Third Test – Day 1: I won’t talk about it here

Day 1: Sri Lanka294 all out (Thirimanne 91, Jayawardene 72; Bird 4/41).

Lately, there have been many things about the Australian cricket scene which have annoyed and frustrated me – and, I am sure, other seasoned cricket watchers. It would probably be therapeutic for me to start banging on about all these issues, but I know it would turn all mean-spirited; and whilst the Almanac is about many things, mean-spiritedness is not one of them.

Which means I will not talk about the hubris affecting the Australian National Selection Panel, leading them to select an unbalanced line-up for this Test. A team comprised of five batsmen, five bowlers and a keeper. Four quicks are never going to do the job that three quicks cannot (unless, of course, your fourth quick is named Marshall – and the other three are named Holding, Garner and Roberts). The selectors, in deciding to do away with the rotation policy for this Test, left skipper Michael Clarke with only one option: to bowl. How I was hoping the Lankans would make plenty of runs yesterday – to assist in their own redemption, to make a game of it, and to rub cocky Australian noses in it.

I will not talk about how the Sydney wicket did not oblige the NSP: it was not a seaming monster, and gave no more – or less – assistance to the quicks than any other first-day Test pitch in this country. The media (encouraged by the Cricket Australia spin-doctors?) works itself into a lather any time there is even the hint of a green tinge on the deck. Sri Lanka, despite an early lapse, steadily and patiently built a reasonable score of almost 300. Skipper Mahele Jayawardene is all class: he stepped up into the number three position, and led from the front with an excellent 72. I was disappointed when he provided a regulation catch to slip. New inclusion Lahiru Thirimanne, in his eighth Test, played the innings of the day and was unlucky to fall nine runs short of his maiden Test century. From that point, the Sri Lankan tail offered little resistance.  This was despite the Australians – with the not unsurprising exception of Jackson Bird – looking a little flat from the moment they entered the playing field. Was it the emotion of the Tony Greig pre-match memorial? Or were they experiencing dead-rubber syndrome, in which no-one is playing for anything other than their own batting and bowling figures?

No, I will not talk those minor issues which annoy me so much: Matthew Wade’s unsteadiness behind the stumps, which has already cost Australia victory over South Africa in Adelaide; Michael Clarke’s unerring pre-match belief that he “would not be surprised” to see – insert any Australian player’s name here – go out and make a hundred; the romance of David Hussey being spoken about as his brother’s middle-order successor (despite D Hussey being 35 years old); the lack of leadership options in the Test team – most of the batsmen are still establishing themselves; the way the first-class fixture has been cruelled, and with it players such as Peter Forrest and Ben Cutting, who only twelve months ago were being touted as the next big things; the hitherto unknown policy of selecting “shadows” – Khawaja as Clarke’s shadow, and Maxwell as Watson’s; the mistaken belief that M Johnson can somehow morph into the new Keith Miller; Shane Warne looking every bit his age in the field, much as Roger Moore did as James Bond in Moonraker; the fact that Murali’s doosra is a throw, and slow-motion replays only confirm it.

So, I will not be using the Almanac as a place for using nasty rants (dressed in the guise of match reports) to get these things off my chest. Because suddenly, I am feeling a whole lot better.

About Darren Dawson

Always North.


  1. Smoke – 43 days until the footy restarts.

    At the end of this Test the cricket finishes – and its only early Jan!! Sad. But sadder still is the fact that I forgot to even turn the cricket on yesterday until well into the first session. Is that my fault or theirs?

  2. Dips,
    Definitely theirs.

  3. Then rant is therapeudic, Smokie. Don’t let anyone ever tell you any differnet

    Great piece …always gladdens the heart to see he semi colon used so majestically

    PS You are of course the Smokie Dawson are you not? If so, just want to say what a huge fan I was when I was a kid. Always loved the timbre of your voice. You were like Pavarotti on the ears

  4. T-Bone, I can assure you our Smokie Dawson is a man of the highest calibre, one that would never use a public forum to air grievances also held by the majority of the country. No, he is above that.

    Great stuff, Smokie.

  5. T-Bone,
    Whilst I am one of a number of Smokie Dawsons, I am not THE Smokie Dawson of whom you probably thinking (neither the original, the late country & western crooner Smoky Dawson, nor the commentator Graham “Smokie” Dawson, now heard on SEN).
    Although some have commented on the timbre of my voice whilst leading the singing of limericks…..

  6. John Harms says

    Bond image is a beauty.

  7. Dips – there are 9 intriguing test matches after Jan. They may not be in Australia, but they definitely qualify as Test cricket.
    And four of them are in that Indian time zone that perfectly suits the Australian couch dweller.
    I think your malaise may stem from the fact that the Aus batting line up doesn’t read Chapman, Selwood, Bartel…

  8. MOC – fair point – about the batting line up that is. Chappy – he’s just so reliable.

  9. I reckon he’d be a keen user of the referral system. Never been enamoured of the umpires’ decisions.

  10. Smokie; NSP, please? Working in the health field it means Needle Syringe Program, which i’m sure is not the NSP you’re alluding to.

    What has happened to Forrest, and Cutting. The former made some handy runs in the Australian ODI side 12 months ago, last night batted 7 in the hit and miss games. Cutting, well he didn’t look too flash last night.

    The leadership void is glaring. If Clarke misses a game(s), what are the options? Watson;is he ever fit? Warner: what experience has he got? Haddin; please don’t start on this topic. Then again re keepers, Wade hasn’t set the world on fire this season, but Haddin be it as batsmen/keeper/leadership option, is not part of the Australian team in 2013., or beyond.


  11. Selwood a captain in the AB mode. Bartel just the man to score 200 in the fourth innings to win the game – with a six off the last ball.

    (Ablett retiring from Test cricket to take up a $1.8m contract with the Perth Thunder – or whatever the WA Big Bash team is called.)

  12. Andrew Fithall says

    I was running out of grumpy pills so tried to replenish my supply. Went to every supermarket and pharmacy in Williamstown but they were all sold out. I think I know where they all went.

  13. John Butler says

    Onya Smokie

    A test that will prove little, being played by an Ozzie lineup that won’t tell us the things we need to know.

    AF, I probably have a few of those pills in the cupboard. You’re welcome to them. For a price.

  14. Skip of Skipton says

    Bartel was a Victorian under 17 cricket representative. Had he chosen to pursue that sport he would be in the middle of the SCG as I type this.

  15. Skip,
    The Cats wouldn’t have the 09 or 11 flags if he was in the middle of the SCG. (Mind you, if he had a sound technique, there’s no guarantee he’d be selected over Hughes and Watson. Plus, he’s not from NSW.)

  16. Skip of Skipton says

    Quite so Cookie. Deledio from Richmond was a Victorian rep as a quick. Sliding doors, but they all slide one way these days, save for Keath who chose cricket instead of the Gold Coast Suns.

  17. Smokie

    I, of course, meant Graham Smokie Dawson, the mow SEN sportscaster (though the singer was easy on the ear too.)

    Smokie the commentator, by my taste and reckoning, had a peerless timbre to his vocal stylings. If that means anything?

  18. Smokie

    Gerard Whateley could learn a thing or two from you on how to correctly reference James Bond in a cricket piece…

    Good rant.

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