Bowlers do the job again


Australia v India, Perth – Day Three

by Patrick O’Keeffe

It’s a sunny Melbourne day. Though I’m sitting in near darkness; feeding my cricket addiction away from judgmental eyes. I turn on the television and Mark Nicholas is interviewing Micky Arthur. The interview appears laid back. I see Mark Nicholas’s hand, a microphone pointed towards Arthur’s mouth and a big Channel 9 logo, front and centre. Nicholas’s right hand is moving as he talks. I can only imagine the number of superlatives he might be using in the one sentence. Then, like magic, Nicholas is in the middle with Slats and Tubby. Someone says something funny and everyone laughs. Cut to slow mo of Ryan Harris. Cut to slow mo of an Indian batsman getting hit in the groin. Cut to slow mo of Mitchell Starc rejoicing, as if he enjoys inflicting excruciating pain.

Now there’s an ad promoting an American sitcom. I wonder if they screen this show in Guantanamo Bay. I feel that if I had to watch a series back to back I would be confessing to having plotted 9/11 too.

As we return to the cricket, we see a sped up version of David Warner’s innings, with all his best clouts shown from disorientating camera angles. I wonder why. Maybe kids who live on Facebook like that sort of thing.

Out on the pitch, Tubby is pretending to bowl. Yellow lines indicate the prodigious swing that Tubby would have extracted. He should have bowled himself more often. Mark Nicholas points his finger at Slats. Slats demonstrates how to talk and bat at the same time. Materialising out of nowhere, Heals emerges from behind the wicket, also with a microphone in hand. He shows some footwork from behind the stumps. I take note, as I had not seen this from an Australian keeper since Graham Manou filled in for a solitary Test (I didn’t see footage of Tim Paine keeping in England). Tony Grieg resembles a wealthy industrialist as he oversees proceedings.

More fast paced highlights from weird camera angles. I think I’m going to throw up last night’s dinner. The only thing I understood from this package was Zaheer Khan blowing a kiss to Brad Haddin.

Warnie bowls a full toss to Shastri, which is brutally dispatched. I think I’m back in 1992. Warnie has a mullet and looks 10kg overweight. I must be back in 1992. Shastri joins Nicholas out in the middle. The reflection in Ravi’s glasses reveal a film crew about 10 strong. The viewers are shown highlights of the Indian top order providing catching practice to the Australian slips courdon. ‘Pitch the Ball Up’ McDermott has to be given some credit. This highlights barrage shows how effective a full ball swinging away from the batsman can be. Sometimes a good coach is one that knows when to step back and not overcomplicate matters. Too much thinking is never a good thing, particularly for sportspeople (Have you ever tried to bat in backyard cricket, simultaneously wondering if there is enough ice in the esky and pondering the right time to start the barbecue?)

The play starts. Kohli is batting with Dravid. Dravid is the player who I have most enjoyed watching over the years. His style is classical. Like (insert name of a classical musician) to Warner’s Minor Threat. That said, I probably prefer Minor Threat to (insert name of classical muscian here). Hilfenhaus immediately shapes the ball away from Kohli. He is much improved. I wonder if his bricklaying is suffering as a result of his rediscovered outswing. Harris nearly knocks over Dravid first ball. Second ball is as comprehensive a moral victory as possible. Dravid plays at a ball angled towards leg which moves late. The ball misses the bat by milimetres, barely sailing over middle stump.

I saw Dravid play at the Adelaide Oval, in late 2003. He made 233, in what is probably the best innings I can recall (aside from Jamie Siddons’ Sheffield Shield winning 4 in 1995/96). His cover-driving was exquisite (Dravid’s, that is). The quality of his strokeplay was astounding (again, Dravid). I hope he can hang in there today (Dravid).

Whilst Warner’s ballistic batting was certainly exciting, I don’t watch Test cricket to see cover drives that clear the pickets. I also don’t appreciate players with a whole 5 test matches of experience telling the likes of Tendulkar, Dravid and Laxman that they “need to learn how to win away from India”. Australia has won one series in India since Warner’s parents were teenagers. He should learn to be more gracious and stay away from Brad Haddin.

India has started well, with Kohli and Dravid knocking the ball around, employing low risk batting. Watto is on television again, sans shirt. Australian players should not appear in commercials, unless they are drinking Liptons tea or doing something with carpet. Although that ad where ‘Boof’ Lehmann fell of his beach chair was great. Let’s face it, anything featuring ‘Boof’ Lehmann is great. Am I being too parochial?

Dravid is eventually bowled by the former South Australian stalwart Ryan Harris, as he tried to clip a ball through mid wicket. This ends India’s resistance. Dhoni plays another airy shot and is well caught by Ponting behind the wicket. Hilfenhaus then takes three wickets in an over and the game is finished, early in the second session of day three.

The Indian team really did perform poorly in this Test. That such an esteemed batting line up has been so brittle in this Test series is a great shame. However, I am not sure these players are not necessarily past their peak. Sehwag recently made 218 in a 50 over match. Dravid was a top run scorer in 2011. Tendulkar is the best performed in this series, though has been below par, while Laxman perhaps has weakest record in recent matches. This series has been woeful for him, particularly in comparison with his previous assaults on Australian bowlers.

Australia has again performed well, with the bowlers again doing the job. Not that they were made to work too hard for their wickets. The batting is still a worry. Marsh is not making runs, though I honestly can’t recall him ever making consistent runs in Shield cricket. He did play well in Sri Lanka when given the chance, and he does look like a good player. He just keeps getting out. Haddin is surely on his last legs. His batting has fallen away terribly and he drops too many catches. Here’s a selection bolter: Tom Triffitt. He’s from Launceston. Launceston has recently produced Boonie and Punter. That’s good enough for me. He’s also played about three first class matches, which means he is now almost over qualified for selection.

Ian Chappell thinks Ed Cowan is nothing more than a fill in, debuting at 29. Hussey debuted at 30, while Gilchrist debuted a few days shy of 28. Not sure what Chappelli is on about there. Perhaps the Channel 9 executives think Warner will attract more viewers for the network and their wonderful sponsors. It wouldn’t surprise me if a marketing guru from Vodafone finds their way onto the selection panel in a few years. Although, they couldn’t be much worse than Hilditch.







  1. Peter Flynn says

    Sage comment re keeper footwork.

    Are Dravid’s eyes gorn?

  2. Tom Triffit has been filing in for Paine and going well. Under 19 Aus rep…BUT he is from Smithton on the far north west coast not Launceston…actually Ben Buckely country is Smithton

  3. That’s Mifton Johnno.

    I have just come through ‘Sisters Hills’

    Damn fine part of the world, but.

  4. Hilfenhaus 23 wickets in three tests. Who was that idiot that suggested he be picked in the Australian side about a month ago?

  5. Thanks for pointing that out Johnno – I went to school in Launceston with a Triffit and just assumed Tom grew up there as well. It would be great to have representatives from Ulverstone and Smithton in the national side. Are there any likely types coming through the ranks in Wynyard?

  6. Not at the moment Pat, but they did produce Cox and Dene Hills. Both of them could have opened the batting for most other countries but couldn’t crack the strong open Australian partnerships during the late 90’s.

    Shaun Young (one test at the Oval was a Burnie Boy)

  7. Skip of Skipton says

    I was that idiot who suggested Hilfenhaus be recalled. Look in the archives!

    As for players getting a game because of their marketability; Brett Lee.

  8. Missed that Skip.

    Well done.

    Great minds think alike.

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