Australia v New Zealand – Gabba Test, Day 5: Easy as A-B-C

Australia 556/4d & 264/4 defeated New Zealand 317 & 295

Like any middle-aged bloke, I am guilty of a number of rusted-on habits. Not all of them are bad, mind you. Or at least, not to mind they aren’t. Like when I am solo driving; I usually have the stereo cranked up to 11, and let my thoughts wander. The places where the brain randomly leads you can be wonderful and weird. But when a Test match is on the radio, music takes a back seat.

The final day of this Test saw me heading for the coastal town of Apollo Bay. Passing the first Lara turn-off Gerard Whateley, the freshly minted ABC cricket commentator, was telling Jon Faine that he was standing in the middle of the Gabba – and it was raining. At that moment, I am not sure what disappointed me more – the prospect of Australia not completing a thoroughly deserved victory, or the possibility that I would have to tolerate the pomposity of Faine while awaiting a break in the weather. However, by the time I reached Winchelsea, Josh Hazelwood was marking out his run, and it was game on.

The ABC cricket commentary rightly promotes itself as a soundtrack of the summer. And as I nosed the Holden toward Birregurra at the start of play, it was Jim Maxwell and new special comments man Chris Rogers (who opened the batting in Australia’s last match) at the microphone. They were both at  pains to stress that all three results – a draw, or an Australian or Kiwi victory – were possible. Why they would ignore 138 years of cricket history, and a dull Brisbane day, was beyond my comprehension. This preamble gave me cause to reflect on this new dawn of Australian cricket. And no, I am not talking about Burns, Khawaja, Nevill, and co. It was Rogers, Dirk Nannes, Simon Katich and the afore-mentioned Whateley about whom I was most curious. How would this new team shape up on this final day, and for the Test matches to come?

As I cruised through the Otways – flicking from ABC774 to 91.5 on the FM dial as the reception broke up –  I found my naturally sceptical self growing ever more comfortable with Gerard’s precise and concise calling of the game. He naturally, and quite reasonably, easily defers to the special comments men who have played the game at the highest levels. Yes, Whateley has a surprisingly deep knowledge and reverence for Test cricket, but he does not for a minute pretend that he has played the game.

Wickets kept falling. Really, if a fair chunk of the day was playable, did anyone in their right mind think there would be any result other than an Australian victory? The Aussies lost only 8 wickets for the match whilst compiling 820 runs – impressive figures, even in my basic maths book.

There has been much angst about this changing of the ABC guard. “Henry” Lawson, amongst others, has been ditched in the continuing fall-out following Kerry O’Keeffe’s resignation and Peter Roebuck’s unfortunate passing. As I cruised through Skene’s Creek and entered Apollo Bay, I mused on what a gap to fill those two have left.

Dirk Nannes strikes me as the comments man with the most potential. He has a relaxed, laconic manner which will only improve with experience. Katich seems a little bland and obvious, whilst Rogers is still too close to the current players and as such is unwilling to be unduly critical. That may be fine when things are going swimmingly against a sub-par Kiwi outfit, but when the whips are cracking and Australia are struggling, I would expect to hear a critical assessment of our Test team’s short-comings.

Jim Maxwell is showing disturbing signs of wear and tear: he seems to miss first-up too much, relying more and more on the replay, which is not the job of a ball-by-ball commentator. And as for Gerard – surely there is a case to be made for him being Australia’s supreme all-round sports commentator. Even better than Bruce. And, for my three cents a day, that is not too great an indulgence.






About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Spot on Smokie. What is your opinion of the lowlight of the day, Mitchell Starc hurling the ball near the Kiwi batsman Craig ? I’m all for aggression and i get really PO”d when i hear the same people whining about the behaviour of the Australians but what Starc did is beyond the pale. no chance of getting him out so WTF did he o it ?

    Starc is potentially a fine behaviour. He is superb in the limited overs format but even after almost four years can’t totally make the transition across to the longer form of the game. His on field behaviour compounds it. I’m glad his captain had a bit to say, and though a half match payment fine is a step in the right direction some thing more substantial would not go astray. Starc was not being aggressive, he was being stupid. Not good enough.


  2. What is with the ABC radio cricket coverage? I was the same on Sunday, driving back from the Sunshine Coast to Brisbane and eventually having to change from FM to the crackly old AM. Then when I get home I tuned into Grandstand on the pc only to find no cricket. So I tuned to 612, the same channel as in the car, only to find local programs. Apparently they don’t have online broadcast rights, even if the online channel is the same am channel you can listen to in your car on on your transistor radio. That seems bizarre really. So when I’m flitting around doing the washing, washing up and general chores, I have to listen to the clowns on channel 9 who barely provide descriptions anyway. I did enjoy Dirk Nannes and I agree, Buck Rogers will get more objective the longer he gets into retirement.

  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Spot on Smokie, cricket on the ABC is the soundtrack of an Australian Summer. Finally G.Whateley gets to call Test cricket, an overdue and welcome addition. O’Keefe, Roebuck and Damien Fleming have been massive losses for the ABC. I’m not unhappy Lawson has gone. Thought Nannes was superb and will only get better. Always been a big fan of Brett Geeves’ expert commentary work, very knowledgable and very very funny man, yet he only gets used when matches are in Hobart. He’s the kind of person the ABC team is crying out for.
    Interesting that Fairfax only broadcast this Test digitally and not on 3AW.
    Am sure the long drive is always worth it when there’s a ChainSAW waiting at the top pub in Apollo Bay!

  4. Glen,
    Starc has the potential to be one of the greats – but potential can be an ugly word. All of a sudden potential can morph into unfulfilled promise. I agree, the dummy-spit ball-chuck was unnecessary and stupid.
    I guess it all comes down to dollars, and the ABC has been stripped of cash in recent years. In a sense, you can blame Cricket Australia for not allowing ABC to have on-line streaming rights.
    I agree wholeheartedly – Geeves is excellent, Nannes will get better, and Gerard is Gerard. And yes, a pint of ChainSAW alone is almost worth the drive.

  5. Barry McAdam says

    Will second those Brett Geeves comments. More Tasmanians please!!!

  6. Barry McAdam says

    Brett Geeves was a bloody great cricketer too, very unlucky not to play a test. At least he got a few ODI’s.

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