I know they’re ahead. So ahead. Day 4 starts in about an hour, but India are already 300 runs in front, with Virender Sehwag looking ominous. But they are playing Australia, which no one should discount. Especially now, this Australian side reveals the psychology’s significance in cricket. Good teams, great players, even umpires all fall occassionaly fall prey to the trademark Australian pressure (do you remember that last over from the Sydney Test? Or even the awful batting display in the 1st Test?). Their fielders run in; they constantly chat; they appeal as if they already know the verdict. It’s a beautifully constructed stage the Australians strut on.
And yet, this Test has also shown, if only tentatively, the gap that is opening between the Australian reputation and the team’s actual abilities. “Australia” — world champions for the last 15 years — is now much, much better than Australia, a team without Warne and McGrath and an unsure Matthew Hayden. But can they pull it off again, though? Can they simply frighten their way to victory once more? When Shane Watson blithely said they could chase anything down — didn’t you feel nervous?
Now, normally I like this blog to be a bit more high-brow, not necessarily concerned with the latest scandal or sporting result, but more with the construction of the game.
Whatever. I will be live blogging the first day of the India and Australia Test match, set to begin in about an hour and a half. It should be exciting stuff, and if ever you find yourself feeling bored with the commentary (which is bound to be just about dismal), check back regularly. Continue reading →
Regular readers of this blog know that I’m a moderate traditionalist when it comes to the technology debate in the game. There are a few reasons for that, not least that I couldn’t buy into the collective rage that descended India during the Sydney Test fiasco (a.k.a. “Bucknor-Gate”).
I’ve long harped on about how much I love Simon Hughes, Channel Five’s resident cricket analyst. He’s always so incisively clinical in his commentary, noting patterns and strategies and possible influential elements (cloud cover, weather changes, dryness, etc.). That doesn’t make him the best commentator; ideally, you want that flair and drama that only Boycott and Nichols can provide. But Hughes’s 2-minute breakdowns of the biggest factors in play — when he, for instance, succinctly explains what makes Monty Panesar so effective, or why swing bowling is so difficult to play — give the layman a window in this complicated, difficult sport.
So, as a tribute, watch Hughes predict Michael Vaughan’s wicket on the first day against South Africa and almost predict Kevin Pietersen’s initial madness. Again, it’s all about patterns: Vaughan’s got feet problems, and Pietersen is always so jittery at the start, hopping about madly until he knows the pitch is his. See below, at 1:00 and at 4:00.
I wanted to write a post about the engima that is Ian Bell, the almost-double centurion against South Africa, but I see that Alex Massie has beaten me to it. He’s right when he notes that Bell cops far more criticism than is warranted (no one should be compared to the Shermanator), especially given the statistical background that puts him ahead of much of England’s batting line-up.