Almanac Cricket: The reverse sweep and other phenomena

I was in London at the time of the Lords Test in July, 2015. On the Sunday evening I caught up with an old friend, Caz, at a pub in Bayswater. I had not seen Caz since he and I had opened the batting for Bramhall 2nd XI in the Cheshire League some thirty years (shudder) earlier. The phrase “like thrashing machines” comes to mind. With Australia poised to demolish England and win the Second Test, Caz handed me his straw hat, the one with the characteristic MCC “egg and tomato sauce” coloured hatbands, and said, “Aussie, I want you to have this as a symbol. We are about to witness the death of English cricket.” His statement proved “somewhat prior”, given the subsequent problems experienced by Australian batsmen in dealing with seam bowling at Edgbaston and Trent Bridge. I offered to return the hat to Caz. With some pride salvaged at The Oval, Australia then managed to soundly beat WI (at home) and then NZ (at home and away).

 

In the final Test in NZ, boorish Australian behaviour raised its head again with the carry-on by Smith and Hazlewood in disputing the umpire’s decision. Loss of match fees and apologies all round with The Age on-line website reporting an interchange of tweets between an Australian cricket supporter and a recently retired Australian fast bowler. The cricket supporter’s tweet that, in his opinion, the Australians should show greater respect for the umpires was immediately countered by the recently retired Australian fast bowler who replied, “Stick to playing park cricket. Happy to come down and bowl a few at you if you like and see how u react?!” Well, thanks for that.

 

Cut to Sri Lanka where the Australian batsmen were out-tweaked by portly Sri Lankan Herath who has managed 332 Test wickets without sledging a batsman. The problems experienced by Australian batsmen in dealing with the spinning ball on turning wickets in Sri Lanka compounded those experienced in coping with seamers at Trent Bridge.

 

“Everyone’s had the preparation for this tour, we couldn’t have done any more” – Rod Marsh.

 

Could there be a message in terms of the approach to pitch preparation in Australia? Do Australian batsmen need to play more matches on pitches that do more than simply develop flat track bullies? A young Kusal Mendis showed the benefit of a patient approach in scoring 176 in 319 minutes in the First Test. Yes, patience.

 

On a brighter side, the performances of Mitchell Starc were superb, and seemingly without histrionics.

 

And so to the ODI’s with the Australian cricket team appearing in some considerable disarray.

 

After the first ODI game, won by Australia, Aaron Finch apparently had issues with the pitch. But you won, Aaron!

 

One of the Marsh brothers, Mitchell, has returned home to Australia. I am not sure if he is the one who is better at playing spin bowling or otherwise. If he is, what is he doing back home? If he is not then, given that he was selected to tour in the first place, why isn’t he still on the tour learning to play spinners under match conditions?

 

Captain Steve Smith has returned home after the loss to Sri Lanka in the second ODI. “It will do me a world of good”, he says. Of course. He will not be there to witness the third match.

 

Nathan Coulter-Nile, who payed little cricket last season, has also returned home after not playing a game on tour. Presumably he is resting up in order to not play a game in the forthcoming season.

 

High performance manager Pat Howard has the answers. It will be “status quo” for the forthcoming home series. But in selecting the team for the tour of the subcontinent he says, “We’re most certainly going to end up with a horses-for-courses mentality. When we go to India, form in the sub-continent will be extremely important.” Not sure who he has in mind.

 

Mitch Johnson is returning for the Big Bash League this summer. That should help. Other requirements – perhaps a definitive position on the reverse sweep together with more batting, bowling and fielding coaches, more support psychologists and more hammy manipulators – not to mention more tweets from former Australian fast bowlers.

 

Meanwhile, Caz has his own problems with Jimmy Anderson having to apologise for on-field petulance and Stuart Broad (tweets, how surprising) and Alex Hales (entering the haven of the third umpire to dispute a decision) both being docked match payments for their behaviour during the current Test Series in England.

 

The game is most certainly not the same.

About Peter Crossing

Peter Crossing loves the pure 'n natch'l blues. A conflicted Crows supporter and former resident of Canberra, he has enjoyed the fact that GWS brought an exciting style of Australian football to the National capital. He is a member of the silver fox faction of the Adelaide Uni Greys.

Comments

  1. Cricket,

    I rember that game for some reason they stopped playing it after March 1977 (I don’t why it was good fun) apparently spruking chicken dinners is the true path to an international sports career

  2. Malcolm Ashwood says:

    Noughts I see a huge problem re world cricket re lack of PROPPER warm up matches for all visiting sides
    world cricket worries so much to fit all 20 20 competitions in and it affects world cricket to a huge extent.
    I also agree re aust wickets used to have there own separate and unique characteristics from the pace of the waca,the spin at the scg etc drop in bloody wickets have a lot to answer for

  3. isn’t the deal with drop in pitches the wear and tear from footy at SCG, Gabba, MCG and Adelaide?

    are willing to have separate stadia? doesn’t seem so.

    some genius in this piece. the critique of M and S Marsh not being theer is like Greg Jericho deconstructing Morrison’s bumblespeak this week.

    Coulter-Nile. What a great pick. these selectors really are great.

    maybe a plebiscite on trhe selection panel?

  4. Peter Crossing says:

    Thanks for your comments. There are many issues. The role of ICC, pitch preparation the world over, the DRS, the Cricket Australia juggernaut, the role of a high performance manager (wot) etc etc
    D Thom: I take your point re the Packer era.
    Malcolm: A good cricket wicket, drop-in or not, should show some variation and not just be hard and true from day 1 to day 4 or 5.
    Peter W: Will take Jericho/Morrison as a compliment. The more you try to understand, the less sense it makes. I have been looking for a suitable piece of music to play in order to drown out Morrison-speak. Also, feedback from a Victor Trumper fan: Your Phoenix essay was brilliant and I love the Billy Midwinter poem. We need another Ranji Hordern.

  5. Rod Marsh has to go selection has been a disgrace. Bailey and Wade have showed how to play spin bowling both should have been playing the tests.

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