watson) with 4 seamers.

Ofcourse, we need to see how much, and how soon, can the West Indies players come together as a team after their despute settlement. And then, there's this minor matter of the form of this gentleman called Lara :-)


  • This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

    By Blogger Toney, at 10:07  

  • What WI needed is something India lacks too, I feel. Their quickies are true in the literal sense but they dont have some senior bowler to shepherd them. A Walsh would have been very handy. As far as batting is concerned, I cant understand why they cannot be as good as India. Sarwan, Lara, Chanderpaul, Gayle - man for man, they are very good. And then there is Samuels who impress on the last Aussie tour. This could be more interesting than the Pak-Eng series for me. Unless of course, we have more revelations to the press from Collingwood (he did a McG by saying Eng might even win 3-0)

    By Blogger Toney, at 10:08  

  • Meant their quickies are really sharp (and not the 130-135kph bowlers)

    By Blogger Toney, at 10:09  

  • i was really surprized by the way the queensland lineup collapsed today... they had a few guys that wud feature in the Aussie side... consistency is something the aussies r good at, but is one of the biggest problems with the WI lineup... can powell hold on to his form? can lawson performed without being called a chucker? the big question is that can WI maintain their momentum? only time will tell...

    By Blogger Mayur, at 10:09  

  • this brings me to another question about love... where has he been? he was supposed to replace mark waugh some time back? i saw that he was playing for some english county side, but boy, this guy has disappeared completely from the aussie map... any updates, guys?

    By Blogger Mayur, at 10:11  

  • toney: agree that they dont have the guiding force(infact even in batting). I think Dhillon was the in-between force to link the two generations...but he couldnt step up that final step...but thats why WI is not as good as it can be...if you just count the talent.

    but anyways...exciting series ahead. I am sure Aus lineup would collapse atleast once(even more?). Its upto WI batsmen to make good use of it.

    mayur...yes Hayden still looks to be struggling...even in Super Series it wasnt as if he was back to old days(which i think are never going to return for him). About Lawson...yep lets see if he is called again. But I am not sure if WI have the 'momentum' yet...lets see how their batsmen fare

    By Blogger worma, at 10:15  

  • mayur - I think Love falls into that "lost" generation of Aussie batsmen who are in their 30's who never got in because of the strong batting lineup over the past decade. The list alos includes Elliot, Law, Maher etc.

    About the Qld/WI match. I love to see Matty H get a duck. I generally don't mind the Aussies but this guy gets on my nerves.

    The series may be interesting but I feel the WI batsmen will not be up to it. It will be upto Lara and Shiv to make big knocks to make the series interesting. You can never tell with Lara. He may be in scintillating form as he was vs Pak earlier this year or he may take the series off mentally. Although he rarely does that in Aus.

    By Blogger Gopalblog, at 10:25  

  • i feel WI will be outplayed by aus in this series
    1. some of the key players are coming back after a hiatus into international cricket - not everybody is SRT - couldnt resist it.
    2.all is not well in the team - controversy regarding team representation in the ICC awards ceremony. lara also refused to attend the captains meeting when others who were not captains attended becauase they were there and available
    3.australia although have got some of the pride back after the world series will be up for it.
    4.home advantage
    5.newcomers in the aussie side will be keen to cement their places.
    6.lara is the only factor - because he is capable of anything but age is catching up with him now.

    By Blogger inoc, at 10:31  

  • gopal...yep...its ironic that Aus developed and maintained a good bench strength (with Love, Maher etc) for a long time, and then had to dump them directly from the bench

    By Blogger worma, at 10:33  

  • I read Powell went off claiming hip soreness after taking 4 of the first 5 Qld wickets. That's not a good sign for the Windies.

    The Aussie team selection for the tests is bizarre to me. They dropped Martyn from the test team where he was doing pretty well (even in the Ashes before a couple of dodgy decisions did him in). And now it seems essentially Shane Watson is replacing him. That is nuts, I think. The Aussie batting is fragile with this move IMO. Clarke is looking shaky and Watson is not test level as a batsman.

    On Clarke, it is interesting to read the Aussie press going after him after his dismal performance in the Super Test. I think the press is rightly pointing out that the future star and supposedly future captain is looking shaky as a batsman. Watching the Super Series he got out shockingly in the second innings esp and looked not entirely comfortable to the quicker bowlers.

    By Blogger Gopalblog, at 10:35  

  • inoc...as I understand it, I dont think anyone here is saying that WI have the edge over Aus. Its just that WI has its chances...because of potential of their team (which has been showing in terms of individual and sometimes team results in recent times) and also because of the chinks which have opened up in Aus armour since the Ashes, and which are not yet fully mended.

    By Blogger worma, at 10:35  

  • gopal: yes I've expressed my surprise/shock/dismay about Martyn many times here :-)...and esp beause it finally looks like he was the *only* casualty of Ashes. I have no doubt that very soon Australia will loose a match because of their weakened batting...and that would directly mean they did wrong in sacking Martyn(whether they accept it or not). I mean..even in Super Series they came close to it.

    And yes, its odd that they are literally trying to 'invent' an allrounder out of Watson. Doesnt look test match material to me either...but havent seen too much of him, so maybe hold my decision.

    Clarke will be ok...that kind of pressure is normal on an Aus batsman in his position(was on Waugh, Martyn). He recently scored 178 in his last match against..umm..dont remember

    By Blogger worma, at 10:40  

  • i dont really care how the west indies fare in australia - all i care about is that i should get to see another epic battle between mcgrath, lee and warne on one hand and lara alone on the other - boy is that a mouth-watering prospect !!

    By Blogger GK, at 10:40  

  • @worma
    i think u r being too harsh on watson - i see something there that can be developed with proper care in due course

    and u r being too lenient on clarke - quite simply he has problems with the incoming ball

    By Blogger GK, at 10:42  

  • gopalblog: well said there about the lost generation... but in my opinion all ur examples besides maher have been tried for a long time in the Aussie lineup... elliott had been an integral part of the aussie lineup where he partnered slater for quite while (if i remember correctly)... stuart law was a regular in the ODI middle order for the aussies until he lost his touch and dumped by australia... he is currently waiting for a call from the english team since he has spent 4 years in the english county season... well about maher, imo he never really had that pottential to break into the lineup... occassionally he replaced gilchrist in the ODIs but that was it... now haddin looks a likely replacement for gilly sinceh e seems to be in the same mode as gilchrist... i was just checking love's stats and realized that he was given SOME chances to break in, but besides a good knock against BD, he was not successful... now with the aussie management hell bent on 'creating' a freddie, they have introduced watson and that means 1 test batsman spot will be sacrificed in the process...

    By Blogger Mayur, at 10:42  

  • worma
    i agree that no one is talking about them winning but despite their recent results and perceived australian weakness my feeling is they will be squarely beaten. it is ofcourse an opinion and would always like to see anyone beat australia and that would mean lara playing an innings or two to take our collective breath away.

    By Blogger inoc, at 10:43  

  • inoc: u r right... we just never know... when india toured the ozland, everyone was thinking about how badd the loss is going to be, 2:0 or 3:0 or even 4:0... we ended up almost beating them in their own backyards... u never know whats going to happen especially in this period where the aussies r extremely vulnerable after the ashes loss (i dont count the superseries as a victory)... the point is that WI needs to have a very 'healthy' lineup in the sense mentally and physically fit for this tour... if anyone of the players (especially bowlers) breakdown, then the WI side is doomed...

    By Blogger Mayur, at 10:47  

  • @mayur
    yes ... on that 2003-04 tour most of our players consistenly performed way above their potential ... almost 200% ... that is very rare indeed and i dont see it happening now with the west indies ... of course one can never say never with lara around

    By Blogger GK, at 10:50  

  • worma - Yeah Martyn is an interesting case. The Laxman of the Aussie team? Interesting note about Martyn I was reading Peter Roebuck's autobiography. The most interesting part of it was the last chapter on the current Aussie cricket setup. In it he talks of how he saw Martyn when DM was one of the first recruits into the then new cricket academy and while he was clearly the most talented of the young batsmen he was a lazy cricketer and if he had a higher level of application to combine with his talent he would have been the Aussie captain instead of Ricky.

    I saw Clarke get a good score in the State cricket and he responded to the critics by saying essentially - yeah tell me what I'm doing wrong and I'll fix it.

    Note that all the Aussies were playing state cricket during the lull in int'l schedule. It disappointed me that Laxman dropped out of the Duleep Trophy match. All the Indian test and ODI players should be encouraged to play local cricket when they aren't playing int'l matches.

    By Blogger Gopalblog, at 10:50  

  • gk..yes I haven't seen enough of Watson...so would still wait before judging him finally.

    Clarke...I've seen enough to feel that he's doing fine....and doesnt have too many problems...except maybe playing a lot of shots (something like Ponting in his prime). Technically he looks very balanced to me.

    By Blogger worma, at 10:51  

  • I think the problem with the West Indies is their knack for getting bundled out for very low scores in the THIRD innings of the Test.

    In fact, in the last 20 tests, they average better in the fourth innings of a Test (30.55 per wicket) then the 3rd (22.05).

    Their average in the first/second innings of a test is pretty impressive at 410 runs.

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 10:51  

  • gk: the WI have a very good lineup... they havent fully materialized the potential, but a lineup consisting of gayle, hinds, sarwan, lara, chanderpaul is a strong lineup... the aussies will be foolish to underestimate this lineup...

    By Blogger Mayur, at 10:53  

  • @worma
    did u c the ashes ? he clearly has a problem getting out lbw or bowled thru the legs to the incoming ball. also he has very frequent lapses of concentration and is EXTREMELY likely to get out 10 minutes before an interval in play - i ve seen that happen 4 or 5 times in his last 8-10 inns

    By Blogger GK, at 10:53  

  • mayur - It is a luxury I guess the Aussies had over the past decade that guys of such talent could be left out, maybe given a few chances and excluded when they didn't perform.

    By Blogger Gopalblog, at 10:54  

  • @mayur
    yes they have a fair lineup - but is does not read sehwag, dravid, sachin, laxman does it ??

    By Blogger GK, at 10:54  

  • IMHO, WI will spring a few surprises on this tour. WI always have had a good set of batsmen. What they were really lacking before was a good set of bowlers. And also the other major problem was money. But things seem to be changed a bit with a new crop of bowling coming in like Powell, Lawson etc and the deals going on with the American business tycoon. For once they can concentrate on the performance. Also the other reason why I think WI might win this series is the steady decline of Aussies. Ofcourse they lost the Ashes. Its not the point they lost it but how they lost it. The too familiar bulliness associated with Aussie team was missing in that series. If not for Warne, they would have lost it by huge margins. Hayden, Gilchrist and the bowlers are the weakest links. All this time, I believed that Gilchrist along with McG and Warne are the main reasons for the Aussie decade long domination. Now with Gilly found wanting and the two legends nearing their retirement, WI have to take care of only two players from the Aussie line up. Michale Clarke and Ricky Ponting. This will be a make/break series for Clarke. If they can stop these two getting away, then I am sure WI will have something to cheer about when they leave the Tasmanian shores.
    And, ofcourse, there is this "small" factor which can make this come true!!

    By Blogger HolySmoke, at 10:54  

  • gk & worma - Clarke's problem with the incoming ball could be seen clearly in the 2nd innings of the super test vs Harmison. It was a shocking dismissal for someone who was raised on fast bowling as he must have been.

    By Blogger Gopalblog, at 10:56  

  • even if the west indies play above their potential sarwan, gayle, shiv and the young fast bowlers they will only be able to stretch australia - if it is to be an upset it is going to boil down to 1 man and we know who he is

    By Blogger GK, at 10:56  

  • worma,
    I agree with your assessment of the West Indies bowlers. In fact, I feel the current strength of this West Indies squad is once again their bowling. It will be interesting to see which 4 they select. There are 6 options-- Jermaine Lawson, Darren Powell, Corey Collymore, Tino Best, Fidel Edwards, and Dwayne Bravo. I feel Edwards and Lawson have to be automatic choices, if fit, since they can both clock it at 150 km/h and swing it. The other two selections are more of a quandry. The first person I would rule out is Bravo because I don't feel he will be as effective in Tests on hard wickets where the ball comes on nicely and does not swing much. That leaves 3 players, Collymore, Best, and Powell competing for 2 spots. Collymore was sensational against the Pakistanis earlier this year, and he brings the medium-pace stock bowler option, although Powell might have the control to fulfill this role as well. While Best may have a few disciplinary problems, his commitiment level during the game cannot be questioned. He is a great fielder and a batsman yet to realize the ability he has. It's a really tough decision, and I'm not sure what I would do. A nice problem to have...
    This optimism must be temepered with the fact that the Windies are bound to be rusty. Most of these players have not played international cricket since May- that is a real worry. With only one practice match to adjust to the condiditions, I think we may see the Windies fall behind early and make it more competitive later.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 10:58  

  • gk..I thought in Eng he was done in by late swing (which was problem for all their batsmen). But if you say so...I'll watch more carefully for it :-)

    btw..about stretching Aus..well as I said...I feel Aus will atleast have one batting collapse....and now its upto WI batsmen to grab that one chance to put up a decent score...

    By Blogger worma, at 10:59  

  • @sahir
    bravo must play - he is an allrounder and his bowling will be taken as a bonus - i think he will bat at 6

    for edwards, lawson etc they have the potential but have not delivered for too long - plus they are very injury-prone and hence im not sure about how effective they will be

    By Blogger GK, at 11:01  

  • worma, guess you haven't seen Clarke play of late.

    I agree with GK. The guy has a problem if he is not allowed to come on the front foot, and I think the good bowlers have figured that out. In fact, if you take away his first Test Innings, he

    He average has dropped to 38 and if you take his first innings out, its a pathetic 34!!!

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 11:01  

  • sahir...adding to your assessment...this practise match against Queensland may have sealed it in favour of Powell?

    By Blogger worma, at 11:01  

  • saurabh...I saw him atleast couple of innings in Ashes...looked pretty composed to me...even on backfoot. Ofcourse he is predominantly a front foot player...that i agree. But will watch more carefully about this incoming delivery problem

    By Blogger worma, at 11:07  

  • @all
    how much of this talk about there being great harmony and problems being solved is genuine ? After all there will be some pretty strong egos out there - we all know lara refused to carry the west indies flag and refused to represent them at the captains conference in australia despite the board requesting him

    By Blogger GK, at 11:07  

  • worma, 40% of his dismissals are lbw's & bowled, which is very high for a batsmen.

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 11:09  

  • Comment on the "Sunny daze" topic -

    Prem, I think you are taking things largely out of context. Private jokes are just that. How can we infer meaning from private jokes? Haven't we all made those kinds of comments without meaning anything? Heck, I had a captain that would constantly poke fun at the unreliable technique of one of our openers, but had a lot of respect for him and would never ever consider dropping him for the sheer impact he had at the top of hte order when he got going. If you're in the mood, you can joke about revered figures like Gandhi, let alone Kuruvilla or Ganguly.

    As for this latest line, he is obviously speaking with some knowledge of what's going on, having been on the committee and being the guy who is probably most respected by the team-members. Ganguly, Tendulkar, Dravid, Kumble have constantly talked about how upset they get with the comments of any former player. However, when it comes to comments made by Sunny G., they usually don't say anything against it. If they respect him so much, doesn't it mean he must doing something right?

    I remember when he made some comments about how Wright was mis-treated towards the end of his tenure, possibly because he didn't like how much Wright was getting maligend abnd wanted to set the record straight that the fault may lie with the players. He was criticised by a bunch of us for not saying more. Now, when he does, we criticise him again. His story now seems to be the same as his story as a player - no matter what he does, he cannot win.

    And even if he is making some silly comments, so what. This is the definitive figure in Indian cricket we're talking about and the best opening batsman of all time (never mind chauvinistic idiots like Holding, who would call Richards with the easier situation and the poorer records the better batsman). Let's give the guy a break. Why do we have to try so hard to tarnish our greats. Bradman has said some positively moronic things, and the world media doesn't rap his knuckles, let alone the Australians. Why can't Gavaskar get the respect and benefit of doubt from the fans and media of a country, whose cricket team he gave so much to?

    Another thing that irks me is that because of the lack of respect given to Sunny here, retards like Duncan Flethecher (Duncan who?) are able to take potshots at him. I'm so disappointed in the media for not ripping Flethcer apart for his audacity to go after one of our greats. Let him say something like that about Bradman and see hte entire Aussie establishment from Waugh to Roebuck come out guns blazing. While journalists like Prem, Faisal, and Harsha and the Cricinfo coterie (I'm sorry but their lack of personality makes it hard for me to differentiate between them) are aiming for higher journalistic standards, they would do well to remember that they are also citizens of India and memebers of the cricketing community in the country. And if you can't defend one of your own, all the influence you wield as practitioners of a noble profession is for naught.

    By Blogger Sudo Nima, at 11:13  

  • @alvin
    why on earth talk about this topic here ?

    By Blogger GK, at 11:15  

  • Love made a very good 50 against England in 2002. Maybe Trevor Hohns didnt see anything good in him. And frankly speaking, who would have thought that Martyn would suffer such a slump in the Ashes.Hodge it seems is new lover - boy of the selectors, and his selection is quite justified. The one good thing that Hohns and company did was not to drop Hayden. He looked out of sorts, but hes the kind of a player who can always come back stronger, hungrier and fitter. If the Super Test is anything to go by, the Windies have a lot of leather chasing to do.

    The West Indies attack is good. But my prediction is quite different from Worma's. I am pretty sure its gonna be a 3-0 result. The reason that the Aussie batting didnt come good in England was their vulnerability against good tight seam and swing bowling.

    West Indies bowling promises much, but i really dont see them bowling the Aussies twice. Look at the venues. Gabba, Bellerive and the Adelaide Oval...batting beauties all..on these hard true piches, I would expect Aussie batting to show its true colours. Ponting is still under a bit of pressure and he will make every endeavor to ruthlessly demolish the Windies. Windies will also be handicapped with the fact that they dont have a good spinner in their ranks.

    Plus, the Aussie bowling with that wily customer called Mcgrath should be a handful for the Windies batters. And Warne ....what to say about him? He looked at his very best against England...but then when does he bowl badly against the Englishmen? But the way he bowled in the Super Test was simply awesome, as was Tendulakar's batting in the last one day. The Gabba is also statistically Warne's most successful venue. So Mcgill + Warne at the Gabba should be more than a handful.

    But Lara..and that is the only reason Ill be watching the matches..(if SS shows them)..Lara on song is the best sight in cricket. But he cannot win it alone for the Windies.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 11:16  

  • well said alvin...

    By Blogger Saurabh Wahi, at 11:17  

  • @dark nights
    i do think martyn was extremely unlucky. he got a couple of shocking decisions in the ashes and prior to that he had been absolutely magnificent in India and SL

    As far BCL, a couple of 170s from him will make my winter - of course chances are west indies will still lose those matches even if he scores 170+

    By Blogger GK, at 11:19  

  • @gk,
    If the West Indies are willing to play Bravo as an allrounder at 6, then taht's fine. I just would not advocate him getting one of the 4 specialist bowlers' spots.

    Powell's performance against Queensland could have sealed his fate, but which way? Reports indicate he was forced to leave the field with a hip injury. I hope for his sake and the Windies sake, it's nothing too serious.

    By Blogger Sahir, at 11:28  

  • Alvin Bhai... itna sentimental mat ho yaar!!

    By Blogger santa_from_NJ, at 11:44  

  • @gk...I dont dispute with the fact that he was "unlucky". He was one of the prime reasons why Aus won in India. And once out of the Aussie side...its so damn difficult to get in. Suffice it to say that his sublime strokes through the offside, romantic hundreds and silkyly timed strokes through the offside may have touched your heart and mine, but not Trevor Hohns. I felt like kicking Hohns when he was pressurizing Steve, but its difficult to dispute his decisions in hindsight. It may be that the selectors thought that Martyn was like a mdeicine which was at its most potent last year and a half and will soon reach its sell by date...and looking at the future, they thought it as the perfect opportunity to drop him and groom a middle order bat.

    Whatever it is, Martyn has every opportunity to feel aggreived. The fact that he aint a NSW person counts against him for a comeback. Katich if he fails can be replaced by Hussey and Hodge.

    The last thing that Martyn would want to hear in this situation is that famous Aussie quote which went something like this" Retire at the peak of ur form , even sometime before , so that people ask why, and not why not."

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 11:59  

  • dark nights: I never made any predicitons....just said that WI can give a decent fight...if they can 'time' their batting to click when the Aus batting failes (which, I sort of predict, will do atleast once)

    saurabh: I know his avg has dropped dramatically this year...but he did score a century in his last series before Eng(that was Nz series...didnt he?)..and anyway 38, 34 are not bad numbers for a youngster into his second season...are they? Out of this great Aussie lineup after Ponting he looked, to me, the most energetic and capable batsman against 'good' bowling. But will watch out if his incoming delivery problem is against top quality late swing (Eng) bowlers...or generic in nature.

    sahir: cant say about the injury....maybe he pulled out as a precaution. Lets see.

    By Blogger worma, at 12:16  

  • dark nights...Martyn was excellent in SL also...and in Nz also....I think he was arguably their best batsman last year...if his career ends this way....for me this is the biggest selectorial blunder in a long long time...and ironically it comes from Aus selectors :-)

    By Blogger worma, at 12:18  

  • If the Aussie batting fails, now , yes then yes, you can call it a blunder. I also feel that not playing Stuart Mcgill in that last test in England and also in Manchester was a blunder.

    By Blogger Dark Nights, at 12:34  

  • I really hope Australia come to regret their decision to drop Martyn...poor guy was made a scape-goat.
    WI I agree have the potential to surprise Aus and give them a good fight but they have to play as a team. Bowling looks strongest since the retirement of Walsh & Ambrose...but the bowlers have to maintain the pressure.
    Even against Queensland they let them get away after knocking down 5 wickets for 100 something. Ofcourse batting for the talent they have at their disposal should be doing a lot more...I'm positive Lara will click - he seemed like regaining his touch in the last innings of the Super Test. He has been in ominous form this year just short of match practise.
    This is my line-up for the 1st Test

    Picking Bravo because he is useful medium pacer with batting ability and fantastic fielder.

    By Blogger ClannZĂș, at 12:52  

  • I made the comment here because when I wrote it, this was the first post and I assumed everyone would be reading this, and I was hoping Prem would. But by the time I finished, there were two newer posts and so I guess this one got pushed down. I admit it seems entirely out of context now and I apologise for that.

    By Blogger Sudo Nima, at 13:05  

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